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In fear of reason

Ruthrof, H. (2012) In fear of reason. In: Kalaga, W., (ed.) Civilisation and Fear: Anxiety and the Writing of the Subject. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle, England, pp. 3-17.


Paradoxically, if nature has always been a source of fear, civilisation 13 its other and at the same time the epitome of progress and order 13 has not only doubled fear itself, but also added its new sister, anxiety. In effect, the notions of civilisation, fear and anxiety can hardly be separated. Fear 13 either linked with anxiety or distinct from it 13 lies at the foundation of civilisation, which as much promises to shelter us from these afflictions as it does proliferate them. Confronted no longer with the adversary powers of nature, humans have to face now the adversary powers produced by their own endeavours and ideologies. Each effort aimed at attaining an equilibrium results in new, unexpected rifts and breaches into which fear and anxiety grow. Out of the games played between fear and civilisation there emerge new versions of the human subject: homo anxious, homo civilis, homo rationalis.

This volume represents a collection of papers devoted to the many various relations between fear and society, culture and civilisation 13 both Western and Eastern, contemporary and past. The articles collected here approach the relationship of civilisation, fear, anxiety and the subject from multiple perspectives. Relating to modern critical thought, including that of Kant, Freud, Derrida, Kierkegaard, and Heidegger, they investigate the objects, causes and effects of fear: reality, nature, reason, libidinal excess, atheism, critical discourse, technological advances, conspiracy, terrorism, capital punishment, the diversity of cultures, and the breakdown of civilisation as a whole: most of all, however, they explore the various shades of fear itself.

Item Type: Book Chapter
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Arts
Publisher: Cambridge Scholars Publishing
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