A History of Pythagoreanism by Professor Carl A. Huffman

By Professor Carl A. Huffman

It is a accomplished, authoritative and cutting edge account of Pythagoras and Pythagoreanism, essentially the most enigmatic and influential philosophies within the West. In twenty-one chapters overlaying a timespan from the 6th century BC to the 17th century advert, top students build a few diverse pictures of Pythagoras and his group, assessing present scholarship and providing new solutions to imperative difficulties. Chapters are dedicated to the early Pythagoreans, and the whole breadth of Pythagorean idea is explored together with politics, faith, track thought, technological know-how, arithmetic and magic. Separate chapters give some thought to Pythagoreanism in Plato, Aristotle, the Peripatetics and the later educational culture, whereas others describe Pythagoreanism within the ancient culture, in Rome and within the pseudo-Pythagorean writings. the 3 nice lives of Pythagoras by way of Diogenes Laertius, Porphyry and Iamblichus also are mentioned intimately, as is the importance of Pythagoras for the center a long time and Renaissance.

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But already Solon (fr. ) had focused on the importance of the number seven, as determining the main periods of human life. Insofar as the Pythagoreans or even Pythagoras himself were just interested in such symbolic associations, there was nothing distinctive about this. After these preliminaries we may turn to the information contained in Aristotle’s chapters on the Pythagoreans in Metaphysics A especially, where, as has long been appreciated, there is, with the exception of one quite possibly interpolated phrase, no reference to Pythagoras himself.

Geoffrey Lloyd undertaking an empirical test, and indeed varying the conditions of the trial; yet none undertook those tests (at least) themselves. Of course eventually sophisticated analyses of harmonic relations are attributed to Philolaus (B) and to Archytas (A, A, B), and earlier, Hippasus did some work in this area. ) Socrates has some critical remarks to make about the excessively empirical nature of Pythagorean studies in this area. That tallies, to be sure, with Plato’s particular interest in using harmonics to train the guardians of the ideal state in totally abstract thought.

So we should now consider how far we can credit some of the later evidence on these aspects of his interests. We noted the proscription against wearing wool in Herodotus, and the possibility that there were dietary rules for which we can compare Empedocles.  Yet the difficulties in doing so are considerable. First, there is the general problem of the reliability of any of the evidence for the lost works of Aristotle. Sometimes our sources cite a particular text, but sometimes the presence of Aristotelian material is inferred on the basis that his lost works were the source of later, unacknowledged, borrowings.

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