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A History of Pythagoreanism

It is a entire, authoritative and cutting edge account of Pythagoras and Pythagoreanism, 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, prime students build a few varied pictures of Pythagoras and his neighborhood, assessing present scholarship and supplying new solutions to important difficulties. Chapters are dedicated to the early Pythagoreans, and the total breadth of Pythagorean proposal is explored together with politics, faith, tune conception, technology, arithmetic and magic. Separate chapters examine 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 while and Renaissance.

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To turn from Guthrie to Burkert is to enter a very different world. A contrast is attested in late sources between two groups of Pythagoreans, the acusmatici and the mathematici, with two corresponding sets of interests, the first including many pithy sayings with ritual or symbolic significance, the second centering around “mathematics,” especially number theory. Burkert rejected the view that Pythagoras himself engaged in sophisticated mathematical research with a two-pronged argument. On the one hand he insisted that there was no good early evidence that such researches were undertaken by Pythagoras himself.

The latter goes against the tradition that he left no writings, though that in turn may have been concocted to justify the idea of the secretiveness of his teaching. In the absence of a clear idea of what Pythagoras was reputed to have copied, the charge of plagiarism is impossible to evaluate. The most recent studies are Mansfeld (a), Huffman (c) and Schofield (unpublished). At least one of the injunctions at the end of Hesiod’s Works and Days is similar to a reported Pythagorean acusma, namely the prohibition not to urinate while standing facing the sun, Hes.

All we can say is that there is no good direct evidence that he was. When Herodotus hints at a connection between that doctrine (whose Greek adherents he refuses to name) and Egypt, he is given the lie by what else we know of Egyptian beliefs. If we try a connection with  Geoffrey Lloyd India, we enter, as so often, the realm of speculation, and gestures towards a connection with “shamanism” ignore that while shamans often have animal familiars, they are rarely supposed to be reborn in other kinds of living creatures.

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