Tag Archives: cynicism

John Stuart Mill

In his views of life he partook of the character of the Stoic, the Epicurean, and the Cynic. In his personal character the Stoic predominated: his standard of morals was Epicurean, in so far as that it was utilitarian, taking as the sole test of right and wrong, the tendency of actions to produce pleasure or pain. But he had (and this was the Cynic element) scarcely any belief in pleasure: at least in his later years, of which alone on this subject I can speak confidently. He deemed very few pleasures worth the price which at all events in the present state of society, must be paid for them. The greatest miscarriages in life he considered attributable to the overvaluing of pleasures. Accordingly, temperance in the large sense intended by the Greek philosophers—stopping short at the point of moderation in all indulgences—was with him as with them, almost the cardinal point of moral precept.

John Stuart Mill, Autobiography, in The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Toronto, 1988, vol. 1, p. 48

Brian Tracy

It’s been said that you should never share your problems with others because 80% of people don’t care about your problems anyway, and the other 20% are kind of glad that you’ve got them in the first place.

Brian Tracy, Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time, 3rd ed., Oakland, 2017, p. 73

Seth Stephens-Davidowitz

Facebook is digital brag-to-my-friends-about-how-good-my-life-is serum. In Facebook world, the average adult seems to be happily married, vacationing in the Caribbean, and perusing the Atlantic. In the real world, a lot of people are angry, on supermarket checkout lines, peeking at the National Enquirer, ignoring the phone calls from their spouse, whom they haven’t slept with in years. In Facebook world, family life seems perfect. In the real world, family life is messy. It can occasionally be so messy that a small number of people even regret having children. In Facebook world, it seems every young adult is at a cool party Saturday night. In the real world, most are home alone, binge-watching shows on Netflix. In Facebook world, a girlfriend posts twenty-six happy pictures from her getaway with her boyfriend. In the real world, immediately after posting this, she Googles “my boyfriend won’t have sex with me.” And, perhaps at the same time, the boyfriend watches “Great Body, Great Sex, Great Blowjob.”

Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are, New York, 2017, p. 153

Kevin Simler & Robin Hanson

The line between cynicism and misanthropy—between thinking ill of human motives and thinking ill of humans—is often blurry. So we want readers to understand that although we may often be skeptical of human motives, we love human beings. (indeed, many of our best friends are human!)

Kevin Simler & Robin Hanson, The Elephant in the Brain: Hidden Motives in Everyday Life, Oxford, 2018, p. 13