Monday, January 2, 2017

"I AM LOOKING FOR AN HONEST MAN." - Diogenes (Quote for Year 2017)

The life of Diogenes was a relentless campaign to debunk the social values and institutions of what he saw as a corrupt society. 

Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature - School on Blog []

Author imitates the Greek philosopher Diogenes with  the latter's 
famous pose holding a lamp at midday uttering his words
of wisdom, "I am looking for an honest man."

Light the old lamp, light the way 
through the crowd, over mean faces,
for in the night,
sleep deadens the sense of honesty;

but neither day nor night
makes the difference for the man
long sought for, and Diogenes
put it off and sighed.

and I took the same old lamp and failed, too;
for either the man isn't born yet,
or has long been dead on a Cross,
and in between, goes the crowd.~ avrotor

Diogenes was a Greek philosopher (born 412 or 404 BCE and died at Corinth in 323 BCE) and one of the founders of Cynic philosophy. Diogenes was one of the few men to ever publicly mock Alexander the Great and live. He intellectually humiliated Plato and was the only pupil ever accepted by Antisthenes, whom he saw as the true heir of Socrates. Diogenes taught his philosophy of Cynicism to Crates who taught it to Zeno of Citium who fashioned it into the school of Stoicism, one of the most enduring branches of Greek philosophy.

His life was a relentless campaign to debunk the social values and institutions of what he saw as a corrupt society. None of his many writings have survived, but details of his life come in the form of anecdotes (chreia), especially from Diogenes Laërtius, in his book Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers. (Wikipedia)

Notes: Stoicism is a school of Hellenistic philosophy founded in Athens by Zeno of Citium in the early 3rd century BC. The Stoics taught that destructive emotions resulted from errors in judgment, and that a sage, or person of "moral and intellectual perfection," would not suffer such emotions.

Stoics were concerned with the active relationship between cosmic determinism and human freedom and the belief that it is virtuous to maintain a will called prohairesis that is in accord with nature. Because of this, the Stoics presented their philosophy as a way of life, and they thought that the best indication of an individual's philosophy was not what a person said but how he behaved.

Later Stoics, such as Seneca and Epictetus  emphasized that because "virtue is sufficient for happiness", a sage was immune to misfortune. This belief is similar to the meaning of the phrase "stoic calm", though the phrase does not include the "radical ethical" Stoic views that only a sage can be considered truly free, and that all moral corruptions are equally vicious.

From its founding, Stoic doctrine was popular with a following in Greece and throughout the Roman Empire — including the Emperor Marcus Aurelius — until the closing of all philosophy schools in AD 529 by order of the Emperor Justinian I, who perceived their pagan character as being at odds with the Christian faith. (From Wikipedia)



Diogenes was one of the few men to ever publicly mock Alexander the Great and live.

There lived a wise man in ancient Greece whose name was Diogenes. Men came from all parts of the land to see him and talk to him.

Diogenes was a strange man. He said that no man needed much, and so he did not live in a house but slept in a barrel, which he rolled about from place to place. He spent his days sitting in the sun and saying wise things to those who were around him.

When Alexander the Great came to that town he went to see the wise man. He found Diogenes outside the town lying on the ground by his barrel. He was enjoying the sun.
When he saw the king he sat up and looked at Alexander. Alexander greeted him and said:
Diogenes, I have heard a great deal about you. Is there anything I can do for you?"

"Yes," said Diogenes, "you can step aside a little so as not to keep the sunshine from me."

The king was very much surprised. But this answer did not make him angry. He turned to his officers with the following words:

"Say what you like, but if I were not Alexander, I should like to be Diogenes."

The cynic philosopher replied, "If I were not Diogenes, I would also wish to be Diogenes." 
(Last line is based on other versions such as that in the above illustration.)

Below is another excerpt of a dialogue between Diogenes and Alexander. 

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