(by pyrrho for publishing jointly at MLW and DocuDharma)
philosophy for life in
I will be using the print version of the Oxford “Dictionary of
Philosophy” to refresh myself for this series.
Links offered may or may not have been referenced to research this post. I
may or may not believe their assertions or have been exposed to them, but
they are given to ease your direct research further into The Cynics.
This school of philosophy has a bit different origin. You have the Garden
of Epicurus, you have some pythagorean retreat, and you have even the
hardship embracing stoics, chatting on a painted porch, but the founder of
cynicism had a very different origin, the streets. He was homeless, he
begged, he lived in extreme poverty. He made a virtue of it, he was a student
of Antisthenes, whom Plato said was present at the death of Socrates… he
was known and respected, but his worldview involved waging “a crusade of
antisocial mockery, hoping to show by their own example the hollow illusions
of social life”, in the words of the Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy.
This series is presenting five ancient schools of philosophy as
archetypes, places in the western mindset which are the source of a lot of
By no means are these five archetypes meant to be limiting, there’s six
billion schools of philosophy really, but these really are sources for lots
of common ideas and themes over thousands of years so far.
Have you seen anyone, say, on the internets, wage such a crusade of
antisocial mockery? I have as a matter of fact. Cynicism is probably the most
defensible of all these schools on relevance to the modern condition, it
reflects a condition we have had consistently for the 2400 years since
Diogenes, and longer than that before. One seeks to condemn the philosophy
and philosopher, but it is drawn from realities in our culture.
I think it’s fair to think of each of these philosophies as suiting, or at
leasts adapted to, different specific niche environments, contexts within our
culture, certain subcultures or roles in culture that lend themselves to
certain realities… realities being what honest philosophers (perhaps a rare
breed) attempt to make world views of. And for the cynics, that is life in