Fear of the unknown?

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pqzod
 
Reply Wed 26 Nov, 2008 10:52 am
Is it possible to fear the unknown?? (or to attach any emotion to an unknown)
My opinion is that it is not possible. We fear only that which we have already experienced - past events which have caused us pain (physical injury, loss, ridicule, rejection, anguish etc.). Our imagination can represent these painful outcomes to new events causing us to fear them. It is not the new event but the past outcome upon which this fear is based.

Young children appear to be fearless in their approach to things completely new to them. Fear is learned through experience and handed down from parents or other influential figures.

Man has created theories & imagined solutions for the unknowns of our universe. It is not until these are explained in the familiar & related to the known that we can begin to fear them.

So if a group of aliens materialized in your bedroom tonight, would you only fear the amount of pain they may be able to inflict upon you? :perplexed:
 
Catchabula
 
Reply Wed 26 Nov, 2008 11:17 am
@pqzod,
 
Icon
 
Reply Wed 26 Nov, 2008 12:38 pm
@pqzod,
We can fear what we do not know. Let me explain.

There is a certain type of fear that occurs when you are not sure what to expect. The reason that Children show almost no fear is because they have not fully developed and everything is new to them. They have no basis for the emotion of fear until they have experienced something which initializes the first fear response. From that point on, fear of the unknown is more like and anxiety based around not knowing what to expect.
 
manored
 
Reply Thu 27 Nov, 2008 06:30 am
@pqzod,
We cannot even imagine the unknow, let alone fear it Smile But we can make previsions of what we will encounter based on past experiences, and fear those previsions. Fear of death is based on our survival instinct, but I think the strongest way to aleviate it is to realize you cannot die. (Altough I think afterlife is inevitable, some people dont. These people must then accept that being their senses the only thing that allows then to sense the passage of time, then those end along with their lives they will cease to sense the passage of time, and therefore time will not pass for then, and therefore they will not have died.)
 
avatar6v7
 
Reply Thu 27 Nov, 2008 06:43 am
@Icon,
Icon wrote:
We can fear what we do not know. Let me explain.

There is a certain type of fear that occurs when you are not sure what to expect. The reason that Children show almost no fear is because they have not fully developed and everything is new to them. They have no basis for the emotion of fear until they have experienced something which initializes the first fear response. From that point on, fear of the unknown is more like and anxiety based around not knowing what to expect.

do any of you actually remember being a kid? You weren't scared by some things because you didn't understand them, but children tend to get frightened more easily and more often because so much is unknown.
 
sarek
 
Reply Thu 27 Nov, 2008 02:23 pm
@pqzod,
Fear of the unknown is a way for any lifeform to err on the side of caution. Creatures that are too careless will become extinct. Most animals are better safe than sorry.

You can try and decide to be brave, but if you walk your (small)dog at night and you hear unknown noises coming from the nearby bushes, chances are you will be reluctant to get to close. Even if you intellectually know it's probably just a cat.
 
Khethil
 
Reply Thu 27 Nov, 2008 04:05 pm
@pqzod,
Fear needn't be specific. Fear of the unknown (as Sarek pointed out) is very primal and very pervasive. As soon as the young mind realizes an unknown situation, it's outcome, too, is unknown.

Do we not gravitate towards what we know? Do we not feel safer in "familiar" surroundings and situations?

You're correct in that what that danger might be does seem to come from the imagination. But without a specific object on it, and based on our instinctive association for survival and the familiar, the mind has been trained over time, to be wary.

