Social Philosophy

 Pythagorean Society


           The practical side of philosophy was introduces by Pythagoras of Samos (an Eagan island) (582 – 496 BCE). Regarding the world as perfect harmony, dependent on number, he aimed at including humankind likewise to lead a harmonious life. His doctrine was adopted and extended by a large following of Pythagoras who gathered at his school in south Italy in the town of Croton. His followers included Philolaus (470-380 BEC), Alcmaen of Croton, and Archytas (428-347 BCE).

          His established a community of followers who adopted his political views, which favored rule by the “better people,” and also the way of life he recommended on what seem to have been more or less philosophical bases. The traditional view has been that the aristocracy, the “better people,” generally meant the rich.

          The aim of human life, then, must be to live in harmony with this natural regularity. Our lives are merely small portions of a greater whole. Since the spirit (breath) of human beings is divine air, Pythagoras supposed, it is natural immortal; its existence naturally outlives the relatively temporary functions of the human body. Pythagoreans therefore believed that the soul “transmigrates” into other living bodies at death, with animals and plants participating along with human beings in a grand cycle of reincarnation.

          Pythagoras posted two abstract and complementary material principles: The Unlimited (the many) and the Limited (the one). All entities can be thought to result from the Unlimited’s being limited or determined to some definite shape. This is best thought of mathematically. Unity limits plurality and gives it determinate shape. (For instance, the soul is the harmony of the body.) Since each number is associated with a determinate shape, we can think of things as being numerical and of mathematics as the key to understanding the world.Download

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