Saturday, May 9, 2009

12 Diogenes of Sinope

It is interesting to see that around 320 B.C. the Greek were very interested in ehtics. They were searching for the answer on the question what makes man a good human being.
Socrates is one of the main representatives of this movement. Epicurus added his insights to the debate and now Diogenes of Sinope.
A funny guy....apparently the only philosopher in history about whom are known so many anecdotes.
In fact we don't know much about him. All information is second hand. Diogenes himself didnt leave written documentation on his views.
Yet the secundary sources give is a good insight in his ideas. Antisthenes was a student of Socrates, who lectured at the gymnasium Kunosarges in Athen after Socrates' death.
That must be the origing of the name 'cynici', which was later associated more literally with the meaning of the word 'kyon' which means 'dog and 'kynicos' which means 'doglike'.
Antithenes' main philosophy was that man should free himself from everything. Nothing should cause pleasure or pain. Nothing should bind man and the ultimate goal in life shoud be complete independence of the opinions of others and their laws. One should be completely selfsufficient.
Diogenes, a student of Antisthenes, took the consequences of this philosophy to the extreme and lived a really doglike life. Happiness could only be found by living 'according to nature', was his opinion.
That means, that only the basic physical needs should be fullfilled. And the story goes that when asked how he would fullfill his sexual needs, he masturbated in public to show how easy that was.
So he lived in a tub and survived by being a beggar. Critics on his philosophy claimed that in fact his attitute was hedonistic, because he lived on the generosity and productivity of others.
If we would take Diogenes attitude as a universal ethical rule, society would collapse. This kind of critisim didn bother the Cynici that much. They lived a life what we now would call ascetic.
And again we see how the human mind comes up with thoughts and ideas which are so recognizable. Ideas we also find in buddhism and taoism.
This may refer to the eternal struggle of mankind: to find a balance between the self and the external world, the observation that striving for only pleasure doesnt bring happiness.
Our self-consciousness forces us to face the question: what will make me a good (which is synonymous with happy) human being.
Along with the epistemological question (what can I know with certainty) this ethical question will dominate the coming centuries of philosophical discourse.
Our next group of philosophers will be Roman. men like Cicero ansd Seneca. They will continue this line of practical philosophy of life.
So far ancient greek philosophy

