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Why It's Good to Think Cynically

July 14, 2013, 3:38 PM

What's the Latest Development?

Opposition to the ideas of others is too often framed in terms of cynicism, resulting in the objector being labeled as steadfastly against action, progress, change, and other forms taken to be universally good. But an important distinction in the debate over cynicism is rarely given its due. That difference is between thinking cynically and acting cynically. "There is nothing good to be said for people who cynically deceive to further their own goals and get ahead of others. But that is not what a good cynic inevitably does." Those who think cynically see their outlook as a lens through which problems can be addressed honestly, and action taken to solve them. 

What's the Big Idea?

While neuroscience portends an optimistic viewpoint by attempting to understand the brain chemistry behind positive and negative emotions, it claims that by understanding the neural basis of personality and mood, we can change it and so increase our optimism, health and happiness. "The deeply cynical result of this apparently cheerful viewpoint is that it encourages us to see what we think and believe as products of brain chemistry, rather than as rational responses to the world as it is. ... If that's not taking a cynical view of human merit and potential, I don't know what is."

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Read it at the Guardian


Why It's Good to Think Cyni...

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