Cover

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Frontmatter

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Contents

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p. vii

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Preface

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pp. ix-xvii

Ancient Cynicism has survived in the popular imagination as a set of stock images: Diogenes, ill-clad and grumpy, lounging in his tub, or old and haggard, wandering the streets of Athens in broad daylight, lantern in hand. Little else has subsisted outside of scholarly discourse. The word cynic now bears only a vague and uncertain relationship to the famous Greek Cynic Diogenes; it has...

Acknowledgments

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pp. xix-xx

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1. Ancient Rascals: Diogenes of Sinope and the Cynic Tradition

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pp. 1-20

Cynicism was born in Athens in the fourth century BCE with Antisthenes and Diogenes of Sinope and gave rise to a long philosophical tradition. From the fourth century to the waning years of the Roman Empire, Cynics could be encountered on street corners throughout the eastern Mediterranean and the Italian peninsula haranguing passers-by with great zeal and wit. They were...

ONE: Eighteenth-Century Cynicisms

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2. Taming Wild Dogs: The Polite Education of Monsieur Diog

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pp. 23-44

In his Essai sur la société des gens de lettres et des grands (An Essay upon the Alliance betwixt Learned Men, and the Great), of 1753, D’Alembert called for the Diogenes of his age to step forth and lead the republic of letters. His call did not go unheeded: from Pierre le Guai de Prémontval to Denis Diderot, and from Christoph Martin Wieland to Frederick the Great, D’Alembert’s contemporaries...

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3. Menippus on the Loose, or Diderot’s Twin Hounds

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pp. 45-73

The prevailing tendency among writers in mid-eighteenth-century France and Germany was to produce clean-shaven, sociable Diogenes figures. D’Alembert had called for “the Diogenes of our age” to step forth, and his contemporaries responded to the challenge by adopting the pose of the Cynic philosopher in their writings. But theirs was a Diogenes stripped of his bawdy past, his hair...

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4. Diogenes’ Lost Republic: From Philodemus to Wieland and Rousseau

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pp. 74-105

As Diderot’s Neveu de Rameau makes clear, educating Diogenes in the ways of polite society was not always as successful as D’Alembert might have wished. By letting the shifty Cynic into the salons, the philosophes invited trouble. Try though they might to tame him, Diogenes raised provocative questions that could not be easily dismissed. In the previous chapter I considered the philosophical...

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5. Français, encore un effort!: Sade’s Cynic Republic

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pp. 106-127

As Rousseau’s rejection of Cynicism makes plain and Wieland’s moderate Cynic cosmopolitanism confirms, Diogenes’ primitivism spelled trouble for the social reformer. Both authors are right to argue that the Cynic’s shameless and antisocial ways could marginalize the social critic and render his work ineffective, but what is lost in abandoning Cynicism for a moderate republic of...

TWO: Theory Turns Cynical: Diogenes after the Frankfurt School

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6. Cynicism and the Dialectic of Enlightenment

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pp. 131-145

Our story of the vexed relationship between Cynicism and the Enlightenment picks up again two centuries later with the unexpected resurgence of Cynicism in the writings of two philosophers deeply involved in assessing the legacy of the Enlightenment for contemporary critique. In the early 1980s Michel Foucault and Peter Sloterdijk independently turned to ancient Greek Cynicism as...

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7. Mystic Carnival: Sloterdijk’s Cynic Enlightenment

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pp. 146-168

Peter Sloterdijk’s Kritik der zynischen Vernunft appeared in 1983, in the wake of the conservative turn in German politics in the 1970s and in response to the general climate of disillusionment and political disaffection that marked the decade following the uprisings of 1968. Sloterdijk vividly captures the diffuse discontent, or cynicism, of the cultural present. He analyzes it as a direct...

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8. Cynicism as Critical Vanguard: Foucault’s Last Lecture Course

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pp. 169-191

A year after the publication of Sloterdijk’s Critique of Cynical Reason, Foucault, who had not read Sloterdijk, delivered his last lecture course at the Collège de France; his topic, as in the previous year, was free speech, or “Le courage de la vérité,” in the ancient world. Five of the nine lectures analyze ancient Cynicism and uphold Diogenes as a model for contemporary philosophers. ...

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Conclusion

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pp. 193-200

In this book I have attempted to articulate the relationship between Cynicism and the Enlightenment and to explain the fascination that Diogenes of Sinope continues to exert on thinkers committed to social change. I hope to have shown that however roguish and marginal a philosophy, Cynicism has remained a vital force in intellectual and literary life and has helped shape the image of the social critic in contemporary society. To speak of the...

Notes

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pp. 201-236

Bibliography

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pp. 237-252

Index

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pp. 253-262