Friday 15 April 2016

Pythagoreanism - Apollonius' philosophical roots


Pythagoreanism is an early Pre-Socratic [before Socrates] Greek school of philosophy based around the metaphysical beliefs of Pythagoras and his followers. Their views and methods were influential on many later movements including Platonism [Plato], Neo-Platonism and Cynicism.

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Pythagoras (570-490 BC)

Ancient Greek mathematician and philosopher. He was born in Phoenician Sydone.
Many facts of his biography are not known reliably. His life is known only from works of other ancient Greek authors. By their opinion Pythagoras met with other famous wisemen and scientists of these times.

It is known that he had lived in Egypt for a long time and studied local mysteries. Then he went to Babel [the temple near Babylon]. Later he went back to Samos. These times it was governed by Polycrates and due to his tyranny Pythagoras was forced to leave Samos.

He settled in the south of Italy. Phythagoras' philosophy and his lifestyle had many followers. They adjoined to form an Order which had great influence in Croton. But later Pythagoras himself had to move to Metapontum because besides followers, the scientist had many enemies.

He gained great success in mathematics. He is considered to discover and prove Pythagorean Theorem and creation of Pythagoras tables. It is known that members of his Order studied cosmology and believed in transmigration. His philosophical theory can be divided into two parts – scientific and religious.

It was said that he was the first man to call himself a philosopher, or lover of wisdom, and Pythagorean ideas exercised a marked influence on Plato, and through him, all of Western philosophy.

7. 7 What the Greeks knew •Pythagoras (southern Italy, active 530 BC) –Contemplating is more important than acting –Contemplation leads to logic/mathematics –Mathematics is evidence of eternal truths/divine truths beyond the human mind –Geometry is evidence of perfect forms beyond the forms of nature, –Ecstatic revelation of the essence of nature (Logic becomes religion) –Note: mathematics leads the Pythagoreans to spirituality

8. 8 What the Greeks knew •Pythagoras –The fundamental substance is not a material substance, but an abstract principle (number) –Dualism: distinction between matter and spirit –Immortality of soul and metempsychosis: the soul is a fallen god, trapped in a body, and doomed to a perpetual cycle of rebirth –Ascetic life, vegetarianism –The earth is a sphere (shape of the earth during a lunar eclipse)

14. 14 What the Greeks knew •Anaxagoras (Ionia, active 450 BC) –First openly atheistic philosopher –"Mind" (nous) as the organizing principle of the universe –Nous (intelligence, thought, mind) gives the atoms an order –Life was dispersed as seeds in the universe and eventually landed on Earth ("panspermia")

43. 43 What the Greeks knew •Hellenistic Philosophy –Emphasis on happiness of the individual •Hellenistic Religion –Emphasis on salvation of the individual –Popularity of “mysteries” (Eleusinian, Dyonisian), whose deities are closer to humans and promise salvation •Materialism –Cynicism –Epicureanism –Stoicism

India - Added here since Apollonius journeyed to India. Some commentators speculate that Apollonius was in India for 10 years on his first visit.

160. 160 What the Indians knew •The Vedas –Veda means “knowledge/wisdom” in ancient Vedic –Beliefs of the Indo-Europeans –All Vedas were reserved for male priests of the upper (Brahmin) caste –Not written down but handed down orally from father to son (jealously guarded secrets)

165. 165 What the Indians knew •Brahmanas –Commentaries on the four Vedas –Emphasis on sacrifice (activity of the priests) –Vedic gods downplayed –Prajapati: everything emanates from Prajapati, the primordial consciousness –Gods and humans are emanations of Prajapati

167. 167 What the Indians knew •Upanishads (600 BC) –The metaphysical counterpart of the Veda (eg, the Brihadaranyaka is contained in the Yajurveda) –Philosophical meditation on the meaning of life and the nature of the universe, rather than mythology of gods –Pessimistic vision of the human condition: life is evil/sorrow –Union of the individual soul (“atman”) with the universal soul (“brahman”), rather than devotional acts

169. 169 What the Indians knew •Upanishads (500 BC) –Brahman: the absolute, the soul of the world –Atman: the divine within the self, the soul of the individual –Karma: moral determination of reincarnation –Samsara: endless cycle of death and rebirth, transience of ordinary life –Dharma: social and cosmic order –Dhyana: meditation –First formulation of the law of karma: Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (4,4,5)

171. 171 What the Indians knew •Brahman •The ultimate cosmic principle •The first cause of the universe •The source of existence •Pure knowledge •Eternal, infinite, and conscious being.

