1902 Encyclopedia > Cynics


CYNICS, a Greek sect, whose name is derived either from the fact that they originally met in the gymnasium called Cynosarges, or, in scorn of their habits and temper, from the word _____, a dog. The founder of the sect was Antisthenes, a disciple of Socrates, who, adopting the Socratic doctrines that the sole aim of philosophy is to attain the knowledge of right conduct, and that the summum bonum is not to be found in pleasure but in virtue, pushed them to an extreme, teaching that both pleasure and theoretical knowledge are to be wholly despised, and that to be independent of outward circumstances is the highest good. All that is artificial was condemned ; and the Cynic was marked by his intense scorn of all other men, and the insolence with which he expressed it. The later Cynics, losing the Cynic virtue of self-control, but retaining the Cynic maxim of living according to nature, sank into mere beggars and brutal sensualists. From the time of Socrates the succession of Cynic teachers Was unbroken for about a century; and in the 1st century A.D. Cynicism re-vived. The leading earlier Cynics were Antisthenes, Diogenes of Sinope, Crates, and Zeno ; and the chief later Cynics were Demetrius the friend of Seneca, and QSnomaus and Demonax, who were both alive in the time of Hadrian. For further details, see the biographies of the principal Cynics.

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