Up@dawn 2.0

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Rethinking Cynicism and Skepticism

      Until doing this week’s reading I had never heard of cynics and skeptics in the Philosophical sense. Reading about these different schools of philosophy intrigued me. It made me look at these terms and their roots. Russell states that “[Diogenes] decided to live like a dog, and was therefore called a ‘cynic’ which means ‘canine’” (p. 230).  I never knew this meaning of the word cynic. Whenever I think of the term cynic, or cynical, I think of someone who has only terrible outlooks on life. To me a dog is the exact opposite of the currently utilized version of this term. Dogs are loving, and usually happy. It amazes me how much the meaning of the term has changes. Russel states this plainly. Russell said that Diogenes had “an ardent passion for ‘virtue’” (p.231). He seemed to have no want for “worldly goods’ (Russel, p.231). The more I contemplate this the more it worries me. Why has this term gotten so far away from its initial meaning? The aspect of Cynicism in philosophy seems to be a good thing in way. It almost seems aspirational to live in the way cynics did. They did not need to worry about the unnecessary things the average human does. This left them the time and brain space to do what is deemed more important.
     The Skeptic school of philosophy honestly confused me slightly. It seems to me that they were maybe skeptical about whether or not they needed to be themselves where ever they were. What I took from the readings was that they lived in the way of the people around them. I do not understand how they could so easily do this. I could not just change my ways of thinking to match those around me. There are aspects that I feel extremely deeply about. I could not simply dismiss these passions just because the people around me did not agree with, or care about, them. I also would not want to just do whatever work was done by the people around me at any given time. My passions link directly into the work I plan to do.(H1)

1 comment:

  1. Reading about the origin of the word "cynic" threw me for a loop a bit. The original definition does seem very off from the way we use the word today, with the original referring to those philosophers who saw no need for worldly goods as opposed to today's cynic which refers to those who are, let's say, skeptical of others and their intentions. Perhaps the words can be related in the modern day cynic'c contempt for people's selfish intentions relates to the ancient cynic's contempt for what was deemed selfish and unnecessary?