Home (Wittgenstein's Logic of Language) | Site Map - History of Philosophy

Antisthenes of Athens | Diogenes the Cynic

Outline of this page ...


Antisthenes of Athens, Socratic philosopher

Reading Plato, who ignores him, one would never imagine the importance of Antisthenes to Greek philosophy, e.g. to Greek Stoicism; one would think Antisthenes had been a minor Socratic philosopher. If different ancient documents had been preserved, our view of Greek philosophical thinking might be very different (I am thinking of Plato as not representative of it).

When writing about Socrates' students, those we have few documents for, we must presume as our basis that what we believe he has taught us is what he taught them too.

Query: what is life without ignorance? Is it wisdom?

According to the account of Socrates in Plato's Apology 23b, not life without ignorance but life without self-inflicted ignorance -- i.e. life without thinking you know what you don't know -- is wisdom. Why does Plato say this? Because according to his understanding of the words of Apollo's oracle at Delphi, knowing that one is not wise is the only wisdom the wisest of men has or can have.

Socratic test of knowledge

Was that also the view of the historical Socrates? "He used to say that he knew only his own ignorance" (Diog. L. ii, 32). But how does Socrates distinguish between what he knows and what he does not know -- i.e. isn't how to make that distinction itself "wisdom" [The word 'wisdom' is used equivocally throughout; its general meaning is: knowledge of the things it is most important for man to know], wisdom which Socrates can share with his companions, with Antisthenes, for example? Is not knowledge of logic ("the art of reasoning") wisdom (for a being whose proper excellence is discourse of reason)? According to Xenophon's account, Socrates (1) sets a standard by which to distinguish (a) what you know from (b) what you only think you know but do not; and (2) uses the method of step-by-step argument to agreement or refutation (by unclarity or contradiction) of Socratic dialectic (as does the Socrates of Plato ).

But Socrates' aim in philosophy is to find knowledge in ethics ("how to live our life"), and logic is only a tool towards that end. And therefore it was in ethics that Socrates "knew only his own ignorance" -- because what must man know in order to live a life guided by reason alone (the life of rational moral virtue)?

The Limits of Know thyself

We can't say that all man needs is to know the excellence that is proper to man as man and to himself as an individual man, (the two parts of "Know thyself"), in order to know how to live his life. Because that still leaves him without a universal standard -- i.e. a standard that tells him specifically what is the good and what he must do in every set of circumstances (Plato, Euthyphro 6d-7d).

There is a general rule (guide or standard) that The good man harms no one and seeks to benefit even his enemies (Plato, Republic 335e), and this rules out such wrong-doing (harm-doing) as kidnap, torture, rape and murder, denial of education, health, livelihood -- but decision-making about such gross wrong-doing is far removed from most men's lives. Nonetheless, the rule does disallow all forms of harm-doing, both to other people and to oneself.

Wrong-doing towards oneself includes such things as taking less exercise or more food and drink than is beneficial to the soul (Xenophon, Memorabilia i, 2, 4; i, 3, 5).

Most pleasures ... are treacherous and do not contribute to happiness. Only the pleasure which is the result of exertion ... is lasting and unobjectionable. ("Antisthenes", Oxford Classical Dictionary 2nd ed. (1970))

The good man harms no one and seeks to make even his enemies better

Why wouldn't that general rule be the very standard Plato's Socrates is seeking? Well, but is it always clear what does good, what harm, in a particular set of circumstances? And it is in particular circumstances that our life is lived. Without a universal standard -- i.e. a guide that tells us what to do in every particular case -- it is necessary for us to try to think through each particular case -- and this often leaves us in perplexity. And then ignorance is free to misguide our life.

Is that the limit of "Virtue is knowledge", namely, the absence of knowledge? "If you can look into the seeds of time and say which grain will grow and which will not ..." (Macbeth i, 3). But that is what man so often cannot do: predict what the consequences will be -- i.e. what is and what is not (1) a rational confidence in beneficial consequences or (2) a rational fear of harmful consequences.

