Falling into Academia
Quiescence

Always Believe

Holding-the-sun-2Whatever you do, believe. Believe in yourself, believe in your world, believe in your future. A commitment to the true is a filter that guarantees the mundane – truth is worthy of understanding, but it’s a flimsy god. Certainty narrows the possible, faith expands it – why live in a world that is anything less than the most it could be? Always believe, but invest your faith with care as the charlatans want your trust as much as they want your money. Cynicism builds a wall that protects you from the hurt of failure, but it also ensures your isolation. Instead, believe – but believe wisely. That is, and always has been, the challenge.

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Cynicism is the oxygen of the aged.

As I grow older, I find it increasingly hard to avoid cynicism. But perhaps that's just me being cynical.

I think the misuse of the word, "cynicism" undermines this whole idea, because the cynics were originally the ones who saw reality instead of deluding themselves based on what they 'hoped' was true. Saying life is empty without believing in something beyond reality just shows a lack of curiosity about the real world, I think. Life is more amazing if you only look at what's really around you, instead of dreaming up things you want to be true, and devoting a piece of your mind to them, forsaking reality.

Chairmen: if cynicism is the oxygen of the aged, why do so many young men delight in it so? ;)

Scott: I acknowledge that the Cynics were not advocates of contemporary cynicism, but that doesn't change what 'cynicism' has come to mean. Trying to roll back the clock on terms such as these is quite impossible, alas.

"Saying life is empty without believing in something beyond reality just shows a lack of curiosity about the real world, I think."

Perhaps, but I do not claim this. What I do claim is that placing truth (the True) as the highest value radically curtails what counts as reality, in a way that narrows the possibilities that might be considered.

I do not counsel 'forsaking reality', I advocate 'believing wisely'. And this involves more than filtering the world and its possibilities into truth and its alternatives. Great changes, like those wrought by Ghandi and Martin Luther King, required faith in possibilities that could not possibly be taken to be true in advance. Belief was required to make them happen. That is what I mean when I say "believe in your world, believe in your future".

Take care!

Well... I could go into why MLK and Ghandi aren't really examples of religious men using their belief for good. But more importantly, it seems to me like you're talking about pessimism. I don't agree that the definition of 'cynicism' has changed... I think that the word is being mis-used. I don't see why, just because a word is popularly misunderstood, that should change its definition? You're just describing pessimism or nihilism and calling it cynicism.

Not really wanting to start a grand debate or anything, but I would be honored if you acknowledged that one fact! :)

Scott: what is it that you think that definitions are rooted in? Dictionaries describe word usages: once the word usages changes, the definitions change. There is no timeless standard to appeal to here, because language is always in flux. If you want to defend the Cynics from the accusation of cynicism, I can support you - anything more is out of my hands, I'm afraid! :)

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