The scientists and philosophers of Greece were known by the term "sophos," which meant knowledge or wisdom; Pythagoras was the first to call himself "philosphos", literally "lover of wisdom." He believed in an underlying order to the cosmos and all its inhabitants, and that men could achieve immortality by comprehending the divinity that was already inside them through study of the nature of this order. Iamblichus (a neoplatonic philosopher in the third century AD who wrote of Pythagoras's life) addresses the question of why Pythagoras called himself a philosopher:

"[Pythagoras said that] some are influenced by the desire of riches and luxury; others, by the love of power and dominion, or by insane ambition for glory. But the purest and most genuine character is that of the man who devotes himself to the contemplation of the most beautiful things, and he may properly be called a philosopher."

Pythgoras's love for the beauty underlying science and mathematics shines through in all the remaining literature on the Pythagorean beliefs, and for a Physics major like myself it seems to be a natural way to view the universe. He strove to discover the underlying numerical properties of the cosmos, studying in several different countries under a variety of teachers before founding a school in which to preach his ideas.

On this web page you will find a brief biography of Pythagoras, descriptions of his various beliefs and teachings, and the Golden Verses -- fragments of Pythagoras's philosophy which have survived the intervening years.


Biography Number and the Cosmos Philosophy and the School of Pythagoras The Golden Verses

Credits and References