Leading from the last story I wrote, although not necessary to have read.
Nietzsche’s mad man goes into the crowd with a lantern saying God is dead. Then, when no one pays attention, the mad man says he’s too early.
The lantern reminds me of Diogenes of Sinope. The mad Socrates. Diogenes one time went into the market place in daylight with a lantern looking for an honest person and couldn’t find any.
Diogenes was also a practitioner of philosophy. The reason he’s called Socrates gone mad is a couple. One was that he was obscene in everyday life; walking around nude and masturbating in public, for example. But also he talked with contempt and mocked the hypocrisy within the people that disagreed with him within his philosophical arguments. He was seen as an all around rude person.
As a philosopher, his ambitions were tied to reason and wisdom. His rhetoric, however, was upsetting and really out of line. I mean really.
Where Socrates practiced dialectics with love rather than any particular dogma, Diogenes’ rhetoric carried with it his own philosophy. We’re not really sure of Socrates’ beliefs, but Diogenes was upset with society’s want to move away from nature and into artificial luxury. Diogenes’ philosophy, rather, was centered around an appreciation of nature and one’s own role is sustaining oneself. Diogenes championed independence, individuality, free expression.
Thus when he would talk, he tone dismissed or belittled the people that disagreed with him. That was part of his style. Although to be fair, when he saw a kid drinking out of a river with his bare hands, Diogenes broke the bowl he was using to drink water and cursed himself for being so dependent on worldly luxuries. At least he wasn’t a hypocrite.
Socrates and Diogenes differ quite a bit more.
Diogenes was kicked out of his homeland. Something to do with messing with currency, maybe hustling a bit. He got thrown into slavery. Made his rounds, bumped a few fists. And eventually he was hanging out with Socrates and Plato but Diogenes was a bit jaded. Socrates was a neighborhood guy. He served in the military, everyone knew him, he wasn’t hustling anybody, he walked barefoot and drank. No real reason to hate him. Plato was a college athlete from a wealthy family.
Diogenes, presumably, had seen how the real world works. Socrates, on the other hand, was a citizen of Athens that lived his whole life in comfort thanks to the state. Socrates even went so far as to accept his death sentence passed down by the very state he professed loved for rather than escape. His decision was purely on principle and not on practicality; but he saw fit that the two should be together.
Here I’m reminded of Hegel and how I think I understood dialectics to work. Dialectic starts with an incision of judgment made by the individual. The individual is a result of society and is necessarily, objectively tied down to an historicity. Historicity, when examined, is like a toolbox for identity, method, morality, etc. We’re only separated from history insofar as we entertain the the tools it offers and history is defined, in part, by how we use the tools. We look back at history, how do we react to it?
At once when we try to understand, one’s own understanding is dialectical but only on the surface. This is one of the tools offered, or given, by history. We all make judgments and we all act on them. The critical part that Socrates enforces is a community-based dialectic where judgments are investigated in such a way that the investigations form like a human chain. The chain creates a bond insofar as the participants of the dialectic offer some insightful judgment that can play a factor in further growth, insight, judgment.
Socrates’ dialectic only works if you can have conversations with your fellow citizens. With people you know have love for you or at least with people who you share a love with. Maybe you both love the country or state you’re in. Or what have you.
Diogenes, the mad man, had no one to really love or culturally identify with. Any dialectic, if it was sincere and coming from Diogenes, had to be bitter. While Socrates was in a dialogue talking to a merchant finding out all about the riches of love and responsibility, Diogenes was in a dusty ass corner whispering shit about the merchant and how he was sleeping around on his wife.
This is Nietzsche’s mad man. When he comes out with a lantern in broad daylight. Looking for a dialectical encounter and can’t find any. The crowd’s own dialectic still viewed the rotting corpse God in a positive light.
When Socrates died, he may have viewed the dialectic of Athens as worth keeping alive by following it to its logical end. His own dialectics depended on it and he saw proper to follow through with his word.
In present time, we find ourselves in similar circumstances. Between the Cynical appreciation of nature and the Socratic love of people. The madness.