Socratic ethics is practical (but its thesis less so)

The aim of ethics is not merely to describe the life that is the good for man but to live that life as well. And if to know the universal standard (the magic fulcrum) is what is needed in ethics to live the life that is the good for man, then of what use is Socrates' thesis? In Plato's account, even Socrates is not wise in the way that Socrates wants to be wise.

From the point of view of logic-philosophy, the Socratic thesis 'Virtue is knowledge' is not a statement of fact but only of a more or less useful way of looking at our life. (But what is an example of another useful way?)

According to Plato (Apology 21a-d, 22d-e), Socrates believes the wisdom ascribed to him by Apollo is only this: that unlike the statesmen, poets and artisans he questioned to see if anyone is wiser than Socrates (Diog. L. ii, 37), Socrates does not think he knows things that he does not know -- i.e. his condition of mind is meekness rather than presumption.

Socrates, philosopher

All men are without wisdom in logic, ethics and metaphysics. But while most of us are blind to our ignorance, Socrates knew that he did not know. That is the only -- but also the all-important -- difference. It is the difference that makes a man a philosopher.

The limits of philosophy

The following was a query from Nigeria long ago:

Socrates claimed not to know, and that's what philosophy is.

And by the mystery of memory that became:

Socrates said "I don't know", and that's what philosophy is.

And I think, certainly that's what Socratic philosophy is.

Many years ago, when I was at college in Virginia, I had a friend named Peter Atoo who was from Lagos, Nigeria. Peter was a friend to me. I am grateful for that, and I am sorry I did not keep in touch with him. In a letter shortly before his death Francis Xavier wrote, "May God unite us again in heaven."

This is philosophically important, that Socrates was a friend to his companions, meaning that he tried by his example and exhortation to make them better in ethics, in particular by teaching them how to seek wisdom and virtue by asking questions and cross-questioning answers. (Xenophon, Memorabilia iv, 6, 1; Plato, Apology 38a)

Query: starting and ending point of philosophy.

Not knowing, of course, ignorance. The starting point: thinking you know what you don't know; and the ending point: not thinking you know what you don't know. Ignorance is the starting and ending point, but the ending point is not "conceited ignorance" but Socratic ignorance. (As it should be in the verse of Dante, Socrates is the master of those who don't think they know what they don't know.)

Query: the philosopher that died for the sake of asking questions.

Questioning and cross-questioning belong to the excellence that is proper and unique to a being whose specific excellence is discourse of reason. "The unquestioned life is not worth living" is why Socrates died (Diog. L. ii, 20b; Plato, Apology 37e-38a).

The Stoics and Natural Law

Query: Zeno (320-250 B.C.) on natural school of law.

Is what the specific excellence that is proper and unique to man a law of nature? But what relation has philosophy to laws of nature? To scientific laws, it has none, but the readily observable regularities of the natural world are what Wittgenstein called "some very general facts of nature" that philosophy takes into account (Philosophical Investigations" II, xii p. 230).

The pictures of metaphysics are speculations about the imperceptible ultimate causes of things; they are not scientific theories, which are about measurable laws of nature. And Plato's tautologies in ethics are reasoning about nothing more than concept-interconnections, i.e. logical grammar (even though they determine which ethical propositions are true, which false) or rules of logic (as Wittgenstein revised the concept 'logic', although that revision is akin to Socrates' use of the word 'logic').

Does the proposition 'Reason is the excellence proper to man and therefore as well the good for man' state a natural law? It is a statement about the essential nature of man. Does essence belong to metaphysics, grammar, or the observable natural -- i.e. sensible -- world? By what criterion should we decide? What we can say is that whether 'Reason is the specific excellence proper to man' is a law of nature is a philosophical thesis to cross-question.

