Feb 20, 2011

From Diogenes of Sinope


This contains almost the entire selection of anecdotes about Diogenes of Sinope, attributed to him by Diogenes Laërtias.

The categories are:
- On begging
- Where are the real men?
- Diogenes' Virtue Thought Excessive by Others
- Conqueror of Men
- Thou Art Dust
- The Reversal of Values
- Life and Death the Same
- Live Simply
- Stop Being a Hypocrite
- Vanity of the Virtuous
- On the Complacency of the Old
- Sucking-up, aka Sycophancy and Flattery
- Chastising Effeminacy
- Mocking Gods, Beliefs, Rituals, and Cherished Values
- Idiot Philosophers
- Diogenes' life as a slave
- Diogenes' writings

Diogenes was successful in promoting his views, because people thought he was a comical madman, a simpleton-cum-jester. Plato called him "Socrates gone mad". He was laughed at, because people thought a philosopher must have dignity and social respect, and live with pomp, respect and class. They couldn't see that this was a dire irony on the entire notion of what a philosopher was.

Thus, the contrast between how Diogenes actually lived, and the ridiculously decadent norms of Ancient Athens society, was extreme. The contrast took on an absurd character, and was indeed comical. His contemporaries couldn't seriously believe that one who lived in a truly virtuous, honest way, would be so plain and gauche.

It is always comical when animals try to modify their animality by disguising it, namely, shitting in porcelain vases with flowery decals, gorging themselves on expensively produced food prepared in complex ways and served on exquisitely designed platters, fucking in a high-class, modish chamber on soft mattresses, pillows and cushions, and snarling at each other in complicated language; but twice as comical is the effect when they are contrasted with another animal who lives as a very simple animal without pretences or affectations, and who also speaks the truth. It's extremely comical. The former have all the semblance of nobility and of being advanced organism - but none of the substance - while the simple, garish animal is utterly transformed by his intelligence, simplicity, and truthfulness.

This, plus his resilience and moral strength, accounts for Diogenes' ability to "force" his views on everyone like an ubiquitous chatterbox, without being killed.

— Kelly Jones

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