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Diogenes - Philosophy and EthicsDiogenes - Philosophy and Ethics


Diogenes (404-323 BC)


Greek philosopher (pictured right in the painting by Jean-Léon Gérôme) who lived like a tramp in a barrel in Athens.

People gave him the nickname “Cynic”, meaning “like a dog” and the name was later given to a group of philosophers who despised wealth and pleasure.


What did he say about ethics?


Diogenes - Philosophy and Ethics

1. Don’t be a hypocrite

The worst people say they’re good but do wrong, and he found lots of them.

Diogenes unsuccessfully went around with a lamp in daylight looking for an honest man (pictured right in Johann Tischbein's painting).



2. Do goodDiogenes - Philosophy and Ethics

Concentrate on being a good person not on

  • money or
  • what people think of you.

All social conventions (like how you should dress and behave) are rubbish.

You, and nobody else, should decide how you should live.



3. Freedom means more than fameDiogenes - Philosophy and Ethics

He famously met Alexander the Great (pictured right in Caspar de Crayer's painting), the world’s greatest ruler, who asked Diogenes if there was anything he could do for him.

Unimpressed by his fame and power, he replied: 

“Yes, you can stand out of my light”.

The happiest people are free to do what they want , having power over their own destiny (not power over others).


4. Think globalDiogenes - Philosophy and Ethics

He hated the distinction between Greek and foreigner, because he believed that everyone in the world should be treated with the same love and justice.

So he invented a new word “cosmopolitan” to describe this belief.

“I am a citizen of the world”, he said.


Key quote on peace of mind

He has the most who is most content with the least.


Key quote on globalization

I am a citizen of the world.


Key quote on education

The foundation of every state is the education of its youth


Key quote on communication

We have two ears and one tongue so that we would listen more and talk less.

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