Fear vs. Dread

Fear vs. Dread
pfmez
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Posted Aug 28, 2006 - 1:39 PM:
Subject: Fear vs. Dread
I know that, atleast when speaking about existentialism, that there is a very important difference between fear and dread. Fear has an object, one is afraid of something. Dread, on the other hand does not, because it is the fear of nothing. My question, then, is there a word that is an opposite to dread, namely the embrace of nothing? This is a subject i've been tackling lately, and I am very big on language and words, and I havent found a word that would mean this, and its very interesting to me that we don't have a word, at least in english, that fits my meaning. Perhaps this is new territory! Nihilism is close, but Im looking for something that might touch more on the embrace of non-existence, instead of fearing death and hoping for afterlife, hoping that there is no afterlife and that upon death one simply ceases to exist. How comforting.
jared3000
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Posted Aug 28, 2006 - 10:44 PM:

Nietzschean gay science (frolich Wissencraft, gaia sciencia) seems to fit. The meaning of gay in English has, of course, changed. Nietzsche's famous passage #125 in "The Gay Science" deals directly with this fear of nothing.

Zen Buddhist nirvana is another possibility, except it has developed in an entirely different context than the one in which you have posed your question.

I'd go with Nietzsche for starters, and since your into words, you could research the roots of the word nirvana and how it was adopted into non-Indo-European languages. I suspect from your interest in fear and dread that you have heard of Kierkegaard, in which case you could find a few months reading with the great Dane.

But gay, had it not been adopted to mean "homosexual," would have been a perfect fit in my opinion.
YoungJames
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Posted Aug 28, 2006 - 11:01 PM:

jared3000 wrote:
Zen Buddhist nirvana is another possibility, except it has developed in an entirely different context than the one in which you have posed your question.
This is a very interesting area. Indian philosophy has traditionally been very concerned with this sort of question, but the west has only started worrying about it recently with the rise of Nietszche and the existentialists.

Thus there are a plethora of sanskrit terms related to being and nothingness, such as anatman (no self) and the aforementioned nirvana. Seeing as sanskrit is an early Indo-European language, many English words share sanskrit roots (eg. the Hindu god of fire, Agni sounds suspiciously like "ignite.") I think it should be OK to lift words from sanskrit to use in english, and I also think that an examination of Indian metaphysical philosophy could be very useful to someone interested in existentialism.

There is a whole tradition besides our infant western one concerned with such ideas, and it couldn't hurt to include it in your explorations. In a way Indian philosophy could be considered part of the western tradition, without the semitic-style monotheism which Christianity and Judaism imposed on western philosophers until recently.

So I think rather than discount the Indian (and by extension East Asian) traditions as something wholly alien, we should include them in our studies. They are more closely related to our philosophies than people sometimes think. In fact aren't all philosophical traditions concerned with the basically the same things? The differences are primarily in the emphases placed on particular problems.



Edited by James Spence on Aug 28, 2006 - 11:20 PM
pfmez
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Posted Aug 30, 2006 - 10:49 PM:

Thank you very much!!
markb287
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Posted Sep 2, 2006 - 4:04 PM:

It is not a fear of nothing in the sense that one can mistake it with. It means fear of a possibility that hasn't come yet. In a sense, it is a fear of nothing, but nothing in the sense that it is non-existent at the time. Nietzsche speaks about saying "Yes" to life -- affirming life. Perhaps the word I'd use, though there may be no true opposite of dread, is hope. Hope is a wish (a desire) for the future, for possibility. So, in a sense, it is a want for something non-existent, for nothing, yet it embraces this possibility.

This is quite different from the idea of Nihilism, which doesn't embrace anything. It can't. It is absurd.
natureculturenothing
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Posted Oct 25, 2006 - 8:19 AM:

Perhaps the word I'd use, though there may be no true opposite of dread


Hope, as you say, does not affirm life. It is an invented antidote to fear. The true opposite of dread is love; not erotic or filial love, rather love agape; surrender before the unknown - i.e. the present moment before it is abstracted into thought or feeling.
DCHalls
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Posted Oct 26, 2006 - 12:41 AM:

I'm not sure if this might be a relevant comment, but when I read your question I immediately thought of Sartrian 'anguish'. I'm pretty rusty with my Sartre, but if I recall correctly, anguish is a kind of fear manifested in self-reflection while considering the future, especially the projection of futures of which we might produce through our own choosing. But the non-being nested in this interpretation invovles the recognition that we cannot make all of our future possibilities real, and therefore the present becomes a constant annihilation of what 'might have been had I chosen differently'. For Sartre, 'anguish' is precisely my consciousness of being my own future, in the mode of non-being. Non-being compels me to maintain being. An example he gives is the feeling of vertigo while standing over a precipice. (Actually, vertigo itself, for Sartre, is the sensation I experience from apprehending myself as a possibile nothingness that has become so by an act of my own freedom) The power of the possibility that I might choose to throw myself over is at the root of anguish. But in anguish, there emerges an essential strcuture of freedom, since freedom and non-being co-mediate each other in the manifestation of experience.

This is a loose sketch of what Sartre talks about in The Origin of Nothingness related to your question. It's pretty late and I guess I've been sloppy - I can clear it up if you have questions. Anyway, it might give you at least an idea of the concept you're looking for, borrowed from Sartre. If you have Origin of Nothingness, I believe most of the material related to what
I've been speaking of is somewhere between pp50 - 100.

Hope this helps,
~DCHalls

Edited by DCHalls on Oct 26, 2006 - 12:47 AM
markb287
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Posted Oct 26, 2006 - 10:45 PM:

natureculturenothing wrote:


Hope, as you say, does not affirm life. It is an invented antidote to fear. The true opposite of dread is love; not erotic or filial love, rather love agape; surrender before the unknown - i.e. the present moment before it is abstracted into thought or feeling.


Hmm...I'm not sure if love really counters dread. Hope, for me, is not just an antidote for fear. I can have hope for the future -- which means that I concentrate on a certain possibility. Hope is wish for a certain expectation. Like I hope I go I see my girlfriend tomorrow; in this context, I don't run away from fear. I simply wish to have the possibility of seeing her.

Every expectation involves an uncertainty for the future; if I knew I was going to see her tomorrow, then there is no hope -- but a knowledge.

So dread works in a way where it fears possibility; hope works in a way where it accepts possibility. Possibility is, at its base, a nothingness, because it has not happened yet. It does not exist.
acumensch
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Posted Oct 27, 2006 - 1:26 AM:

It's not clear what "opposite" plays in the case of dread. Dread is the fear of nothing. So would the opposite of dread be: the fear of everything? or would it be the anti-dread of nothing?
markb287
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Posted Oct 27, 2006 - 4:14 PM:

I get what you're saying. This is why I said that the closest thing that I can think of to being an opposite to dread is hope; not that hope is the opposite of hope. I'm not even sure if there is an opposite to dread. I chose hope because dread seems to be the fear directed towards nothingness. So dread is a type of fear. The opposite of fear -- definitely a positive feeling. Dread is not just the fear of nothingness, but the fear of possibility. Thus, the closest opposite I can find is a positive feeling towards possibility -- to me that is hope.
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