Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Dogged Cynicism

 I lost interest in Pokemon Go when I realized stores have to pay to lure Pokemon to their vicinity in the hopes of gaining new customers...all about the money. No wonder there are hardly any Pokemon in Hokkaido here in Japan. Likewise, sadly, what began as the idea of free education for all in global moocs is also turning into a business racket as Udemy, Coursera, Edx all have fewer and fewer courses available free. 
Which leaves me with Open University to explore for my summer study...not quite so sexy, but one of those sexy Twittered Coursera courses had me downloading and reading piles of free stuff from Open University anyway. Since I have enjoyed successfully completed two free doggie courses in Coursera on Animal Behavior and Welfare and Dog Emotion and Cognition , I began by searching for dog in the Open University search. 
 And found a highly rewarding wee read by Carolyn Price, Senior Lecturer in their Philosophy Dept., on the meaning of cynicism, explaining that it 
 "...derives from an ancient Greek word meaning 'dog-like’ or ‘doggy’... a philosophical movement that began in Ancient Greece. The movement started with two men – Antisthenes and Diogenes of Sinope....philosophers who called themselves dogs.
Why dogs? One reason has to do with their rejection of conventional values.  For the Cynics, the conventional markers of a successful life – wealth, privilege and power – were to be despised, rather than admired.  A successful life, they held, is a virtuous life, lived in accordance with nature; to live this kind of life requires only the most basic necessities. ... When someone asked him where he was from, he replied ‘I am a citizen of the world’....For Diogenes, being truly human means living like a dog.
...Cynics were like dogs in another way too: they barked at people. That is, they said exactly what they thought, without fear or favour. ...
...the Cynics left an important legacy. Their emphasis on simplicity, self-sufficiency and living in accordance with nature were taken up by later philosophers, especially the Stoics. Many of their concerns -- free speech, personal liberty, cosmopolitanism -- are still pressing issues today.  And, of course, the Cynics have given a word to the English language, one that reflects their growling impatience with the rest of humanity, but not their dogged pursuit of virtue. "
Sweet, thank you Open University. A stream of clear knowledge, free at the source...
Photos by Lelantos

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