From nature to culture? Diogenes and philosophical anthropology

Human Studies 28 (1):41 - 56 (2005)
This essay is concerned with the central issue of philosophical anthropology: the relation between nature and culture. Although Rousseau was the first thinker to introduce this topic within the modern discourse of philosophy and the cultural sciences, it has its origin in Diogenes the Cynic, who was a disciple of Socrates. In my essay I (1) historically introduce a few aspects of philosophical anthropology, (2) deal with the nature–culture exchange, as introduced in Kant, then I (3) relate this topic to the Ancient Cynic Diogenes. Surprisingly, although we usually identify Critical Theory and Freudian psychoanalysis as theories that have shown that cultural progress should not be comprehended as a development from nature to culture, and that instead it should be conceived as a development from culture against (external as well as internal) nature, I show that Cynicism can be conceived as a vivid example within the history of our culture that reveals a double sense of repression and alienation, which is part of human civilization and mankind.
Keywords civilization  critical theory  culture  cynicism  Diogenes  Freud  Kant  nature  philosophical anthropology
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