Essay question: Vulgarity is meaningful in specific contexts; there is nothing that is "universally vulgar." If ancient cynicism worked as a form of social critique — if, in other words, vulgarity and "frankness" can serve as a productive pedagogic tool for inducing self-criticism, personal insight, and ultimately, insight about the human world or some part of it — it was because it was calculated. Ancient cynicism inserted itself into a society that valued beauty, independence, and honor; its effectiveness hinged on the way that it attacked these specific values and demonstrated the false or superficial way in which they were realized or expressed. Failing to be calculated in this way, one could behave in a roughly cynical (i.e. vulgar) manner but, as Epictetus suggests, fail to really be a cynic. Applying this to contemporary society:
A. What are our values as a society? How are they conventionally expressed? How, would real frankness and true cynic vulgarity have to operate in order to have the impact on us that Diogenes had on his contemporaries?
B. Are there examples of "false cynicism" today, forms of plain vulgarity, exposure, or frankness that play the part of the cynic but either (i) falls short of the mark, or (ii) serves not to expose the truth of things but to further conceal it by giving the illusion of having exposed it?
What does it take to be cynic today?
-Popular and have a following, respect and taken serious. Commitment, internally strong. Take criticism from others.
-What are our values now? Cynics Criticize wealth, beauty.
-What do cynics in our society criticize...wealth, beauty, power, recognition, monetary success. They are expressed through celebrities who we look up to. All through the media and so much focus on wealth. People we put on a pedestal are what we want. Judge our success on how other people appreciate it. Have to have a large enough following, documented on social media. You need to be educated so other people believe you.
-Who if anybody is trying to play the role of cynic today but failing to do so? Being vulgar or rude without any redeeming social critique:
False cynism: Trolls on internet who don't have any research to back.
Values in society: Intellect (person who doesn't respect learning is an error/dumb but we are not hurt by that) , monetary success , popularity, beauty, health (if someone doesn't value health they are dumb), politeness, power, patriotism (ex. kneeling for the flag...we would be offended if the value is violated), athleticism, race, religion (could be offended).
To what extent does the values discussed constitute offense vs. concern
Choose clear things that would lead to offense
-Burn a flag
-Kneeling for national anthem
-draw on certain stereotypes
How would a person decide how to be a person to flunk these values in a productive vs. unproductive fashion. Be a cynic in a proper sense and in an improper sense?