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SYMHC Classics: Diogenes of Sinope

2019-08-17 | 🔗

Today we reach back to our 2015 episode on Diogenes of Sinope, the father of the Cynicism school of philosophy. He was also an incredibly eccentric figure who spoke out against pretense, and he used humor to convey his ideals

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Hey folks. Today's episode is brought to you by smirnoff number. Twenty one: vodka ornaments, the perfect white elephant If you go to one of those give swaps this year now, you don't have to wonder what to get finding the right gift can be. Tough can be expensive, but smirnoff brings you fun and affordable option give people what they actually want for the holidays this year, provided they are adults, and that is vodka, it's a too. One option you get decorations, you get vodka in. Same gift, so give the best give this holiday he's in Smirnoff number twenty one vodka ornaments. As always, please Super possibly in only share with people twenty one in up every Saturday, everybody coming up on the show we have someone who was inspired by the Syndic philosophers, particularly by agonies who I have a soft spot for so we thought it would be a good time to go back to our episode of thy agonies, which originally came out in July of twenty fifteen
so enjoy. Welcome too you missed in history class of production of Iheart Radios House of works. hello what one might call it dry and I Tracy view of it and it's better while Tracy, since we ve done any episodes on ancient history that is correct, or so today we want to go back to four hundred BC e with me and talk about it. Enigmatic greek philosopher differ thing, so this guy is really quite fun character. He opted for a life of poverty, the one of comfort he was a self proclaimed citizen of the world. He sometimes credited with inventing the word cosmopolitan relating to being
that is another world. He was an enemy of pretence. He was an avant garde thinker and he was also a humorist, so he had a lotta irons and the fire of philosophy. I am. This is diabetes vicinity and I've. Her I've listened to a bunch of pronunciation, some put an accent on the middle syllable, so it Sanofi Cinnabar sounds more natural to me, so we're going with that! Apologies! If that irritates anyone, but the trick with him is that his biography is based almost entirely. Leon apocryphal stories. There is some but not much solid information about his life and it
Finally, it appears that he didn't write down any of his own philosophy. There is some debate over that, but there's really been no evidence that he did so. What we have is information- that's been passed down by his students and biographer, sometimes Vienna, several centuries later, and I have to admit, with my own personal kind of the point of view on this, that I kind of look at Diana these acidity as a sort of ancient Greek Tyler Durden at that may become more apparent and why I would think that as we talk, But his ideals in his philosophy and its life also reads in some ways like one long Monty Python sketch. So it's quite fun. This is not one where you're gonna get a lot of horrible staff, although there are some twists and turns, but I think it will be an enjoyable little trip to the ancient past. So let's do it
they are needs is usually cited as being born in the year for twelve busy and as with much of ancient history, not really confident on that date. He was born in centipede, half Laguna on the coasts of the Black Sea, and there is not really a lot known about his trial. We do know that his father worked with money, although we don't know the precise nature of the work. Some biographies listed as one in some is another He could have been a minister or perhaps a money, changer or simply a banker, and we do know that, Chinese worked alongside his father and specificity as to the specific job. Title aside, the really interesting part of this relationship with money is that at some point I address and his father together or diabetes alone, or even his father alone, but taken credit by the urgencies, started thee facing the currency that they were working with. There have been lots of archaeological finds that corroborate that a lot of currency from
I was damage. We don't really know why coined effacement was the hobby of tragedies and possibly his father Although there are some theories on that, It may have been a politically driven move related to the Greco, persian wars of the time. Another perspective on the currency debasement features the Oracle at Delphi, playing a fairly significant role in the text, lives of eminent philosophers written in the third century c e by dioxins, layered. Yes, there is a discussion of the additives either being urged by the Oracle to commit this vandalism, although he was arranged the battle as political currency and instead to face state currency or of being called to the Oracle after the fact to realise that his behaviour had been predestined and we're not certain again of how this particular habit of currency vandalism actually played out in terms of repercussions. There are accounts that dialogue,
