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Greek Philosopher: Antisthenes
444 to 371 BC
Greek philosopher, founder of the school of philosophy called Cynicism. He was born in Athens and became a disciple of Socrates.Antisthenes taught in the gymnasium known as the Cynosarges outside Athens; his followers were called Cynics, probably after the Cynosarges.Antisthenes regarded happiness as attainable only through virtue. He denounced art and literature, condemned luxury and comfort, and extolled hard work. Antisthenes' most famous pupil was the Greek Cynic philosopher Diogenes.
Doctrine of a school of Greek philosophers founded during the second half of the 4th century BC.
According to Aristotle, Diogenes was a well-known figure, nicknamed "Kyon", the Greek word for dog. The word Cynic may be derived from Kyon, or from Kynosrages, a gymnasium where Antisthenes taught.
The Cynics contended that civilization, with its attendant ills, was an artificial condition, as opposed to a natural one, and must be shunned. Hence, they advocated a return to natural life, which they equated with a simple life. That is, man could be completely happy although lacking luxuries of any kind, if he were truly self-sufficient, having all that he needed within himself.
It follows that the Cynics were exceedingly ascetic, regarding abstemiousness as the means to human liberation. They did not propose gratification of natural appetites so much as non-gratification of artificial ones.
The general attitude of the Cynics, as distinguished from that of the Stoics, is that the former viewed the external, material world with contempt; the Stoics with indifference.
Although not an important philosophical school, the Cynics attracted attention by their eccentricities and insolence, and their name is given to those distrustful of human nature and motives.