Diogenes was a Greek philosopher like no other. He lived in a barrel on the streets of Athens. He preached and lived a life of idleness in contrast to a life of striving for possessions and social status. And like Jesus, who was to come along in another 300 years, he didn’t write. But enough people remembered what he said and somewhere down the line, his famous quotes and life outline were committed to paper.
Plato called him “Socrates gone mad”. No one knew what to make of him. He certainly had a wry sense of humor. A student came to him and said ,”I can prove that motion does not exist.” Diogenes got up and walked away.
Alexander the Great came to see Diogenes and he was so impressed with the man’s wit and insight, the soon-to-be ruler of the known world offered him anything he might desire. Diogenes told the conqueror, “Could you please step aside; you’re blocking the light.”
He was called a dog. You may think that is an insult but to Diogenes, the dog is a noble creature. Dogs are sincere and generally happy. They are honest and loyal and unconcerned about material things. If only we could be more like dogs!
Plato saw civilization as a great benefit to mankind, that human progression depended on the things civilization has to offer — government, laws, social structure, academies, the arts…and most importantly, gods to emulate. Just the opposite, Diogenes looked to Earth, to nature — the honesty of nature. Someone asked him once: “Why do you wear such rags?” “So I don’t fool himself”, he replied.