When did you become a cynic?


Cynicism is actually not a stylistic device, but a worldview. Here you will learn everything about the meaning and effect of cynicism using many examples.

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  • Cynicism in philosophy
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  • Cynicism - Meaning and Effect
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  • Differentiation from other stylistic devices
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What is cynicism

"Sometimes I would rather live in a dictatorship when I think about what kind of stupid people live in our democracy!" - That statement is very cynical. In this case, the speaker is disapproving of the values ​​of democracy. He therefore despises the principle that all citizens participate in the exercise of power in the state through free elections.

The pejorative attitude is the main characteristic of cynicism. Cynics have no respect for social codes of conduct and moral values. That's why they speak often despising about that. Their comments are mostly very derisive and condescending.

The term "cynicism" is derived from the ancient Greek word kynikos (doggie) and originally referred to a direction of the philosophy. Today you use it to denote a callous, inhuman attitudewhich is often very cruel and hurtful.

Cynicism - Examples

At different Examples you will quickly understand what cynicism can look like in a specific case. First you will see in some cases how cynicism is used today in everyday life or in literature. Then you will learn something about the philosophical cynicism.

cynical meaning: Cynical is the adjective, i.e. the adjective of cynicism.

cynical definition: Cynical therefore usually means something like "mocking in a cruel, unrelenting manner".

Cynic meaning: Cynicism actually means the same thing as cynicism, but it is used less often.

Cynic meaning: A cynic is a cynical person.

Cynicism in everyday life

You meet again and again in everyday life cynical peoplewho stand out for their malicious comments:

  • “I think the Corona rules are a lot of nonsense. Better to let nature take its course and let the old and sick simply die. Then at least the problem of an aging society would be solved! "
    • Here the speaker devalues ​​basic values ​​such as the protection of the weaker, respect for the elderly or solidarity.
  • “What do women always want with their emancipation? They belong in the house by the stove, after all, that's how they are genetically predisposed! "
    • This example goes against the legitimate requirement that all people should be treated equally.
  • “Your grandpa died? Don't act like that, all over the world a lot of people die every day! "
    • The speaker disregards the social rule of conduct that one should treat mourners with respect.
  • “If you keep doing your academic performance like this, I'm sure you will allNobel Prize Winner!“
    • Cynics often use for their comments irony and / or sarcasm, like the teacher in this example.
  • "Money is just worthless paper!"
    • Here you can see that cynical people often do not value wealth and property.

Cynicism in literature

Cynicism in the literature has a long tradition. In the polemic Writers fight in discussions and try to get their own opinion through. Instead of exchanging factual arguments, they attack each other and also make cynical statements.

Example of cynicism in polemics:

  • Author A: “Author B is an incompetent dilettante! The jurors must have forgotten their glasses when they read his book and awarded him the prize! "
  • Author B: “Author A is a belligerent oddball who is more concerned with arguing than writing. It is a miracle that he works as a writer at all and not as a professional arguing! "

Another type of text influenced by cynicism is satire. The authors often attack politicians or social conditions. A well-known example is “The Devil's Dictionary” by Ambrose Bierce. It lists the meanings of various words, but from a cynical perspective:

  • admiration: Our polite recognition of the similarity of the other to ourselves. "
  • Finance: The art or science of managing income or money in such a way that the administrator gets the most of it. "
  • novel: An exaggerated short story. "
  • truth: Inventive amalgamation of desirability and appearance. "
  • cynic: A villain whose poor perception sees things as they are instead of how they should be. "

Cynicism in philosophy

The term "cynicism" originally comes from philosophy. It is a current of ancient philosophy, which is often also called "Cynicism" referred to as. Your representatives wanted through the Renouncing possession to attain bliss. They also questioned other social values ​​such as shame or respect and viewed them as superfluous. But morals and ethics were very important to them. That is, they made a distinction between good and bad actions.

The ancient philosopher Diogenes is the best-known representative of this trend. It is said about him that he voluntarily led the life of a poor man and is said to have lived in a bin. He had few possessions and did not obey social rules. That's why he got the nickname "Kýon" (Dog), from which the term "cynicism" or "cynicism" later developed.

Philosophical cynicism - example: An anecdote, that is, an incident, has been passed down about Diogenes: The famous Emperor Alexander the Great once visited him at his bin. The ruler was impressed by his simple way of life and offered to grant him a wish. Diogenes replied: "Just get out of the sun!"because Alexander's shadow fell on him. With this answer Diogenes showed that social values ​​such as wealth or respect for the emperor were not important to him.

Note:Throughout history, ancient "cynicism" has one Change of meaning and has evolved into the understanding of “cynicism” that prevails today.

Cynicism - Meaning and Effect

As you can see, there is cynicism rather not a stylistic device, but a Core belief. A cynic has a certain attitude that shows in what they say. His worldview has often changed experience evolves and does not change from one day to the next. The writer Oscar Wilde once said: "I'm by no means cynical, I only have my experiences, which amounts to about the same thing."

Most of the time, cynics have an extreme negative relationship to the world and to society. Therefore generalize they usually complicated matters in order to adapt them to their worldview. This means that they apply their own experiences to the bigger picture; for example, a cynic has been treated rude in a store and he subsequently assumes that all salespeople are bad people.

Because cynical sayings break with many social values, they often come across as hurtful, malicious and disrespectful. As a result, it always occurs again and again dispute. They rarely come across as humorous.

Differentiation from other stylistic devices

The terms irony, sarcasm and cynicism are often used synonymously in everyday life. Sometimes they are even used as an enhancement. The term "sardonism" creates additional chaos. Therefore, there is great confusion about them among many differences. Here you can see at a glance how you can tell the linguistic features apart:

  • irony: You say thatoppositeof what you actually mean. That often comes across as humorous.
    • Example: "Here I wouldprefer to spend my next vacation! "[At a large, noisy intersection]
  • sarcasm: You attack your counterpart personally and ridicule his or her characteristics. With direct sarcasm, you are expressing your message, with indirect sarcasm, however, you leave ironicin front. Sarcastic expressions are rarely funny, but rather hurtful.
    • Example:"But punctuality isn't your forte, is it?" [You're too late]
    • Example with irony:“If you go now, you will comeeven on time!“ [You are already way too late]
  • Sardonism: While sarcastic utterances are malicious or scornful, sardonic utterances are grim or painful. They no longer contain humor and are often accompanied by angry laughter. This is what you call "sardonic laughter".
    • Example: "Now I've finally got all my enemies out of the way!" Shouted the king and laughed sardonically.
  • cynicism: It's not so much a stylistic device, but an attitude of mind: Cynics reject social norms and often make fun of them in an ironic or sarcastic way.
    • Example:“Happiness is when bad luck hits others” - Horace
    • Example with irony: Luckythat there is on the job so many capable applicants gives. I can't make up my mind!“ [The speaker thinks they are all unsuitable]

As you can see, irony, sarcasm, cynicism and sardonism have many differences. The colloquial understanding that the terms mean the same thing is fundamentally wrong. The only thing they have in common is that they all often hurtful or mocking to be needed.

Is it still a mystery to you what exactly the difference is? You can remove all doubts in our overview!