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The philosopher Simon Critchley, in Truthout:

I’m convinced that the conditions which we find ourselves in give us modest grounds for belief in emancipation and hope. One of the figures I continually come back to, is the figure of passive nihilism and I think we live in a time of pervasive passive nihilism. In the face of a chaotic and bloody world, one withdraws into oneself to cultivate practices of self-perfection. This can be linked to all sorts of new age beliefs, as well as to those that cultivate a sort of literary or aesthetic pleasure. I don’t share this feeling. I feel that human beings, in concert, in the right conditions, are capable of extraordinary outcomes.

I hate cynical irony, the form of knowing irony that’s just a form of protection from any sort of engagement with the world….

Properly understood, cynicism isn’t cynical – it’s opposed to moral hypocrisy, pride, pretension, luxury and people who think that they know what they’re talking about. To that extent, I’m amenable to certain forms of cynicism.

Critchley is moderating a new blog at the New York Times about philosophy.

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One Response to “Some Uses of Cynicism”

  1. Eric the Read Says:

    Personally, I’ve always been a big fan of hypocrisy. If you can always practise what you preach, your standards are too low.

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