Cynicism and Stoicism

Christopher Gill

in The Oxford Handbook of the History of Ethics

Published in print January 2013 | ISBN: 9780199545971
Published online April 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

Cynicism and Stoicism

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This chapter discusses the ethical theories of Cynics and Stoics. Cynicism traces its origins to Diogenes of Sinope (c. 412/403–c. 324/321 BC), the most colourful and outrageous of all such founders of philosophical movements. The core Cynic doctrines articulate the principles embodied in Diogenes' way of life. The central theme is that of following nature, understood as leading a life of extreme primitiveness or self-chosen bestiality. Stoicism offers an alternative to Aristotle, who has been the main Classical source of inspiration for those evolving modern versions of virtue ethics. A striking feature of Stoic ethical theory lies in its combination of radical moral rigour or aspiration and a strongly naturalistic outlook.

Keywords: Cynics; Stoics; Diogenes of Sinope; nature; primitiveness; bestiality; virtue ethics; ethical theory

Article.  10353 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Moral Philosophy ; Classical Philosophy

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