Pythagorean Religion & a Question About Epistemology

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Reply Wed 21 May, 2008 09:49 am
Here's a pretty cool site I found that talks a bit about 'Pythagoras the mystic.' I found it pretty interesting, so I thought others would as well.

http://users.ucom.net/~vegan/

Would Pythagoras's theory of knowledge be rational, considering that he thought everything was ultimately related to math, which is pure reason?
 
Magnus phil
 
Reply Tue 2 Feb, 2010 04:50 pm
@dergottthrower,
Awesome. I wanna be a vegan again. Get clean...Detox...

What do you think Pythagoras would have thought about Cheetos?
 
prothero
 
Reply Tue 2 Feb, 2010 05:32 pm
@dergottthrower,
dergottthrower;14070 wrote:
Here's a pretty cool site I found that talks a bit about 'Pythagoras the mystic.' I found it pretty interesting, so I thought others would as well.
Homage to Pythagoras
Would Pythagoras's theory of knowledge be rational, considering that he thought everything was ultimately related to math, which is pure reason?
Our current knowledge of sub atomic physics and of four of the fundamental forces of nature is only truely expressible in terms of mathematical symbols and equations. Those equations in general are relatively elegant, simple, beautiful and symmetry. No other form of conceptualization really works any more. So our knowledge of nature in its most fundamental nature is mathematical knowledge.

Similarly, that which is regarded as beautiful generally exhibits mathematical proportions, ratios, harmonies and symmetries. So the beautiful also is an expression of mathematical form.

Plato and Phthogoras both regarded the "real" as the "ideal" and ultimately only mathematical language can express it. The forms we see in the material world are imperfect manifestations of the mathematical ideals they represent; or so Platonic idealism would have us think. I happen to think that fundamentally Plato was right and Democritus (matter is the basis of reality, atomic theory) was wrong. Rationalism over empiricism and the ideal over the material but then such are my personal metaphysical proclivities.
.
 
jgweed
 
Reply Wed 3 Feb, 2010 08:48 am
@dergottthrower,
Particularly in the early Greek philosophy, there is often found a connexion between music, mathematics, and philosophical thinking. The "harmony of the spheres" is not without a serious understanding of musical and mathematical proportions, for example, and one suspects that the deep friendship between mathematics and logic was a major influence in their thinking and approaches to understanding.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Sun 7 Feb, 2010 04:38 pm
@jgweed,
Music was a connection to the ear (quite different in its functioning than the eye) and the "heart." Has music's importance been neglected? Consonant intervals (which are also mathematically beautiful) are language different from math and word, one that speaks directly to feeling. Schopenhauer and Heidegger both addressed it, but perhaps this visual-bookish age doesn't give it the consideration it deserves. (Anyone looked at Blake's Job?)
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Mon 8 Mar, 2010 01:08 am
@dergottthrower,
dergottthrower;14070 wrote:
Here's a pretty cool site I found that talks a bit about 'Pythagoras the mystic.' I found it pretty interesting, so I thought others would as well.

http://users.ucom.net/~vegan/

Would Pythagoras's theory of knowledge be rational, considering that he thought everything was ultimately related to math, which is pure reason?


I think you could put up a strong argument that the very idea of reason ('ratio-nality') originated with Pythagoras, or the movement associated with him. He was also 'guru' to Plato. But those schooled in the Classics will know more about this than I.

Check out The Pythagorean Sourcebook
 
Mercer
 
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 04:59 pm
"wretches, utter wretches, keep your hands from beans!" - Pythagoras
For the longest time I've wondered why Pythagoras would forbid eating beans. I just ran across an alternative explanation - Many scholars believe that Pythagoras was not talking about diet but rather politics as the Greeks typically voted using black and white beans.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 08:13 pm
@Mercer,
Nobody I have read seems to know why. There is an aprocryphal story that Pythagoras died violently when his house was set fire by bandits in the middle of the night. He fled the scene but stopped short at a beanfield which he wouldn't cross, whereupon he was siezed and hacked to death.

The Pythagorean order had many rules which seem strange or irrational - not to pick up anything which has been dropped, is another.

But none of those are why they are remembered.
 
Mercer
 
Reply Tue 22 Jun, 2010 01:15 am
@jeeprs,
Quote:
- not to pick up anything which has been dropped, is another.

