Class VIII Notes + Diogenes + Cynicism (3 questions/statements)

ENGL 2150. CLASS VIII NOTES. spr 2013

Check the assignments in my notes. We have three things coming up — the good life write-ups (on the previous blog post), 3 questions and/or statements in regards to the Diogenes reading, and your thesis statements.

class 8.1

class 8.2

30 thoughts on “Class VIII Notes + Diogenes + Cynicism (3 questions/statements)

  1. 1) Diogenes holds very little to his name, and that is enough for him. Why is he content with such little possessions and living on the streets of Athens?

    2) When reading through Diogenes fragments, there were a few that stood out to me and I wrote “egotistic.” I find that Diogenes believes he is very intellectual and that his philosophical statements are ultimately right.

    3) What make Cynics like Diogenes different from other thinkers? Diogenes does not take the world at face value; instead he digs deeper by identifying what he sees, and speaking the blatant truth.

    - G.E.M.

  2. 1)”Eyes are better informers than ears”. Seeing things with your eyes, gives more information than hearing about it.

    2)Why when Alexander The Great asked Diogenes “what can i do for you?” he wanted nothing from him but to get out of his light; even though he had nothing.
    3)”Love of money is the marketplace for every evil.” Money can change people.

  3. 1) Diogenes said, “we are not as hardy, free, or accomplished as animals.” The statement at first glance seems irrational considering that humans have worked and accomplished much more than dogs, and are not bound by chains. But there’s also the question of how our lives would be if we didn’t have to worry about bills, rent, taxes and what others think of us.
    2) When Alexander the Great came up to him and offered to grant him a wish, Diogenes asked him to “stand out of my light.” Such a simple request illustrates that fame and fortune does not hold value to him. Moreover, Diogenes carrying a lamp in daylight searching for a honest man shows his mockery of the corruption in social values.
    3) Diogenes criticized the well-known Plato’s philosophy as being “an endless conversation”. He believes in action, rather than on-going theories of justice and virtue.

  4. 1. In fragment no. 10, Diogenes says, “Of what use is a philosopher who doesn’t hurt anyone’s feelings?” He means, of course, that those who think (or claim to think) about the meaning of life and the correct way to live will inevitably come up with something to which the majority of the populace will be diametrically opposed to. But in today’s time, past the age of Socrates and Diogenes, we tip-toe and dance around anything that could be remotely offensive to anyone in hopes that keeping their happiness and pride intact is indeed worth the price of their ignorance. In light of this, one cannot help but wonder whether Diogenes’ style of brutal and direct truth is the better alternative. Well, it is.
    2. Diogenes’ idea of “a lived philosophy” is a kind that is incredibly unique. Among none of the prominent philosophers who support Utilitarianism, as a prime example, does one see the enactment of the theory to the fullest extent. Had the philosophers truly believed in their theory, then they would be living as Diogenes had lived – content as beggars on the street.
    3. Fragment no. 37 probably cements Diogenes in history as the first recorded person to say “You were an accident”, which is pretty cool.

  5. 1.“To live is not itself an evil, as has been claimed, but to lead a worthless life is.” Even a day spent without some purpose is a small step to the death of the soul.
    2. “We are more curious about the meaning of dreams than about things we see when awake.” Analyzing the dreams and the subconscious unknown is a desperate attempt of the mind to escape reality that seems simple but turns out to be so complex to understand and accept, once one digs into it.
    3.“To own nothing is a beginning of happiness.” When possessing something, one strives to get more, and is constantly haunted by the fear to lose what has already been earned, whereas, owning nothing frees from that fear, allowing to experience and enjoy life “as is”.

  6. 1. When Diogenes states that he eats his lunch in the courtroom because that’s where he is hungry, it seems like the logical thing to do. However, during this time, eating in the courts and in any public place would be considered bad manners in Athens. The question then becomes, “Why?” In one simple statement, he questions an entire society’s norm of “proper” etiquette, all because he states that he does it because he is hungry.