He'S- was exiled for this behaviour and some of them involve a lot of inner play with his father and who was taking blame and who really did it, but there are also conflicting accounts that say that dioxins fled before he could ever be tried for the crime which ever of those scenarios, was the case that these did move to Athens after this whole currency incident. So why not being a pivotal move, because at this point that he started down the path of philosophy, one of Socrates, former student, until beneath Turk, biographies on as a student of his own in a much contested immobile, keep saying that. But I just want to point out like there. There are ongoing debates over the veracity of various accounts, but in a much contested version of this, free of how dioxins became antecedents, disciple dioxin,
he's Lerius tells us how they organise had to really, where anticipates down before the elder man finally conceded to take him on as a student went into the knees, raise the stick to diagnose the derive him away. His devotion was so vehement to becoming a pupil that he put his head in the path of the stick and said strike, or you will not find any stake hard enough drive me away as long as you continue to speak, and while we are also continuing to talk about contested facets of the dioxin story, we actually do
over. Certainly, he really did steady evergreen destinies. This is something that still gets debated to this day by historians and classicist, so keep all of that in mind. As we go to say, diabetes was an impassioned student would really be an understatement. He took the lessons of interest the needs to extremes, believing that he had to live the philosophy, rather than really just talk about it. He wanted to reject artificiality and the luxury of death of athenian life. In fact, he wanted to reject creature comforts so badly that he cited to live in a tub in a building dedicated to the goddess civilly. Some accounts indicate that it was actually an empty wine barrel and not a tub and that he was merely in a public square, but and was of the details of his tub wheelbarrow. He wasn't aspired. He said by the mouse, which was a creature which he admired greatly for the adaptability that it showed it didn't need all of these trappings. It could
live anywhere, naturally, there's a whole other account of how it came to be living in this cask or tub. And in this version he wrote ahead to a friend in Athens, but he was coming and that his friend should find him suitable accommodations. The friend was unable to secure lodgings for dialogue and ease, and so they possibly exiled man opted for a nearby barrel or tub in the public square and lives of eminent philosophers that knees, then, western as to his habit of living on the streets said. The Athenians had already built him places to live in media. All of the public spaces around him. An interesting approach to life. Before we talk a little bit about some of the ideals that the agency's expounded on our it a pause for a quick word from a sponsor. folks. Today's episode is brought to you by Smirnoff number twenty one: vodka ornaments, the perfect white elephant gift.
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diabetes, owned nothing and he depended on the kindness of others and some wiggly logic that working to talk about momentarily in order to survive. He did it point allegedly possess a cup that is, until he saw a young boy drinking from his cup hands at which point diabetes, the vessel away, claiming that it was simply an unnecessary possession, so you may wonder how a philosopher living on the streets managed to survive the elements he said you have taken up the habit of training himself to withstand any condition, so he would roll and hot sand during warm weather and embrace cold marble statue use in cold weather those those may be fantastic, all failed rules of agencies. We just don't know how he did believe that manners were a form of lying, so he was pretty.
Comfortable being really outspoken and really brutally honest. He's also said to have pretty commonly urinate it in public and even masturbated openly. basically any of the natural human activities that someone might do in private as part of living in a civilised society, diabetes fell, should all be allowed and public that's part of authentic life. When I first started looking at your outline highly, I got to the How about believing that manners were form of lines that he was just outspoken, brutally honest mouselike? I think I you the date. The sky, like Europe, did not day those guys. Thank goodness There is another story of a wealthy group of people throwing diocese bones during a banquet and calling him a dog after which he lifted his leg and hear unaided on them, canine style ever gonna, toxic or about dogs, because they are often associate
with them. But this is basically this time in Athens when he was doing all of these two, some seemingly outlandish things of living publicly in October, Barrowman peeing on people that bothered him is people started to call him crazy. In fact, Plato supposedly called I agonies quote a Socrates gone mad for the relationship between the agencies and Plato was not simply a matter of name calling. The agonies was very openly critical of Plato is work. For example, one of the ongoing philosophic discussions of the day was analysis of the nature and definition of what it meant to be. Human Plato had defied man as a Federalist, bipeds Animal, to point out a limited view of this definition by ass, these plucked a foul, possibly a chicken and brought it with him into the Flaps Philosophers Academy, showing everyone how he was carrying.