Nature's rule is to follow the direction of impulse. But when reason ... has been bestowed on the beings we call rational, for them life according to reason rightly becomes the natural life. (Diog. L. vii, 86)

The natural life is the life in accord with nature's laws -- but natural laws cannot be broken and yet some men live as "beasts wanting discourse of reason". Therefore can reason belong to the natural essence of man?

"Learned ignorance" (Antisthenes)

For Antisthenes "life without ignorance" is the life of not having false propositions to refute in one's own thinking. (In Augustine's words: "He only errs who thinks he knows what he does not know.")

Being asked what learning is the most necessary, he replied, "How to get rid of having anything to unlearn." (Diog. L. vi, 7, tr. Hicks; cf. Plato, Apology 22d-e)

If virtue is knowledge, and a man is mistaken about what the good for man is, then he is misled himself and misleads others (Xenophon, Memorabilia iv, 6, 1). And since all living things aim for their perceived good (cf. Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics 1094a 1-3), the mistaken man aims for the wrong target, and therefore cannot do what is good if he hits his mark (ibid. iii, 9, 5), and if he misses his mark and does what is good by accident, he will not recognize that what he has done is good. (Thus not having to unlearn the habits formed in the time of ignorance of the good -- habits by which we are misled -- is the best education to have. But that is descriptive, not practical, ethics.)

Where is one to seek out the knowledge of what is good? Socrates' questions the youth Hippocrates, cautioning him to take care about who he entrusts his soul to for education (Plato, Protagoras 313a-c). Plato says that "in every profession the inferior sort are numerous and good for nothing, and the good are few and beyond all price" (Euthydemus 307a-c, tr. Jowett), and if that is true, then most teachers can be expected to give their students' many "things to unlearn", if, that is, virtue can be taught. (Maybe virtue can be learned.)

On the other hand, if "there is nothing worse than self-deception -- when the deceiver is always at home and always with you" (Plato, Cratylus 428d, tr. Jowett), then it may be that a man's own presumption is by far his worst teacher.

Note.--I have used the expression 'learned ignorance' ironically here. Its usual meaning is quite different.


The ability to hold discourse of reason with oneself

When he was asked what advantage had accrued to him from philosophy, his answer was, "The ability to hold converse with myself." (Diog. L. vi, 6)

That is what it is logically impossible -- i.e. the language is undefined -- for beasts "wanting discourse of reason" to do. And to do this well -- i.e. to practice Socratic dialectic, questioning and cross-questioning oneself, in one's own thinking -- is a skill most worth gaining, because it is the skill of philosophizing -- i.e. logic ("we are discussing no small matter, but how to think, how to reason"). No excellence is more proper or unique to man than his ability to reason. Ethics ("we are discussing no small matter, but how to live") is reasoning about how man should live his life.

Can virtue be learned?

Virtue is based on knowledge and therefore can be taught.

"Virtue ... can be taught." I don't know. But I believe it can be learned (and that means: practiced) if one dismisses such expressions of helplessness as "strength of will" ("will power"), "the grace of gods", and all other anti-rational ways of looking at our life -- and instead reasons about the good (the excellence, the moral virtue, areté) proper to man as man and to oneself as an individual man ("Know thyself"). And that way of looking at our life will indeed yield knowledge (within limits).

Antisthenes' definition of logos

He was the first to define statement (or assertion) [logos] by saying that a statement is that which sets forth what a thing was or is. (Diog. L. vi, 3)

Then a "statement" (logos) would be a definition, according to Antisthenes, and not as the translator has it "assertion", for a definition that reports the use of a word is only one form of assertion. (The Greek word logos is a maid of all work, Guthrie says.) Virtue is knowledge, knowledge which can be discovered by investigating the meaning of words, because "the meaning of a word is the thing the word stands for": to know the meaning is to know the thing itself.

Virtue is knowledge of the meaning of words

The main principles of his philosophy were the following. Happiness (eudaimonia) is based on virtue (areté). Virtue is based on knowledge and therefore can be taught. This is done through the investigation of the meaning of words (onomaton episkepsis). ("Antisthenes", OCD 2e)

That, according to Xenophon (Memorabilia iv, 6, 1 and 13), was also the method of Socrates: "he never stopped investigating, with the help of his companions, the meaning of every single term ... he never gave up considering with his companions what any given thing is ... he would lead the whole discussion back to the definition [logos] required".

