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By Professor Carl A. Huffman

It is a finished, authoritative and cutting edge account of Pythagoras and Pythagoreanism, probably the most enigmatic and influential philosophies within the West. In twenty-one chapters masking a timespan from the 6th century BC to the 17th century advert, best students build a few diverse photographs of Pythagoras and his neighborhood, assessing present scholarship and providing new solutions to imperative difficulties. Chapters are dedicated to the early Pythagoreans, and the complete breadth of Pythagorean proposal is explored together with politics, faith, tune concept, 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 via Diogenes Laertius, Porphyry and Iamblichus also are mentioned intimately, as is the importance of Pythagoras for the center a while and Renaissance.

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Extra resources for A History of Pythagoreanism

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Where Diogenes cites Heraclitus fr. . In addition to the proscription against wearing wool, there is evidence that Empedocles laid down certain rules about diet, first an abstention from eating beans (fr. ) and then more importantly the prohibition against taking the life of any living thing.  None of the five earliest sources mentions mathematics or harmonics, none refers to any astronomical or cosmological theories, and the evidence for a moral philosophy as such is slender. 4. Pythagoras in fourth-century evidence Our next task is to see whether we can build up a more determinate picture by using some of our later evidence.

But once the reputation was in place, it eventually came to be subject to extraordinary inflationary tendencies. It appears that Aristotle already knew of some miracle stories, though how far back these started is quite uncertain, and as I remarked we are in no position confidently to assess how he evaluated them.  But here at least our evidence for Philolaus and Archytas helps to put this into perspective. Even though they are classified as “Pythagoreans” and may well have admired Pythagoras, their ideas on important metaphysical and mathematical problems were theirs, and there are no good grounds for attributing them to Pythagoras himself.

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.

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