Diogenes the Cynic on Law and World Citizenship

in Polis: The Journal for Ancient Greek and Roman Political Thought
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  • 1 Western Connecticut State University, Sacred Heart University, 181 White St, Danbury, CT 06810, USA

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Abstract

Against the traditional reading of Cynic cosmopolitanism, this essay advances the thesis that Diogenes’ world citizenship is a positive claim supported by philosophical argument and philosophical example. Evidence in favor of this thesis is a new interpretation of Diogenes’ syllogistic argument concerning law (nomos) (D.L. 6.72). Important to the argument are an understanding of Diogenes’ philanthropic character and his moral imperative to ‘re-stamp the currency’. Whereas Socrates understands his care as attached specially to Athens, Diogenes’ philosophical mission and form of care attach not to his native Sinope but to all humanity. An important result is that Diogenes’ Cynicism provides an ancient example of cosmopolitanism that is philanthropic, minimalistic, experimental, and utopian.

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