Critique of Cynical Reason by Peter Sloterdijk

By Peter Sloterdijk

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Above all, it suspected everything that seemed to be pleasure and consent as being swindle, relapse, and "false" relief. It was inevitable that Critical Theory, particularly in the person of Adorno, came to feel the backlash of its exaggerations. The embodying of reason for which it had prepared the ground with the highest sensibility could not stop at the limits within which it was constrained by its initiators. What is happening today shows how many faces critique issuing from bodily vitality can assume.

There is something lamentable about the neocynical accommodation to given circumstances; it is no longer self-confidently naked. For this reason it is also methodologically quite difficult to bring this diffuse, murky cynicism to expression. It has withdrawn into a mournful detachment that internalizes its knowledge as though it were something to be ashamed of, and as a consequence, it is rendered useless for taking the offensive. The great offensive parades of cynical impudence have become a rarity; ill-humor has taken its place, and there is no energy left for sarcasm.

At best, only the latter can possess the dignity of a subject, for only when opponents consciously lie does the "wrong opinion" possess an ego. If one assumes error, the wrong opinion rests not on an ego but on a mechanism that falsifies the right opinion. " Error, however, quickly splits into two different phenomena: the simple error (which is based on logical or perceptual delusion and can be corrected relatively easily) and the persistent, systematic error (which clings to its own conditions of existence and is called ideology).

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