Metamorfosi della paura nell'età globale


  • Elena Pulcini



Elena Pulcini, paura della contaminazione, paura, etica della responsabilità


Metamorphosis of fear in the global age

I shall begin from the assumption that the passions provide a fruitful slant from which to understand society and its transformations, since they enable us to highlight the motivations for social action. While it may be true that every epoch is characterized by the prevalence of some passions over others, it is undeniable that in the global age we are seeing a strong return of fear. But what type of fear are we talking about? What kind of metamorphosis does fear undergo in the global age? It is no longer the fear that, at the origins of modernity, was thematized in the Hobbesian paradigm as the emotional foundation of society and the State. In my opinion, we can single out two fundamental fears which characterize the global age: fear of the other and fear of the future. The first appears essentially as fear of he who is different (what I define as fear of contamination) because of the formation of multicultural societies; the second is prompted by the condition of insecurity due to the emergence of new challenges (from global warming to the nuclear threat, from the ecological to the financial crisis). In both cases, it is fear in the face of an indefinite object, namely, taking up a Freudian distinction, it is an anxiety rather than fear. Anxiety gives rise to defence mechanisms, in the first case resulting in the persecutory projection of fear and the construction of scapegoats; in the second case, in the denial of danger and of our condition of vulnerability. However, I would suggest that acceptance of the contamination and vulnerability, in the first case, could allow the overcoming of fear and the ability to offer hospitality towards the other, and in the second case a virtuous metamorphosis of fear and access to an ethic of responsibility.