Good question
 
Catchabula
 
Reply Thu 27 Nov, 2008 06:51 pm
@Khethil,
Just musing on children and fear. Isn't it true that the fear that children have -whatever be its origin or explanation- is always countered and compensated by their curiosity? Same goes for many animals and for adults and also for scientists and philosophers: sniff.. run... sniff... run ...sniff sniff sniff! Natural fear is always followed by some equally natural counter-movement, driving the creatures that fear towards a confrontation with that same fear and with what is perceived as its source or origin. Fear mostly disappears when what is feared is seen, explored, known. If fear was really dominant we would still live in a cave and sacrify virgins and oxen. Culture is always the result of courage, man continuously trying to overcome his fears by action and thought, and it works. Fear may be real, but "growing up" is for kids and adults and humanity defined by the way one deals with fear, the way of dealing with it being generally the same. It's curiosity or some related drive resulting in some more or less well conceived plan and some more or less effective action, thus overcoming the unknown and reducing fear. Columbus being the archetype here. I hope I did not disturb something. Please go on...
 
avatar6v7
 
Reply Fri 28 Nov, 2008 04:57 am
@Catchabula,
An excellent post. I have to say though, that columbus was an oppurtunistic, power hungry, money grubbing liar.
 
Catchabula
 
Reply Fri 28 Nov, 2008 06:10 am
@avatar6v7,
No problem at all for me. I meant the Columbus that is dreamt of in our philosophy. Compare with Jezus, Christianity being built upon his myth. Real historical people are interesting, but it's their myth that does it. One has to be able to discern reality from myth though, or at least try to do so. Back to the topic...
 
manored
 
Reply Fri 28 Nov, 2008 02:13 pm
@Catchabula,
Catchabula wrote:
No problem at all for me. I meant the Columbus that is dreamt of in our philosophy. Compare with Jezus, Christianity being built upon his myth. Real historical people are interesting, but it's their myth that does it. One has to be able to discern reality from myth though, or at least try to do so. Back to the topic...
Hope that there are no christians around Smile
 
avatar6v7
 
Reply Fri 28 Nov, 2008 02:32 pm
@manored,
manored wrote:
Hope that there are no christians around Smile

too late. :shocked:
seriously though I am not going to repeat my views on the subject. Look at this thread for me having a huge arguement about it-
http://www.philosophyforum.com/forum/philosophy-forums/branches-philosophy/philosophy-religion/2795-distribution-fear-christianity.html
 
pqzod
 
Reply Fri 28 Nov, 2008 02:35 pm
@Catchabula,
Thanks all - more questions than answers. (why is it ever so?)




  • Is it possible to fear anything other than pain? (Physical, Mental, Emotional)


  • Fear is based on past experience (your own or others) which is then projected onto future possible events. Is there any situation where this is not the case?

Personally, i would be much more afraid of going blind than dying. Apart from the pain of dying, death seems kind of like an adventure. It's inevitable & I've no idea what will transpire after I expire so I don't really see what there is to be afraid of. (easy for me to say seeing that it is not staring me in the face, maybe I'm just missing the point -I'll check out Boagie's post & Soren - thanks for the reference).

Catchabula wrote:
There are so many fears in life, one can almost create a hierarchy or at least a typology. Fear of loosing my daughter who suffers from cancer, fear of being late for dinner... are they all the same fear and do they all have the same origin or explanation?


I'm suggesting that they are all the same & originate from pain & it is this that we fear.

Catchabula wrote:
Is there a psychology of fear as opposed to a philosophy of fear?
Is your approach an application of Pavlov? Angst seems more like a monolith.)

(Was there ever more rhetorical bull than "There's nothing to fear but fear itself"? The orator at least agreed that there would be blood, sweat and tears. These were real indeed, fear being an obvious part of them. Ok, tomorrow I'll be executed, but there's nothing... aah, what a relief! ;-) . He who's able not to fear fear simply doesn't know it (or knew it). As to really getting rid of fear the best way may be Xanax. What is most effective (and used) in palliative treatment? Morphine or philosophy?)


I'd say that you have to fear something before you can fear the fear of it. I don't know if it is possible to get rid of fear, in some ways it would seem like a bad idea from a survival point of view. great post

Icon wrote:
We can fear what we do not know. Let me explain.

There is a certain type of fear that occurs when you are not sure what to expect. The reason that Children show almost no fear is because they have not fully developed and everything is new to them. They have no basis for the emotion of fear until they have experienced something which initializes the first fear response. From that point on, fear of the unknown is more like and anxiety based around not knowing what to expect.


