THE CYNICS The Lives of Diogenes of Sinope & Hipparchia
The most radical group of philosophers in Late Antiquity was undoubtedly the Cynics. Inspired by Socrates (who else!), the cynics believed that the goal of life was to live in conformity with nature. This meant rejecting--usually through scorn, sarcasm, and ridicule--all of the decadent social conventions according to which other lived and which were viewed as artificial impediments to happiness. The primary source of cynical philosophy is found in the "Life of Diogenese of Sinope." Diogenes was a 4th century B.C. Cynic, who, as you'll observe from reading the text more than lived up to his notorious reputation for radical non-conformity!
As you read, be sure that you are able to answer the following questions:
Who were the Cynics and what is the origin of the school's name? (Introduction)
What does the Greek term "autarkeia" mean and how does it apply to the ultimate goal of Cynic philosophy? (Introduction)
Describe Diogenes' attempts to find a "good man" in the city of Athens. What were the results of this attempt? (Diogenes, §2)
Diogenes describes himself as "a Socrates gone mad." How do some of his actions in 4th century Athens bear out this description. What do you think Socrates would have made of Diogenes? (Diogenes, §3-5)
What was Diogenes' relationship with Plato and Alexander the Great? What do Diogenes' interactions with these two notable figures tell us about his character? (Diogenes, §6-7)
In what way was the female cynic Hipparchia every bit as radical as her male counterparts? What are some events from her life that embody Cynical philosophy (Hipparchia)
If you think that you understand the basic ideas in the text, to take the quiz for this unit.