A History of Pythagoreanism

A History of Pythagoreanism

Language: English

Pages: 530

ISBN: 1107014395

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


This is a comprehensive, authoritative and innovative account of Pythagoras and Pythagoreanism, one of the most enigmatic and influential philosophies in the West. In twenty-one chapters covering a timespan from the sixth century BC to the seventeenth century AD, leading scholars construct a number of different images of Pythagoras and his community, assessing current scholarship and offering new answers to central problems. Chapters are devoted to the early Pythagoreans, and the full breadth of Pythagorean thought is explored including politics, religion, music theory, science, mathematics and magic. Separate chapters consider Pythagoreanism in Plato, Aristotle, the Peripatetics and the later Academic tradition, while others describe Pythagoreanism in the historical tradition, in Rome and in the pseudo-Pythagorean writings. The three great lives of Pythagoras by Diogenes Laertius, Porphyry and Iamblichus are also discussed in detail, as is the significance of Pythagoras for the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

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deflationary account the Black Sea Greeks gave of them, we may at least remark that he endorses  But according to one view (Diog. Laert. .) Empedocles was referring to Parmenides, not to Pythagoras himself. That suggests that the matter was left obscure in that part of Empedocles’ work that was available to the source quoting him. Pythagoras  Pythagoras’ fame as some kind of wise man. As for Pythagoras’ views about the soul, we should note that the notions of immortality in play in

concords by noting the relation between the amounts of water in the jars when they were struck. But as is by now well known, none of those stories can be true, for the simple reason that they do not in fact produce the results claimed. The fact that no fewer than eight ancient authors repeat one or other version of these fictions is a shocking indication of the way one writer repeats what he has found in another quite uncritically. It is striking that all capture the idea of the importance of

and unlimiteds join to produce things, or what drives the orbits of the heavenly bodies. Philolaus allows for a measure of perfection in his cosmos, with fire at the center and ten surrounding bodies. Yet we do not find in him anything quite like a final cause, a purpose or end for which all things happen. This was the one cause Plato found lacking in his predecessors, and Aristotle found lacking even in Plato. Plato felt its absence when he began to think of the world itself as an artifact, a

phenomenon. But as reported the explanation offered is compressed and decidedly obscure, not least because the apparently unparalleled expression “the proportion of equality” admits only of conjectural analysis. With that glum verdict we might move away from the testimonies of Aristotle and his school. But first we should note two titles relating to Archytas in Diogenes Laertius’ catalogue of the writings of Aristotle (Diog. Laert. .): On the Archytean Philosophy (three books), and Extracts

ἀεί, σελήνην, ἥλιον, τοὺς ἀστέρας καὶ τὸν οὐρανὸν ὅλον; DK A). In this context ἀστέρας, which can mean “stars,” most probably means “planets,” and the emphasis on the continuity of the    They are reflected in Aeschylus’ Eumenides (ff.), where Apollo asserts that only the father begets the child; the mother merely nourishes the fetus. The sexual abstinence of Pythagorean athletes (cf. above n. ) is linked with the theory that semen originated in the brain and the marrow (Fiedler

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