Southwest Philosophy Review

Volume 38, Issue 1, January 2022

G. M. Trujillo, Jr.
Pages 17-29

Possessed: The Cynics on Wealth and Pleasure

Aristotle argued that you need some wealth to live well. The Stoics argued that you could live well with or without wealth. But the Cynics argued that wealth is a hinderance. For the Cynics, a good life consists in self-sufficiency (autarkeia), or being able to rule and help yourself. You accomplish this by living simply and naturally, and by subjecting yourself to rigorous philosophical exercises. Cynics confronted people to get them to abandon extraneous possessions and positions of power to live better. And while the Cynics were experts in living in this way, their ascetic lifestyles made their message curious to some audiences. This paper reflects on Cynic ascetic practices and the ways others perceived them.