Bitcoin (BTC) and philosophy: Diogenes, bitcoiner in spite of himself?

On a quote from Diogenes of unorthodox economic teachings. Let’s give this first bitcoiner a few lines to see what his teachings are about !

Who is Diogenes?

Diogenes is an ancient Greek philosopher born in Sinope (Turkey) in the year 413 BC and died in 323 BC. It is said that he shared the same era as Plato, the disciple of Socrates from whom he understood the nickname ” Socrates gone mad “. In fact, he joined the Academy, the school founded by Plato whose pediment welcomed the inscription ” That no one enters here if he is not a surveyor “.

But Diogenes was quickly seduced by austerity, to the point of choosing the comfort of a barrel. This earned him another nickname, “Diogenes the barrel”, and an unflattering qualifier: “cynic” (from the Greek ” sinus “). Besides, hadn’t he wanted to be the subject of a canine buffet when he died?

However, we retain from Diogenes his lack of interest in social conventions and his provocations. The philosopher did not hesitate to spit on his guests and to make repetitive scandals in a context of Athenian decadence and transition towards Hellenistic economic, military and political power.

We will long remember this anecdote where Diogenes dared to undermine Alexander the Great. By visiting this transgressor, the conqueror had not received the treatment befitting his rank.

Excerpt from their conversation:

  • Alexander the Great: What can I do for you?
  • Diogenes: Get out of my sun.
  • Alexander the Great: Aren’t you afraid of me?
  • Diogenes: What are you doing? Good or bad?
  • Alexander the Great: A good.
  • Diogenes: Well then! Who could fear good?
Diogenes and Alexander the Great

Diogenes, the first philosopher to retain the end of the bank

If there are things to remember from Diogenes, it is above all his desire to demystify the invisible hands that enslave us to the world and to ourselves. They are pleasing-looking chains since they are imbued with an ideal of economic and political success, as the situation of Alexander the Great demonstrates.

If we say that Diogenes is the first bitcoiner, it is above all linked to the fact that the philosopher advocates the ” individual and collective reconquest of a free and non-increasing relationship to the world in the mode of proximity says Etienne Helmer.

Let’s go back a bit to this story of the break with the banking institution of the time. It is said that the father of Diogenes was a banker in Sinope, but the story tells that there had been on the part of either the father or the son, an operation of falsification of the currency. And as a corollary a desire to separate from the bank.

Representation of currency

If the Cynic wanted to falsify the currency, it was because he had found behind his function of ” standard for measuring the economic value of things and as an instrument of payment » societal codes and their modes of transmission. Basically, the ” monism embodied social convention as it was given the power to value everything.

Or, this was completely wrong in the eyes of Diogenes, associating money with the activities of acquisition and accumulation will only awaken greed in man, to quench an insatiable thirst. His disciple Crates of Thebes gave a speech on this: they kill each other [et] smoke guns for money […] “. Tel Alexander the Great.

Here is what Diogenes, the philosopher with little inclination to violence and institutional enslavement, threw out on occasion:

What has a lot of value sells for nothing and vice versa. In any case, a statue sells for 3,000 drachmas, whereas for two copper coins, we have a measure of flour.. »

In other words, flour was selling for more than a statue, and that was absurd. Hence the need for another criterion in the use of money, one that would come from a convention advocating human happiness. Isn’t that what you find in Satoshi Nakamoto’s bitcoin?

Representation of the bank

For the Dog, the bank would be the origin of the value of money, the promoter of its circulation in society. The bank would therefore have an evil side since it propagates this source of misfortune and violence.

It was while working alongside his father, Hicesias, that Diogenes learned much about money and banking. From there he had the opportunity to falsify the coins, and at the same time the original spirit of this asset and that of the bank.

Fortunately, Diogenes did not begin his philosophy by criticizing local politics. Instead, he went after the bank and its currency product. Because he had been able to find, 25 centuries earlier, that the real power does not belong to the ” kratos demos nor to tyrants, but… to the bank. All the actors of society, the institutional apparatuses and consorts had found themselves, and oddly still are, under his boot.

