Open main menu



Coined by John Desmond Bernal in The Freedom of Necessity (1949): phobo- (fear) +‎ -sophy (wisdom, knowledge), in contradistinction with philosophy; compare sophophobia.



phobosophy (uncountable)

  1. The fear of abstract knowledge or philosophical thinking; anti-philosophy.
    • 1949, John Desmond Bernal, The Freedom of Necessity, page 393:
      The great advantage of anti-philosophical philosophy, or what we might call phobosophy or fear of abstract knowledge, was that it enabled you to take the world exactly as you found it and adapt yourself to it to your own best advantage.
    • 1954, The Jewish Quarterly Review, volumes 45–46, page 337:
      It is a remarkable doctrine which,[…f]ar from being “a philosophy of religion,” it is much rather a phobosophy, a fear of knowledge — neither essentially philosophic nor religious.
    • 1973, Thomas Stephen Szasz, The Second Sin, page 21:
      Philosophy is, literally, the love of knowledge; phobosophy is the fear of it. There are obviously more “phobosophers” in the world than philosophers.
    • 1997, Edwin A. Roberts, The Anglo-Marxists: A Study in Ideology and Culture, page 168:
      Bernal believed strongly that the whole of modern philosophy, save for Marxism, had let the spirit of the Enlightenment down, which he blamed on the rise of phobosophy or the fear of abstract thinking.
    • 2000, Leslie P. Steffe and Patrick W. Thompson [eds.], Radical Constructivism in Action: Building on the Pioneering Work of Ernst von Glasersfeld, page xiii:
      ‘[T]he best thoughts [of these scholars] could well be omitted’?? There must be a mistake. I couldn’t imagine such a severe case of phobosophy.

Derived termsEdit

Related termsEdit