Cynicism: Be happy. Live like a dog. (by Eily)

Background Information

  • Originated in Classical Greece
  • Is a precursor of Stoicism
  • Virtue is the only thing you need for happiness
  • Goal of cynics is to attain happiness
  • Neglect everything (besides virtue): society, hygiene, family, sex, power, money
  • Believed that world belonged equally to everyone
  • Believes that suffering by false judgments of what was valuable, worthless customs and possessions of society
  • Word cynic is derived from Greek word for dog (because to be a cynic, one would live like a dog)
  • Become self sufficient
  • Live in accordance with nature

Antisthenes of Athens (445-365 BCE)

  • Founder of Cynicism
  • Pupil of Socrates
  • Contemporary of Plato
  • “I have enough to eat till my hunger is stayed, to drink till my thirst is sated; to clothe myself as well; and out of doors not [even] Callias there, with all his riches, is more safe than I from shivering; and when I find myself indoors, what warmer shirting do I need than my bare walls?”

Diogenes of Sinope (412-323 BCE)

  • Adopted Antisthenes way of life (self-sufficiency, austerity, and shamelessness)
  • Slept in a tub
  • Ate raw meat

Crates of Thebes (365-285 BCE)

  • Pupil of Diogenes
  • Renounced a large inheritance
  • Married and lived on street like beggar (with wife)
  • Taught Zeno of Citium (founder of Stoicism), had heavy influence of Stoic behaviour

This bust of Antisthenes, considered the father of Cynicism, demonstrates his Cynicness; shaggy, unkept hair and beard, and simple clothes.

5 Prescriptive Tips

  1. Cynics have no property. Reject all conventional values of money, fame, power or reputation.
  2. Cynics also live in harmony with nature, you must do this too.
  3. Cynics are the watchdogs of society. You must hound people in the error of their ways.
  4. Your body and mind must be at their top level. One cannot function properly without the other.
  5. All cynics are Cosmopolitan. If someone asks you where you are from, say you are a citizen of the world.


“Cynicism.” Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. N.p., 6 Aug. 2012. Web. 14 Aug. 2012. <;.

Hanson, Scott. “How to Be a Cynic: 7 steps.” wikiHow – The How-to Manual That You Can Edit. N.p., 28 July 2012. Web. 14 Aug. 2012. <;.

Piering, Julie. “Cynics.” Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. N.p., 18 Apr. 2006. Web. 14 Aug. 2012. <;.


1 Comment

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One response to “Cynicism: Be happy. Live like a dog. (by Eily)

  1. Pingback: Cynicism « Poignantboy's Blog

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