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Philosophy Could Have Been a Lot More Fun

Two recent biographies, of Plato and Diogenes, show the divergent path Western thought could have taken.

Diogenes of sinope, a beggar who lived on the streets of Athens in the fourth century B.C.E., has been hailed as the progenitor of performance artan inspiration for the Occupy movement, and, by the novelist Joyce Carol Oates, “the first, some might claim the best, stand-up comic.”

He was also a noted philosopher.

Yet his legacy doesn’t lie in his written work—almost none of which survives—but in colorful anecdotes about his life recorded by contemporaries and compiled most prominently by his namesake, Diogenes Laërtius, about 600 years later in…

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