Aristotle fundamentally disagreed with Plato, he believed that our actions in the physical realm ought to be be organized, and ethical. But quickly he found that grandfather Socrates was right about one thing: although we ought to be ethical, we are anything but!
3. The Cynical Generation
Plato’s pupil, Aristotle, spawned the cynical generation. “What is being?“, “Men are good in one way, but bad in many.“, “The weak are always anxious for justice and equality, the strong pay no heed to either.”
Interestingly enough the word cynic means ‘to live like a dog‘, and was coined to describe Diogenes, a philosopher at the time of Alexander who not only lived with dogs, but lived like them too. There are very few real cynics around. A real cynic is one who not only rejects all social norms and conventions but purposes to expose society itself as ridiculous.
When asked if he was a citizen of Greece Diogenes replied, “I am a citizen of the universe!” And so coined the term, ‘cosmopolitan’.
Before the word cynic was invented Plato described the condition beautifully right at the beginning of The Symposium: “I see, Apollodorus, that you are just the same-always speaking evil of yourself, and of others; and I do believe that you pity all mankind, with the exception of Socrates, yourself first of all, true in this to your old name, which, however deserved I know how you acquired, of Apollodorus the madman; for you are always raging against yourself and everybody but Socrates.”
Had he lived a few centuries later Plato could have just said, “Apollodorus you are such a cynic.”
You’ll get to see the importance of these early developments as we look at the current cynical generation. The cynical generation alive today we call the X Generation, born 1964-1984. The self-destructive grunge kids of the 80's and 90's.
Always born in a social awakening, this generation tends to reject norms made acceptable by the Selfish and Pessimist generations before them. Usually under-nurtured by their "selfish" parents, they tend toward independence and nihilism and are the great conspiracy theorists.
Daniel’s Picture of the cynical generation (Daniel 7):
“like a leopard, with four wings of a bird on its back. And the beast had four heads, and dominion was given to it.”
The picture Daniel paints is a twin of the pessimist generation, a less obvious strength but more insidious. It retains its ability but it has a built in identity crisis.
The cynical generations are under-nurtured and bitter. They battle to trust and to work and play in team, and generally regard any success they have as self-made.
The Gospel insists that strength and blessing come from God in an environment of like-mindedness, and unity. It places greater emphasis on interdependence than on independence.
Interestingly the cynicism of this generation is a result of stopping too short in both faith and conspiracy theory. The gospel is the greatest conspiracy of all time, but it is punctuated with self-revelation. The Word reveals Himself. Apocalypse does not mean some kind of great disaster, as the cynics have lead us to believe, it actually means a grand revealing.
The Gospel leaves no room for hard-hearted cynicism.