Posted by: benk1988 | November 10, 2009

The Cynicism of Man

I don’t know whether it is the on set of the colder weather or the ever increasing years of my life but i have finally come to the decision that humanity is inherently bad. Having completed my Government and Politics A level several years ago now i know that the basic understanding is that left-wing liberals believe in the goodness of humanity compared to the right-wing ethos that the masses are constanty looking to get one up on each other and get ahead.

Having seen a fair amount of years come and years go now i have reached the opinion that mankind is inherently bad. I have reached this decision for many reasons however it is not with exceptions and reservations. Firstly when i say bad i do not mean that everyone wants to go around murdering each other but i do believe that the majority of people would cause a stranger a small harm if it improved their lives. If you asked a hundred people if they would question £500 suddenly appearing in their bank accounts the portion that said yes i would argue are being dishonest as even if they suspect it must be owed to someone else they would not want to enquire for risk of losing it.

This is not to say that mankind is always selfish, small mercies, so to speak, are often evident, people donate organs and blood and many give money to charity. However how many of these people genuinely do it for the good of others and not for the feeling of self satisfaction they garner from it. This raises the question is there such an action as entirely selfless deed. Surely all things that one does even in an unselfish manner would give the instigator the feeling of having done something right, therefore removing the unselfishness of the act.

Perhaps i am just getting old or perhaps it’s my cynicism arising from my constant desire to read the news and watch news programmes. Or on the other hand perhaps as im growing up the rose-tinted glasses handed out to everyone at birth are slipping from my frowning face.

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Responses

  1. Well, I’m even older and I agree with you!

    The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins is worth a look if you’re interested in this kind of thing.

  2. You are so wrong, although very well written. Look beyond and you will see whatever you want to see. Just look for the goodness.

  3. Interesting debate. I think it is generally correct that the political left generally takes an optimistic view of humans, and the political right is more pessimistic. But personally I prefer the dictum “pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the soul” since it is difficult to live day to day without hope. Interesting on this is the neglected German philosopher Schopenhauer, who was such a great influence on Nietzsche. For Nietzsche (whose line of argument can be trace back to Rousseau and is thus all pervasive) there is neither good nor evil and that the disappointment felt in human political behaviour is derived from the ‘slave morality’ of Judeo-Christianity which has unrealistically high expectations.

    Schopenhauer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GGwSe0ZptV0

    Nietzsche: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIc_cVX8fSo

  4. Your most certainly right there Chris, certainly with regards to Nietzsche in Thus Spoke Zarathustra, it could be argued that due to the fall of mass religion people have stopped fearing the afterlife and ‘judgement day’ and therefore care less about what a higher power may think of their behaviour and would rather seek personal gain. The premise that ‘pessimsim of the intellect, optimism of the soul,’ is a nice one but i fear i have begun to doubt even this. It is a very difficult question, i give blood regularly and would give even more often were i permitted but is this out of some act of kidness or some desire to feel like i am doing good? Furthermore does it matter which or is all that matters the fact that i am helping society regardless of motivation?


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