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On Being A Cynic (belated Response To Dick)

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Posted by Mike Levine on July 31, 2003 13:50:48 UTC

Hi Dick,

I just thought of writing something in response to this:

If one examines the advances of science throughout history, one will find many introductions of new meanings attached to old words. This kind of phenomena always occurs when original ideas are introduced. You seem to be an intelligent fellow and your abrupt desire to flee seemed to me to be inconsistent. The best explanation seemed to be that there were discussions going on of which I was unaware so I logged out to take a look

I don't know what you meant by 'flee' as I tried to make it clear that I wasn't leaving the website, just going back to work, which meant I wouldn't have as much free time as in the past week. Besides, even though I'm skeptical of the notion that some people can be classified as "intelligent fellow" while others are whatever the opposite of "intelligent fellow" means, I still can't understand what could possibly be wrong with my losing interest in your line of thinking.

At the risk of sounding offensive (it really depends on what you think of each other), you and Alan have quite a lot in common. So when I wrote this bit to Alan, just a few minutes ago, your posts immediately came to mind:

[quoting myself} I don't want to sound patronizing but I think you have to hear this. There is a great truth to the universe, which is unrealized by far too many people. The great truth is that we know very little but think we know a lot. It's very easy to convince yourself of anything you want, because when it comes to your own arguments, you are the most gullible guy around. Now don't you think you shouldn't trust one so gullible as yourself that much? Isn't the skepticism of others, their cynicism even, actually a blessing to help you defend yourself from your own naivete?

If I allow myself the liberty to use the word "intelligent" (bearing in mind my comments above), I guess I could say that both you and Alan are very intelligent, in the same sense that any child is far more intelligent than any adult. Yet adults have something which children miserably lack, and that could be described as some sort of lack of self-confidence, some sort of nagging feeling about everything, some sort of existential melancholy even. Hence skepticism and cynicism, two bitter tastes you acquire when you grow up.

As an adult however, I can't help appreciate what I am. When I compare my cynic self with the hopelessly self-confident child I once was, I think I'm much the better for having put away childish things. And in that sense, I'm very different from you and Alan, which is why I think dialogue about some things is just impossible.

Hope you get my message.



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