Can you ever be sure what to expect? Some people are more afraid & imagine a painful outcome & will not go forward. Others imagine a happy, fulfilling outcome (or huge amounts of money to compensate for the pain) & do go forward not expecting much pain. Once the pioneer of the action has shown a safe way forward, others will follow.

I don't agree with the first fear response idea. There would then have to be a point like the flick of a switch where the child's behavior is suddenly altered & they suddenly fear lots of things-this doesn't seem to happen. They become gradually afraid of specific things which they have experienced or their new knowledge of the experience of others. It takes a long time for a child to become as afraid of ridicule as an adult. Some people don't really develop a fear of ridicule. Does this suggest it might be something we could control?

manored wrote:
We cannot even imagine the unknow, let alone fear it Smile But we can make previsions of what we will encounter based on past experiences, and fear those previsions. Fear of death is based on our survival instinct, but I think the strongest way to aleviate it is to realize you cannot die. (Altough I think afterlife is inevitable, some people dont. These people must then accept that being their senses the only thing that allows then to sense the passage of time, then those end along with their lives they will cease to sense the passage of time, and therefore time will not pass for then, and therefore they will not have died.)


I don't really want to go off into the 'what is death ' discussion (maybe that's already been threaded?) - interesting idea about the passage of time. However, if, after death, you cease to sense, it won't matter anyway. If you continue to sense, you won't have been extinguished. Is this way of thinking not just a way to alleviate the fear of death?
sarek wrote:
Fear of the unknown is a way for any lifeform to err on the side of caution. Creatures that are too careless will become extinct. Most animals are better safe than sorry.

I agree
but would say that it is better to realize the source of the fear & understand the reasons for your fear than just allow the fear to completely control your reactions.

Khethil wrote:
Fear needn't be specific. Fear of the unknown (as Sarek pointed out) is very primal and very pervasive. As soon as the young mind realizes an unknown situation, it's outcome, too, is unknown.


Are you afraid of this unknown or the possibility that a previous known unpleasant outcome could arise?

Khethil wrote:
Do we not gravitate towards what we know? Do we not feel safer in "familiar" surroundings and situations?


Yes, this is why I am saying that fear is the projection of the known upon the unknown.

Khethil wrote:
You're correct in that what that danger might be does seem to come from the imagination. But without a specific object on it, and based on our instinctive association for survival and the familiar, the mind has been trained over time, to be wary.

We give the unknown a specific object in our imagination & our fear is based upon this, not in the unknown.

Khethil wrote:
Good question

Thanks

sarek wrote:
You can try and decide to be brave, but if you walk your (small)dog at night and you hear unknown noises coming from the nearby bushes, chances are you will be reluctant to get to close. Even if you intellectually know it's probably just a cat.


I'm at least as afraid as the next person, even if I know it's only a mouse. I'm not trying to deny fear, just understand it's cause & our potential to use it to our advantage rather than our detriment.

Catchabula wrote:
Just musing on children and fear. Isn't it true that the fear that children have -whatever be its origin or explanation- is always countered and compensated by their curiosity? Same goes for many animals and for adults and also for scientists and philosophers: sniff.. run... sniff... run ...sniff sniff sniff! Natural fear is always followed by some equally natural counter-movement, driving the creatures that fear towards a confrontation with that same fear and with what is perceived as its source or origin. Fear mostly disappears when what is feared is seen, explored, known. If fear was really dominant we would still live in a cave and sacrify virgins and oxen. Culture is always the result of courage, man continuously trying to overcome his fears by action and thought, and it works. Fear may be real, but "growing up" is for kids and adults and humanity defined by the way one deals with fear, the way of dealing with it being generally the same. It's curiosity or some related drive resulting in some more or less well conceived plan and some more or less effective action, thus overcoming the unknown and reducing fear. Columbus being the archetype here. I hope I did not disturb something. Please go on...

