Antisthenes (/ænˈtɪsθɪniːz/;[1] Greek: Ἀντισθένης; c. 445 – c. 365 BC) was a Greek philosopher and a pupil of Socrates. Antisthenes first learned rhetoric under Gorgias before becoming an ardent disciple of Socrates. He adopted and developed the ethical side of Socrates' teachings, advocating an ascetic life lived in accordance with virtue. Later writers regarded him as the founder of Cynic philosophy.

Antisthenes Pio-Clementino Inv288
Portrait bust of Antisthenes, found at the Villa of Cassius at Tivoli, 1774 (Museo Pio-Clementino)
Bornc. 445 BC
Diedc. 365 BC (aged approx. 80)
EraAncient philosophy
RegionWestern philosophy
Main interests
Asceticism, ethics, language, literature, logic
Notable ideas
Laying the foundations of Cynic philosophy
Distinction between sense and reference


Antisthenes was born c. 445 BC and was the son of Antisthenes, an Athenian. His mother was a Thracian.[2] In his youth he fought at Tanagra (426 BC), and was a disciple first of Gorgias, and then of Socrates; so eager was he to hear the words of Socrates that he used to walk daily from Peiraeus to Athens, and persuaded his friends to accompany him.[3] Eventually he was present at Socrates's death.[4] He never forgave his master's persecutors, and is said to have been instrumental in procuring their punishment.[5] He survived the Battle of Leuctra (371 BC), as he is reported to have compared the victory of the Thebans to a set of schoolboys beating their master.[6] Although Eudokia Makrembolitissa supposedly tells us that he died at the age of 70,[7] he was apparently still alive in 366 BC,[8] and he must have been nearer to 80 years old when he died at Athens, c. 365 BC. He is said to have lectured at the Cynosarges,[9] a gymnasium for the use of Athenians born of foreign mothers, near the temple of Heracles. Filled with enthusiasm for the Socratic idea of virtue, he founded a school of his own in the Cynosarges, where he attracted the poorer classes by the simplicity of his life and teaching. He wore a cloak and carried a staff and a wallet, and this costume became the uniform of his followers.[3]

Diogenes Laërtius says that his works filled ten volumes, but of these, only fragments remain.[3] His favourite style seems to have been dialogues, some of them being vehement attacks on his contemporaries, as on Alcibiades in the second of his two works entitled Cyrus, on Gorgias in his Archelaus and on Plato in his Satho.[10] His style was pure and elegant, and Theopompus even said that Plato stole from him many of his thoughts.[11] Cicero, after reading some works by Antisthenes, found his works pleasing and called him "a man more intelligent than learned".[12] He possessed considerable powers of wit and sarcasm, and was fond of playing upon words; saying, for instance, that he would rather fall among crows (korakes) than flatterers (kolakes), for the one devour the dead, but the other the living.[13] Two declamations have survived, named Ajax and Odysseus, which are purely rhetorical.

Antisthenes' nickname was the (Absolute) Dog (ἁπλοκύων, Diog. Laert.6.13) [14][15][16]


Antisthenes BM 1838
Marble bust of Antisthenes based on the same original (British Museum)

According to Diogenes Laertius

In his "Lives of the Eminent Philosophers," Diogenes Laertius lists the following as the favorite themes of Antisthenes: "He would prove that virtue can be taught; and that nobility belongs to none other than the virtuous. And he held virtue to be sufficient in itself to ensure happiness, since it needed nothing else except the strength of a Socrates. And he maintained that virtue is an affair of deeds and does not need a store of words or learning; that the wise man is self-sufficing, for all the goods of others are his; that ill repute is a good thing and much the same as pain; that the wise man will be guided in his public acts not by the established laws but by the law of virtue; that he will also marry in order to have children from union with the handsomest women; furthermore that he will not disdain to love, for only the wise man knows who are worthy to be loved".[17]


