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GILBERT, Christopher J.

Winter 2011, 42:1, pages 1 - 25

In Dubiis Libertas: A Diogenic Attitude for a Politics of Distrust

Cynicism is generally considered anathema to democratic politics. This essay argues that it is a potential wellspring of constructive distrust. Diogenes of Sinope, the fountainhead of Cynic philosophy, is recollected as a means for recuperating cynicism as an attitude, and thus a mode of civic being, rather than simply a social condition. Particular attention is paid to the liberatory promise of the Cynic exercises of parrhesia (truth-telling), askesis (training), and ponos (hard work), as well as the use of chreiai (anecdotes) as critical rhetorical devices, in order to approach a more charitable and humane politics. Street and graffiti artist, Banksy, is situated as an important figure of contemporary cynic citizenship.

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