175. 175 What the Indians knew •Suffering and Salvation –Wisdom is the realization that everything is suffering –But the realization of suffering does not lead to pessimism –It leads to salvation –The realization of suffering is the first step towards salvation –Salvation is liberation from suffering –Salvation is achieved by transcending the human condition

176. 176 What the Indians knew •Suffering and Salvation –Salvation is an “awakening” in which one finally sees the truth –Nothing has changed in the world: it is the individual’s state of mind that has changed

177. 177 What the Indians knew •Shramana –Wandering ascetic individual who renounced the world to find salvation in spiritual meditation •Siddhārtha Gautama/ Buddha (Buddhism) •Vardhamana/ Mahavira (Jainism) –Liberation can be achieved by anybody irrespective of caste –Liberation is to be achieved by each individual, either by introspection or by following other individuals

179. 179 What the Indians knew •Siddhartha Gautama (527BC) –Sakyamuni: "sage of the Shakya clan” –Budh: to be aware –Buddha: “the enligthened one”

185. 185 What the Indians knew •Buddha (527BC) –No god: no Brahman –Brahman replaced by "righteousness" (dharma), living a life of moral and ethical standard (the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path) –Gods are not creators of the universe, and cannot influence human life. They are subject to the same cycle of rebirth. Enlightenment is actually possible only for humans. –No transmigration: souls do not migrate from this life to the next one (there is no self)

206. 206 What the Indians knew •Bhagavad-Gita –700 verse –The god incarnate Krisna/Vishnu reveals himself so that humans can know the divine –Humans must act in order to save themselves –“Action is superior to inaction” –Social life, caring for the family, working, etc are not impediments to salvation - they are as good as ascetism and mysticism –The world was created by a caring god (Vishnu), who helps its creation achieve salvation

213. 213 What the Indians knew •Hinduism and Buddhism –Salvation is achieved by transcending the human condition (enlightenment) •Hinduism: moksha (via yoga) leading to unity of atman (individual soul) with brahman (universal soul) •Buddhism: escape from samsara (nirvana)

Article Source:  History of Thought - Part 2 - The Ancient Eastern World

Metempsychosis (Greek: μετεμψύχωσις) 

A philosophical term in the Greek language referring to transmigration of the soul, especially its reincarnation after death. Generally, the term is only used within the context of Ancient Greek philosophy, but has also been used by modern philosophers...

The earliest Greek thinker with whom metempsychosis is connected is Pherecydes of Syros; but Pythagoras, who is said to have been his pupil, is its first famous philosophic exponent. Pythagoras is not believed to have invented the doctrine nor have imported it from Egypt. Instead he made his reputation by bringing the Orphic doctrine from North-Eastern Hellas to Magna Graecia, and creating societies for its diffusion. The real weight and importance of metempsychosis in Western tradition is due to its adoption by Plato

Chronological Chart of Sources for Pythagoras 

(reverse order)

300 CEIamblichus
(ca. 245–325 CE)
On the Pythagorean Life (extant)
(234–ca. 305 CE)
Life of Pythagoras (extant)
Diogenes Laertius
(ca. 200–250 CE)
Life of Pythagoras (extant)
200 CESextus Empiricus
(circa 200 CE)
(summaries of Pythagoras' philosophy in Adversus Mathematicos [Against the Theoreticians], cited below as M.)
100 CENicomachus
(ca. 50–150 CE)
Introduction to Arithmetic (extant), Life of Pythagoras(fragments quoted in Iamblichus etc.)
Apollonius of Tyana
(died ca. 97 CE)
Life of Pythagoras (fragments quoted in Iamblichus etc. It is possible that this work is by another otherwise unknown Apollonius.)
Moderatus of Gades
Lectures on Pythagoreanism (fragments quoted in Porphyry)
(first century CE)
Opinions of the Philosophers (reconstructed by H. Diels from pseudo-Plutarch, Opinions of the Philosophers[2nd CE] and Stobaeus, Selections [5th CE])
Pseudo-Pythagorean texts
(starting as early as 300 BCE but most common in the first century BCE)
100 BCEAlexander Polyhistor
(b. 105 BCE)
his excerpts of the Pythagorean Memoirs are quoted by Diogenes Laertius
200 BCEPythagorean Memoirs
(200 BCE)
a Pseudo-Pythagorean Text (sections quoted in Diogenes Laertius)
300 BCETimaeus of Tauromenium
350–260 BCE)
(historian of Sicily)
(ca. 380–310)
(ca. 396–314)
(ca. 410–339)
(ca. 370–300)

400 BCEPlato

500 BCEPythagoras

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