Today, let’s begin our journey to ancient greek philosophy by paying our respects to the great Pythagoras from the island of Samos.
Our cultural future must be rooted in the wisdom of the past, part of which is available to us through the teachings of Pythagoras. He was highly influential throughout the ages and his spirit lives on to this day.
So, Pythagoras was born in Samos in 572 B.C. and died in 490 B.C. in modern South Italy. This means that he was alive at the same time as Lao Tzu of China, Buddha of India, and Zaratustra of Persia.
For his education, Pythagoras traveled to Egypt and stayed close to the priests of Memphis, Heliopolis, and Diospolis, the city of Δίας (Zeus) for 22 years! He was initiated successfully and learned all about Egyptian religion and sacred knowledge. However, when Egypt was conquered by the Persians, Pythagoras was sent to Babylon as a prisoner. There, he had the chance to meet and learn from the Persian sages as well. He was released after 12 years and returned to Greece, where he founded the Pythagorean Academy. He was 56 years old when he returned. His ideas had a great impact, mostly on the youth, and he was soon found accused of causing corruption to the youth and for being an atheist but was finally acquitted.
As for his death, it is possible that he died by entering the temple of the Muses where he stayed until his death by starvation, but in another version, he probably died by his “enemies” who had already killed many Pythagoreans and destroyed his school.
One of his beliefs was that after death, a person’s soul, if perfect, is transferred and united with god but if the person was sinful then it returns for purification. He was the first to teach inner loyalty, humility, respect, trust, and body purity in Ancient Greece.
Mathematics was in his eyes, a method through which the mind is led to the study of eternal and truly existent things that never ever change. A bridge and a way of communication between the visible and the invisible world and not only a way of understanding and manipulating nature. It was actually a way for the mind to escape the perishable natural world, which he considered temporary and fake.
He believed that the fundamental substances of all things, material and immaterial, are numbers, which have two distinct and supplementary aspects. On the one hand, they have a spatial natural subsistence. On the other hand, they are fundamental schematic principles that are totally abstract. The theory of numbers is the most characteristic part of Pythagoreanism. He perceived numbers in his effort to find a primary, immaterial, unchangeable start of all beings. In his opinion, numbers are the essence of the world and not only symbols of quantitive relations and thus sacred.
According to Diogenes, Pythagoras found the monad the foundation of all things. From the monad derives the indefinite dyad and from them, all numbers are created, as well as the points, the lines, the surfaces, and the solid shapes.
He also taught that studying arithmetics, geometry, music, and astronomy led to the understanding of the cosmic phenomena in the Universe.
In the next part, we will dive into the specific contribution of Pythagoras to those fields.
Until then, let’s see what will change!
Change is the only Constant