The man of the masses from the XX century to the XXI century has turned into a cynic: fixated on his own omniscience and the idea of universal commercialism, an aggressive bore, says the German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk. However, such self-confidence, based on unconscious projections of political theories two hundred years ago, breaks down when faced with contemporary art, the public attention to which the cynic cannot explain without plunging into conspiracy theories.
False Enlightenment and people who know everything.
Gottfried Benn has the words: "Being stupid and having a job is happiness." In his 1983 book Criticism of Cynical Reason, the German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk supplements this phrase with its hidden meaning: “to be intelligent and still do your job is an unhappy consciousness in its modernized, enlightened form”. We can say that here Sloterdijk attacks from the epistemological point of view the same problem that David Graeber considered in the anthropological study "Delusional Work": work is meaningless, but, importantly, earlier this meaninglessness was not noticeable, and only an enlightened consciousness is capable of deep revealing reflection. On the other hand, when Greber says that "delusional work is such a meaningless, unnecessary or harmful form of employment that even the worker himself cannot justify its existence, although he feels the need to pretend that it is not," he draws a line of demarcation between those , who admitted that the work is "delusional", and those who "pretend". We are interested in the case of those who pretend, because this is the best of the worst. Such a person makes the choice of the sovereign Machiavelli, who takes on sin for the common good. That is, he agrees to justify the lie. How is such a complex, almost philosophical position possible, which is accepted by everyone in different versions?
Sloterdijk speaks of a "cynic", a European man of the late twentieth century, who, along with philosophy, suspects that "all great themes were gimmicks: the Universe, Theory, Practice, Subject, Body, Spirit, Meaning, Nothing", and who witnessed the collapse of the socialist utopias and institutionalization of student revolutions.
From his unprecedented awareness follows radical skepticism, from skepticism - an instrumental attitude towards knowledge and, finally, cynicism. Explaining the essence of this consciousness, Sloterdijk provides a convenient model of the failure of the Enlightenment.
Apology of the crowd.
But here, too, one can find a place for an apology for modern man. There is a paradox that the opinion that the majority is stupid is rooted in the mass consciousness.
Everyone thinks everyone is stupid. But in fact, never before has the general mass of people been so smart.
And even the cited paradox itself can be interpreted as a trace of mass awareness of the long history of philosophical understanding of the phenomenon of the non-elite. The "people" of Cicero, the "slaves" of Nietzsche, the "bourgeois" of Baudelaire, the "masses" of Ortega y Gasset, the "cynics" of Sloterdijk represent a number of concepts that fix the different stages of development of the non-elite, each of which is different both quantitatively and qualitatively. ... Two transitions can be considered especially significant: the quantitative one from the "bourgeois" to the "masses", the qualitative one from the "masses" to the "cynics."
In other words, we have no reason to think that the “cynical” consciousness of a modern person is not a transitional or even the final stage in the development of the volume of culture that used to be a sign of elite consciousness. This is evidenced by eloquent statistics: the number of scientific articles per person in Europe, the total number of people receiving higher education. But one of the most eloquent examples is the recent tweeted post of municipal deputy Lucy Stein, who was detained in Russia during protests in the case of Alexei Navalny. In it, she writes with surprise that “a young special forces soldier, while they were stuck in a paddy wagon for three hours, read aloud an article from Wikipedia about the concept of“ resentment ”according to Nietzsche, reinforcing his thesis that the protesters envy the political elite, considering it the reason their failures. " This controversial example of both vicious shielding and unexpectedly appropriate erudition directly refers us to that touchstone that will allow, as during a session of plastic surgery, to outline the contours of a mask that has become a face.