Meet Diogenes of Synope, the cynic who silenced Plato

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Ricky Joseph

The Hellenistic philosopher Diogenes of Sínope, lived from the year 413 - 323 BC, student of Antisthenes (disciple of Socrates), of a Naturalist line of thought, was highlight and symbol of Cynicism because he made his philosophy a radical way of living. His master Antisthenes, creator of the Cynic school (from the Greek Kynikos, dog, as the Athenians referred to them as street dogs, without riches, and goodsBut Diogenes was the greatest distiller of pearls in his indifference to the values of the society of which he was a part.

His journey begins young, when he once entered the temple of the gods, in his hometown Synope, to ask the oracle (oracles were usually doped virgins).

Diogenes: - What can I do to earn money?

Oracle: - You must copy the coin.

So he decides with his father to counterfeit the coin, and is soon discovered, tried to banishment and his father life imprisonment. Going away he said:

- You do not condemn me to banishment. I condemn you to stay.

In Athens where he meets Antisthenes, he is amazed with such simplicity and wisdom, however he is rejected as a student, but insists day and night, until the old man agrees to treat him as a student. Antisthenes tired of being followed hit Diogenes with his wooden stick that he used as a crutch. Ruthless, Diogenes said:

- Strike, for you will not find wood so hard that it can make me give up getting you to tell me anything, as it seems to me your duty.

The Cynics preached detachment from material goods, contested marriage, living in society, and declared themselves citizens of the world.

Diogenes regularly went to Plato's Academy to pester and disturb. Once Plato said:

- Man is a featherless biped!

Diogenes spends the day thinking, and has the idea of stealing a chicken, heading for Plato's school, crashing the poor chicken until he arrives, throws it into the middle of the hall, and exclaims pointingly:

- A human! A human!

- A featherless biped!

After everyone laughs, Plato embarrassed, finishes:

- Man is a featherless biped with flat fingernails.

Diogenes was looking for a man who had found his true nature, who lived according to it and was happy. That is why he painted a picture holding a lamp to illuminate his search.

- Too many people, too few people.

"The more I look for honest men, the more I admire my dogs." Diogenes of Synope.

Happiness should come from within the man and not from the outside. Sometimes he was seen in a moment of intimacy with himself, inside his barrel, to apologize, he would say:

- If not for two, why not alone.

He had the custom of escaping in fishing boats to travel the world, but in one of them, his ship was attacked by pirates in international waters, captured and auctioned off as a slave, in his auction, each person auctioned was asked his profession.

Auctioneer, to one before Diogenes: - What is your profession?

Slave: - I am a carpenter!

Soon, in Diogenes' turn the same question, but he answers:

- I am a great master! If you buy me, I will be a great owner!

Equally famous is his story with Alexander of Macedonia (even before the war, he was not called "The Great"), who, upon meeting him, Alexander asked Diogenes to ask for whatever he wanted, and the latter asked Alexander to get out of his way because he was blocking the sunlight. Diogenes was by this act demonstrating how little he needed to live well according to his nature. This responsevividly impressed Alexander, who, on his return, hearing his officers mocking Diogenes, said:

- If I wasn't Alexander, I'd want to be Diogenes. Meeting of Alexander of Macedon and Diogenes of Synope.

Like Socrates and Antisthenes, Diogenes did not write anything, for he said: - Talking is a virtue without essays.

Because he believed that virtue was better revealed in action than in theory, his life consisted of a relentless campaign to debunk the institutions and social values of what he saw as a corrupt society.

His theatrics and wise tirades are definitely legendary. Some writers report on his customs of hoarding garbage, living in a barrel, and a certain lack of hygiene.

Diogenes' way of living inspired psychiatry in 1975 to name a psychiatric disorder "Diogenes Syndrome" (although it is a bit contradictory to refer to him as a person with such characteristics), which is characterized by the habit of accumulating useless and worthless objects, collecting and accumulating garbage and even waste.

The compulsive accumulation of objects is one of the symptoms of a specific type of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), called Diogenes' S. It is characterized not only by the accumulation of useless objects and junk, but also by the difficulty of getting rid of objects.

However, it is necessary to know how to distinguish the Collecting Disorder, which is not pathological and is a collector's hobby.

The symptoms are: social isolation, accumulation of dirt in the environment and the accumulation of useless objects. They feel irritated and annoyed when someone offers to tidy up and clean the place. Without the disorder and chaos, they say they feel lost and have a sense of loss.

Even having had the freedom as a prize for his intellectual value, he preferred the streets, place where he, through pure cynicism, tried to fight concupiscence, lust and corruption, in the broadest sense. His life Inspired writers like Roberto Bolaños to create the character Chaves, directly influence the Stoicism, was free in his own thinking, critical, because of the criticism ifreverse mistakes.

- Time is the mirror of eternity.


- Book:

  1. NAVIA, Luis E. Diogenes the Cynic Translation by João Miguel Moreira Auto, translation of the Greek text by Luiz Alberto Machado Cabral. São Paulo: Odysseus, 2009.

- Websites:

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Ricky Joseph is a seeker of knowledge. He firmly believes that through understanding the world around us, we can work to better ourselves and our society as a whole. As such, he has made it his life's mission to learn as much as he can about the world and its inhabitants. Joseph has worked in many different fields, all with the aim of furthering his knowledge. He has been a teacher, a soldier, and a businessman - but his true passion lies in research. He currently works as a research scientist for a major pharmaceutical company, where he is dedicated to finding new treatments for diseases that have long been considered incurable. Through diligence and hard work, Ricky Joseph has become one of the foremost experts on pharmacology and medicinal chemistry in the world. His name is known by scientists everywhere, and his work continues to improve the lives of millions.