030 | Cynicism

This episode, we talk about the history of Cynicism, and it's not what you think it is! So if you're a misanthrope, you have to listen to this one!

Cynicism: The modern definition has very little in common with its ancient counterpart. Who do I blame for this? The French and the Germans, of course! Damn them and their nihilism! [1]

The Father of Early Cynicism: Before there was Diogenes, there was Anthithinese, who proposed that God was one with Nature, and that living according to nature is the highest virtue during a time when people were becoming increasingly “civilized”.[2]

Diogenese and Cynicism: Cynicism is really a rejection of society. Their symbol is that of the dog, as a symbol of ultimate indulgence. A dog eats when he wants to eats, shit where he wants to shit, and fucks when he’s horny. The movement grew in popularity in greece and ancient romen, and many of the elements of cynicism are present in christianity (Jesus could be viewed as a cynic).[3]

Their symbol was also the defaced coins, since the legend has it that he had been exiled from his home city after defacing the currency as an act of defiance against society. [4]

Cynicism a shortcut to Virtue (since you would live by a difficult to follow code. Many people would “play” cynic on the weekends, but still work their 9-5 jobs). It thus became trendy to be a cynic. 

Crates of Thebes: After losing his fortune when his investment sank to the bottom of the sea, Crates discovered the writings of the cynics and given his prediliction, it seemed to have made quite the impact. In fact, he seems to have inspired his future wife to live rough with him. That charisma, people. [5]

Greco-Buddhism: It should come as no surprise that Cynism and Buddhism found a lot of common ground. So much so that there is reason to believe that statues of the Buddha are actuall the result of greek anthopomorphication (as early buddhists shunned a physical representation).[6] 


Modern Vs Ancient Cynics: The ancient cynics were admired because while they rejected societies conventions, they did so to highlight what they felt was wrong with it. Their habit of living rough was seen as it’s own virtue, since they abided by their own principles. They also cared deeply for humanity, and wanted to demonstrate alternative ways of being. It was said that there was no one as free as Diogenes, since he wanted for nothing (similar to elements of Buddhism’s rejection of desire). 

Modern cynics hate both society, and the people living in it. But they have no virtue, since they cannot live by their own code.

World is not Going to Hell: I’m not sure why people tend to think the world is worse than it really is. Perhaps it is Cynicism that’s to blame. I mean, just look at these charts and tell me that we’re going to hell in a handbasket…[7] 
Incompleteness Theorum: Here’s something that should humble you a little: turns out that all knowledge, fundamentally, suffers from an “axiom” problem; ie, that for something to be proven, you must take certain things to be true, despite your inability to ultimately prove it. Would it surprise you to know that proving 2+2=4 is still not within our grasp? [8] Tell that to these guys!

[1] https://books.google.ca/books?id=GsH8QoBr1FkC&lpg=PA3&ots=ppdfO_w9sv&dq=cynicism%20modern%20germans&pg=PA3#v=onepage&q=cynicism%20modern%20germans&f=false
[2] https://archive.org/details/historyofcynicis032872mbp
[3] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hhjU4EA_Or0
[4] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NpJN_mc0lKM
[5] http://www.ancient.eu/Crates_of_Thebes/
[6] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greco-Buddhism
[7] https://singularityhub.com/2016/06/27/why-the-world-is-better-than-you-think-in-10-powerful-charts/
[8] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4ndIDcDSGc
[9] http://www.thescienceforum.com/mathematics/18268-prove-2-2-4-a.html