Nihilistic Reason

Self-cognizant accommodation
“The new cynicism, precisely because it is lived as a private disposition that absorbs the world situation, does not glaringly draw attention to itself. It envelops itself in discretion; this is the key work for charmingly mediated alienation. The self-cognizant accommodation…no longer sees any reason to expose itself aggressively and spectacularly.”
The above advice—given in multiple forms to self and others—is central to the disposition of the contemporary nihilist. Nihilism is today a better term than cynicism since, as Michel Foucault has shown in Le Courage de la Vérité the cynics were not cynical in the sense the term is used today. Rather to the contrary, the cynics (and Sloterdijk argued for the same point proposing that the ancient philosophers be called Kynics and the modern ones cynics) played out their lives in public; they were truth-speakers both in discourse and in bodily actions.
There is a further refinement that is important to introduce here: many of the charmingly mediated alienated would refuse to acknowledge that their accommodation is self-cognizant. Their advice to desist from exposing oneself aggressively or spectacularly, or for that matter at all in any fashion, is meant often as friendly advice. Others proffer it as a warning as to the dangers and ultimate futility of engaging in any form of frank speech or serious engagement. Still others resort to bullying if the more muted warnings to cease and desist questioning are not heeded rapidly enough and in an obedient manner.
Thus, if one understands oneself to be cynical but not nihilist, the problem of how to handle what is an inevitable self-cognizant accommodation with the incessant stream of actions in the mode of enlightened false consciousness proves to be a thorny one. On the one hand, one has to accept the evidence that accommodation of one sort or another is a fact of life as long as one does not want to spend all one’s time engaged in webs of malice, whether bureaucratic in interpersonal, and recovering from the entry and exit thereof. On the other hand, since we are dealing with a self-cognizant accommodation one must develop a strategy for coping and taking care of the self, given this unhappy consciousness.
In order to do so, we are attempting to diagnose the situations encountered and subsequently attempting to produce concepts and equipment—parakeue—that make the self-cognizant accommodation bearable. Knowing full well that one is not outside the system, one is at least cautioned against the facile and false attitude of denunciation and its correlate speaker’s benefit. There is no glorious future to propose; one does not stand outside and view the world as picture; one is partially enmeshed in a range of milieux. This self-cognizance is a self-evident good as it highlights both humility and care for self and others.
Yet, the troubles, dissensions, discordances and the like, to use John Dewey’s language, demand or occasion thought and thought consists in acting in a situation so as to understand it, change it or at least diagnose the trouble with more accuracy. The art of survival, under the metric of eudaemonia, therefore consists in balancing complicity and refusal in an on-going fashion. One could refer to these hybrid affective states of self-cognition as ethical in so far as knowledge and care, truth and conduct are intertwined and troubled.
When one does want to act, when the sheer awareness of complicity with situations ranging from the merely banally corrupt to the more encompassing nihilism as a way of life, then one must consider option of frank speech, whether overt or by conspicuous withdrawal. Frank speech within the university world for tenured professors at the top of the scale risks a response like bullying. (Pamphlet from University). This bullying is unpleasant and meant to intimidate; it raises the emotion cost of speaking out.
More importantly, frank speech almost inevitably entails the activation of the malice networks. The real world ramifications of this activation are more hurtful to more junior colleagues. Consequently there is an additional component of self-cognizant accommodation at play.