Antisthenes was a pupil of Socrates, from whom he imbibed the fundamental ethical precept that virtue, not pleasure, is the end of existence. Everything that the wise person does, Antisthenes said, conforms to perfect virtue,[18] and pleasure is not only unnecessary, but a positive evil. He is reported to have held pain[19] and even ill-repute (Greek: ἀδοξία)[20] to be blessings, and said that "I'd rather be mad than feel pleasure".[21] It is, however, probable that he did not consider all pleasure worthless, but only that which results from the gratification of sensual or artificial desires, for we find him praising the pleasures which spring "from out of one's soul,"[22] and the enjoyments of a wisely chosen friendship.[23] The supreme good he placed in a life lived according to virtue—virtue consisting in action, which when obtained is never lost, and exempts the wise person from error.[24] It is closely connected with reason, but to enable it to develop itself in action, and to be sufficient for happiness, it requires the aid of Socratic strength (Greek: Σωκρατικὴ ἱσχύς).[18]


His work on Natural Philosophy (the Physicus) contained a theory of the nature of the gods, in which he argued that there were many gods believed in by the people, but only one natural God.[25] He also said that God resembles nothing on earth, and therefore could not be understood from any representation.[26]


In logic, Antisthenes was troubled by the problem of universals. As a proper nominalist, he held that definition and predication are either false or tautological, since we can only say that every individual is what it is, and can give no more than a description of its qualities, e. g. that silver is like tin in colour.[27] Thus he disbelieved the Platonic system of Ideas. "A horse I can see," said Antisthenes, "but horsehood I cannot see".[28] Definition is merely a circuitous method of stating an identity: "a tree is a vegetable growth" is logically no more than "a tree is a tree".

Philosophy of language

Antisthenes apparently distinguished "a general object that can be aligned with the meaning of the utterance” from “a particular object of extensional reference." This "suggests that he makes a distinction between sense and reference."[29] The principal basis of this claim is a quotation in Alexander of Aphrodisias's “Comments on Aristotle's 'Topics'” with a three-way distinction:

  1. the semantic medium, δι' ὧν λέγουσι
  2. an object external to the semantic medium, περὶ οὗ λέγουσιν
  3. the direct indication of a thing, σημαίνειν … τὸ …[30]

Antisthenes and the Cynics

Antisthenes Lebiedzki Rahl
Antisthenes, part of a fresco in the National University of Athens

In later times, Antisthenes came to be seen as the founder of the Cynics, but it is by no means certain that he would have recognized the term. Aristotle, writing a generation later refers several times to Antisthenes[31] and his followers "the Antistheneans,"[27] but makes no reference to Cynicism.[32] There are many later tales about the infamous Cynic Diogenes of Sinope dogging Antisthenes' footsteps and becoming his faithful hound,[33] but it is similarly uncertain that the two men ever met. Some scholars, drawing on the discovery of defaced coins from Sinope dating from the period 350–340 BC, believe that Diogenes only moved to Athens after the death of Antisthenes,[34] and it has been argued that the stories linking Antisthenes to Diogenes were invented by the Stoics in a later period in order to provide a succession linking Socrates to Zeno, via Antisthenes, Diogenes, and Crates.[35] These tales were important to the Stoics for establishing a chain of teaching that ran from Socrates to Zeno.[36] Others argue that the evidence from the coins is weak, and thus Diogenes could have moved to Athens well before 340 BC.[37] It is also possible that Diogenes visited Athens and Antisthenes before his exile, and returned to Sinope.[34]

Antisthenes certainly adopted a rigorous ascetic lifestyle,[38] and he developed many of the principles of Cynic philosophy which became an inspiration for Diogenes and later Cynics. It was said that he had laid the foundations of the city which they afterwards built.[39]


