The cynics

The cynics is philosophical movement, which give to ancient greek thinking few of the famous philosophers.

It means “Dog-like” (Greek : kynokoi) and is related to Diogenes of Sinope. (400-325 BC), most known as “kyon” (dog), on account of his shamelessness.

Diogenes, founder of the cynic school

Diogenes was a primitivist: happiness, he taught, means “living according to Nature”, that is, satisfying one’s simplest “natural” wants in the simplest manner.

Desire for anything beyond the minimal bodily satisfaction should be condemned as “unnatural”; so, too, should any convention that inhibits the satisfaction of the basic requirements.

The reduction of one’s want’s to a “natural” minimum demands self-discipline, but leads to self-sufficiency and to freedom. Diogenes conveyed this disciples by bon-mots and drastic action (for example, by masturbating in public to show how simply one’s sexual desires can be satisfied).

His followers (Crates of Thebes, Onesicritus, Bion the Borysthenite, Teles and others) developed these principles in various directions; there was never an organized Cynic school. Equally, cynic ideas and attitudes, like cosmopolitanism and an emphasis on universal human nature, flamboyant individualism, a contempt for convention and culture, are common places of early stoic and epicrean moralizing.

The cynic sect flourished in the 3rd century BC and has a notable revival in the 1st century AD.

Cite this article as: Tim, "The cynics, June 20, 2012, " in Philosophy & Philosophers, June 20, 2012,

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