Christian Cyclopedia

About the Cyclopedia


Pol. movement and philos. named after Pythagoras (perhaps ca. 585/565—perhaps ca. 495/475 BC; b. Samos, in the Aegean Sea; probably traveled in Greece, Egypt, and Asia in quest of wisdom; founded a school at Croton [modern Crotone], Catanzaro province, Calabria, S It.; little authentic about his life is known).

Developed some basic principles of astronomy and mathematics; held a theory of metempsychosis (see Transmigration of Souls); believed the earth to be round and originated the doctrine of the harmony of the spheres. The Pythagorean proposition is the theorem in geometry that the square on the hypotenuse of a right triangle equals the sum of the squares on the other sides. Developed dualism* into a table of opposites based on the proposition that the universe is composed of 10 pairs of contradictories (e.g., one/many; limited/unlimited; light/darkness; good/evil). Applied a theory of numbers to music, medicine, etc. sometimes in semimystical speculation, holding in effect that the world is made of numbers. When mems. of the Croton school expressed doubt or ventured to suggest departure from school rules they were told: Ipse dixit (Lat. “He himself said it”).

See also Asceticism; Philosophy.

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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Concordia Publishing House
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Content Reproduced with Permission

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