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320 pages, Paperback
First published May 10, 2012
Diogenes said he would rather meet with failure among the cultivated than with success among the uncultivated.
‘That was when I was just as you are now; but what I am now, you will never be.’
Diogenes said, ‘People pray to the gods for good health, and yet most of them consistently act in such a way as to damage their health.’
Seeing the servants of Anaximenes moving a large amount of furniture, he asked, ‘Who does that belong to?’, and when they replied, ’To Anaximenes’, he said, ‘Isn’t he ashamed to possess all that when he doesn’t even possess himself?’
To him literature, music, mathematics, science, and philosophical investigation and discussion were a distraction and a waste of time . . . Diogenes was a great simplifier who lost sight of an entire dimension of human life by scorning it as a tissue of illusion.
It was a commonplace of Socratic thought that one can be rich by being satisfied with little, and so achieve a measure of invulnerability to fortune. Diogenes radicalised this idea, taking it to the utmost extreme. If one takes into account only one’s most basic needs and desires, putting everything else aside as mere fancy and illusion, and is content to satisfy those needs in the simplest and most direct way possible, one needs hardly anything at all; and if one divests oneself of all that one possesses to live as a vagrant, one can anticipate the very worst and become inured to any hardship, and so achieve complete invulnerability to fortune.
Socrates gone mad
If I were not Alexander I should be Diogenes . . .