”And how is it possible that a man who has nothing, who is naked, houseless, without a hearth, squalid, without a slave, without a city, can pass a life that flows easily?” See, God has sent you a man to show you that it is possible.”
Epictetus on Cynicism
The cynics were famous for their disregard of the opinions of others, and to some, it appears this philosophy is an attractive alternative to the enforced conformity of modern times. However, rejecting society to live in the streets is in my mind as baseless a way of life as endlessly striving to “fit in” and meet the expectations of society.
Living in agreement with nature, in my mind, starts with an understanding of man’s position in nature, which is that of a social ape with better communication skills than others in our clade. Being social is at the core of our being, and what it requires in me is the need to balance being a member of the social group while at the same time maintaining my independence of thought. Being neither a social conformist and striver, nor a social outcast living in the woods or on the streets.
Being a member of the social group and living a virtuous life is not only complementary but supportive of each other. What use is the virtue of justice without its application in social settings and my interactions with others? It is by my interactions with others that I measure myself and my progress in living a virtuous life.