Friday, July 25, 2008

Diogenes, Leader of the Pack of Dogs

A sign prohibiting dogs to urinate

It may not be widely known that the word “cynic” originally means “dog” in Greek. So next time you encounter a cynic you can freely call him a dog or any other word along the canine lines. The origin for that label is quite simple, the cynics, in particular, Diogenes, "lived like a dog."

Supposedly, Diogenes lived in a tub, ironically probably very rarely washed himself, urinated and defecated wherever it pleased him and dressed in tattered rags. His philosophy was that people have grown corrupt, that they take themselves too seriously and disassociate themselves from their animal nature.

The cynics rejected social customs, believed them to be arbitrary, nothing but meaningless rituals reeking of hypocrisy. Diogenes famously was caught masturbating in public and claimed that if only his hunger were that easily satisfied, by simply rubbing his stomach, how simple would life be!

His contemporary philosopher Plato called him a “Socrates gone mad.” It was true that Diogenes was Socratic in his rigorous manner of questioning morality and accepted norms, by not taking anything for granted, yet obviously he overstepped the line. Socrates did not live in filth to prove his point, but Diogenes had no scruples or any concern of what others might think of him. In his time, he must have been indeed every dog’s best friend.


Geneva C. said...

I had no idea where that word came from. i am going to stumble this post. It's great!


roentare said...

Very educational. Great blog