11 December 2000 - Diogenes 2

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Talking Past Each Other

Plato defined man as the featherless biped. According to legend, Diogenes the Dog replied by plucking a rooster: “Here is Plato’s man!” Diogenes, who had about the same opinion of people as of ready-to-roast chickens, probably thought he was agreeing with Plato. Plato, more concerned with appearances, amended the definition to “featherless biped with broad nails”, seemingly missing the point. Did Platonic ideals originate as selections of unrelated traits that coincidentally happen to be true, as far as you’ve seen?

Aesop’s moral: This is still how philosophy works.


Diogenes was of course Diogenes the Cynic, but the original literal meaning of “cynic” is dog-like. (Doggy Diogenes would not do, but we could call him Dodgy Diogenes.)

give me a clue so sweet and true

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