The Faces of Fear
Number of pages
Fear of the dark, of loneliness, of unemployment and homelessness, of the unknown, of God or the devil. Fear appears not just in our daily experience, but also in our art, literature, and politics. Whether produced by true danger or imagined anxieties, it is a powerful human motivator. But, although fear is one of the most common of human emotions, it is the least studied.
Michela Marzano here views fear through the prism of her own field of sociology, using disciplines as diverse as film and literature, history and modern politics. In a well-researched but highly readable style, she helps us understand our deepest fears, from childhood monsters to modern terrorism, and shows how they can be—and sometimes are—used against us.
In The Faces of Fear, Marzano argues that one kind of fear, the universal fear of the other, arises because the other reflects a strange and unknowable something within each of us. Another kind of fear, the fear of the unforeseeable and the precarious nature of life, she explains, is not relieved by stability and control, but can be exaggerated by them. These fears push us to divide ourselves from others, to build walls, and to start wars.
The core fears of the other and of the unforeseeable can and have been used by governments around the world as a source of power and oppression. But Marzano offers hope that we can learn to live with the unpredictable and unexpected; that we can quiet the anxiety that emerges when we try to control the uncontrollable. She believes that by recognizing the nature of fear, we can move toward others with confidence and understanding. As we do that, she writes, we may finally understand ourselves more fully and learn to live peacefully with our fears.
Maria Michela Marzano : Michela Marzano has a doctorate in philosophy from the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa in her native Italy. She is currently a researcher and professor at the National Center of Scientific Research in France and the University of Paris Descartes, where she researches ethics and society. She is the author of numerous titles in France, including most recently Extension du domaine de la manipulation (Fayard, 2010), Le contrat de défiance (Grasset, 2010), and L’éthique appliquée (Presses Universitaires de France, 2010).