Wednesday, September 14, 2016
Modern vs Ancient Cynism (H3)
The cynics that are described in Russell's history of philosophy are not like the cynics of today. Cynicism is described as, "...reject[ing] all conventions- whether of religion, of manners, of dress, of housing, of food, or of decency." Ancient cynicism was much more about enjoying the simple pleasures nature had to offer with no real sort of pessimism mixed in. Both modern and ancient cynicism exist in rejecting most man made institutions, but now a days we equate cynicism with pessimism and pretentiousness. Being a modern cynic means only enjoying the highest life has to offer or nothing at all. People could say that hipsters are the modern cynics, young people who yearn for earlier, more simple things; however, they do not reject those very institutions, but feel superior for grasping at a more simple form of it. They do not walk, talk, or behave like the ancient cynics, they just emulate them in such a way that we can still use the term "cynical". What Diogenes referred to as "virtue by liberation from desire," is what we now refer to as pretentiousness. Maybe even then it was a pretentious notion to resist the culture of that time, or maybe it was revolutionary. In fact, Diogenes was not liked by many people for his behavior, but was not ashamed of it. A legend says Alexander the Great came to visit Diogenes once to grant him a wish, and all Diogenes responded with was "Stand out of my light." It's almost coincidence also that the two died on the same day in 323 BC.