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when is fear justified?

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libertygrl
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Posted 07/14/09 - 4:53 PM:
Subject: when is fear justified?
this topic is inspired by henry's comment about paranoia in the swine flu thread.

when is fear justified?

any thoughts?

smiling facelib

Edited by libertygrl on 07/14/09 - 6:26 PM. Reason: typo
Monk2400
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Posted 07/14/09 - 6:53 PM:

That's a really interesting question.

Can we ever really 'justify' fear? Is there a time when we can honestly say, 'ok, now we can be afraid, very afraid!'

I mean there is a sense that fear is something that needs to be controlled and conquered in a person, and that to give in to fear is a kind of weakness. And then there's the idea that the things we usually fear--loss--are rooted in unhealthy attachments to the world, attachments that we would do well to overcome in the first place.

There's the fear that's natural and unavoidable for a person who isn't in absolute control of their autonomic responses. This fear, like the flow of adrenalin, is something we will from time to time inevitably experience.

However, this sort can't be 'justified' except insofar as any bodily function can be justified.

Other kinds of fear the grow out of attachment, paranoia, desire, anxiety--these are usually things we have created for ourselves, or have allowed ourselves to become subject to. How can we justify them? In doing so we are only justifying our weakness and inability to see clearly to the heart of a situation, oru inability to be fully rational and centered.

And then there's the big fears--fears connected to things like the end of the world, things and events that we absolutely cannot possibly control--or avoid even if they were certain. These again cannot be justified, because they represent mere facts about what is, was, or will be, and we can't change them.

Death is a huge fear. But rationally, a la Epicurus, death is nothing to us, and in nothing there is no thing to be afeared or applauded.

I think it's natural that when we put our bodies and minds in certain positions we will experience fear. But whether any fear beyond that natural physical response can be justified--I don't know. I'm inclined to say no. To do so would be to assert that fear is a good and correct response. And unless it's a fight-or-flight situation, I doubt that fear is good or correct.

8)
smokinpristiformis
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Posted 07/15/09 - 2:56 AM:

Don't we fear for things all the time? I think I do. The trouble is when the fear takes over your mind - clouds your rationality, affects your decisions, sort of thing.
henry quirk
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Posted 07/16/09 - 9:34 AM:

What is fear?

Like paranoia: fear, I think, can be an example of a honed sense of self-preservation.

And: as I said about paranoia, the trick seems to be distinguishing between justified and unjustified fear.

For example: if Jack swims in an Olympic-sized pool, it seems to me to be an unjustified fear that he might catch fire and burn to death while immersed in water.

On the other hand: if Jack is making his way through a burning forest (flames licking at his ass!) then the fear of death by burning is wholly justified.
Zum
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Posted 07/16/09 - 9:02 PM:

It seems to me that the question as stated sort of presupposes a world in which one's physical reactions are entirely under the command of reason. If such a world existed, one could then examine a given situation and determine whether, according to one's criteria, that situation justified the reaction of fear. Then, after due reflection, one could permit or forbid that reaction.

This state of affairs may have been, in a sense, the ideal of the stoic philosophers, but only in a sense. On the one hand, they preached--and some of them practiced--disciplines that tended to help them see the universe as a whole, to judge themselves to be a mere part of it, to see that all things perish, to see that events occur in the universe regardless of their wishes, and to see that suffering and death are inevitable. Enamored of these calming thoughts, some of them seemed to have achieved a better than average quality of self control. Probably Marcus Aurelius, for example, was able to banish idle fears.

On the other hand, it was realism, not idealistic daydreaming, that they were practicing. Probably none of them dreamed of achieving a radical self transformation. Surely they knew that one can train one's "animal" so that it obeys, sometimes impeccably, externally: one can get the behavior one wants out of it, for a limited period, when someone is watching, when one is capable of watching oneself, but that the body has its own reasons and its own rhythms. Fear is an especially primal affect, centered in the body's interest in survival, and, at certain moments, I believe they felt it, despite all philosophy.