Diogenes advocates simplicity and the happy medium

There ” polutea » and the « euteleia Stating among the attributed concepts cynics like Diogenes attached great importance.


If the first speaks of an expensive life, the other approaches it via its simplicity. For the cynics, happiness lies in financial freedom, specifically with regard to finances and other elements coming from outside of one’s being. Better to focus on self-sufficiency so as not to become dependent on others, especially the bank.

And why not give value to things depending on the circumstances. Diogenes himself, who preferred water to wine, took this beverage only in favorable circumstances.

There ” polutea embodies our response to appetite stimuli, which is usually ” vain, paradoxical or counter-productive, and ethically aberrant “. From it would indeed come pains, in particular those related to excess, as well as fears, illnesses, etc. For Diogenes, rejoicing in what presented itself was the ideal.


Opposite it is the euteleia », the way of simplicity which has nothing to do with a choice of wildlife. The diet of cynics consists of water, vegetables, and any other readily available food. To push this love of simplicity to the extreme, Diogenes did not hesitate to sexually satisfy himself in public places: he masturbated. History to suppress that the sexual appetite is not so difficult to assume.

The text below reflects the essence of Diogenes’ thought:

please […] to the cynics to live frugally (litôs), using the foods of an autarkic diet and the only simple coat, despising wealth, reputation and good birth. Some, in any case, eat grass, drink nothing but cold water and use makeshift shelters, as well as barrels, like Diogenes who said that it is characteristic of the gods not to have needing nothing and that of godlike people wanting little. »

And to end with the ” euteleia », let’s translate the content of the text in the photo below.

Diogenes, the first bitcoiner

The philosopher Diogenes ate bread and lentils for supper. He was seen by the philosopher Aristippus, who lived comfortably flattering the king. Aristipus said to him: “If you learned to be subject to the king, you would not have to live on lentils”. Diogenes replied: ‘Learn to live with lentils and you will not have to submit to the king’ – 370 BC. »

In short, do only what is necessary, limit work, quit begging to avoid any form of “desire-lack” or “accumulative aim”. And don’t become a slave to wealth.

Diogenes, a real bitcoiner

The positions taken by Diogenes concerning work and begging partly gave rise to a reassessment of social relations. If the Dog has always hated greed and the power associated with wealth. Hence his choice of begging, a new form of exchange devoid of pain and violence.

In addition, the gift and counter-gift, as we have seen for Ukraine, should only relate to the service rendered. It requires, as Jacques Salomé would like to democratize, mastery of the art of giving and receiving.

Also, it is necessary to quote the importance granted by Diogenes to the ideological construction, guarantor of the access to the power. Kings had a mania for using it to plunder and increase their earnings. To overthrow it, it is necessary to resort to “cynical begging”.

And that has to do with what Satoshi Nakamoto did by building a deflationary currency, bitcoin. This cryptocurrency, similar to collectibles, as it will increase in value over time.

If people tended to sacrifice everything to accumulate more assets and make more profits, Diogenes taught them to become anti-materialistic, to measure the quantity of materials necessary for a life.

Satoshi gave a gift (along with guidelines) to humanity, even though he is not the father of greed stemming from bitcoin. Man, as a decision-maker, must take into account the consequences of his choices. At least he must now take into account the value of the things he concedes. Who knows if he will at the same time know the value of time and human relationships?

To end this analogy, get this comment from oldskoolr on Cryptonewmedia.

For him, Diogenes was the first bitcoiner because ” he :

  • was banished from his home for falsifying currency;
  • invented the word “cosmopolitan”, meaning citizen of the world;
  • trolled eminent thinkers before and during its existence;
  • live in a barrel ;
  • wandered around town with a lantern looking for an honest economist;
  • was a shameless public masturbator.

Sounds like a Bitcoiner to me “.

It was a long talk, but I guess you were able to learn some lessons about the dangers of wealth and hoarding from Diogenes, the first bitcoiner in history.

Sources: Reddit; Cairn Info

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