CYNICS, a small but influential school of ancient philosophers.
Whichever of these explanations is correct, it is noticeable that the Cynics agreed in taking a dog as their common badge or symbol (see Diogenes).
The leading earlier Cynics were Antisthenes, Diogenes of Sinope, Crates of Thebes, and Zeno; in the later Roman period, the chief names are Demetrius (the friend of Seneca), Oenomaus and Demonax.
Nor is it unjust to infer that the sense of opposition provoked some of the Cynics to an overweening display of superiority.
It is probable that these later Cynics adapted themselves somewhat to the times in which they lived and avoided the crude extravagance of Diogenes and others.
For his philosophy see Cynics, and for his pupils, Diogenes and Crates, see articles under these headings.
Like the Cynics and the Cyrenaics, Euclides started from the Socratic principle that virtue is knowledge.
See also Eleatic School; Cynics; Stoics; and, for the connexion between the Megarians and the Eretrians, Menedemus and Phaedo.
The extreme nominalism of some of the Cynics also, who denied the possibility of any but identical judgments, must be similarly regarded as a solvent of knowledge.
Thus, in the end, Aristippus, the founder of ' the purest hedonism in the history of thought, comes very near not only to the Cynics, but to the more cultured hedonism of Epicurus and modern thinkers.
Here he attached himself in succession to the Academy, the Cynics, the Cyrenaics and the Peripatetics.
Intellectually in agreement with the Megarian dialectic, he followed the practical ethics of the Cynics both in theory and in practice.
Pointing out that the sophists of that dialogue " profess Eis ap€riffs E7rt,u XELav 7rporpNiaL by means of dialogue," that ' they challenge the interlocutor inr w Xoyov," that " their examples are drawn from common objects and vulgar trades," that " they maintain positions that we know to have been held by Megarians and Cynics," he infers that " what we have here presented to us as ' sophistic ' is neither more nor less than a caricature of the Megarian logic "; and further, on the ground that " the whole conception of Socrates and his effect on his contemporaries, as all authorities combine to represent it, requires us to assume that his manner of discourse was quite novel, that no one before had systematically attempted to show men their ignorance of what they believed themselves to know," he is " disposed to think that the art of disputation which is ascribed to sophists in the Euthydemus and the Sophistes (and exhaustively analysed by Aristotle in the HEpi originated entirely with Socrates, and that he is altogether responsible for the form at least of this second species of sophistic."
That Plato was not careful to distinguish the Megarians and the Cynics from the eristical sophists, and that the disputants of the 4th century affected some of the mannerisms of the greatest disputant of the 5th century, he willingly concedes.
But he cannot allow either that the Megarians and the Cynics were the only eristics, or that eristical sophistry began with Socrates.
1, 1), swordsmanship, and forensic argumentation, implies that they came to eristic not from the sophistry of Socrates, but from that of the later humanists, polymaths of the type of Hippias; (2) that the fifth and sixth definitions of the Sophist, in which " that branch of eristic which brings pecuniary gain to the practitioner " is opposed to the " patience-trying, purgative elenchus " of Socrates, indicate that contemporary with Socrates there were eristics whose aims were not his; (3) that, whereas the sophist of the final definition " disputes, and teaches others to dispute, about things divine, cosmical, metaphysical, legal, political, technical, in fact, about all things," we have no ground for supposing that the Megarians and the Cynics used their eristic for any purpose except the defence of their logical heresies.
Not a few other technical terms of Greek philosophic asceticism, used in the first instance by Cynics and Neo-pythagoreans, and then continued among the Greek Jews and Christians, were metaphors taken from athletic contests - but only metaphors, for all asceticism, worthy of the name, has a moral purport, and is based on the eternal contrast of the proposition, "This is right," with the proposition, "That is pleasant."
The Greek Cynics (see Cynics) played a great part in the history of Asceticism, and they were so much the precursors of the Christian hermits that descriptions of them in profane literature have been mistaken for pictures of early monasticism.
For older thinkers like Plato and Aristotle the perfect life was that of the citizen and householder; but the Cynics were individualists, citizens of the world without loyalty or respect for the ancient city state, the decay of which was coincident with their rise.
Zeno visited all the schools in turn, but seems to have attached himself definitely to the Cynics;, as a Cynic he composed at least one of his more important works, " the much admired Republic," which we know to have been later on a stumbling-block to the school.
Thus, quite apart from the general similarity of their ethical doctrine, the Cynics were materialists; they were also nominalists, and combated the Platonic ideas; in their theory.
It was left for Cleanthes to discover this motive cause in a conception familiar to Zeno, as to the Cynics before him, but restricted to the region of ethics - the conception of tension or effort.
The soul of the sage, thought the Cynics, should be strained and braced for judgment and action; his first need is firmness (Ebrovia) and Socratic strength.
Now, however effective against Plato's contemporary Cynics or Atomists, the reasoning is thrown away upon the Stoics, who take boldly the one horn of this dilemma.
As a disciple of the Cynics he must have started.
Cynics view this as the rich paying off the poor to keep them from revolting.
These payments, the cynics would argue, bribe the poor to back the system.