Pythagoras(redirected from neo-Pythagoreanism)
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See biographies by P. Gorman (1978) and T. Stanley (1988); D. J. O'Meara, Pythagoras Revived: Mathematics and Philosophy in Late Antiquity (1989).
Pythagoras(religion, spiritualism, and occult)
Pythagoras, a Greek philosopher, mathematician, and astronomer, lived from approximately 580 to 500 b.c.e. Pythagoras was the first to conceive of the heliocentric theory of the universe (the notion that Earth and the planets revolve around the Sun), a notion that did not catch on until Copernicus. Pythagoras and his followers also developed basic mathematical notions, such as the concepts of equation and proportion.
Pythagoras is said to have searched widely for wisdom and is believed to have introduced the idea of reincarnation to the Western world. One of his teachings regards the “music of the spheres,” the notion that the intervals between the planets correspond to musical tones and that the movements of the planets produce an ethereal music. Pythagoras’s significance for astrology is that he clearly formulated the notion that the human being is a miniature version (microcosm) of the larger universe (macrocosm). The microcosm and the macrocosm are linked by—and affect each other through—certain correlations. This notion is basic to ancient astrology.
Born circa 570 B.C. on the island of Samos; died circa 500 B.C. Ancient Greek thinker, religious and political figure; founder of Pythagoreanism.
It is difficult to separate the meager facts about the life and teachings of Pythagoras from the legends that represent him as a demigod, perfect sage, heir to the knowledge of antiquity and the Near East, thaumaturgist, and magician. Pythagoras left his native Samos in protest against the tyranny of Polycrates. He may have visited Egypt and Babylonia during his travels—recent writers have suggested that Pythagoras was initiated into various secret doctrines of the Eastern priests. At a mature age (according to tradition, at 40), he settled in the southern Italian city of Croton, where he founded a strictly closed society of his followers, who already during his lifetime venerated him as a higher being. The doctrines and discoveries of Pythagoras that were preserved in the oral traditions of the Pythagorean society cannot be separated from the ideas of his followers, who often ascribed to him their own intellectual initiatives.
In mathematics, Pythagoras is credited with the systematic introduction of proofs into geometry, the construction of the plane geometry of rectilinear figures, the origination of the theory of similitude, the proof of the theorem that bears his name (the Pythagorean theorem), and the construction of certain regular polygons and polyhedrons. Also associated with Pythagoras are theories of odd and even numbers, prime and composite numbers, figúrate numbers, and perfect numbers and theories of arithmetic, geometric, and harmonic proportions and means.
SOURCESDiels, H. Fragmente der Vorsokratiker, 9th ed., vol. 1. Edited by W. Kranz. Berlin-Neuköln, 1960. Chapter 14.
Iamblichus. De vita Pythagorica. Edited by A. Nauck. St. Petersburg, 1884.
Diogenes Laertius. Lives of Eminent Philosophers, vol. 2, London-Cambridge (Mass.), 1958. Book 8, sections 1–50.
REFERENCEKerényi, K. Pythagoras und Orpheus, 3rd ed. Zürich, 1950.
S. S. AVERINTSEV
Pythagoras is most famous for Pythagoras's Theorem but other important postulates are attributed to him, e.g. the sum of the angles of a triangle is equal to two right angles.