The Heuristics of Fear: Can the Ambivalence of Fear Teach Us Anything in the Technological Age?

Roberto Franzini Tibaldeo

The paper assumes that fear presents a certain degree of ambivalence. To say it with Hans Jonas (1903-1993), illness fear is not only a negative emotion, but may teach us something very important: we recognize what is relevant when we perceive that it is at stake. Under this respect, fear may be assumed as a guide to responsibility, a virtue that is becoming increasingly important, because of the role played by human technology in the current ecological crisis. Secondly, fear and responsibility concern both dimensions of human action: private-individual and public-collective. What the ?heuristics of fear? teaches us, is to become aware of a deeper ambivalence, namely the one which characterizes as such human freedom, which may aim to good or bad, to self-preservation or self-destruction. Any public discussion concerning political or economic issues related with human action (at an individual or collective level) ought not to leave this essential idea out of consideration.

Keywords: Fear, Responsibility, Hans Jonas, Heuristics of Fear, Technological Risks

doi: 10.14746/eip.2015.1.9