Antisthenes (444?—371 B.C.E.)
Antisthenes, founder in Greece of the Cynics and a follower of Socrates, held that cultivating virtue for its own sake leads to happiness.
Shun pleasure, live in poverty, disagree with social conventions, and happiness can be achieved in this lifetime, he taught, not in Plato’s next world.
Virtue is the only good (not, as Socrates asserted, the highest good), and virtue means a simple lifestyle and an enjoyment of worldly pleasures. Repudiating polytheism, Antisthenes believed in one god but described that god as something unlike anything else man has known.
As pointed out by Prof. J. D. G. Evans, Queen's University, Belfast,
- Despite much speculation, little is known about his philosophical ideas. He was interested in the relation between names and things, and he argued against the possibility of contradiction. It ha been conjectured that he contributed to the riddles about error which troubled Plato. Information about his writings and ideas are collected in F. D. Caizzi, Antisthenis Fragments (Varese, 1966).