Volume 16, Issue 1, 2019
Vytis Valatka, Vaida Asakavičiūtė
Ethical-cultural Maps of Classical Greek Philosophy
the Contradiction between Nature and Civilization in Ancient Cynicism
This article restores the peculiar ethical-cultural cartography from the philosophical fragments of Ancient Greek Cynicism. Namely, the fragments of Anthistenes, Diogenes of Sinope, Crates, Dio Chrysostom as well as of the ancient historians of philosophy (Diogenes Laertius and Joanes Stobaeus) are mainly analyzed and interpreted. The methods of comparative analysis as well of rational resto-ration are applied in this article.
The authors of the article concentrate on the main characteristics of the above mentioned cartography, that is, the contradiction between maps of nature and civili-zation. The article comes to the conclusion that the basis of this contradiction is the concept of the main value as well as virtue in the above mentioned cynicism, namely, natural radical temperance. According to ancient cynics, this virtue is absolutely incompatible with pleasure-driven civilization, as the latter annihilates the former. Therefore, cynics interpreted the whole territory of the world known at that time as divided between maps of nature and civilization that never overlap or even intersect. Moreover, according to ancient cynics, the territory covered by maps of civilization is considerably smaller than that enframed by the maps of nature. Moreover, the areas of nature are continuously being diminished, as civilization resolutely goes ahead. In such a situation that threatens survival of human nature the only possible way out is a return to the natural value of radical temperance. After cynics, the only effective strategy of achieving that challenging goal is askesis as excercises of temperance dedicated both to body and spirit.
The authors of the article also give a certain SWOT analysis of the above mentioned cartography in the context of contemporary society. According to them, such a cartography possesses both strong and weak points. The main weak point is the contradiction itself between maps of culture and civilization. As a matter of fact, civilization does not annihilate the possibility of natural temperance, whereas a human being, according to his/her nature, is a creator of culture and civilization. On the other hand, the main positive aspect is an emphasis on virtue of temperance, which is actual, significant and relevant in any epoch, culture and civilization, and which is pretty much forgotten nowadays.