  1. ^ Jones, Daniel; Roach, Peter James; Hartman, James; Setter, Jane, eds. (2006). Cambridge English Pronouncing Dictionary (17th ed.). Cambridge UP.
  2. ^ Suda, Antisthenes.; Laërtius 1925, § 1.
  3. ^ a b c  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Antisthenes" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 2 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 146.
  4. ^ Plato, Phaedo, 59b.
  5. ^ Laërtius 1925, § 9.
  6. ^ Plutarch, Lycurgus, 30.
  7. ^ Eudocia, Violarium, 96
  8. ^ Diodorus Siculus, xv. 76.4
  9. ^ Laërtius 1925, § 13.
  10. ^ Athenaeus, v. 220c-e
  11. ^ Athenaeus, xi. 508c-d
  12. ^ "Κῦρος δ᾽, ε᾽ mihi sic placuit ut cetera Antisthenis, hominis acuti magis quam eruditi". Cicero, Epistulae ad Atticum, Book XII, Letter 38, section 2. In English translation: "Books four (δ᾽) and five (ε᾽) of Cyrus I found as pleasing as the others composed by Antisthenes, he is a man who is sharp rather than learned".
  13. ^ Laërtius 1925, § 4.
  14. ^ Prince, Susan (Dept. of Classics, University of Colorado, Boulder). Review of LE. Navia - Antisthenes of Athens: Setting the World Aright. Retrieved 6 August 2017.Navia, Luis E. Antisthenes of Athens: Setting the World Aright. Westport: Greenwood Press. pp. xii, 176. ISBN 0-313-31672-4.
  15. ^ Magill, Frank N. (2003). The Ancient World: Dictionary of World Biography. Routledge. p. 89. ISBN 978-1-135-45740-2.
  16. ^ Judge, Harry George; Blake, Robert (1988). World history. Oxford University Press. p. 104. ISBN 978-0-19-869135-8.
  17. ^ Laërtius 1925, § 10.
  18. ^ a b Laërtius 1925, § 11.
  19. ^ Julian, Oration, 6.181b
  20. ^ Laërtius 1925, § 3, 7.
  21. ^ Laërtius 1925, § 3.
  22. ^ Xenophon, Symposium, iv. 41.
  23. ^ Laërtius 1925, § 12.
  24. ^ Laërtius 1925, § 11–12, 104–105.
  25. ^ Cicero, De Natura Deorum, i. 13.
  26. ^ Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, v.
  27. ^ a b Aristotle, Metaphysics, 1043b24
  28. ^ Simplicius, in Arist. Cat. 208, 28
  29. ^ Prince, Susan (2015). Antisthenes of Athens: Texts, Translations, and Commentary. University of Michigan Press. p. 20
  30. ^ Prince 2015, pp. 518–522 (Antisthenes' literary remains: t. 153B.1).
  31. ^ Aristotle, Metaphysics, 1024b26; Rhetoric, 1407a9; Topics, 104b21; Politics, 1284a15
  32. ^ Long 1996, page 32
  33. ^ Laërtius 1925, § 6, 18, 21; Dio Chrysostom, Orations, viii. 1–4; Aelian, x. 16; Stobaeus, Florilegium, 13.19
  34. ^ a b Long 1996, page 45
  35. ^ Dudley 1937, pages 2-4
  36. ^ Navia, Diogenes the Cynic, page 100
  37. ^ Navia, Diogenes the Cynic, pages 34, 112-3
  38. ^ Xenophon, Symposium, iv. 34–44.
  39. ^ Laërtius 1925, § 15.


  • Brancacci, Aldo. Oikeios logos. La filosofia del linguaggio di Antistene, Napoli: Bibliopolis, 1990 (fr. tr. Antisthène, Le discours propre, Paris, Vrin, 2005)
  • Dudley, Donald R. (1937), A History of Cynicism from Diogenes to the 6th Century A.D.. Cambridge
  • Wikisource-logo.svg Laërtius, Diogenes (1925). "The Cynics: Antisthenes" . Lives of the Eminent Philosophers. 2:6. Translated by Hicks, Robert Drew (Two volume ed.). Loeb Classical Library. § 1–19.
  • Long, A. A. (1996), "The Socratic Tradition: Diogenes, Crates, and Hellenistic Ethics", in Bracht Branham, R.; Goulet-Caze Marie-Odile, The Cynics: The Cynic Movement in Antiquity and Its Legacy. University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-21645-8
  • Luis E. Navia, (2005), Diogenes The Cynic: The War Against The World. Humanity Books. ISBN 1-59102-320-3
  • Prince, Susan (2015). Antisthenes of Athens: Texts, Translations, and Commentary. University of Michigan Press. p. 20.

