If the greatest philosopher in the world finds himself upon a plank wider than actually necessary, but hanging over a precipice, his imagination will prevail, though his reason convince him of his safety (49). Many cannot bear the thought without a cold sweat. I will not state all its effects.(Pascal, Pensées)
This project explores phobia through twelve videos and many notes–absurd fears, where there is nothing to fear, really. Pascal’s philosopher standing on the plank above the abyss knows there is nothing to fear. He knows the plank is large enough. But it does not help. It is as if his vertigo were beyond the reach of his philosophy.
When Descartes is attacked by thieves on a boat crossing the Elbe, he does not panic. He draws out his sword. It is a natural fear that the philosopher overcomes with his strong character. Then there is Heidegger in the Black Forest, of course, and the anguish of Dasein: a great and noble fear, without any object.
I have never been able to experience the anguish of Dasein. I am happy in the forest… until I hear a crack in a bush and start wondering what kind of beast is hiding there. The Existentialists are like the Rationalists. In the end, neither of them fears anything in particular. Our stupid vertigo standing on Pascal’s board remains outside of their philosophy.
So can philosophy say anything about phobias? Can it offer a cure against phobias?