For he that knows the meaning of a word knows also the [nature of the] thing which it denotes. Whoever knows what virtue is cannot but act virtuously. ("Antisthenes", OCD 2e)

Thus Antisthenes taught the life of moral virtue (ethics) guided by reason alone: like Socrates he used reason (logic) as a tool of ethics (i.e. in Antisthenes view, ethics is rational). Both the Cynics and the Stoics derive from him (Diog. L. vi, 2 and 15; cf. vi, 104).

Antisthenes, Biographical

Diogenes Laertius, who wrote in the first half of the 3rd century A.D., says that Antisthenes' writings were preserved in 10 volumes (vi, 15). But these are now lost.

Xenophon calls him [Antisthenes] the most agreeable of men in conversation and the most temperate in everything else. (Diog. L. vi, 15)

[The philosopher Antisthenes, circa 445 to circa 360 B.C.] ... son of Antisthenes of Athens and a Thracian woman ... one of the most devoted followers of Socrates (Xenophon, Symposium viii, 4, Memorabilia iii, 11, 17). ("Antisthenes", OCD 2e)

According to Plato's Phaedo (59b), Antisthenes was present at the death of Socrates. Given that Plato otherwise ignores Antisthenes [does not acknowledge him], this claim may be historical (if it is evidence that Plato is stating a fact in his ideologically ahistorical (114d) dialog).

"He lived in the Piraeus and everyday would tramp the five miles to Athens in order to hear Socrates" (Diog. L. vi, 2). He was present at the latter's death (Phaedo 59b). And afterwards, Antisthenes "chose as his lecture center the gymnasium Cynosarges (Dogfish) because it was maintained for people of low, or alien, or illegitimate birth" (His own mother was Thracian). He owned no property, Xenophon says (in his Symposium iii, 8). Antisthenes "took no pay for his teaching, and preferred the poor for his pupils" (Durant, Life of Greece (1939), p. 506, 701n35); he had few disciples (Diog. L. vi, 4).

Socrates had shaped Antisthenes' "overriding interest in practical ethics". The latter stressed "the importance of self-control by a hostility to luxury and sensual pleasure that went some way toward Cynic asceticism" (Encyclopedia of Philosophy (1967), "Antisthenes" by I.G. Kidd; cf. Diog. L. vi, 2).

[The Cynosarges ("White hound") was] at no great distance from the gate, and some think that the Cynic school derived its name from Cynosarges. Antisthenes himself too was nicknamed a hound pure and simple. (Diog. L. vi, 13)

[He was the first] to double his cloak and to be content with that one garment" [cf. "When Diogenes begged a coat of him, he bade him fold his cloak around him double" (vi, 6-7)] and to take up a staff and a wallet. (vi, 13)

Antisthenes gave the impulse to the indifference of Diogenes [the Cynic], the continence of Crates, and the hardihood of Zeno [of Citium, the Stoic] [Xenophon called him the most temperate of men.] (i, 15)

Socratic temperance

For Socrates, as I see him, the antithesis of 'ascetic' is not 'sybarite', and if he lived a life of self-control, it was not to "mortify the flesh", but that self-indulgence is characteristic of animals (lovers of fodder) but it is not an excellence that is proper to man.

Friends in Mind

Antisthenes: "A good man is a friend" (Diog. L. vi, 12: "Men of worth are friends"; "nobility belongs to none other than the virtuous" (vi, 10-11)). Cf. "Euripides (frag. 902 DK): "The good (in some authorities 'wise') man, even if he live in a far-off land, even if my eyes never light on him, I judge my friend"" (Guthrie, A History of Greek Philosophy iii, p. 161).