Further reading

  • Branham, R. Bracht; Cazé, Marie-Odile Goulet, eds. (1996). The Cynics: The Cynic Movement in Antiquity and Its Legacy. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Fuentes González, Pedro Pablo (2013). En defensa del encuentro entre dos Perros, Antístenes y Diógenes: historia de una tensa amistad. Cuadernos de Filología Clásica: Estudios Griegos e Indoeuropeos. 23. pp. 225–267 (reprint in: V. Suvák [ed.], Antisthenica Cynica Socratica, Praha: Oikoumene, 2014, p. 11–71).
  • Guthrie, William Keith Chambers (1969). The Fifth-Century Enlightenment. A History of Greek Philosophy. 3. London: Cambridge University Press.
  • Navia, Luis E. (1996). Classical Cynicism: A Critical Study. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
  • Navia, Luis E. (1995). The Philosophy of Cynicism An Annotated Bibliography. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
  • Prince, Susan (2015). Antisthenes of Athens: Texts, Translations, and Commentary. University of Michigan Press.
  • Rankin, H. D. (1986). Anthisthenes Sokratikos. Amsterdam: A.M. Hakkert. ISBN 90-256-0896-5.
  • Rankin, H. D. (1983). Sophists, Socratics, and Cynics. London: Croom Helm.
  • Sayre, Farrand (1948). "Antisthenes the Socratic". The Classical Journal. 43: 237–244.

External links

Antisthenes (Heraclitean)

Antisthenes (Ancient Greek: Ἀντισθένης) was a writer from ancient Greece who was a disciple of Heraclitus, on whose work he wrote a commentary.This Antisthenes may be the same as the one who wrote a work on the succession of the Greek philosophers (αἱ τῶν φιλοσόφων διαδοχαί), which is often referenced by Diogenes Laërtius in his own work. This remains unclear, however, and Laërtius may have been referring to the historian Antisthenes of Rhodes instead, who may have also been the same Antisthenes mentioned by Phlegon of Tralles.

Antisthenes (disambiguation)

Antisthenes (Greek: Ἀντισθένης) was the name of several people in the time of Ancient Greece:

Antisthenes of Athens, 445-365 BC, pupil of Socrates and the founder of the Cynic school of philosophy

Antisthenes (Heraclitean), disciple of Heraclitus

Antisthenes of Agrigentum, an immensely wealthy citizen of Agrigentum

Antisthenes of Rhodes, c. 200 BC, Greek historian

Antisthenes of Sparta, c. 412 BC, a Spartan admiral in the Peloponnesian war

Antisthenes of Agrigentum

Antisthenes (Ancient Greek: Ἀντισθένης) was a man of ancient Rome from Agrigentum. He was mentioned by Diodorus Siculus as an instance of the immense wealth which private citizens possessed at Agrigentum. When his daughter was married, more than 800 carriages went in the nuptial procession.

Antisthenes of Rhodes

Antisthenes of Rhodes (Greek: Ἀντισθένης ὁ Ῥόδιος) was a Greek historian who lived c. 200 BC. He took an active part in the political affairs of his country, and wrote a history of his own time, which, notwithstanding his bias towards his native island, is spoken of in terms of high praise by Polybius. He wrote an account of the Battle of Lade (201 BC) and was, according to Polybius, a contemporary with the events he described.

It is likely that this Antisthenes is the historian who wrote a Successions of the Greek philosophers which is often referred to by Diogenes Laërtius. He might also be the peripatetic philosopher cited by Phlegon of Tralles.Plutarch mentions an Antisthenes who wrote a work called Meleagris, of which the third book is quoted; and Pliny speaks of an Antisthenes who wrote on the pyramids.

Antisthenes of Sparta

Antisthenes of Sparta was a Spartan admiral in the Peloponnesian war, who was sent out in 412 BC, in command of a squadron, to the coast of Asia Minor, and was to have succeeded Astyochus, in case the Spartan commissioners thought it necessary to deprive that officer of his command. He is mentioned again in 399, when, with two other commissioners, he was sent out to inspect the state of affairs in Asia, and announce to Dercyllidas that his command was to be prolonged for another year. There was also an Athenian general called Antisthenes.

