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    Cynicism is a philosophy advocating that money, power, fame, and all other conventional desires are the wrong things to chase, and that virtue leads to true happiness. Cynicism also dislikes the superficiality of society and how it encourages the endless and meaningless pursuit of power and money.

    The main representatives of Cynic School of Philosophy were Anthistenes, Diogenes and Crates of Thebes.

    History[edit | edit source]

    Diogenes Of Sinope[edit | edit source]

    Diogenes was an Ancient Greek philosopher borned around 404 or 412 BC in Sinope in modern day Turkey. He was a part of a relatively rich family that was enrolled in the banking business. At some point, Diogenes was forced to flee the city due to his active defacing of the local currency. He traveled to Athens and joined the Cynic movement led by Anthistenes. Diogenes quickly became a leading member of the movement, and many stories have been written about his life.

    Modern Cynicism (Cynicalism)[edit | edit source]

    In 2nd Century AD, A roman satirist named Lucian often described Cynics of his time as unprincipled, materalistic, self-promoting hypocrites, who only preach what Diogenes practiced. Centuries later, Renaissance and Reformation writers, reading off of Lucian's texts, began calling their rivals Cynics as an insult as people who criticized others while having nothing worthwhile to say themselves, which later turned into the modern definition of "Cynic" - a person who thinks that everyone acts out of pure self-interest, even when having a higher motive for that.

    Beliefs[edit | edit source]

    Simple Living[edit | edit source]

    Simple living in Cynicism embodies a philosophy that rejects the complexities of modern life, opting instead for a lifestyle focused on meeting essential needs and cultivating virtues. It is an intentional detachment from material excess, promoting self-sufficiency and frugality. This approach transcends a mere rejection of consumerism; it's a conscious resistance against unnecessary desires and superficial pleasures.

    Cynics view simple living as a path to freedom, emphasizing a harmonious relationship with nature and a redirection of focus towards inner fulfillment. It stands in stark contrast to the hedonistic pursuit of fleeting indulgences, encouraging a genuine appreciation for sustainable joys.

    In this philosophy, material possessions are considered distractions, diverting attention from the pursuit of virtue (aretē) – the highest good according to Cynicism. The simplicity of living is not a form of deprivation but rather a deliberate choice to create an environment conducive to personal growth and a meaningful existence.

    The Cynic's rejection of superfluous desires and emphasis on essential needs align with the belief that true happiness arises from a life unencumbered by excess. It is a conscious effort to liberate oneself from the constant pursuit of possessions, valuing experiences, and personal development over material wealth.

    Asceticism[edit | edit source]

    Asceticism in Cynicism represents a deliberate commitment to self-discipline and intentional self-denial. It is a profound rejection of excessive comfort, luxury, and indulgence, serving as a cornerstone for the Cynic philosophy. This ascetic lifestyle is not merely about physical austerity but extends to spiritual and philosophical growth.

    Cynics who embrace asceticism intentionally detach themselves from the allure of material possessions, challenging societal values that equate success with material wealth. The practice involves minimizing dependencies on external comforts, fostering a mindset that values inner strength, resilience, and autonomy.

    Asceticism in Cynicism is a conscious counteraction to hedonistic pursuits. While acknowledging the value of genuine pleasures, Cynics resist the transient allure of hedonism, advocating for a deeper and more enduring source of contentment found in virtuous living.

    Through ascetic practices, Cynics aim to detoxify their lives from superficial desires, fostering a minimalist lifestyle that emphasizes moral integrity over material abundance. This intentional self-discipline is not a form of deprivation but a pathway to freedom – freedom from the distractions of excessive desires and a liberation into a life that prioritizes inner fulfillment and virtue.

    Contempt for Social Conventions[edit | edit source]

    Contempt for social conventions is a defining aspect of Cynicism, embodying a robust rejection of societal norms and cultural expectations. Cynics, with their disdain for conventional values, intentionally challenge established practices and mock societal conventions that they perceive as artificial or hypocritical. This defiance is not mere rebellion but a strategic philosophical stance aimed at exposing the disparity between societal ideals and the pursuit of virtue.

