Cynics (‘the doggish’), term used of *Diogenes (2) ‘the dog’ (by-word for shamelessness) and his followers. The genesis, status, significance, and influence of Cynicism were already anciently controversial. Interpretative problems arise from Cynic behaviour and sayings, from the loss of nearly all Cynic writings (admittedly less important than in the case of other philosophies), and from diverse distortions in the tradition (invention of sayings and anecdotes; artificial integration of Cynicism into a formal philosophical succession from Socrates to the Stoics; bowdlerization; polemical misrepresentation).
Cynicism was less a school than a way of life grounded in an extreme primitivist interpretation of the principle ‘live according to nature’. Diogenes having discovered the truth, there was relatively little diversity or development within Cynicism, though ‘hard’ Cynics (adherents of the original prescription, found at all periods) can be distinguished from ‘soft’ (who compromised varyingly with existing social and political institutions), practical Cynicism from literary, and Cynics (in whatever sense) from the Cynic-influenced.Less
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