Apollodorus of Seleucia

Apollodorus of Seleucia (Greek: Ἀπολλόδωρος; flourished c. 150 BC), or Apollodorus Ephillus, was a Stoic philosopher, and a pupil of Diogenes of Babylon.

He wrote a number of handbooks (Greek: εἰσαγωγαί) on Stoicism, including ones on Ethics and Physics which are frequently cited by Diogenes Laërtius.Apollodorus is famous for describing Cynicism as "the short path to virtue", and he may have been the first Stoic after the time of Zeno to systematically attempt to reconcile Stoicism with Cynicism. The lengthy account of Cynicism given by Diogenes Laërtius, which is presented from a Stoic point of view, may be derived from Apollodorus, and it is possible that he was the first Stoic to promote the idea of a line of Cynic succession from Socrates to Zeno (Socrates - Antisthenes - Diogenes - Crates - Zeno).

His book on Physics was well known in ancient times, and the Stoic Theon of Alexandria wrote a commentary on it in the 1st century AD. It is quoted several times by Diogenes Laërtius, and Stobaeus records Apollodorus' views on the nature of time:

Time is the dimension of the world's motion; and it is infinite in just the way that the whole number is said to be infinite. Some of it is past, some present, and some future. But the whole of time is present, as we say that the year is present on a larger compass. Also, the whole of time is said to belong, though none of its parts belong exactly.

Clitophon (dialogue)

The Clitophon (Greek: Κλειτοφῶν, also transliterated as Cleitophon; Latin: Clitopho) is a 4th-century BC dialogue traditionally ascribed to Plato, though the work's authenticity is debated. It is the shortest dialogue in Plato's traditional corpus. It centers on a discussion between Clitophon and Socrates, with Socrates remaining mostly silent. Most scholarship until recently has been concerned with the authenticity rather than the actual meaning and contents of Clitophon.The dialogue depicts Clitophon complaining to Socrates that Socrates' speeches are merely exhortative; they create a desire for justice and virtue, but do not instruct how one becomes just or what justice is. Throughout the dialogue Clitophon seems to narrate his changes towards justice and the protreptic from seeing Socrates as a god upon a stage with hopes and beliefs in attaining justice and virtue to thoughts of doubt and disappointment and eventual defiance of Socrates. Clitophon addresses Clitophon's contempt for protreptic, or exhortative, speeches. It showcases the ignorance of Socrates and depicts, as Mark Kremer puts it, the conflict of philosophy of Socrates and Clitophon's irrationality.

Cynicism (philosophy)

Cynicism (Ancient Greek: κυνισμός) is a school of thought of ancient Greek philosophy as practiced by the Cynics (Ancient Greek: Κυνικοί, Latin: Cynici). For the Cynics, the purpose of life is to live in virtue, in agreement with nature. As reasoning creatures, people can gain happiness by rigorous training and by living in a way which is natural for themselves, rejecting all conventional desires for wealth, power, sex, and fame. Instead, they were to lead a simple life free from all possessions.

The first philosopher to outline these themes was Antisthenes, who had been a pupil of Socrates in the late 5th century BC. He was followed by Diogenes, who lived in a ceramic jar on the streets of Athens. Diogenes took Cynicism to its logical extremes, and came to be seen as the archetypal Cynic philosopher. He was followed by Crates of Thebes, who gave away a large fortune so he could live a life of Cynic poverty in Athens. Cynicism spread with the rise of the Roman Empire in the 1st century, and Cynics could be found begging and preaching throughout the cities of the empire.

Cynicism gradually declined and finally disappeared in the late 5th century, although similar ascetic and rhetorical ideas appear in early Christianity. By the 19th century, emphasis on the negative aspects of Cynic philosophy led to the modern understanding of cynicism to mean a disposition of disbelief in the sincerity or goodness of human motives and actions.


