The Virtues of Diogenes, Part 1: World Building, featuring Anni Kajanus

08 February, 2024 20:00 (London time)

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A three-part series exploring the societal implications of interpersonal relations through the character of Diogenes and a merry band of legends. The question is, do you have the virtues to succeed at this quest?

This will be part role play, part reading group where we will be introduced to a handful of real and mythological characters from the period of Diogenes as they meet on a distant island. Bring your imaginations and your best ancient accents to the land of Hercules and Alexander the Great. Will we change history or repeat mythology? Will we discover utopia or encounter beasts? Will it all be about men and horses, or will we decolonise these legends?

In this first session Anni will present her paper ‘A developmental perspective on social status: children’s understanding of hierarchy in Nanjing and London’ followed by a discussion where we will explore how power emerges through interpersonal relations in different contexts. This will provide key material to guide us in exploring the world of Diogene’s philosophy epitomised in the tale of when he met Alexander the Great. One can interpret this tale as reflecting Graeber’s argument that “the focus on hierarchical systems in anthropology has come at the expense of attention to interpersonal status dynamics” as Anni has noted in the opening of her paper which addresses this challenge. We will then conclude the session by being introduced to the world of Diogenes, some key characters, their virtues and the landscape in which they are living. Drawing on his doctoral reading of the archaeological and historical record of the period Diogenes was said to live in, Avi will facilitate attendees to add the final touches to the historical and mythological world of Diogenes.

Please checkout the short film of Anni Kajanus summarising her paper before the first session.

You can also read her paper in full here.

This reading group will meet on February 8, March 21 and April 11 at 20:00 (London time).

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