    In their contempt for social conventions, Cynics actively engage in public critique. Using satire and wit, they unveil the inconsistencies and superficialities embedded in societal norms. The public acts of Cynics, such as Diogenes' unconventional behaviors and open criticism of prominent figures, symbolize their commitment to challenging the status quo.

    This rejection of social conventions aligns with the Cynic virtue of Aretē, emphasizing that true goodness and moral excellence are not found in adherence to societal norms but in an authentic commitment to living virtuously. The Cynics' public defiance serves as a potent reminder that societal expectations should not dictate one's ethical principles or compromise individual integrity.

    Contempt for social conventions, therefore, is not a rejection of ethical conduct but a bold assertion that virtue transcends cultural expectations. It is an embodiment of philosophical courage, challenging the prevailing norms to foster a more genuine pursuit of moral excellence and self-realization. In the world of Cynicism, authentic virtue stands above societal expectations, and the contempt for social conventions serves as a powerful tool to awaken individuals to this profound truth.

    Cynic Virtue (Aretē)[edit | edit source]

    Cynic Virtue (Aretē) takes center stage in the philosophy, representing the pinnacle of moral excellence and the highest pursuit for Cynics. Aretē encompasses a holistic concept of virtue that goes beyond mere adherence to moral principles. For Cynics, virtue is not a theoretical ideal but a practical, lived reality that informs every aspect of one's existence.

    Living in accordance with Cynic Virtue means cultivating qualities such as wisdom, self-sufficiency, and moral integrity. It is about embodying these virtues in daily life rather than simply professing them. Aretē is not a passive state but an active engagement with the world, requiring constant self-reflection and a commitment to ethical living.

    Cynic Virtue also implies a rejection of external goods as the measure of one's worth. Instead of seeking validation or happiness through material wealth or societal approval, Cynics find their fulfillment in the pursuit of virtuous living. Aretē serves as a guide for navigating life's challenges, emphasizing the importance of inner character over external circumstances.

    In the Cynic worldview, Aretē is not an unattainable ideal but a practical goal achievable through conscious choices and a commitment to personal growth. It is the foundation upon which a meaningful and virtuous life is built, urging individuals to strive for excellence in their thoughts, actions, and relationships.

    Public Critique[edit | edit source]

    Public Critique in Cynicism is a potent expression of the philosophical stance that challenges societal norms and exposes the artificiality inherent in cultural conventions. It goes beyond a passive rejection of established practices; instead, it involves an active engagement with the public sphere, often employing satire and wit to highlight the incongruities and superficialities of societal expectations.

    Cynics engaging in Public Critique adopt a fearless and candid approach, practicing philosophical parrhesia – speaking truth boldly even if it challenges or offends others. This commitment to unfiltered expression serves as a tool for dismantling the illusions of societal norms and prompting individuals to question the authenticity of their values.

    The public acts of Cynics, exemplified by figures like Diogenes of Sinope, who carried a lantern in daylight searching for an honest person, symbolize a deliberate effort to expose the lack of sincerity and virtue in a world driven by external appearances. By publicly challenging prominent figures and societal ideals, Cynics aim to inspire a reevaluation of ethical principles and a shift towards a more genuine pursuit of virtue.

    Public Critique aligns with the broader Cynic philosophy by asserting that the true measure of a virtuous life is not conformity to societal expectations but a commitment to living in accordance with inner moral principles. It stands as a powerful reminder that authentic virtue requires a critical examination of prevailing norms and the courage to speak out against hypocrisy.

    Autarkeia[edit | edit source]

    Autarkeia, or Self-Sufficiency, in Cynicism is a foundational principle that underscores the philosophy's emphasis on independence and freedom from external dependencies. It represents a deliberate choice to rely on oneself rather than being entangled in the pursuit of material possessions or societal approval.

    For Cynics, Autarkeia involves cultivating a lifestyle that minimizes reliance on external goods. It goes beyond mere economic self-sufficiency and extends to a state of mind where individuals find contentment and fulfillment within themselves, independent of external circumstances.