    2. Fragment 119 states, “Practice makes perfect.” It’s a very odd statement for a man who is, more or less, the town beggar of Athens. Maybe the statement alludes to his practice of Cynism, or his practice of being a proper homeless man. Either way, he technically does perfect the two.

    3. In my opinion, fragment 106 is by far his most powerful statement: “We have complicated every single gift of the gods.” I believe these gifts include tangible things such as food and shelter (commodities that end up going to the higher classes, while the lower classes get nothing) to the use of knowledge (a proclamation that the mind is being wasted on unnecessary complexities).

  7. 1. Many of Diogenes’ fragments emulate to the same idea of how he is a citizen of the world, and not a citizen of Athens. Number 7, “I am a citizen of the world,” as well as, number 13 “I am Athens’ one free man.” Why would Diogenes’ prefer to get beaten by Athenian guards than to admit that he was a citizen of Athens? The most common question for several of Diogenes’s fragments is, “Why?”

    2. H. L. Mencken once said, “A cynic is a man who, when he smells flowers, looks around for a coffin.” This quote has allowed myself to understand the idea of cynicism and the ideas behind Diogenes’ fragments. Cynicism is a diffucult term understand, therefore, researching the term cynic was extraordinarily helpful.

    3.”Reason or halter,” is one of the most fragments that stood out the most. Although it may seem bland and short at first, I believe that Diogenes’ meant was let one’s reason and motives guide their actions. In my opinion, Diogenes’ would not view “for fame” or “for money” a legitimate reason being as cynics reject fame and wealth.

  8. An outstanding share! Ι’ve just forwarded this onto a co-worker who had been doing a little research on this. And he in fact bought me lunch due to the fact that I discovered it for him… lol. So let me reword this…. Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending time to talk about this topic here on your website.

  9. 1)”Men nowhere, but real boys at Sparta.” I am going to just say that I agree with Diogenes in that the Spartans were nothing but barbarians, who didn’t know anything about behaving their own age.
    2)”I am a citizen of the world.” I understand that Diogenes believes that, but he got beaten up over it. In fact, he didn’t even have the thought about lying about it. Why would he put himself through all of that suffering, when he could have lied about it to other people while believing he was still a citizen of the world.
    3)What does Diogenes suggest when he says, “Reason or a halter.”?

  10. 1) I feel the quote “Bury me prone, I have always faced the other way” shows how Diogenes refuses to conform against society. Diogenes is committed to living out his philosophies. Even in death he wants to face the other way against society’s norms.
    2) Diogenes lives amongst the rats and to many people this can be seen as a low point or even disheartening. But to Diogenes “To own nothing is the beginning of happiness.” He considers himself a citizen of the world, and is satisfied by living off what only the world gives him.
    3) “To live itself is not an evil, but to lead a worthless life is” is a quote I really like. Diogenes tempers with the idea that living in itself is something that has worth and value and I agree. Diogenes is against the values that Athens holds and he tries to debase it by living out his philosophy.

  11. 1. In fragment 79, Diogenes states, “A good man is a picture of a god.” This statement sounded peculiar to me because I’ve always imagined Diogenes as an anti-religious type of person. However, this would make sense if Diogenes was attempting to play on the belief that since there is no “god” there is no such thing as a good man.
    2. In fragment 81, Diogenes says that “the greatest misery is to be old, poor, and alone.” This hints that Diogenes may believe that he was miserable since he is actually poor and ostracized from society. This seemed weird to me because Diogenes is a philosopher who actually followed his own beliefs and put them into action. The fact that he describes his lifestyle as “miserable” doesn’t seem like something he would do.
    3. With statements like “The contest that should be for truth and virtue is for sway and belongings instead” and “love of money is the marketplace of all evil”, Diogenes really emphasized the notion that there is more to life than economic gains. He wanted to make people realize that money and wealth is just a shroud that keeps them from viewing life as it really is.

  12. 1. Although Diogenes is a cynic, what makes his way of thinking different from others? He does not accept things as what it is like how he does not accept the forces of nature yet; he is also blunt about certain truths that he believes in.

