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Some Additional Stuff That Might Be Stimulating

August 19, 2011

Julian Reid spoke at some length in respect of parrhesia about how Foucault referred to the cynics, a bunch of hated thinkers active during some time in Greece being very happy to say the truth and not only that but to take of their clothes in public and do things with their pickles.

William Desmond published in ’08 a very interesting book where their influence is radically revised.

Once regarded as a minor Socratic school, Cynicism is now admired as one of the more creative and influential philosophical movements in antiquity. First arising in the city-states of late classical Greece, Cynicism thrived through the Hellenistic and Roman periods, until the triumph of Christianity and the very end of pagan antiquity. In every age down to the present, its ideals of radical simplicity and freedom have alternately inspired and disturbed onlookers.This book offers a survey of Cynicism, its varied representatives and ideas, and the many contexts in which it operated. William Desmond introduces important ancient Cynics and their times, from Diogenes ‘the Dog’ in the fourth century BC to Sallustius in the fifth century AD. He details the Cynics’ rejection of various traditional customs and the rebellious life-style for which they are notorious. The central chapters locate major Cynic themes (nature and the natural life, Fortune, self-sufficiency, cosmopolitanism) within the rich matrix of ideas debated by the ancient schools. The final chapter reviews some moments in the diverse legacy of Cynicism, from Jesus to Nietzsche.

William Desmond: Cynics (2008)

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