Antisthenes (ăntĭsˈthənēz) [key], b. 444? B.C., d. after 371 B.C., Greek philosopher, founder of the Cynics. Most of his paradoxical views stemmed from his early Sophist orientation, even though he became one of Socrates' most ardent followers. He believed that man's happiness lay in cultivating virtue for its own sake. To attain virtue, man must reduce his dependence on the external world to a minimum, disregard social convention, shun pleasure, and live in poverty. Antisthenes, like Xenophanes, repudiated polytheism, substituting one god, whom he described as unlike anything known to man. His view that each individual is unique had implications for ethics and for a theory of knowledge.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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