But let's for fun postulate a world in which an individual has full control over the emotion of fear and can turn it on and off, like a radio or a cell phone. smiling face Fear is designed to keep the person away from danger, if possible, and if not possible, to get him out of the perilous circumstance, or else to get rid of the danger by motivating him to disable it... Fight or flight. Finding himself in a particular circumstance, our individual could ask himself, "How dangerous is this?" If the intuitive answer is, "This is pretty bad," he could switch fear on, thereby flooding his body with adrenalin, and act within the inspiration of this elixir... (Even in real life, I now see, when the mind and body have come to an understanding, something of this sort can sometimes occur, at least when the worst consequences that may ensue are not too awful.)

I think it would be justified to pump the elixir in full force when the danger was acute and immediate. It would be justified to use a drop of it in situations where the danger was slight and/or merely possible, when action could be taken to avoid it. In the latter case, the fear would serve as a reminder. wink

It seems that in the real world, people often have SOME control over their fear when they have not grown up in a war zone or a similar condition. Politicians have been known to use fear as a way of manipulating the public into a state of uncritical acquiescence. The public eventually catches on, though. It can then reassess the extent of danger, and, although the body cannot always be commanded, it will often listen to common sense... When it does so, fear diminishes.

henry quirk
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Posted 07/17/09 - 9:00 AM:

"It seems to me that the question as stated sort of presupposes a world in which one's physical reactions are entirely under the command of reason."


I don't see that at all.

The question is, "When is fear justified?". 'Control' doesn't seem to be part of the equation.

Again: if Jack swims in an Olympic-sized pool, it seems to me to be an unjustified fear that he might catch fire and burn to death while immersed in water.

Whether Jack 'controls' that response, or not, is quite apart from his having it, and -- in having it -- being unjustified in the response, considering the circumstance.

In the same way: if Jack is making his way through a burning forest (flames licking at his ass!) then the fear of death by burning is wholly justified.

Certainly: fear of death through burning is gonna rise in him without his asking for it or controlling it. The fear, however, in that circumstance is, again, wholly, justified.

Edited by henry quirk on 07/17/09 - 11:27 AM
Zum
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Posted 07/17/09 - 11:45 AM:

Okay. So if your question was not meant to have an ethical dimension or implication, that of control, then you have answered it.
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Posted 07/17/09 - 3:13 PM:

But I will add that "justified" implies "justice" and "judgment," and that these words imply a system of standards--ethical or other standards...wink

henry quirk
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Posted 07/18/09 - 10:34 AM:

"..."justified" implies "justice" and "judgment," and that these words imply a system of standards--ethical or other standards..."

Yeah: you're right.

So I amend (and violate the whole thread!)...

If Jack swims in an Olympic-sized pool, it seems to me to be an INVALID fear that he might catch fire and burn to death while immersed in water.

On the other hand: if Jack is making his way through a burning forest (flames licking at his ass!) then the fear of death by burning is wholly VALID.


HA!


Of course: 'valid'/'invalid' can be viewed as reflective of some system of discernment or judgment, implying a standard or ethic.

Bottom line: in either scenario, Jack is responding in a way that 'I' find justified or not. Since I make no appeals to 'universal' systems, the context of my judging Jack or his response is wholly idiosyncratic.

You (or anyone) may disagree with my assessments of Jack. So what? Unless your assessment somehow trumps my own: I will judge Jack as I see fit.

The only way your assessment of Jack might trump my own is if you hold a power over me that forces me to agree with you. Barring that: I say Jack is a girly-boy for whining in the pool, about burning. You, of course, for reasons wholly your own, may disagree.

Our choices...

1-Agree to disagree.

2-Go to war in an attempt to force the other to adopt our views.


And: again, 'control' has nothing to do with the question at hand.
libertygrl
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Posted 07/18/09 - 11:04 AM:

henry quirk wrote:
Our choices...

1-Agree to disagree.