The right outfit for a voyage, he said, is such as, even if you are shipwrecked, will go through the water with you. (Diog. L. vi, 6)

When a friend complained to him that he had lost his [lecture] notes, "You should have inscribed them," said he, "on your mind instead of on paper." (vi, 5)

School supplies

When a lad from Pontus was about to attend his lectures, and asked him what he required, the answer was, "Come with a new book, a new pen, and new tablets, if you have a mind to" (implying the need of brains as well). (vi, 3; the translator Hicks says there is a play on words here, with the Greek word 'new' and the expression 'have a mind too'.)


Diogenes of Sinope, Cynic philosopher

Diogenes of Sinope on the Black Sea (404-323 B.C.) was a pupil of Antisthenes (Diog. L. vi, 21). He "envied the simple life of animals, and tried to imitate it"; he called himself "Diogenes the dog", and he lived "his simple life so consistently that he became, next to Alexander [the Great], the most famous man in Greece" (Durant, Life of Greece, p. 507). The Cynics sought from nature, not explanations of itself, but a guide to life (ibid. p. 508).

All the curses of tragedy, he used to say, had lighted upon him. At all events he was

A homeless exile, to his country dead.
A wanderer who begs his daily bread.

But he claimed that to fortune he could oppose courage, to convention nature, to passion reason. (Diog. L. vi, 38)

Diogenes was born in the Greek city of Sinope on the southern coast of the Black Sea at the end of the 5th century B.C. He came to Athens as an exile because he had adulterated the state coinage of Sinope, having misunderstood the Delphic oracle's permission for him to alter the political currency (vi, 20).

Cynic doctrines

After giving an account of "the lives of the several Cynics", Diogenes Laertius goes on to say that he will now "append the doctrines they held in common --

What is philosophy?

If, that is, we decide that Cynicism is really a philosophy, and not, as some maintain, just a way of life." (vi, 103)

They are content then ... to do away with the subjects of Logic and Physics and to devote their whole attention to Ethics. And what some assert of Socrates [see Diog. L. ii, 21], [is also recorded] of Diogenes, representing him as saying: "We must inquire into

Whate'er of good or ill within our halls is wrought." [Homer, Odyssey iv 392] (vi, 103)

Subjects not studied

They also dispense with the ordinary subjects of instruction. At least Antisthenes used to say that those who had attained discretion should better not study literature, lest they should be perverted by alien influences. So they get rid of geometry and music and all such studies. (vi, 103-104)

Cynicism and Stoicism

They hold further that "Life according to Virtue" is the End to be sought, as Antisthenes says in his Heracles: exactly like the Stoics. For indeed there is a certain close relationship between the two schools. Hence it has been said that Cynicism is a shortcut to virtue; and after the same pattern did Zeno of Citium live his life.

If virtue is knowledge, there cannot be a shortcut to it: Cynicism is not a royal road to virtue. Like Socrates, Antisthenes taught that the only road to moral virtue is discourse of reason.

Austerity

They also hold that we should live frugally, eating food for nourishment only and wearing a single garment.... Some at all events are vegetarians and drink cold water only and are content with any kind of shelter or tubs [i.e. barrels], like Diogenes, who used to say it was the privilege of the gods to need nothing and of god-like men to want but little [cf. Xenophon, Memorabilia i, 6, 10]. (vi, 104)

[Diogenes] once begged alms of a statue, and, when asked why he did so, replied, "To get practice in being refused." In asking alms -- as he did at first by reason of his poverty ... (vi, 49)

When he was sunning himself ... Alexander [the Great] came and stood over him and said, "Ask of me any boon you like." To which [Diogenes] replied, "Stand out of my light." (vi, 38; translator's note: cf. Plutarch, Alexander, xiv)

Good men he called images of the gods. (vi, 51)

They hold, further, that virtue can be taught, as Antisthenes maintains in his Heracles, and when once acquired cannot be lost ... Whatever is intermediate between Virtue and Vice they ... account indifferent. (vi, 105)

