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The New School Continuing Education

Philosophy Workshop-Elena Pulcini-Rethinking Fear in the Global Age

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6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.

I shall begin from the assumption that the passions provide a fruitful slant from which to understand society and its transformations, since they enable us to highlight the motivations for social action. While it may be true that every epoch is characterized by the prevalence of some passions over others, it is undeniable that in the global age we are seeing a strong return of fear. But what type of fear are we talking about? No longer the fear that, at the origins of modernity, was thematized in the Hobbesian paradigm as the emotional foundation of society and the State. In my opinion, we can single out two fundamental fears which characterize the global age: fear of the other and fear of the future. The first appears essentially as fear of he who is different (and of what I define as contamination) because of the great migratory processes produced by globalization and the formation of multicultural societies; the second is prompted by the condition of insecurity due to the emergence of new challenges that contemporary sociology has summed up in the concept of "global risks" (from global warming to the nuclear threat, from the ecological to the financial crisis). In both cases, it is fear in the face of an indefinite object, namely, taking up a Freudian distinction, it is an anxiety rather than fear. Anxiety gives rise to defence mechanisms, in the first case resulting in the persecutory projection of fear and the construction of scapegoats; in the second case, in the denial of danger and our condition of vulnerability. On the basis of this diagnosis, we can ask ourselves whether it is nevertheless possible to implement a virtuous metamorphosis of fear so that this passion can act, as suggested by late twentieth-century philosophical reflection, as the emotional foundation for an ethics of responsibility and of the future.



6 E 16 St Room D 1103

Free; no tickets or reservations required; seating is first-come first-served

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