What does Cynicism Mean?

What is Cynicism?

The word cynicism can be synonymous with shamelessness, impudence, or insolence. It can also refer to an ancient Greek philosophical doctrine that held that virtue was the only possible way to happiness, which is why it rejected social conventions and embraced asceticism.

Cynicism thus has two relatively distant meanings, but associated, since a certain modern perception of cynical philosophical doctrine, which characterized cynics as people who simply despise social conventions and certain values ​​such as fame, power or wealth, it has prevailed to such an extent that it has assigned a new meaning to the word.

Thus, the cynic, a practitioner of a rigorous discipline conducive to virtue, came to be understood as an individual who disbelieves in the sincerity or goodness of human actions. For example: “Don’t talk to me with that cynicism.”

Hence, therefore, all the negative evaluations assimilated by the word cynicism: shamelessness in lying or in the defense and practice of impudent or dishonest actions. For example: “The cynicism of today’s youth deserves the attention of their elders.”

The word cynicism, as such, comes from the Latin cynismus , and this in turn from the Greek κυνισμός (kynismós), derived from κύων (kyon), which means ‘dog’, in allusion to the way of life of the cynical philosophers.

Cynicism in philosophy

Cynicism is called, in philosophy, the doctrine of the cynics, a group of philosophers who consider that the only concern of man should be virtue, because only through this can happiness be achieved. The cynical school was founded by Antisthenes, a disciple of Socrates.

Cynics despised all social norms and conventions; they rejected fame, power, or wealth, arguing that these values, dictated by conventions, were not the virtuous path.

The cynic barely covered his basic needs; He neglected his hygiene and clothing, stripped himself of his wealth and wealth, lacked family and livelihood, and devoted himself to warning each two by three of the frivolity and corruption of the society in which he lived. The cynic, then, enjoyed great freedom.

For Diogenes of Sinope, an important cynical philosopher, the ideals of life should be self-sufficiency ( autarkeia ), and apathy ( apatheia ).

Cynicism was a doctrine that enjoyed a certain height, especially during the rise of the Roman Empire in the 1st century. And, although the doctrine as such had disappeared by the 5th century, early Christianity, however, adopted many of its ideas ascetic.

What is Cynicism