1902 Encyclopedia > Cyrenaics


CYRENAICS, a Greek school of philosophers, so called from Cyrene, the birth-place of their founder Aristippus, who was a disciple of Socrates. They held that the one aim in life is to enjoy as many moments of as intense pleasure as possible. The pleasures of sense are to be preferred as the most intense, for duration and intensity are the only qualities in which pleasures really differ. For the wise choice of pleasures intellectual cultivation is needed; and there must also be self-control and power of resisting desire. According to Aristippus, what each is to seek is his own present pleasure, though he modified this teaching by his doctrine of self-control. But his follower Theodoras held, like the Epicureans, that permanent tranquillity and cheerfulness are to be sought rather than passing pleasures. The position of Hegesias, the advocate of suicide, who is counted among the Cyrenaics, is far apart from that of Aristippus ; with him avoidance of trouble is the highest attainable good. Anniceris the younger differed from Aristippus in declaring that selfish pleasures are to be some-times sacrificed to sympathetic. Other members of the school were Arete the daughter of Aristippus, Aristippus her son, Bio, and Euhemerus.

See, besides the histories of philosophy, and works on the various members of the school separately, Diog. Laert. ; Wendt, De Philosophia Cyrenaica; H. v. Stein, De Philosophia Cyrenaica; Mullach, Fragmenta Phil. Grcec., vol. ii.

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