Difference Between Cynicism and Skepticism

Skepticism and cynicism are two comparable ideas that pertain to a person’s attitudes. Although many people believe that these two concepts are interchangeable, there is a significant distinction between them. Skepticism entails questioning and disputing commonly held beliefs and facts. Cynicism is the belief that people are motivated solely by self-interest. 

Cynicism vs Skepticism 

The main difference between cynicism and skepticism is cynicism makes people believe that everyone is motivated solely by self-interest, whereas skepticism is an attitude of doubt regarding everything that doesn’t have a solid evidence background. Cynicism is a negative phenomenon, whereas skepticism is a positive phenomenon.

Cynicism and Skepticism

Cynicism is a pessimistic or dismissive attitude or way of looking at things. Although many people confuse cynicism with skepticism, there is a significant distinction between the two attitudes; skepticism relates to not believing anything without clear evidence, whereas cynicism refers to not believing in or trusting people in general. 

Skepticism is a general attitude of skepticism regarding claims of truth, especially when the claims are unsubstantiated. Skeptics frequently dismiss practically any assertion that does not have exceptionally strong evidence to back it up. Skeptics never accept opinions or facts without first questioning or doubting them. Without more investigation, he or she does not believe even the most widely recognized beliefs and opinions. 

Comparison Table Between Cynicism and Skepticism 

Parameters of Comparison Cynicism Skepticism 
Meaning It is an inclination to believe that people are motivated purely by self-interest. It is an attitude of questioning existing concepts due to a lack of evidence or facts supporting them. 
Phenomenon Negative phenomenon Positive phenomenon 
Mentality Closed-minded Open-minded 
Negative Factors It focuses on the negative factors. It challenges the negative factors. 
Effect of Evidence Cynics cannot be convinced by presenting evidence. Skeptics can be convinced by presenting evidence. 

What is Cynicism? 

Cynics (those who consistently practice or display cynicism) believe that people are inherently dishonest and selfish. As a result, cynics look down on others and don’t trust them. 

They are firmly entrenched in their negative ideas and hence cannot be persuaded by evidence or valid arguments. Skeptics are open-minded, whilst cynics are the polar opposite — closed-minded. 

Skepticism of persons and organizations that claim to be unselfish, altruistic, and virtuous is referred to as cynicism. 

Cynicism has come to mean “doubting something will happen,” which can be close to skeptical in some circumstances but not always. Cynicism is defined by a pervasive skepticism of the motivations of others. Cynicism is often confused with skepticism, but it is comparatively more negative.  

In Merriam-Webster, cynicism is defined as the belief that humans are greedy and dishonest. This means that a cynic is a person who will look at everything with mockery and only look at the negative side of a situation. 

They tend to be hostile to new ideas and distrustful of people. Unlike skeptics, they can’t be convinced by any evidence or facts because they have already made up their own stubborn views. They are closed-minded people. 

Cynics usually lack faith or hope in people who are motivated by desire, ambitions, aspirations, consumerism, etc. This is because a cynic perceives these things as vain or unattainable, or even useless. 

What is Skepticism? 

Skepticism (also skepticism) is derived from the Greek skeptics, which means to inquiry or look around. Skepticism is defined as a person’s questioning or skeptical attitude. A skeptic is someone who always expresses skepticism. 

Although many people regard skepticism as a bad concept, it also has a good aspect. Skeptics do not easily believe things. Hence they will always look for concrete facts and proof to accept or reject them. 

During the process of gathering evidence or data, he or she may introduce a new notion or solution. Skepticism necessitates a certain degree of intelligence. Skepticism can also be defined as being open to new ideas. Skepticism is an essential component of scientific thought. 

Skepticism, usually spelled skepticism, is the attitude of disputing knowledge claims made in numerous fields in Western philosophy. Skeptics have questioned the sufficiency or dependability of these statements, asking what principles they are founded on and what they actually establish. 

They have questioned whether some of these beliefs are, as claimed, indubitable or inevitably true, and they have questioned the ostensibly rational reasons for accepted assumptions. 

Skepticism is a positive phenomenon, even though people commonly think of it as negative because it questions concepts or opinions that are widely accepted. They require specific facts and evidence to trust any concept or claim. 

Skeptics are driven to look for newer, alternate ideas. This is a result of questioning an existing concept which makes people want to learn more about it. They try to propose a new concept or solution. This also ultimately means that they are open-minded and open to new ideas. 

Main Differences Between Cynicism and Skepticism 

  1. Cynicism is when people believe that others are driven only by self-interest. On the other hand, skepticism is when people question existing concepts due to a lack of evidence.  
  2. Cynicism is a negative phenomenon, while skepticism is a positive phenomenon. 
  3. Cynics tend to be closed-minded people. On the other hand, skeptics are open-minded people. 
  4. Cynicism focuses on the negative factors, while skepticism challenges these negative factors. 
  5. Cynics cannot be convinced by presenting evidence, whereas skeptics can be convinced by presenting evidence. 

Conclusion 

Skepticism, in its most basic form, challenges beliefs and questions whether assumptions are valid or not. Cynicism emphasizes the negative aspects of a problem. It is beneficial to be skeptical. It is not healthy to be cynical. Before they accept something is true, skeptics want to see evidence of it. Cynical persons do not believe any material with which they do not personally agree. 

In ordinary life, almost everyone is dubious of some knowledge claims; but, philosophical skeptics have questioned the feasibility of any knowledge beyond the contents of directly perceived experience. Skeptikos’ original Greek definition was “an inquirer,” someone who was dissatisfied and still sought the truth. 

References 

  1. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02650487.2019.1596448 
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0363811121000758 
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