May 29 / Philosophy / 4 min read
Who is Diogenes?
Diogenes was one of the greatest ancient Greek philosophers. We all have heard of other famous philosophers like Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, but very few of us have heard about Diogenes.He, unlike other philosophers of his time, was mostly criticised for his nature. Diogenes is considered one of the founders of Cynicism.
According to Wikipedia :
Cynicism is a school of thought of ancient Greek philosophy that says that the purpose of life is to live in virtue, in agreement with nature. As reasoning creatures, people can gain happiness by rigorous training and by living in a way which is natural for themselves, rejecting all conventional desires for wealth, power, and fame. Instead, they were to lead a simple life free from all possessions.
What were his Ideas?
When we imagine greek philosophers we imagine Great Philosophers teaching their students in their great marble structures and temples. Diogenes was not like other philosophers. He spread his teachings by living his ideas. He did not care enough to indoctrinate them.
He could be found living in barrels by the roadside with the street dogs. He was known for praising the virtues of a dog and also acting like them, he would be shameless like a dog. He would masturbate or make love in public and also live without any fear, worry, anxiety and only in the moment. Well, Diogenes was a great philosopher indeed but this explains the fact why he was denounced from society. He had no possessions and had renounced all luxury that society had to offer him. A famous story about him tells that the only possession that he had was a wooden bowl, he had thrown away, when he saw a child drinking water by making a bowl shape with his little hands.
Why is he Important then?
Alexander the Great, was undefeated in battle and is widely considered one of history's most successful military commanders. Even Though there is no accurate measure of Alexander’s worth, he was without doubt one of the richest leaders in the world and had everything but what could he have to do with Diogenes. Alexander was so inspired by Diogenes that he went in person to meet him. When Alexander met him he asked Diogenes what he wanted, to which Diogenes replied to move aside as Alexander was blocking the sun. (We are pretty sure that savage music played from Heaven just then, but we cannot confirm it.) Alexander was so shocked and amazed that he said,”But truly, if I were not Alexander, I wish I were Diogenes." I can't even imagine being as cool and wise as Diogenes.
"Sometimes it's the people no one expects anything from who do the things no one expects." – Imitation Game