    2. Diogenes mentions the quote, “We have complicated every single gift of the gods.” Such gifts can be simple things people take granted in everyday life such as family, food and a home. What else can he mean by “single gift of the gods?”

    3. Diogenes mentions that he himself is a “citizen of the world” whliegoing through obstacles and hardships to prove his perspective. Why is it significant that he defends his quote, “I am a citizen of the world” with so much effort?

  13. 1. Diogenes says, “To own nothing is the beginning of happiness.” While he understandably shunned materialism and luxury, Diogenes seems to have taken it too far. His life as a street-dweller, with little food and amenities, is simply impractical. Would he still frown upon food and shelter if he lived in New York City in the winter?

    2. “Discourse on virtue and they pass by in droves, whistle and dance the shimmy, and you’ve got an audience.” This is a hilariously true call by Diogenes. People tend to find people making asses of themselves more entertaining than something informative or valuable.
    ACTUAL STAT: 37.8 million people watched the State of the Union address this past January. 46 million people watched a specific variation of the “Harlem Shake” dance on Youtube.

    3. “Learn the pleasure of despising pleasure.” Is Diogenes discussing a specific type of pleasure? Or feeling good, in general? The concept of being pleased by hating being pleased sounds a lot like S & M. Was Diogenes about that life? If the point of life is to not enjoy anything (except, of course, for enjoying that you don’t enjoy anything) then I’m pretty sure this isn’t somewhere I want to be. This would also beg the question, if Diogenes was so angry about everything around him, why didn’t he simply take his own life?

  14. 1. Diogenes says,”No one can live with me as a companion: it would be too incontinent;” however, he does live with various dogs. He goes out of his way to feed them before he feeds himself. Does he not view his dogs, rather the dogs of the universe, as companions?
    2. Diogenes says, “If only I could free myself from hunger as easily as from desire.” Diogenes says humans should live life like dogs do. Dogs still have difficultly freeing themselves from hunger. What does this mean?
    3.Diogenes says “You can no more improve yourself by sacrificing at the altar then you can correct your grammar.” Sacrificing at the alter is too little too late to have any chance of drastically improving yourself. What does he mean by “then you can correct your grammar?” Are you not able to see the mistakes in your own grammar?

  15. 1. “Great crowds at the Olympic games, but not of people.” Could he be describing the people as barbarians? It feels as if he’s using a derogatory tone when describing them.
    2. “Watching a mouse can cure you of jealousy of others’ good fortune.” Diogenes was able to see the simple life of a mouse, which reminded him of the simple life he modeled his own life after.
    3. “Beg a cup of wine from Plato and he will send you a whole jar. He does not give as he is asked, nor answer as he is questioned.” Diogenes is scrutinizing Plato’s method of answering a question. He feels as if Plato is adding unnecessary details to a simple question. In the end, he gives more information than needed without accomplishing much.

  16. 1. Diogenes uses language that refers back to what he is known as, a dog. For instance, in fragment 4, he uses breeds of dogs to describe some of his characteristics. Diogenes has no shame in being the dog and lives up to what being a dog is. When he introduces himself to Alexander the Great, he calls himself “Diogenes, the dog”. Also in fragment 73, when the policeman calls him a dog, Diogenes pees on him because after all that is what dogs do.

    2. The bible in Proverbs 5:3-4, states, “For the lips of an immoral woman are as sweet as honey…But in the end she is as bitter as poison.” In fragment 86, Diogenes states, “A pretty whore is poisoned honey.” It is interesting to see the similarity between the two.

    3. Fragment 79 states, “ a good man is a picture of a god”. Christians believe that mankind was created in the image of God, according to Genesis 1:27. But what is the image of God like? The best way to capture an image is by taking a picture. If mankind was created in the image of God, then a picture of mankind is the image of God. Therefore a picture of an individual is a picture of a God. A “good” man is a closer reflection of what God is, as it is perceived by society. However, a picture does not give much information of what the individual is like, so does a good man exist? Does god exist? I think that Diogenes believes that neither exists.

