Honi soit qui mal y pense: Cynicism and Ireland’s agora

Cunning Hired Knaves


I left a shorter version of this comment, for old times’ sake, on Kathy Sheridan’s article in today’s Irish Times. The article is titled ‘We should stop cribbing about the ‘small stuff’ – and think big.’

Kathy Sheridan speaks of cynicism as if though were a purely negative affair. But why should this be so? Cynicism as a school of philosophy was not simply a matter of declaring that everything sucked. It was concerned with challenging convention and living according to one’s nature, usually from the sidelines. Diogenes of Sinope, AKA Diogenes the Cynic, is reputed to have masturbated in the agora, the central space of the political life of Greek city-states.

When he was reprimanded by affronted citizens for so doing, he said he wished he could extinguish hunger as easily by rubbing his belly. His point, of course, given the ever present hunger in the…

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