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Born circa 404 B.C.; died circa 323 B.C. Ancient Greek philosopher.
A disciple of Antisthenes, the founder of the school of Cynics, Diogenes developed the master’s doctrine along the lines of a naive materialism. He rejected civilization, particularly the state; declared culture to be an act of violence against human nature; and demanded that man return to a primitive condition. Diogenes declared himself to be a citizen of the world and advocated a communality of wives and children. He carried his indifference to morality and societal life to the point of complete equanimity to any of the inconveniences of life. According to apocryphal anecdotes Diogenes used to live in a tub, and, when Alexander the Great asked what Diogenes would like from him, he answered, “Move away and don’t block my sunlight.” Diogenes criticized Plato’s doctrine of ideas from the point of view of an extreme sensualism, recognizing only the particular. Together with the Sophists he also propounded the contradictions between natural endowment and human institutions. Diogenes rejected polytheism and religious cults as arbitrary human institutions, and he acknowledged only ascetic virtue, based on an imitation of nature. In this he found man’s sole purpose.
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Biriukov, P. I. Grecheskii mudrets Diogen, 3rd ed. Moscow, 1910.
Gomperts, G. Grecheskie mysliteli, vol. 2. St. Petersburg, 1913. Pages 103-28.
Fritz, K. Quellen-Untersuchungen zu Leben und Philosophie des Diogenes von Sinope. Leipzig, 1928.
Sayre, F. Diogenes of Sinope. Baltimore, 1938.
A. F. LOSEV