  17. 1) I believe that the following quotes support one another and construct a valid argument against the lifestyles of many in both archaic and more contemporary times: “To live itself is not an evil, as has been claimed, but to lead a worthless life is” and “The conquest that should be for truth and virtue is for sway and belongings instead”. People may have lost sight of what is truly important in life because of the strong influence media reveals bout specific aspects of life. Humans learn from example and the examples some are subjects too have various effects on the choices that they make.
    2)In addition to the two quotes aforementioned, there are another pair of quotes that seem to go well with one another as they still pertain to our modern lifestyles and societies: “Great crowd at the Olympic games, but not of people”. Also, “Men nowhere, but real boys at Sparta”. In a world where people are close-minded, it is almost as if nobody achieves the potential they may have by expanding their knowledge. Spartans, bred to fight, and the crowd at the Olympics, constantly cheering and jeering, are not the ideal lifestyles to lead according to Diogenes.
    3)Considered to be a founder of cynicism and a devout Cynic, what made Diogenes stray and stay away from the general philosophies, countering many standards that the society he lived in advocated for so blatantly?
    No wonder why Diogenes’s contributions to philosophy are still widely renowned…

  18. 1. Throughout the period where Diogenes enacted his “lived philosophy”, was he ever tired of trying to be assertive about his ideas? Was there a point where he could have thought his philosophy was not complete?

    2. In fragment no. 41, “All beast are driven to pasture”, Diogenes states that all animals are bound to eat. Cattle will be found grazing on the pasture, while its predators such as the wolf can also be found in the pasture. It is not looking to graze, but to hunt the cattle that grazes. Thus, all beasts, prey and predator are found in this one location.

    3. In fragment no. 45, “The psyche grows according to its own law”, Diogenes points out that the mind created the law to govern itself. This also ties into the phrase “the brain named itself.” This shows that the mind is aware of its own capabilities and limits itself to prevent any harm to that of others or to itself. Laws are a creation of the human mind to govern over other minds or to limit the capabilities of others.

  19. 1) Diogenes said, “we have complicated every simple gift of the gods”, by saying this he means that instead of taking the “gift of god” as it is we add meaning to it along with rules, norms, etc. A way he proved this was urinating in public, but wouldn’t a mix of urine in the streets along with feces be hazardous waste and sicken people and possibly cause death? Being that he lived a life of simplicity, what would his solution be to health hazards such as bad hygiene, etc. Leading a life too simple will come to and end quickly in this day and age.
    2) “The road from Sparta to Athens is like a passageway in a house from the men’s room to the women’s” is really quite true being that Spartan men and Athenian men differed greatly, Sparta bred warriors and led a simpler life than that of Athens.
    3)I admire Diogenes approach to happiness because the more we own the more of a chance we have to lose what we own. No one is happy when they lose things they once had and grew accustomed to, but if we didn’t have anything to lose we would be better off. If everyone followed this philosophy, wouldn’t it lead to a “survival of the fittest” regime as dogs do when they fight over food?

  20. Fragment 33: “they laugh at me but I am not laughed at” Everyone laughs about the way I live my life, but at the end of the day there isn’t really anything to laugh at.
    Fragment 49: sounds like Diogenes is telling us yo be careful with what we share with people because people can get greedy and sometimes its best to not open your pocket to other people but rather rake out from your pocket and give to them.
    Fragment 63: Diogenes tells us that a master must respect his slave because without his slave he’s like a patient without a doctor.

  21. 1. Fragment number 96 states, “Ephesians, be rich! I cannot wish you worse”. This narrates the opinion that he believes that money causes problems and worsens the life of people. Having no money only makes life simplistic.
    2. Fragment 119 stats, “Wisdom alone is whole and is both willing and unwilling to be named Zeus”. I can’t put my finger on what his religious perspective is. He talks highly of both God, yet says that man can be God too.
    3. Fragment 30, “Not enough is too much”. In his point of view, there excessiveness and then there is what needed. In his background we know that he wasn’t wealthy and had way too many dogs to feed, yet he never had envy for the rich. He is a minimalist.

    sorry im late :(

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