    Living in accordance with Autarkeia means actively resisting unnecessary desires and pleasures that do not contribute to genuine well-being. Cynics intentionally detach themselves from the constant pursuit of possessions, recognizing that true happiness arises from inner contentment rather than the accumulation of material wealth.

    Autarkeia aligns with the rejection of societal norms and the pursuit of Cynic Virtue (Aretē). By embracing self-sufficiency, individuals are free to shape their lives based on their ethical principles rather than conforming to external expectations. It stands as a powerful assertion that personal fulfillment comes from an inner richness of character rather than dependence on external validations.

    In the Cynic worldview, Autarkeia is not a withdrawal from the world but a courageous assertion of one's autonomy. It empowers individuals to navigate life on their terms, fostering resilience and an unwavering commitment to virtuous living irrespective of external circumstances.

    Philosophical Parrhesia[edit | edit source]

    Philosophical Parrhesia in Cynicism embodies a fearless and bold form of expression, emphasizing the unfiltered and courageous speaking of truth even in the face of potential consequences. It is a powerful tool used by Cynics to critique societal norms, challenge conventional wisdom, and provoke critical reflection among individuals.

    Cynics who practice Philosophical Parrhesia reject the constraints of polite or diplomatic speech in favor of a direct and candid approach. This form of communication is rooted in the belief that authentic virtue necessitates an unapologetic confrontation with the realities of the world, even if it disrupts social harmony or challenges prevailing beliefs.

    By engaging in Philosophical Parrhesia, Cynics aim to expose hypocrisy, challenge the status quo, and prompt individuals to question the authenticity of their values. This commitment to speaking truth boldly is not merely an act of rebellion; it is a philosophical stance that underscores the importance of sincerity and transparency in ethical discourse.

    Philosophical Parrhesia aligns with the broader Cynic philosophy by emphasizing that true virtue is not found in conformity but in the courageous pursuit of moral excellence. It stands as a reminder that genuine philosophical engagement requires the willingness to confront uncomfortable truths and challenge societal illusions.

    Variants[edit | edit source]

    Antistheneanism[edit | edit source]

    Cratesianism[edit | edit source]

    Diogeneanism[edit | edit source]

    Diogenes believed human beings live artificially and hypocritically and would do well to study the dog. Besides performing natural body functions in public with ease, a dog will eat anything, and make no fuss about where to sleep. Dogs live in the present without anxiety, and have no use for the pretensions of abstract philosophy. In addition to these virtues, dogs are thought to know instinctively who is friend and who is foe. Unlike human beings who either dupe others or are duped, dogs will give an honest bark at the truth. Diogenes stated that "other dogs bite their enemies, I bite my friends to save them."

    Diogenes maintained that all the artificial growths of society were incompatible with happiness and that morality implies a return to the simplicity of nature. So great was his austerity and simplicity that the Stoics would later claim him to be a wise man or "sophos". In his words, "Humans have complicated every simple gift of the gods." Although Socrates had previously identified himself as belonging to the world, rather than a city, Diogenes is credited with the first known use of the word "cosmopolitan". When he was asked from where he came, he replied, "I am a citizen of the world". This was a radical claim in a world where a man's identity was intimately tied to his citizenship of a particular city-state. An exile and an outcast, a man with no social identity, Diogenes made a mark on his contemporaries.

    Hipparchianism[edit | edit source]

    How to Draw[edit | edit source]

    Relationships[edit | edit source]

    Friends[edit | edit source]

    Frenemies[edit | edit source]

    • Nihilism - You reject desires and you're extremely effective at getting your message across, but you are in no way virtuous and I could even say that you are a net HARM to cynicism.
    • Stoicism - I have influenced your worldview and we both share the same ethics, but why don't you outright reject all the nomos if you're not truly attached to them?

    Enemies[edit | edit source]

    Further Information[edit | edit source]

    Wikipedia[edit | edit source]

    Theoreticians[edit | edit source]

    Literature[edit | edit source]

    Articles[edit | edit source]


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