Cynicism for progress?

Over at philosopher Massimo Pigliucci’s Scientia Salon, guest blogger Steven Snyder makes a case for Cynicism being the cure for what ails contemporary progressive politics. Interesting stuff.

How might neo-Cynicism develop from its ancient roots? One option is to take it in a more specifically anti-systemic direction. Tis true that there’s no such thing as being a complete anti-systemetician in philosophy in general or in life in particular, but I think it is still possible, and desirable, to move a fair degree in that direction. If we understand Cynicism as attacking convention for convention’s sake, we can extrapolate the approach beyond social mores, to include attacking conventionality in the very way we think.

A neo-Cynic project should also lessen the original’s asceticism to some degree — not just the sexual aspect of it, but its larger anti-material stance. Without the need to go ascetic, scorning and sneering at materialism and excessive attachment to material possessions is more needed than ever, especially in the consumeristic society that is the hallmark of the modern developed world.

In all of this, the key is to remember that any rebellion against convention is not to be done simply for the sake of rebellion, but rather for the amelioration of both one’s individual psyche and that of the larger community. Neo-Cynicism may be an important part of an increasingly urgent move beyond the present capitalistic system.

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