Dercylidas (Greek: Δερκυλίδας) was a Spartan commander during the 5th and 4th century BC. For his cunning and inventiveness, he was nicknamed Sisyphus. In 411 BC he was appointed harmost at Abydos. In 399 BC, he was advised by Antisthenes of Sparta that his command would be prolonged for another year at least. From 399 BC to 397 BC, Dercylidas superseded Thibron and led the Spartans through Thrace to the west coast of Asia, where he plundered Bithynia and Eolia. After allying himself with Tissaphernes and Meidias, Dercylidas attacked Pharnabazus. In 396 BC, King Agesilaus sent Dercylidas from Amphipolis to the Hellespont. In 394 BC Dercylidas was himself succeeded by King Agesilaus as supreme commander of the Spartan fleet.


Diogenes (; Greek: Διογένης, Diogenēs [di.oɡénɛ͜ɛs]), also known as Diogenes the Cynic (Ancient Greek: Διογένης ὁ Κυνικός, Diogenēs ho Kynikos), was a Greek philosopher and one of the founders of Cynic philosophy. He was born in Sinope, an Ionian colony on the Black Sea, in 412 or 404 BC and died at Corinth in 323 BC.Diogenes was a controversial figure. His father minted coins for a living, and Diogenes was banished from Sinope when he took to debasement of currency. After being exiled, he moved to Athens and criticized many cultural conventions of the city. He modeled himself on the example of Heracles, and believed that virtue was better revealed in action than in theory. He used his simple life-style and behaviour to criticize the social values and institutions of what he saw as a corrupt, confused society. He had a reputation for sleeping and eating wherever he chose in a highly non-traditional fashion, and took to toughening himself against nature. He declared himself a cosmopolitan and a citizen of the world rather than claiming allegiance to just one place. There are many tales about his dogging Antisthenes' footsteps and becoming his "faithful hound".Diogenes made a virtue of poverty. He begged for a living and often slept in a large ceramic jar in the marketplace. He became notorious for his philosophical stunts, such as carrying a lamp during the day, claiming to be looking for an honest man. He criticized Plato, disputed his interpretation of Socrates, and sabotaged his lectures, sometimes distracting listeners by bringing food and eating during the discussions. Diogenes was also noted for having mocked Alexander the Great, both in public and to his face when he visited Corinth in 336.Diogenes was captured by pirates and sold into slavery, eventually settling in Corinth. There he passed his philosophy of Cynicism to Crates, who taught it to Zeno of Citium, who fashioned it into the school of Stoicism, one of the most enduring schools of Greek philosophy. None of Diogenes' writings has survived, but there are some details of his life from anecdotes (chreia), especially from Diogenes Laërtius' book Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers and some other sources.

Hermippus of Smyrna

Hermippus of Smyrna (Greek: Ἕρμιππος ὁ Σμυρναίος) was a Peripatetic philosopher, surnamed by the ancient writers the Callimachian (Greek: ό Καλλιμάχειος), from which it may be inferred that he was a disciple of Callimachus about the middle of the 3rd century BC, while the fact of his having written the life of Chrysippus proves that he lived to about the end of the century. His writings seem to have been of very great importance and value. They are repeatedly referred to by the ancient writers, under many titles, of which, however, most, if not all, seem to have been chapters of his great biographical work, which is often quoted under the title of Lives (Bioi). The work contained the biographies of a great many ancient figures, including orators, poets, historians, and philosophers. It contained the earliest known biography of Aristotle, as well as philosophers such as Pythagoras, Empedocles, Heraclitus, Democritus, Zeno, Socrates, Plato, Antisthenes, Diogenes, Stilpo, Epicurus, Theophrastus, Heraclides, Demetrius Phalereus, and Chrysippus. The work has been lost, but many later Lives extensively quote it.

List of Thracian Greeks

This is a list of ancient Greeks in Thrace


Pasion (Ancient Greek: Πασίων; before 430 – 370 BC) (alternatively spelt Pasio ) was a slave in Ancient Greece from the 4th century BC, who rose to become a successful banker and Athenian citizen. It is unknown where Pasion came from nor when he arrived in Athens. It is widely presumed that he originated from Syria and the Levant, circa 440 BC when vast numbers of Syrian slaves were brought to Greece through Phoenician ports, Tyre and Sidon.

Pasion was born some time before 430 BC.

