1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Aristippus
ARISTIPPUS (c. 435–356 B.C.), Greek philosopher, the founder of the Cyrenaic school, was the son of Aritadas, a merchant of Cyrene. At an early age he came to Athens, and was induced to remain by the fame of Socrates, whose pupil he became. Subsequently he travelled through a number of Grecian cities, and finally settled in Cyrene, where he founded his school. His philosophy was eminently practical (see Cyrenaics). Starting from the two Socratic principles of virtue and happiness, he emphasized the second, and made pleasure the criterion of life. That he held to be good which gives the maximum of pleasure. In pursuance of this he indulged in all forms of external luxury. At the same time he remained thoroughly master of himself and had the self-control to refrain or to enjoy. Diogenes Laertius (ii. 65), quoting Phanias the peripatetic, says that he received money for his teaching, and Aristotle (Met. ii. 2) expressly calls him a sophist. Diogenes further states that he wrote several treatises, but none have survived. The five letters attributed to him are undoubtedly spurious. His daughter Arete, and her son Aristippus (μητροδίδακτος, “pupil of his mother”), carried on the school after his death. A cosmopolitan on principle, and a convinced disbeliever in the ethics of his day, he comes very near to modern empiricism and especially to the modern Hedonist school.