Antisthenes studied with the Sophist Gorgias and later became a companion of Socrates. According to Plato, Antisthenes was present at Socrates’s death. At some point, however, Antisthe- nes completely lost faith in philosophy and renounced his comfortable upper-class life. He believed that soci- ety, with its emphasis on material goods, status, and employment, was a distortion of nature and should be avoided. Showing a kinship to both the Sophists and Skeptics, Antisthenes questioned the value of intellectual pursuits, saying, for example, “A horse I can see, but horsehood I cannot see”. Antisthenes preached a back-to-nature phi- losophy that involved a life free from wants, passions, and the many conventions of society. He thought that true happiness depended on self-sufficiency. It was the quest for the simple, independent, natural life that characterized Cynicism. The following is an account of the type of existence that Antisthenes lived after he renounced his aristocratic life:
arguments for and against many philosophical posi- tions were equally compelling. Because all claims of truth appeared equivocal, the Skeptics advocated a suspension of judgment. However, they were not dogmatic in even this belief, that is, they were not denying any other philosophy; they were only claim- ing to be unaware of any assuredly reliable criteria for distinguishing among competing positions. They held “that no one at all could know anything at all; and with commendable consistency they proceeded to deny that they themselves knew even that distress- ing fact”.