I thought the 5 second rule could be traced back to Pythagoras.
But seriously, I think there is an attempt to unremember all the strangeness of the Pythagorean cult perhaps because he is revered as one of the first scientist types and if the forefathers of science participated in equal parts in what we now call mysticism and what we now call science then said science is in some way undermined. Did the truth of the Pythagorean theorem carry equal weight with the truth that one should stay away from beans for the Pythagoreans?
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Tue 22 Jun, 2010 01:20 am
@Mercer,
You could make a serious argument that the reason modern science developed in Europe and not in the East was because of Pythagoras. There were others, of course, who developed the ideas and the tradition - you could say he was the first of the Platonists and one of the sources of Platonism. But the combination of reason with mathematics and observation which he pioneered was unlike anything else - that I know of, anyway - in the Ancient World. So I think, if anything, he is underestimated in popular culture. He definitely deserves to be placed alongside Newton and Einstein in the pantheon of scientific heroes, in my view.
 
ughaibu
 
Reply Tue 22 Jun, 2010 02:40 am
@jeeprs,
jeeprs wrote:
He definitely deserves to be placed alongside Newton and Einstein in the pantheon of scientific heroes, in my view.
The story of Hippasus casts the Pythagoreans in a rather dubious light.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Tue 22 Jun, 2010 06:07 am
@ughaibu,
Ah yes. Was he the one that was murdered because of his discovery of irrational numbers?
 
ughaibu
 
Reply Tue 22 Jun, 2010 06:16 am
@jeeprs,
jeeprs wrote:
Ah yes. Was he the one that was murdered because of his discovery of irrational numbers?
One version of the story has it that way, the other has it that he was assassinated for publishing the fact of irrationality outside the cult. In either case, the repression of such a revolutionary discovery, strikes me as anti-scientific.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Tue 22 Jun, 2010 04:29 pm
@ughaibu,
well, considering this was in the fifth century BC, a little allowance might be made for the state of civilization at the time, don't you think? Writing was barely invented. The word 'science' did not exist. Pythagoras had just minted the word 'philosopher'. The fact is, Pythagorean math is taught in school to this day. I regard that as more important than any of the other points that have been made in this thread about him.
 
ughaibu
 
Reply Tue 22 Jun, 2010 09:23 pm
@jeeprs,
jeeprs wrote:
well, considering this was in the fifth century BC, a little allowance might be made for the state of civilization at the time, don't you think?
How much allowance? For example, as the Pythagorean relationship is recorded as having been known nearly a thousand years before Pythagoras, should we assume that it had been proved before the Pythagoreans? In which case, Pythagoras seems to be getting praise coincidental on the proof being attributed to him, by the tradition of Greek geometers, which was a lineage of preservation and dissemination of knowledge. Incommensurability, on the other hand, is not recorded before the Pythagoreans, as far as I'm aware. Suppression of such an important discovery, for the reason that it conflicts with a metaphysical worldview, is the epitome of destructive anti-science, in my opinion.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Tue 22 Jun, 2010 09:50 pm
@ughaibu,
History is an interesting subject, and quite well worth studying in its own right. Given all that was known at the time, I think the figure of Pythagoras still commands respect. At the time, the Europeans were still basically tribal hunter gatherers. Judging the movement by contemporary standards is inappropriate, in my view.
 
ughaibu
 
Reply Tue 22 Jun, 2010 10:04 pm
@jeeprs,
jeeprs wrote:
I think the figure of Pythagoras still commands respect.
One can respect a person without considering them to be a hero of science.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Tue 22 Jun, 2010 10:40 pm
@ughaibu,
I don't think the view that Pythagoras is a hero of science is by any means just my opinion. Of him, Bertrand Russell says he
Quote:
was intellectually one of the most important men that ever lived, both when he was wise and when he was unwise. Mathematics, in the sense of demonstrative deductive argument, begins with him....

In Plato, St Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Descartes, Spinoza, and Kant there is an intimate blending of religion and reasoning, of moral aspiration with logical admiration of what is timeless, which comes from Pythagoras, and distinguishes the intellectualized theology of Europe from the more straightforward mysticism of Asia. ...I do not know of any other man who has been as influential as he was in the sphere of thought.
History of Western Philosophy, Chapter III, 'Pythagoras'.
 
ughaibu
 
Reply Tue 22 Jun, 2010 10:54 pm
@jeeprs,
jeeprs wrote:
I don't think the view that Pythagoras is a hero of science is by any means just my opinion.
Which doesn't in any way address my criticism of your position. If one person can be mistaken, then an infinite number of people can be mistaken.
 
 

 
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