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The Development of Ethics: Volume 1From Socrates to the Reformation$
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Terence Irwin

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780198242673

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198242673.001.0001

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The Cyrenaics

The Cyrenaics

(p.45) 3 The Cyrenaics
The Development of Ethics: Volume 1


Oxford University Press

In Plato's lifetime, Aristippus, a disciple of Socrates, defended at least some aspects of the hedonist position that came to be known as Cyrenaic. At the same time, Antisthenes defended the sufficiency of virtue for happiness, and understood this doctrine to exclude hedonism. His views were taken to extremes by Diogenes the Cynic. Later critics were surprised that moralists with such sharply opposed views could all claim to defend a Socratic position. Some have called the Cyrenaics and Cynics ‘the incomplete Socratics’, conveying the suggestion that they saw only one side of Socrates, and presumably that Plato and Aristotle saw both sides, and so reached a more accurate picture of him. This suggestion may not be quite fair to the one-sided Socratics. Socrates' views may have been indefinite enough to make each ‘incomplete’ construal of him a defensible way of tying up some loose ends that Socrates left.

Keywords:   Plato, Aristippus, Socrates, happiness, hedonism, Diogenes, Cyrenaics, Cynics, Aristotle

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