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Critique of Cynical Reason by Peter Sloterdijk


In the preface, the author calls his book a meditation on the sentence "Knowledge is power."

This sentence fixed the course for the unavoidable politicization of thinking. Those who utter the sentence reveal the truth. However, with the utterance they want to achieve more than truth: They want to intervene in the game of power.

...

The old social democracy had announced the slogan Knowledge is Power as a practical and reasonable prescription. It did not think too much about it. The message was simply that one has to learn something real so that life will be better later. A petit-bourgeois belief in schooling had dictated the slogan, but this belief is disintegrating today. Only for our cynical young medicos is there still a clear link between study and standard of living. Almost everyone else lives with the risk of learning without prospects.

To summarize his preface, I think he's saying that the pursuit of knowledge has become ever more machiavellian, dry, cynical, and useless to the layperson, because the pursuit of knowledge is now a path trampled by elites competing with each other for social power. Most elite youth are not streaming into professional schools to help people, or even to enjoy learning, but to secure themselves within the upper levels of the social hierarchy. I think he wants to encourage his readers to make the pursuit of knowledge purely fun again, instead of something we do merely to arm ourselves for economic or political supremacy. I think he wants to critique this cynical knowledge-industrial-complex by poking fun at its contradictions and excesses, by disrobing it, by experiencing the magic of colorful thinking, cognitive sensualism, and perhaps even a bit of old-fashioned idealism.

He'd probably agree that Philosophy Should be Fun!


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