2-Go to war in an attempt to force the other to adopt our views.

henry you left out option 3 which entails the evolution (and willful modification) of our views on the basis of having heard sound reasoning from other parties. smiling face

my thoughts are that our actions are what we justify; in other words, sometimes in response to fear, we may make decisions which we may or may not consider justified. i think it's probably natural to conceive of or extend the concept of justification to the emotional source of the decision when it is actually the decision itself which is undergoing the process of justification.

fear is an emotion which will either happen or not happen, so i am in agreement that it is not something we control. we can choose to ignore it, but ignoring it is not the same as dealing with it (by integrating and healing), and unless it can be understood properly, it will never go away. we can reassure ourselves with statistics and probabilities - jack says to himself, "okay jack, think this through, how likely is it that this swimming pool is going to catch on fire" - but the source of the fear comes from somewhere else, from the pain of having been burned before (either literally or figuratively).

hence, in my opinion, no matter how rational or irrational the object of fear may appear to be, the fear itself is always valid (although its source may be misidentified at times). in other words, it is not the swimming pool itself that jack is afraid of, but the memory of his pain which may have been triggered while relaxing in the pool.

then we move on to the concept of justification, that is to say whatever justification jack may have for actually getting out of the pool. it is his actions which may appear justified or unjustified, to himself or the outside observer, but in my opinion the fear is always valid.
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Posted 07/18/09 - 12:08 PM:

I'm comfortable with "valid," too. You can say that a logical proof is valid. Its validity rests not so much on its conformity to a standard, as on the fact that its conclusion follows from, and is caused by, its premises, no matter who looks at it. In the same say, fear is caused by something--real and present danger; danger perceived but not real, or not present; long experience in a place of continuous peril; a deranged nervous system. And I agree that we call people cowards not when they experience fear, but when they allow it to determine their actions.

It seems that the idea of justification comes up in the arena of self-control. People can't always control fear as a feeling, as they can't normally control pain by telling it to go away), but they can often get a grip on the extent to which fear dominates them. If others are trying to manipulate Jack for their perceived or fancied advantage, Jack can often see through their attempt and estimate the degree of danger as compared to the amount of hype. Then his perception of the extent of real danger will be valid. Incidentally, his feeling of fear may, as a consequence, diminish. If he is in the military or the police force, he can teach himself to ignore the feeling of fear or use it as a stimulus, day after day; and perhaps it will become more obedient to him over time, and eventually remain only as a reminder or a special sense.
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Posted 07/20/09 - 2:16 AM:

Am sorry for writing without having read earlier posts:

'fear' on the whole is explicable and plays its role in scheme of things.

In society: 'fear' is justified as per the 'mores' and 'norms' of any particular society.

Personally: As far as it is convenient,enjoyable and adds to your excitement,it is 'justified'. Some of us may wonder how we can enjoy fear,you can realize ecstasy conferred by 'fear' after some observation.



Thank You
henry quirk
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Posted 07/20/09 - 10:44 AM:

"...option 3 which entails the evolution (and willful modification) of our views on the basis of having heard sound reasoning from other parties."

Agreed! At least on the little stuff...
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Posted 08/18/09 - 8:38 PM:

smiling facecONTROL....IS THE GREAT ILLUSION. oNE CANNOT "CONTROL" ANYONE OR ANYTHING WITHOUT "CONSENT OR AWARENESS" OF WHAT IS PERCEIVED AND EVEN IN THAT OBSERVATION, "FREE WILL" EXISTS, SO THAT CONTROL HAS NO TRUE MEANING. "fEAR"....IS THE SAME ILLUSION AND IT RENDERS ONE INTO A STATE OF IMPRISONMENT UNTIL IT IS REALIZED FOR WHAT IT IS.
smokinpristiformis
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Posted 08/19/09 - 2:31 AM:

"FREE WILL" EXISTS, SO THAT CONTROL HAS NO TRUE MEANING.


weird, I thought it'd be the exact opposite.
Thinker13
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#16 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 08/19/09 - 7:55 AM:

Control/Free/Will/Great/Illusion = Illusion.


Don't worry,a bit intoxicated right now.




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