[The founder of Stoicism, Zeno of Citium, was "a disciple of Crates". (vi, 105)]

As to the question of whether Cynicism is a philosophy rather than just a way of life (vi, 103), maybe we could make that distinction by pointing to the statement that "it has been said that Cynicism is a shortcut to virtue" (vi, 104), if that means that there are some similarities between the ways of life of the Cynics and the Stoics, but that the Stoics reach their way of life by reasoning to it, whereas the Cynics adopt a ready-made doctrine of "Life according to Virtue" (vi, 104), where whatever is in accord with nature is virtuous, whereas whatever is not is vice. [Of course the Socratic question remains: how do you know what is and what is not in accord with nature -- without questioning and cross-questioning it?]

That is a foundational distinction, because by 'philosophy' we mean a thoroughgoing use of reason -- or at least I mean a thoroughly rational way of thinking -- just as ethics is not a mere collection of values, but a reasoned evaluation of all values.

From the Oxford Classical Dictionary, 1st ed. (1949)

[Diogenes originality] apparently consisted more in the way in which he applied his philosophy in everyday life than in his theories as such.

His main principles were the following: Happiness is attained by satisfying only one's natural needs and by satisfying them in the cheapest and easiest way. What is natural cannot be dishonorable or indecent and therefore can and should be done in public. Conventions which are contrary to these principles are unnatural and should not be observed.

From this there results in practical life self-sufficiency, supported by training of the body so as to have as few needs as possible, and shamelessness. Mainly on account of the latter quality Diogenes was called a dog, from which appellation the name of the cynics is derived [Latin cynicus = Greek kynikós = dog-like].

He illustrated his simple principles by pointed utterances and drastic actions.

His disciple Crates [Crates of Thebes] spread his philosophy.

Education, free speech, revision of the values that are common currency

"Education, according to him, is a controlling grace to the young, consolation to the old, wealth to the poor ..." (vi, 68). "An ignorant rich man he used to call 'the sheep with the golden fleece'" (vi, 47).

"Asked what was the most beautiful thing in the world, he answered, "Freedom of speech." (vi, 69)

The son of a banker and banished from his country, he spent the greater part of his life in Athens and later in Corinth, where in later times his grave before the Isthmean gate was pointed out.... the motto of his life was 'I recoin current values' (Zeller, Outlines of the History of Greek Philosophy. 13th ed., tr. Palmer, p. 111). [Zeller takes this motto from Diog. L. vi, 20-21, where it is suggested that it was given to Diogenes by the oracle of Apollo at Delphi.]

"The Gods! why you must know the Gods with us
Don't pass for current coin." (The Clouds l. 247-8, tr. Rogers)

[When some one expressed astonishment at the votive offerings at Samothrace, his comment was, "There would have been far more, if those who were not saved had set up offerings." But others attribute this remark to Diagoras of Melos. (vi, 59)]

Diogenes' objection to Plato's Forms and Plato's reply

As Plato was conversing about Ideas and using the nouns "tablehood" and "cuphood", he said, "Table and cup I see; but your tablehood and cuphood, Plato, I can nowhere see." "That's readily accounted for," said Plato, "for you have the eyes to see the visible table and cup; but not the understanding by which ideal tablehood and cuphood are discerned." (vi, 53)

A similar statement, namely "O Plato, I see a horse, but not horseness", is attributed by Simplicius to Antisthenes. (Commentary on Aristotle's Categories 208, 29 ff.; 211, 17 ff., quoted in Copleston, Greece and Rome (1947) xv, 3, p. 119, 119n1 [p. 509])

But Plato's view of this question is not so simple (Parmenides 135b-c). He was trying to answer a deeply perplexing logic of language question about the meaning of common names. He might have asked Diogenes how it was that Diogenes could perceive a cup -- i.e. identify an object as a cup -- at all if he had no archetype cuphood to guide him.