The Discussion

[13:32] herman Bergson: If you have any questions or remarks...feel free
[13:33] oola Neruda: what will make me a good (which is synonymous with happy) human being.
[13:33] You: The theme of Good or Happy appears a constant
[13:33] oola Neruda: why does good have to be also happy
[13:34] AristotleVon Doobie: Since he was basically a panhandler didin't his good and happiness come from the toial and pain of others.
[13:34] herman Bergson: you could compare it with the nirwana.....
[13:34] herman Bergson: just being.....
[13:34] Cailleach Shan: He still had to eat..... he must have depended on 'others' for that.
[13:35] oola Neruda: i do not see why good should also equal happy
[13:35] herman Bergson: well..oola...ti is a matter of definition of course
[13:35] Lighthorse Wilkinson: Did he advocate that all choose his philosophy?
[13:35] oola Neruda: in almost sounds like he was saying to be apathetic mean happy
[13:36] Cailleach Shan: I cannot imagine a world where everyone followed Diogenes philosophy..... who would take out the rubbish!!!
[13:36] herman Bergson: there is some special drive in man to leave verything free himself from all daily needs....
[13:36] Maphisto Mapholisto: ni, Lights - he asked that everyone think about their life and about society and its ways
[13:37] Lighthorse Wilkinson: Well that is freedom.
[13:37] herman Bergson: a way it seems to be
[13:37] herman Bergson: in the middle ages we will see the same movement
[13:38] Maphisto Mapholisto: and in Rousseau and Thoreau
[13:38] AristotleVon Doobie: Freedom's just another word for nothing left to loose?
[13:38] herman Bergson: and most of the time it is an opposition against the current society
[13:38] Cailleach Shan: lol true Aristotle.
[13:38] herman Bergson: like th emonks opposted to the wealtth and richdom of the roman catholic church
[13:39] herman Bergson: indeed aristotle
[13:39] Maphisto Mapholisto: i think i's also against mass thinking, the herd menality, not only the host culture
[13:39] herman Bergson: I think so too Maphisto...
[13:40] Maphisto Mapholisto: call me Maff, Teach
[13:40] Maphisto Mapholisto: :)
[13:40] herman Bergson: time and again you see such a movement in denying his own reality
[13:40] Cailleach Shan: Can you think of a person living today who is following a similar philosophy Herman.
[13:40] You: is it denying his reality or seeking a clearer one
[13:40] Lighthorse Wilkinson: But surely they realize that society can not exist with all parsites.
[13:41] Maphisto Mapholisto: indeed, Osrum
[13:41] Lighthorse Wilkinson: Much les mankind.
[13:41] Anna Parisi: Herman, could you explain more about being selfsufficient?
[13:42] herman Bergson: Well.... a number of things show up in th e discussion...
[13:42] Maphisto Mapholisto: would call a person who questions whether living in acquiesence with the Nazi State is good or not, a paraite?
[13:42] herman Bergson: the critisim on Diogenes being a parasite on society is a serious one
[13:43] You: Hot one there Maff
[13:43] herman Bergson: and the idea of being selfsufficient...
[13:43] Lighthorse Wilkinson: How can he be selfsuffcient and dependent too.
[13:43] herman Bergson: we'll see that return in the Stoa....
[13:44] herman Bergson: the main idea is to ignore pleasure and pain....
[13:44] Maphisto Mapholisto: would you call buddist monks (mendicants) parasites?
[13:44] herman Bergson: a kind of being in equilibrium
[13:45] Cailleach Shan: or 'Walking the Razor's edge' as my meditation teacher says.
[13:45] herman Bergson: a shapr balance Cailleach..:-)
[13:45] Cailleach Shan: The point of balance between the negative and positive polarities.
[13:45] AristotleVon Doobie: But what of passion?
[13:46] Cailleach Shan: Yes...:)
[13:46] Maphisto Mapholisto: aren't capitalist entrepreneurs parasites in their way, are maybe raptor, since their live off the work and property of thers?
[13:46] herman Bergson: yes..I think that that was the idea in that period too
[13:46] You: Go for it Maff Good Q
[13:46] herman Bergson: Maff.......calm down..:-)
[13:46] Maphisto Mapholisto: i'm on a rolle, herman, lol
[13:47] herman Bergson: I understand....but one question at a time
[13:47] Maphisto Mapholisto: thnx, i needed that - slap my face again, lol
[13:47] Lighthorse Wilkinson: Anyone who lives off the fruits of another is a depenent.
[13:47] Cailleach Shan: We are all interdependent in our so call civilised societies.
[13:47] Lighthorse Wilkinson: Yes.
[13:47] herman Bergson: yes...I think that this is the weak point in this philosophy
[13:47] herman Bergson: Diogenes lived as a beggar himself
[13:48] Maphisto Mapholisto: but the rainbow needs all colors, includin Diogenes Ble, doesn't it?
[13:48] AristotleVon Doobie: How lod did he live to be?
[13:48] AristotleVon Doobie: old
[13:48] Cailleach Shan: Eaten by dogs!!!
[13:49] herman Bergson: pretty fact he became a teacher in his later years...
[13:49] Maphisto Mapholisto: 90
[13:49] AristotleVon Doobie: Then I suppose he was a succes.
[13:49] You: and productive
[13:49] herman Bergson: a private teacher of two boys...forgot the details..:-)
[13:49] You: and us here today
[13:49] herman Bergson: so he eventualy worked for a living
[13:49] Maphisto Mapholisto: he and Alexander the great died on the same day
[13:50] Gray Cardiff: but alexander was only 30 i believe
[13:50] AristotleVon Doobie: Alexnader seems to plan a big part in supporting philosopheres.
[13:50] Cailleach Shan: Yes, his contribution is remembered....not the business tycoons and philanthropists of his day.
[13:50] Maphisto Mapholisto: yes, Gray
[13:50] Maphisto Mapholisto: Alex 30, Dio 90
[13:51] herman Bergson: something like that indeed..:-)
[13:51] Maphisto Mapholisto: Alex visited Dio ne day, so they were frends
[13:51] Maphisto Mapholisto: sort of, lol
[13:51] Maphisto Mapholisto: or so the stories go
[13:51] herman Bergson: seems so....there is a story....dont stand in my sun he said to Alexander
[13:52] herman Bergson: ok....
[13:52] herman Bergson: fi you have no further questions....
[13:52] herman Bergson: class dismissed..:-)
[13:53] Lighthorse Wilkinson: Thanks Herman.

Posted by herman_bergson on 2007-10-29 05:32:18

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