Pas de panique ?

Les ateliers de l'éthique/The Ethics Forum 16 (1):4-17 (2021)
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Abstract

In this essay, we tackle the misconception that panic is simply a state of being « overwhelmed by your fear. » Panic, in our view, is not an extreme fear that necessarily pushes the person into dysfunctional, counterproductive and irrational behaviors. On the contrary, as we will try to show here, it is an emotion in its own right that has its own cognitive and motivational functions. We will analyze panic here as a reaction to a danger perceived as major, imminent and without clear solution, in the sense that the subject does not have a determined action plan to react to the danger. Panic thus implies special access to certain information or certain facts – a perception or apprehension of danger and its precise properties – and it is in this that it has a cognitive function. On the motivational level, we will defend the idea that panic involves tendencies to action appropriate to the situation as it is perceived. Contrary to popular opinion and that of philosophers,we will therefore propose away of conceiving panic as being able to be functional and thus, rational, insofar as this emotion helps us to reach our goals given the means of which we dispose. Contrary to what we might think, in some situations it is worth panicking.

Author Profiles

Constant Bonard
University of Bern
Juliette Vazard
University of Toronto, St. George Campus

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