Of course Diogenes cannot perceive cuphood. Neither can Plato nor anyone else. The existence of cuphood is not an empirical but a metaphysical claim. Cuphood is only "discerned" by deductive reasoning.

"The class of [all] cats is not a cat." (RFM vii, § 36, p. 403)

But Plato's question is, Is the class of all cats -- i.e. its essence -- catness [cat-hood]?

The unconsolation of philosophy

Being asked why people give to beggars but not to philosophers, he said, "Because they think they may one day be lame or blind, but never expect that they will turn to philosophy." (vi, 56)

The judgment of beasts is not always accepted by Diogenes

When some one said, "Most people laugh at you," his reply was, "And so very likely do the donkeys at them; but as they don't care for the donkeys, so neither do I care for them." (vi, 58)

Epictetus: "if the beasts had any sense [i.e. if they were not "wanting discourse of reason"], they would deride those who thought much of anything but fodder!" (Discourses ii, 14, tr. Crossley) What is amoral cannot teach morality to a being endowed with morality, as man uniquely is, although Diogenes does at times learn how to live from the beasts and from small children (He threw away his cup when he saw a child using its hands to form a cup to drink with; "That child has beaten me in simplicity," he exclaimed).

On the other hand, sometimes, according to Diogenes, the beasts do teach morality, as for instance in the case of shameless public behavior with respect to both the acts of Demeter and of Aphrodite (Diog. L. vi, 69).

But as with temperance versus love of fodder, beasts are not always a guide for the Cynics.

Preparation for misfortune

On being asked what he had gained from philosophy, he replied, "This at least, if nothing else -- to be prepared for every fortune." (vi, 63)

Or maybe more aptly, every misfortune.

When some one reproached him with his exile, his reply was, "Nay, it was through that ... that I came to be a philosopher." (Diog. L. vi, 49)


"Cosmopolitan": Cynic origins of Stoic universal brotherhood

Asked where he came from, he said, "I am a citizen of the world." (vi, 63)

"If this answer is authentic, it apparently shows that the famous term "cosmopolitan" [kosmopolites] originated with Diogenes" (R.D. Hicks, Loeb Classical Library (1925), p. 64a). Epictetus, however, attributes this to Socrates himself:

If what philosophers say of the kinship of God and Men be true, what remains for men to do except what Socrates did: -- never, when asked one's country, to answer, "I am an Athenian or a Corinthian," but "I am a citizen of the world." (Discourses i, 9, tr. Crossley)

Given that Plato's Socrates is a literary character, as is Xenophon's, and as the distance in time between the death of Socrates and our historical sources is many centuries, there is no reason to favor Diogenes Laertius' account to Epictetus's.

"Why should anyone be afraid of the good?"

When Alexander stood opposite him and asked, "Are you not afraid of me?"

"Why, what are you?" said he, "a good thing or a bad?"

Upon Alexander replying "A good thing",

"Who then," said Diogenes, "is afraid of the good?" (vi, 68)


Crates of Thebes (flor. 326 B.C.)

He was ugly to look at, and when performing his gymnastic exercises [which Greek men stripped naked to do] used to be laughed at. He was accustomed to say, raising his hands, "Take heart, Crates, for it is for the good of your eyes and of the rest of your body. You will see these men, who are laughing at you, tortured before long by disease, counting you happy, and reproaching themselves for their sluggishness." (Diog. L. vi, 91-92)

Crates, son of Ascondas, was a Theban. He too was amongst the Cynic's famous pupils. (ibid. vi, 85)

By "the Cynic" is meant Diogenes of Sinope. The story is told of how Crates came to have a wife, namely Hipparchia.


Site copyright © September 1998. Please send corrections and criticism of this page to Robert [Wesley] Angelo. Last revised: 15 February 2022 : 2022-02-15 (Original version: 4 March 2010)

The URL of this Web page:
https://www.roangelo.net/logwitt/antisthenes-diogenes.html

Back to top of page

Wittgenstein's Logic of Language - Introduction and Table of Contents | Bibliography | Site Search | Site Map