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William Hupy
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Postby William Hupy » Mon Jan 14, 2013 10:56 am

I am, at times, accused of being cynical, when I feel I am only being critical, but truth be told, I am not certain where the line is drawn. In other words there is a subtle difference between these two words, but I do not know what it is.
William A. Hupy

Perry Lassiter
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Re: cynical

Postby Perry Lassiter » Mon Jan 14, 2013 11:55 am

To me, critical is first an action. Cynical is an attitude. A person who is always critical has a characteristic, but all of us criticize at one time or another. Some people are generally cynical, but many are simply cynical in one area, e.g. politics.

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Re: cynical

Postby eberntson » Mon Jan 14, 2013 5:42 pm

I just read an excerpt where it talked about happiness and it's relation to the triad of critical thinking, pessimism, and cynicism. These three words seem to move as a pack through literature and philosophy. They often seem to be at odds with hope, love, and charity.

Let’s face it—we humanists are a dour lot. Temperamentally critical, often pessimistic,
frequently cynical, we have a penchant for wearing black and thinking about death.
by Darrin M. McMahon, Florida State University, from "Teaching Happiness Is No Joke"

It is interesting that many discussions of the human condition involve critical thinking, and one trys to not allow cynicism and pessimism to color the conclusion one might make too much.

Fear less, hope more;
eat less, chew more;
whine less, breathe more;
talk less, say more,
and all good things will be yours.
--R. Burns

Philip Hudson
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Re: cynical

Postby Philip Hudson » Mon Jan 14, 2013 5:51 pm

Two comments on cynical, one from the Bible and one a poem from the past. The Bible does not contain the word cynical in any translation I know of, but the righteous woman/man described in Psalm 1 is certainly not cynical. I chose KJV because it is familiar and beautiful. And yes, on occasion I have been cynical.

Psalm 1
King James Version (KJV)

1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
4 The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.
5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
6 For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

I remember the following poem from my childhood. I know it is from the sentimental era of poetry and not considered one of the greats, but it has a sweetness to it that is not cloying.

The House by the Side of the Road

THERE are hermit souls that live withdrawn
In the place of their self-content;
There are souls like stars, that dwell apart,
In a fellowless firmament;
There are pioneer souls that blaze the paths
Where highways never ran-
But let me live by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

Let me live in a house by the side of the road
Where the race of men go by-
The men who are good and the men who are bad,
As good and as bad as I.
I would not sit in the scorner's seat
Nor hurl the cynic's ban-
Let me live in a house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

I see from my house by the side of the road
By the side of the highway of life,
The men who press with the ardor of hope,
The men who are faint with the strife,
But I turn not away from their smiles and tears,
Both parts of an infinite plan-
Let me live in a house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

I know there are brook-gladdened meadows ahead,
And mountains of wearisome height;
That the road passes on through the long afternoon
And stretches away to the night.
And still I rejoice when the travelers rejoice
And weep with the strangers that moan,
Nor live in my house by the side of the road
Like a man who dwells alone.

Let me live in my house by the side of the road,
Where the race of men go by-
They are good, they are bad, they are weak, they are strong,
Wise, foolish - so am I.
Then why should I sit in the scorner's seat,
Or hurl the cynic's ban?
Let me live in my house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.
- Sam Walter Foss
It is dark at night, but the Sun will come up and then we can see.

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