FEAR AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES
Is it a tautology to say that fear is one of the primary
experiences of animal and human life? The evidence
is contradictory, at least as far as human beings are
THIS chapter discusses the relative insignificance of the concepts of (existential) fear and anxiety in the social sciences: they are not absent, but they seldom become major explanatory factors in analyses. A brief survey of current theories of culture will show that there are relatively few cases in which fear and anxiety are considered to be among the main motive forces underlying the generation and maintenance of human civilization. The reasons for this surprising absence will be discussed and a theory of civilization, based on the primary role of fear and anxiety, will be proposed.
I shall argue in this chapter that fear and anxiety play a greater role in the generation of human civilization than has generally been recognized in mainstream social science.1 It may be that they have played a more important role than the Herderian or Kantian striving for perfection, the economic and social forces of Marx, the Darwinian, Wilsonian, or Dawkinsian forces of selection and reproduction, the Durkheimian forces of social integration, the Freudian forces of sublimation and guilt-reduction, the Foucauldian forces of domination, or any of the other factors mentioned in various theories of culture.