Upon its publication in Germany in 1983, this author's book stirred both critical acclaim and consternation, attracting a wide readership. He finds cynicism the dominant mode in contemporary culture, in personal and institutional settings; his book is both a history of the impulse and an investigation of its role today, among those whose earlier hopes for social change have crumbled and faded away.
Sloterdijk's critique belongs as much to the genre of Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy as it does to that of Kant's critiques, for his objective is to see human society through his chosen concept rather than simply to explicate the concept in itself. He defines two aspects of cynicism; one, an ``enlightened false consciousness,'' akin to Marx's alienation, which pervades modern society; the other, a species of critical reason first exemplified by Diogenes. Sloterdijk is clearly indebted to Hegel, Nietzsche, and Horkheimer, but his discursive method will appeal to scholars of literary criticism rather than social science. Brent A. Nelson, Univ. of Arkansas at Little Rock Lib.
Sloterdijk finds cynicism the dominant mode in contemporary culture, in personal and institutional settings. His book is less a history of the impulse than an investigation of its role in the postmodern 1970s and 80s. The work was originally published in German as Kritik der zynischen Vernuft, 2v. (1983, Suhrkamp Verlag). This is a paperbound reprint of the 1987 cloth edition (1585-3; $45.00). Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)