DIOGENES

Sinope
approx. 400 - 325 B.C.





BIOGRAPHY

A cynical philosopher, the basic representative of cynical philosophy. He was born in Sinope and came as a young man in Athens to study next to Antisthenes, founder of the cynical philosophy. He lived his live between Athens and Corinth, the last being the place of his death, in full age, in 323BC.

Diogenes the Laertian conducted a long catalogue of Diogenes’ works, out of which nothing was salvaged though. He collected maxims, anecdotes and details of the life of this great cynic, many of which however might be the fantasies of his later admirers. Diogenes led a very austere life and the Athenians loved him for his wits and intelligence, and his readiness to answer every question he was asked. He was loved also for the harsh and merciless criticizing the society of his time. He discussed only about ethical and social problems, while his teachings was rebellious and subversive, against the existing order of his time.

Diogenes sought for a radical change and transformation of society and the corrupt human nature. People, he said, have been made out of noble metal, alloyed however by circumstance. So it has to be once more melt and molded, for man to become once more a godly figure. To achieve this one has to study his own self, and understand human nature. This is how he will achieve maximum happiness. One of his basic beliefs, like Rousseau some thousand years later, was that man should return to nature.

Diogenes taught that nature supplied man with everything necessary for life, and it was man who created artificial and unnecessary needs and desires which often lead us to cunning and corruption. Natural and austere way of life is incomparably superior to the life we call civilized, a constant hunt of false pleasures, even worse than that of animals.

Tradition says that Diogenes lived inside a big jar, using his dogs as guardians to prove that even a house was something unnecessary.