About medical cynicism (notes on the doctor-patient relation)

Anton Adămuţ


In a major paper to which I shall further refer, Peter Sloterdijk analyzes six types of cynicism (the author calls them “radical cynicisms”). These are: military cynicism, that of state and leading power, sexual cynicism, medical cynicism, religious cynicism and the cynicism of knowledge. Medical cynicism, combined in some way with the religious one, represents the subject of the text that follows. It must be made clear that, in Sloterdijk’s manner, we shall use the implicit difference between kynism (the resistance to social conventions, often unnatural and even anti-natural, the so-called “bottom” attitude) and cynicism (repression, the so-called “top” attitude, potentate). This is how medical cynicism must be further understood, as it is totally different from kynism as such.


Marius Lazurca, The Invention of Body, Anastasia Publishing House, Bucharest, p. 25, 1995

Michael Henry, Embodiment. A Philosophy of Body, Deisis Publishing House, Sibiu, pp. 24-25, 2003

Jean-Luc Marion, The Erotic Phenomenon. Six Meditations, Deisis Publishing House, Sibiu, pp. 69-70, 2004. The idea can also be found in Jean-Yves Lacoste, A Theological Phenomenology, Deisis Publishing House, Sibiu, 2005, pp. 15, 17: “Our connection with exteriority completely depends on our corporality [...]. Or, no one can say about man that he is corpse, or that he has corpse, without knowing his quality of mortal”.

Jean-Luc Marion, op. cit., p. 162. In other words, we are in the world, but not of the world.

Peter Sloterdijk, Critique of Cynical Reason, vol. II, Polirom Publishing House, Iaşi, p. 146, 2003

Ibidem, p. 149

Claude Hiffler, The doctor in front of illness and death, in Bioethics and Sacrament of Person, translated by Nicoleta Petuhov, Bizantina Publishing House, Bucharest, 2006, p. 206. And the doctor Claude Hiffler is known as being preoccupied of the evolution of medicine and of the relation doctor-patient that he tries to spiritualize.

Peter Sloterdijk, Regulations for the Human Park, Humanitas Publishing House, Bucharest, pp. 36, 37, 41, 42, 46, 47, 48, 53, 2003.

Peter Sloterdijk, Critique of Cynical Reason, vol. I, Polirom Publishing House, Iaşi, p. 24, 2000

Diogenes Laertios, On the Lives and Doctrines of Philosophers, Polirom Publishing House, Iaşi, p. 203, 1997

Peter Sloterdijk, op. cit., vol. I, p. 130

Diogenes Laertios, op. cit., pp. 199, 202.

Plato, Charmides, 156a-c.

Ibidem, 156d-157a.

Ibidem, 157b-c.

H. Tristram Engelhhardt jr, The Fundaments of Christian Bioethics. Orthodox Perspective, Deisis Publishing House, Sibiu, 2005. The paragraph to which I refer is entitled “Consent, cheating and doctors: the reconsideration of free and informed consent”, pp. 455-467. Charmides, as patient, consents although he does not respect at least one of

the conditions of the consent given in an ideal manner: lucidity, autonomy and independence. At least lucidity is what lacks Charmides, without Socrates being a medical cynical, he even knows “the rules” of scammed therapeutics.

Peter Sloterdijk, op. cit, vol. II, p. 62-63.

Ibidem, p. 63.

Ibidem, p. 64.


Ibidem, p. 66.

Ibidem, p. 66-67: “The German word Arzt [doctor] was formed by taking the Greek word for <>, namely arch-iatros, house surgeon. This was the title of the courtly doctors that took care of the rulers from Antiquity […]. By means of Roman doctors, the word reaches the French Merovingians. From the royal courts, the title goes then to the personal doctors of the potentate ones, ecclesiastics and laics, and during the early Middle Ages period it becomes a general term for profession. Interesting in this semantic evolution is the fact that, together with the imposition of the title of doctor, an older name for healer disappears: he was called lachi (<>). The change

of meaning indicates a change in practices: the quasi-rational medicine of the potentate ones begins to replace the magic popular medicine […]. <> did not ever become a truly popular word, unlike <> […]. <>, as a scientist disenchanter of diseases, inspires until today more confidence than the archiater,

the doctor of the potentate ones.” And nobody will question that there was and there will be a medicine manifested as a dubious shadow of power.

Claude Hiffler, Euthanasia, in Bioethics and Sacrament of Person, p. 213.


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