places definition a human being yeah. I always get hot, this zero, the famous stories of diabetes- and I always get a little hung up on it because it's not the chickens natural state, so you can't be claiming that, but again he was a humorous, so any that the first prop comic. Perhaps the debate over the nature of man and what defined humanity continue to lead to more eccentric behaviour on the part of our journey. So he would walk the streets of Athens. Carry
a lantern, sometimes you'll, see it described as a candle, but more much more commonly as only enter and even during daylight, and he would hold it up to people's faces, claiming to be looking for an honest man and never finding it so we're laughing at the Skype openly, and it's important to point out that dietaries was considered very humorous. So while he was on the surface, looking for an honest human being in a way that might have seemed crazy investor Cherkis at the worst, he was using comedy to make a statement about the people of Athens having lost their humanity really felt that humans were living in pretence rather than in harmony with nature of research. To sound a lot like Tyler Durden to me
You should also mention, though, that he was not the first or only philosopher who believed that most humans were walking around in this sort of contrived dream: state of authenticity, Heraclitus, Sophocles and Plato all tackled similar issues. In their work, but none of them took to the streets to challenge people openly and in their faces about it. To further comment on the trappings of human contracts, badges and say that he sometimes saw a man is the brightest and wisest of all animals that when he thought it for some tellers and soothsayers were heavily patronized. If I've and mankind was the most foolish animal, of all- and he really believed pretty implicitly that humans should be self sufficient as part of their natural state, like you really thought we exist in a way that we could totally take care of ourselves if we got rid of all these societal constructs, but
he also did a little bit of fancy footwork philosophically to make sure that his needs were met. While he was living his natural self sufficient tub life, he would expound, for example, that all elements are in all things and that all substances, united, so snatching a little bit of food are stealing a little bit of why. I was just making use of the natural elements that are all around you and the vapor they. This happened to take the form of sustenance and apparently, despite all public, urination and open criticism of literally everyone around him. The agencies was much beloved in Athens. You have people really thought I mean call him crazy, but they also thought he was very smart and he had a lot of interesting ideas. So he's such a fascinating creature and dioxins, acidity with his disdain for social contract constructs, is also considered. The father of cynicism
This is where the dogs come in. So the word cynicism is related to the greek word for dog and there's no historical consensus as to how dogs came to be so closely associated with diabetes in his philosophy. But there are several popular theories. The first one is that he extolled the virtues of the dogs way of living as being entirely without pretence which people look doc would probably agree with the second one is that has meant her and his than he is taught at a school called sign of Sargeus, which I may be pronouncing wrong, but that translates roughly to place of the white dog. So it was more of a linear homage to his teacher than anything else. The third succession kind of leaps back to the first line, which is that the comparison between diabetes philosophy of answer,
pretence and the general characteristics of a dog. Yes, so that one is more like from other people saying hey, you kind of live like a dog rather than him going. Dogs are also not pretentious it's more of what is put on him, rather than him expounding on, and this association of dogs with dioxin ease persisted throughout his life and beyond. If you look at any renderings of the philosopher, the majority of them, I would say, is there have been a lot of paintings of him throughout the years feature? Why are more dogs by his side? There are a lot of images of him kind of tucked into his little tougher. His cast it sometimes. Therefore, five dogs, just around him there, almost always dogs in the picture So things are about to get a little bit. Wacky. Here's was gonna, so while he was travelling at one point, the story goes, the dioxin ease was actually captured by pirates. You gotta have pirates and a good working story, and then he was taken to Crete and he was sold as this.
A to z, needs of Corinth and as a leave diagnoses, allegedly told his new owner that he had no special skills or abilities other than governing men. So he was made a tutor to He needs children and eventually he was considered a member of the family rather than a slave. In an alternate version of the story by agonies actually chosen Z needs as the man. The pirate should sell him to your saying that his potential master looked like he really needed to be governed. Many different details compete with one another when it comes to the relationship between the agencies and the man who purchase them. He might
have been set free immediately and then employed. He might have started out as a slave and then slowly that aspect of their relationship diminished or he might have stayed a slave, although one with a great deal of personal freedom, his entire life yeah, we just don't know him and that's another another one of those things the different tailings put it different ways in different translations have probably lead to some of that muddy water and that arena, and despite the fact that he was technically asleep, during at least part of this time in Corinth, it does appear that by agonies lived there in much the same way that he did in Athens, so he slept and bathed and gave his lectures in public spaces, and he issued the trappings of society.
And he continued to share in live his philosophy of personal responsibility and minimalist living. As for the lessons that he bestowed upon the Childer him, he was tasked with teaching. He not only taught them academics, but also riding artery and stone slinging. When the boys were in the gymnasium, he was adamant that they not be trained in the standard athletic style, but in a general manner, getting their heart rates and color in their cheeks not really pushing to extremes. You have this. One always seems kind of odd to me. It's one of the many later right, is about him because you see, so often depicted as walking with a cane, and so they picturing him teaching them. All of these physical thing seems odd to me, but you never know. Perhaps it was true. There's another sort, a famous story about him involving his timing, Corinth when they are chinese, allegedly had and
counter with Alexander the great apparently Alexander, wanted to meet this unconventional philosopher, because he had heard a great deal about him and when he finally found this man on the streets of Corinth and enquired as to whether he was in fact the philosopher that he sought the agencies is said replied, yes get out of my sunlight. The eccentric philosopher openly criticised Alexander, which, perhaps surprisingly, actually endeared him to the ruler. So much though the king of Macedonia once said that if he were not Alexander, the great he'd, be diversities of cinema Getting on the bosses. Good side is just you giving yourself positive affirmations. You never have to fake laugh at the bosses. Lame jokes, because your hilarious, an awkward chit chat with the boss, would just be awkward. Chit chat with yourself, because you are a small business owner born to be your own boss and Amex can help.