He was owned by the bankers Antisthenes and Archestratus, who had a bank at the Piraeus, the harbor five miles out of Athens. During his slavery, he quickly rose to chief clerk (Argyramoibos) in charge of a money-changing table at the port, and proved so valuable that by 394 BC he had been manumitted and granted resident alien status as reward for his faithful service.When his owners retired, Pasion inherited the bank and established a shield factory. The gifts he provided Athens included one thousand shields and a trireme. Ultimately, Pasion was granted Athenian citizenship and started investing in real estate in order to accumulate more wealth. When he became too old to work, Pasion had Phormio, another slave, take care of the bank. When Pasion died in 370 BC his widow married Phormio in order to keep the bank in the family. Pasion had two sons with his wife Archippe: Apollodorus and Pasikles.

Sense and reference

In the philosophy of language, the distinction between sense and reference was an innovation of the German philosopher and mathematician Gottlob Frege in 1892 (in his paper "On Sense and Reference"; German: "Über Sinn und Bedeutung"), reflecting the two ways he believed a singular term may have meaning.

The reference (or "referent"; Bedeutung) of a proper name is the object it means or indicates (bedeuten), its sense (Sinn) is what the name expresses. The reference of a sentence is its truth value, its sense is the thought that it expresses. Frege justified the distinction in a number of ways.

Sense is something possessed by a name, whether or not it has a reference. For example, the name "Odysseus" is intelligible, and therefore has a sense, even though there is no individual object (its reference) to which the name corresponds.

The sense of different names is different, even when their reference is the same. Frege argued that if an identity statement such as "Hesperus is the same planet as Phosphorus" is to be informative, the proper names flanking the identity sign must have a different meaning or sense. But clearly, if the statement is true, they must have the same reference. The sense is a 'mode of presentation', which serves to illuminate only a single aspect of the referent.Much of analytic philosophy is traceable to Frege's philosophy of language. Frege's views on logic (i.e., his idea that some parts of speech are complete by themselves, and are analogous to the arguments of a mathematical function) led to his views on a theory of reference.

Socrates (Voltaire)

Socrates (French: Socrate) is a 1759 French play in three acts written by Voltaire. It is set in Ancient Greece during the events just before the trial and death of Greek philosopher Socrates. It is heavy with satire specifically at government authority and organized religion. The main characters besides the titular role is that of the priest Anitus, his entourage, Socrates' wife Xantippe, several judges, and some children Socrates has adopted as his own.

Like more historical accounts by Herodotus, Plato, and Xenophon, the playwright shows Socrates as a moral individual charged with baseless accusations by a conspiracy of corrupt Athenians or Athenian officials although Voltaire implies that the wrongdoers are a select few.

Unlike the historical account, Socrates deals with several judges, whereas his real life counterpart receives his punishment of death by hemlock by a jury of 500 Athenians. The presence or mention of Socrates' best-known students such as Plato, Antisthenes, Aristippus, and others are replaced by unnamed disciples, delivering only a few token lines at the end of the play. Socrates is also portrayed as a monotheist and a victim of religious persecution, an interpretation that is not generally shared by modern scholars and historians.

Generally, this is not the most well-known of his works in comparison with Letters on the English which Voltaire published in 1778 or the Dictionnaire philosophique published earlier in 1764. However, hints of his contempt for government and religion are apparent here which later influenced the leaders of the American Revolution and the French Revolution.

Socratic problem

The Socratic problem (or Socratic question) is a term used in historical scholarship concerning attempts at reconstructing a historical and philosophical image of Socrates based on the variable, and sometimes contradictory, nature of the existing sources on his life. Scholars rely upon the extant sources such as those of contemporaries like Aristophanes or disciples of Socrates like Plato and Xenophon for knowing anything about Socrates. However, these sources contain contradictory details of his life, words, and beliefs when taken together. This complicates the attempts at reconstructing the beliefs and philosophical views held by the historical Socrates. It is apparent to scholarship that this problem is now deemed a task seeming impossible to clarify and thus perhaps now classified as unsolvable.Socrates was the main character in most of Plato's dialogues and was a genuine historical figure. It is widely understood that in later dialogues Plato used the character Socrates to give voice to views that were his own. Besides Plato, three other important sources exist for the study of Socrates: Aristophanes, Aristotle, and Xenophon. Since no extensive writings of Socrates himself survive to the modern era, his actual views must be discerned from the sometimes contradictory reports of these four sources. The main sources for the historical Socrates are the Sokratikoi logoi, or Socratic dialogues, which are reports of conversations apparently involving Socrates. Most information is found in the works of Plato and Xenophon.There are also four sources extant in fragmentary states: Aeschines of Sphettus, Antisthenes, Euclid of Megara, and Phaedo of Elis. In addition, there are two fragments by Timon of Phlius, who wrote in order to lampoon philosophy. There is also Aristophanes's play The Clouds, which humorously attacks Socrates.


