INTRODUCTION Hellenistic philosophy continued to work with the problems raised by Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Common to them all was their desire to discover how mankind should best live and die. They were concerned with ethics. In the new civilization, this became the central philosophical project. The main emphasis was on finding out what true happiness was and how it could be achieved. We are going to look at four of these philosophical trends.
THE CYNICS The story goes that one day Socrates stood gazing at a stall that sold all kinds of wares. Finally he said, “What a lot of things I don’t need!”
This statement could be the motto for the Cynic school of philosophy, founded by Antisthenes in Athens around 400 B.C. Antisthenes had been a pupil of Socrates, and had become particularly interested in his frugality. The Cynics emphasized that true happiness is not found in external advantages such as material luxury, political power, or good health. True happiness lies in not being dependent on such random and fleeting things. And because happiness does not consist in benefits of this kind, it is within everyone’s reach. Moreover, having once been attained, it can never be lost.
DIOGENES Diogenes the Cynic also known as Diogenes of Sinope, he was born in Sinope (modern-day Sinop, Turkey), an Ionian colony on the Black Sea, in 412 or 404 BCE and died at Corinth in 323 BCE. Diogenes was a controversial figure. His father minted coins for a living and when Diogenes took to "defacement of the currency", he was banished from the city. After being exiled, he moved to Athens to debunk cultural conventions. Diogenes modelled himself on the example of Hercules. He believed that virtue was better revealed in action than in theory. He used his lifestyle and behaviour to criticise the social values and institutions of what he saw as a corrupt society. He declared himself a cosmopolitan. There are many tales about him dogging Antisthenes' footsteps and becoming his