funding solutions for eligible business customers. So you can keep doing what you were made to do, that power backing of American Express dont do business without it terms, apply, learn more american, Express Dotcom, slash business. In another belittling moved. I agonies supposedly responded if I were not by oddities. I would also wish to be the Han Chinese, We, finally that physical, finger. I love it. He word lecture in public spaces and if no one stopped to listen, he got in this really interesting sort of, rule. It's almost click abating of the ancient style here, whistling until onlookers game and once he had drawn a few people. Thank God. our attention. He would then berate them for coming to listen to him whistling and being musical and point out how ignorant they were
but they did not stop earlier to listen to the far more important things he had to share. I e his philosophy, third of reminds me of when, like Joshua Bell, virtuoso violinist, we'll just busk in the subway and yeah out for a walk on by not realising what's happening, that unease lived the remainder of his life in Corinth Greece and died there in three twenty three b c e at the age of ninety. His cause of death is as cloaked in murky. Variations is basically every other part of his life story, varying accounts list, a dog attack resulting in rabies, which would have a kind of ironic considering all the previous doc stuff food poisoning, eating a raw Oxford, or maybe a raw octopus, and even committing suicide by holding his breath until he died and the last one is just as unlikely as it sounds, but probably have you just died of old age.
Yeah. I think some of these stories were probably written to add drama, but he was Thirdly, when he died and he had been around a very long time- and that was quite an old age- I I love it their accounts that sea held his breath until he died. I can't work, you pass out and start automatically breathing, but while they are Chinese had told people that he should be thrown to the dogs. food when he died. He was instead given a proper and honourable burial. He was again, despite being this really eccentric, cranky pub,
you're in either very beloved. The account of his death plan is a little bit different in the third century, diabetes, Lerius writings there he is said to have told Xenia AIDS that in fact he wanted to be buried on his face quote because in a little while everything will be turned upside down, and with that statement he was referring to the political situation. At the time the Macedonians were rising in power and he thought a pretty big cultural shift was gonna, undoubtedly follow that a statue of the philosopher was later erected and seen up Turkey and it features that dog by his side and the signature lantern. He would China people's faces there, so that is this, the more modern day version of where he was born, and one of the reasons I think that the life of the Han Chinese comes with a lot of variation in the telling and most likely some outright fabrication. Isn't he a larger than life personality, and sometimes that will kind of build. You know people will build on severe
real larger than life, things and kind of add their own embellishments. But I really like this one story about him. It is a nice wait, a kind of some of his his life, particularly at the end because the as he was nearing the end of his life, he was getting very old. People would ask him why he system on continuing living his difficult path of poverty when he really could retire in living, greater comfort. Again, he was much beloved. He probably had a lot of options and plenty of people that would have been happy to take him in and he may have still been part of Xenia its family. We don't entirely new, but his response was apparently why so suppose I had run a long distance ought to stop when I was near the end, and not rather press on and left him he so dedicated to this whole thing is funny. I mean. Sometimes we laugh at people's foibles in the in the past, because they are humorous. We don't often get to laugh at
but he is being deliberately conical and Pike asked us with an eye state of pace, from feeling mildly guilty about laughing at somebody's comical, foibles yeah, it is vital for what they were. He he had a real good sense of like what he was. He was drawing out of people. He was trying to get people to think through comedy, which I I was in a big Anna Lindh, these brilliant. Thank you so much for joining us on this Saturday. If you have heard an email address or a facebook url or something similar over the course of today's episode, since it is from archived that might be out of date now you can email us at history, podcast at how stuff works, dot com and you can and it's all over social media at missed in history, and you can subscribe to arson on Apple podcast, Google, podcast, the Iheart Radio APP, and wherever else he wasn't, the podcast
stop EMS than history, glass, the production of Iheart radios. How stuff works for more upon him As for my radio visit thy heart, radio, apple pie, guests or wherever you listened to your favorite shows getting on the bosses? Good side is just you giving yourself positive affirmations. You never have to fake laugh at the bosses. Lame jokes, because your whole Larry's, an awkward chit chat with the boss, would just be awkward. Chit chat with yourself because you are a small business owner born to be your own boss and Amex can help funding solutions for eligible business customers. So you can keep doing what you were made to do that power, backing of American Express dont do business without it terms, apply, learn more american, Express Dotcom, slash business