Sotion of Alexandria (Greek: Σωτίων, gen.: Σωτίωνος; fl. c. 200 – 170 BC) was a Greek doxographer and biographer, and an important source for Diogenes Laërtius. None of his works survive; they are known only indirectly. His principal work, the Διαδοχή or Διαδοχαί (the Successions), was one of the first history books to have organized philosophers into schools of successive influence: e.g., the so-called Ionian School of Thales, Anaximander and Anaximenes. It is quoted very frequently by Diogenes Laërtius, and Athenaeus. Sotion's Successions likely consisted of 23 books, and at least partly drew on the doxography of Theophrastus. The Successions was influential enough to be abridged by Heraclides Lembus in the mid-2nd century BC, and works by the same title were subsequently written by Sosicrates of Rhodes and Antisthenes of Rhodes.

He was also, apparently, the author of a work, On Timon's Silloi, and of a work entitled Refutations of Diocles.

Successions of Philosophers

Successions of Philosophers or Philosophers' Successions (Greek: Διαδοχὴ τῶν φιλοσόφων) was the name of several lost works from the Hellenistic era. Their purpose was to depict the philosophers of different schools in terms of a line of succession of which they were a part. From the 3rd to the 1st centuries BC there were Successions (Greek: Διαδοχαί) written by Antigonus of Carystus, Sotion, Heraclides Lembos (an epitome of Sotion), Sosicrates, Alexander Polyhistor, Jason of Nysa, Antisthenes of Rhodes, and Nicias of Nicaea. The surviving Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers by Diogenes Laërtius (3rd century AD) draws upon this tradition.

In addition to these, there were often histories of single schools. Such works were created by Phanias of Eresus (On the Socratics), Idomeneus of Lampsacus (On the Socratics), Sphaerus (On the Eretrian philosophers), and Straticles (On Stoics). Among the papyri found at the Villa of the Papyri at Herculaneum, there are works devoted to the successions of the Stoics, Academics, and Epicureans. In a later period, Plutarch produced On the First Philosophers and their Successors and On the Cyrenaics, and Galen wrote On Plato's Sect and On the Hedonistic Sect (Epicureans). There were often biographies of individual philosophers with a brief description of his successors. Of such nature were Aristoxenus's Life of Pythagoras, Andronicus's Life of Aristotle, Ptolemy's Life of Aristotle, and Iamblichus's Life of Pythagoras.

Symposium (Xenophon)

The Symposium (Greek: Συμπόσιον) is a Socratic dialogue written by Xenophon in the late 360's B.C. In it, Socrates and a few of his companions attend a symposium (a lighthearted dinner party at which Greek aristocrats could have discussions and enjoy entertainment) hosted by Kallias for the young man Autolykos. Xenophon claims that he was present at the symposium, although this is disputed because he would have been too young to attend. The dramatic date for the Symposium is 422 B.C.

Entertainment at the dinner is provided by the Syracusan and his three performers. Their feats of skill thrill the attendants and serve as points of conversation throughout the dialogue. Much of the discussion centers on what each guest is most proud of. All their answers are playful or paradoxical: Socrates, for one, prides himself on his knowledge of the art of match-making.

Major themes of the work include beauty and desire, wisdom, virtue, and laughter which is evoked by Philippos the jester and the jocular discourse of the dinner guests. Xenophon demonstrates clever use of playfulness (paidia παιδία) and seriousness (spoude σπουδή) to manipulate the discussion of the above-mentioned themes in a manner appropriate to a symposium.

Greek era
Roman era

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