Book: Everyday Humanism
Chapter: 2. Humanism and the Conquest of Fear
This chapter begins with the startling double-paradox that fear often makes us feel safer while actually increasing our individual and collective risk. Our dysfunctional relationship with fear has a profound effect on everything from parenting to education to entertainment to foreign policy. This essay uses recent research in the social and biological sciences to establish these premises, and then to argue that disentangling ourselves from our addiction to fear is one of the most urgent and progressive humanist projects of our time. It further argues that the history and philosophy of humanism make it especially well suited to inform and encourage this humane undertaking, though a profound refocusing of humanist attention is required.