The founder of the Cynic school, Antistheness studies in a school called cynosarges.
Thus Antisthenes and his followers are called cynics. The Greek adjective resembling the word Cynic means ‘like a dog’. Thus they were called cynics also due to the thick headed behaviour of Antisthenes and his student Diogenes.
The Cynic School propounds the following principles:
(i) Refutation of Hedonism:
Cynics have bitterly criticised hedonism. Antisthenes went so far as to say, 1 would rather be mad than feel pleasure. A life of pleasure is a life of foolishness.
Cynics recognise in man an intellectual being. According to them, reason should exercise complete control over passions. A moral life is an intellectual life and the real life of man. In it lies happiness because happiness and wisdom are synonymous. For everyone only that is good which is his own and the only thing exclusively human is intellect and reason. Only an intellectual person is virtuous.
(iii) Virtue is the ultimate aim:
According to Cynics, the ultimate aim is virtue. A virtuous person is complete in himself. He is cosmopolitan and completely dependent. Wisdom is his special quality. He has complete control over passions. His desires are the minimum.
According to them, perfection of the self lies in denial. The main moral dictum of Diogenes was live according to nature. Cynics took self control to the extreme of poverty. Pyrrho was biased in favour of extreme self denial.