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Allan's Philosophy Podcast

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Philosophy on Facebook # 8 - The Cynic in all of us

Hey guys. Im back after a very long week which still isnt done but I finally got a little break so i decided i'd write another note. I got the idea for this one in english class with the words of the week. When I heard the word cynic I felt like it had a very negative connotation. Its "official" ms o'connor definition is one who believes human contact is motivated by self-interest. It is basically implying a sense of selfishness in the person. I looked at it in a different light however and came to the decision that everyone is a cynic in one way or the other but definitely not in as harsh terms as the definition would put it.

One prime example for how this definition would be fulfilled in its negative connotation would be with rich people and the supposed "friends" that come with the increase in wealth. It's amazing how much more popular a person can get when word spreads about how much money they have. People believe that if they make friends with important people they will get to reap some of those rewards. If you were to hang out with a rich person they might be willing to spend their money on you or in a way let you in on the lavish lifestyle only the wealthy can afford.

One possibly not so negative way to look at an example of a cynic would be with networking. Networking is the term used to describe the act of making contacts and establishing relationships with people. This is used to build a group with which you can refer to and possible acquire help from in the future. Ms lerner uses this technique especially for the intern mentor at hammond so she can make contacts with people in positions of interest that would be possibly willing to mentor students. She said where ever she goes she always tries to make friends with people or build a network so she can help us students reap the benefits of those who she knows. Sometimes the saying "its who you know" is applied to real life whether we like it or not. If a job opportunity is in contention between you and a person whos best friend's dad is the boss then they will likely have a much greater chance at getting the job regardless of their abilities compared to you. If they are less capable than you but they have connections and friends in high places then the sad truth is that they will probably claim the job over you.

Being a cynic doesnt have to be a bad thing however. The reason I feel like we are all cynics is because of our social needs. Everybody wants to have friends or other people who they can build a social network around. We are motivated by our self interests to be friends with other people and interact with them. These motivations dont have to be selfish however, as you might like hanging out with somebody because you like to make them feel better or they might make you feel better. I know this is especially with my friends. Even through my busy life I try to make ample opportunities to spend time with the people around me who I have special relationships with . When im with my friends or my girlfriend, no matter what we are doing, it makes me feel better being with them and I can tell they feel the same way too. I could want to be friends with somebody because I feel like they are a genuine good person and I want those kind of people around me. They could also share similar interests with me or something beyond words could make me want to interact with them more.

There are probably many other ways to look at relationships but another one I want to talk about is the special relationships and what you would be willing to do to keep them. What I am talking about is making sacrifices for the people you really care about. I could be a cynic because I want to do whatever is in my power to make somebody else's life better. My self interest would be making others feel better. When I make other people around me feel better I get my own kind of "reward" in a sense with the warm tingly feeling in my heart. I cant really explain what this feeling is or why it forms but the sense of making others around me lives better fulfills my own self interests in a way. Not everybody feels this way however as people on numerous occasions take advantage of others for their own personal gains. While being called a cynic might not seem like a compliment there are ways that being concerned for your own self interests can be a good way to deal with the relationships in your everyday life.

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