Fear Vs Desire-(emotional Deathmatch!) I would say that you do not confront the fear, you just ignore it. If I do something that I am afraid of, I am still afraid when I am doing it. I may be afraid of it the time after that too. Desire is stronger, otherwise we would indeed stay in the cave(or sail across the atlantic-i would say he had much greater fear of that which he left behind than that which he hoped to find). I think this is more like realizing or accepting your fear & moving past it rather than confronting it.

Mod Edit - Fixed all the quotes that were in blue. Please use the multi-quote button to quote multiple posts and remove the text between the tags not needed in quote as displayed above. Thank You!
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Khethil
 
Reply Fri 28 Nov, 2008 04:01 pm
@Catchabula,
Yes, good post Catch.

Catchabula wrote:
... Fear mostly disappears when what is feared is seen, explored, known...


Quite true, but only when the fear of the unknown (which the opening post said didn't exist) is revealed to be unfounded. Which makes doubly-important this next point...

Catchabula wrote:
Fear may be real, but "growing up" is for kids and adults and humanity defined by the way one deals with fear, the way of dealing with it being generally the same.


Well put. How one deals with that fear of the unknown is essential to their personal growth.

Catchabula wrote:
If fear was really dominant we would still live in a cave and sacrify virgins and oxen.


This point; however, I'm a bit curious about. It's my belief that fear still is a dominant part of our lives (for some more than others). I also believe that whether or not someone's aware of this element - where it is the case - is by no means guaranteed. There lies at the heart of our motivations a "stew" comprised of ideas, needs, wants, desires and perceptions. I believe that fear (in one form or another -that many believe stems from the ultimate fear of death) is a constant companion, whether we like or know it.

Thanks for reading.
 
Catchabula
 
Reply Fri 28 Nov, 2008 07:11 pm
@Khethil,
Sorry folks, no revelation or Big Synthesis here, just some all too vague and unripe thoughts, and possibly completely unrelated. Does any of you likes horror-movies? Why are they made for really? Why are we so fascinated by them? Do they compensate for something? Do we miss fear in modern-day society, so often equalled with the jungle but in fact quite opposite from it (the development of society can be seen as a clear answer to fear: we gather and organize). Yes, we can actually miss fear, and that does say something about its nature. Whatever causes it, whatever be its relation with the unknown, it is Really Important to us, it is indeed the spice -even the essence- of life. (Parenthesis. Fear releases huge quantities of adrenaline. What do we really need and what do we miss most when we don't have it? Seems all connected with some body fluid, even happiness is enough dopamine in the brain. Where be my beer? ;-) ). We talked about what follows from fear, what is originated by it, fear driving us first into our cave but ultimately out of it, confronting, exploring, always resulting in some triumph, in growth of strenght, of body and (inevitably) mind. Let me (quite hypothetically) expand this idea to the limit (and now I sense some danger ahead). Without fear there would be almost nothing that is relevant to us, there would be no evolution, no expansion, no change, no striving, because all striving has some relation with the fear of death, with the fear of not having enough time for whatever be our projects. Fear may be practically equal to life, death being the only condition of being without fear, death threatening when fear gets lesser (*). Where is our "shot", our whiplash, our detonator? When you think of it, can there ever be conceived something truely human that is not an answer to fear, that cannot be related to it? Religion? Only too obvious! Science? So often for protection. Philosophies? Consolations (often worthless). Kids know fear, not because of the known or the unknown, but because they are humans, not lizzards or plants or bacteriae, these being the only kind of creatures that (can) live without fear. It does not need a great neurologist to tell you that fear is only possible in a well developped cortex, that itself may only have evolved through a complex interaction with fear. How sharply one perceives and thinks when one hears the noises in the bushes (c'mon Sarek, be a man ;-) ), would we ever suppose it was a cat if there was not some fear to cause the supposition? Would we even leave our cosy room if we didn't hope for the noises? Do we seek fear because we seek the world? "The silence of these vast spaces frightens me" (Pascal), so we let our rocket engines roar. Must be continued. Sorry if I didn't listen, even more sorry if I said nothing. Better next time.

