Cynicism: How the ‘Dog Philosopher’ of Ancient Greece Reveals the Remedy to Freedom

Julianbasic

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Alexander and Diogenes by Gaspare Dizian.Image sourced from Wikimedia Commons

The name cynicism comes from the ancient greek term kynikoi, meaning dog. In fact, the founder of this philosophy, Diogenes, was referred to as the “dog philosopher”, because he lived like one. 

You may be asking why we’d want to model our lives after a homeless philosopher who lived like a dog and took dumps in the streets, and it’s a good question. 

Diogenes chose to live like this. He was shunned from society for scamming the people of ancient Greece through fraudulent behavior, but when exiled, he grew to love life.

He realized that by rejecting the opinions of others and the societal standards of success and fame, he could be truly free. Choosing to chase money and power is an instant failure in life. Human beings are never content with what they have. In fact, dogs are closer to true happiness (eudaimonia) than humans.

Diogenes was the first person to use the word “cosmopolitan”, he mentioned that he wasn't tied to any city or country. He referred to himself as a citizen of the world.

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Image by Karen Warfel from Pixabay

The main lesson you should incorporate from cynicism is to free yourself from the superfluous desires of society, similar to Transcendentalism. It’s about being free from the societal customs of money-hungry hoarders and living as a wandering soul.

Maybe you feel like you need a new gadget because everyone else around you is getting one. But what if rejecting this impulsive need will make you happier? Because a simplified life that isn't concerned about opinions or materialistic customs will leave you happier.

Diogenes loved life as a homeless scrap-eating man of Ancient Greece. He was free to wander. Maybe we should try to live more simply and reject these extra desires that trap us in a loop of unfulfillment.

Cynicism: Rejecting the societal customs and becoming content with being an independent wandering soul is empowering. Subscribing to your own beliefs about the world should be at the center of what you do.

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I am an entrepreneur from London with a passion for reading and writing about self-improvement, productivity, fitness, history, philosophy, and happiness.

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