Antisthenes (ca. 445 - 365 B.C.)

Definition:
A Greek philosopher, the founder of Cynicism, who advocated a back-to-nature philosophy.
 
Background:
Antisthenes was a student of Gorgias (ca. 485-380 B.C.), friend of Socrates (469-399 B.C.), and teacher of Diogenes (ca. 400-325 B.C.). He lived during a time of instability in Greek society. To meets the needs of the people, the focus of philosophy was shifting from complex and abstract ponderings to more practical concerns. Antisthenes' Cynicism was appealing for persons wanting to retreat from disappointment. He questioned intellectual pursuits, and preached a back-to-nature philosophy that emphasized self-sufficiency. Unlike the Skeptics, Antisthenes advocated breaking free of the conventions of society. He practiced what he preached, renouncing his aristocracy, associating with working men, and dressing like a wandering beggar. Very little remains of what he wrote.
 
Further Reading:

Branham, R.B., & Goulet-Caze, M.O. (Eds.). (2000). The Cynics: The Cynic movement in antiquity and its legacy. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Kemerling, G. (2001). Antisthenes [On-line] Available: http://www.philosophypages.com/dy/s5.htm#skep

 
Related Terms:
Cynicism

Diogenes (ca. 412 - 323 B.C.)

Gorgias (ca. 485 - 380 B.C.)

Skepticism

Socrates (469 - 399 B.C.)

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