Reading: Cynical Theories

> 2020-11-19

This is a brief summary of takeaways from reading Cynical Theories [1] by James Lindsay and Helen Pluckrose of “grievance studies affair” [2] infamy.

Overall, the book does an excellent job outlining the history of the overarching worldview termed “critical theory” as well as presenting a number of succinct counter arguments against it.

The most interesting topics covered are the breakdowns of the individual fields within the broader philosophy.

Tracing specific ancestries and outlining each field’s current form and emphasis within the umbrella is highly valuable; it highlights both specific facets that the laity may more successfully understand and grapple with as well as potentially destructive tensions between the fields making up “critical theory.”

In the final chapter a valuable distinction is presented:

Liberalism sees knowledge as something we can learn about reality, more or less objectively; [critical] Theory sees knowledges as completely created by humans - stories we tell ourselves, largely in the unwitting service of maintaining our own social standing, privelege, and power.

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