(*) The fear of death being the fear not to fear anymore? Hold yourself, Catcha!
 
avatar6v7
 
Reply Sat 29 Nov, 2008 06:44 am
@Catchabula,
Catchabula wrote:
Where is our "shot", our whiplash, our detonator? When you think of it, can there ever be conceived something truely human that is not an answer to fear, that cannot be related to it? Religion? Only too obvious! Science? So often for protection. Philosophies? Consolations (often worthless).

I think that the very nature of fear can lead us to falsely believe it is a totality. When you are afraid, it seems to overide other thoughts, feelings and morality itself, but we can overcome fear, it does not control us. It is possible to define the universe in terms of any emotion. I could claim that everything we think of is a reaction to rage, or love, or greed but it would be an oversimplification. I do not like reductionist views of the universe, as they tend to solve the questions about the universe by refusing to recognise most of the questions.
 
manored
 
Reply Sat 29 Nov, 2008 07:42 am
@pqzod,
pqzod wrote:
Thanks all - more questions than answers. (why is it ever so?)




  • Is it possible to fear anything other than pain? (Physical, Mental, Emotional)


  • Fear is based on past experience (your own or others) which is then projected onto future possible events. Is there any situation where this is not the case?

Personally, i would be much more afraid of going blind than dying. Apart from the pain of dying, death seems kind of like an adventure. It's inevitable & I've no idea what will transpire after I expire so I don't really see what there is to be afraid of. (easy for me to say seeing that it is not staring me in the face, maybe I'm just missing the point -I'll check out Boagie's post & Soren - thanks for the reference).
I will try to answer your questions... no, and maybe, if you count fears that babies are born with such as fear of noise. Smile

avatar6v7 wrote:
I think that the very nature of fear can lead us to falsely believe it is a totality. When you are afraid, it seems to overide other thoughts, feelings and morality itself, but we can overcome fear, it does not control us. It is possible to define the universe in terms of any emotion. I could claim that everything we think of is a reaction to rage, or love, or greed but it would be an oversimplification. I do not like reductionist views of the universe, as they tend to solve the questions about the universe by refusing to recognise most of the questions.
Things get simpler and simpler as our understandment of then grows, so I think we actually should seek for the simplest explanation that puts all the pieces togheder. Remembering again that there is NO ABSOLUTE ANSWER, we have to chose one...

As for fear it probally indeed controls us, or rather is a fundamental part of our very mind. Its not fear of failure and of your fears being unbased that makes you superate other fears? Smile
 
Catchabula
 
Reply Sat 29 Nov, 2008 10:47 am
@manored,
Catcha agrees that his words are "Jaws II", kinda copycat. See him place dynamite on strategic places, to blow up his ugly monstrum. Before one teaches, one must learn. Back to the benches!
_______

Thinking may sometimes be hampered by modesty, insight is always hampered by pride (The Good Pupil)
 
manored
 
Reply Sun 30 Nov, 2008 07:36 am
@Catchabula,
Catchabula wrote:
Catcha agrees that his words are "Jaws II", kinda copycat. See him place dynamite on strategic places, to blow up his ugly monstrum. Before one teaches, one must learn. Back to the benches!
_______

Thinking may sometimes be hampered by modesty, insight is always hampered by pride (The Good Pupil)
try another time...
 
avatar6v7
 
Reply Sun 30 Nov, 2008 08:28 am
@manored,
manored wrote:

Things get simpler and simpler as our understandment of then grows, so I think we actually should seek for the simplest explanation that puts all the pieces togheder. Remembering again that there is NO ABSOLUTE ANSWER, we have to chose one...

Occam was a fool. We should choose the most complex answer.
manored wrote:

As for fear it probally indeed controls us, or rather is a fundamental part of our very mind. Its not fear of failure and of your fears being unbased that makes you superate other fears? Smile

Fear is a fundamental part of us, but it is not the only part. It can control us if we allow it.
 
 

 
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