Plato and Pythagoreanism

Plato and Pythagoreanism

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Was Plato a Pythagorean? Plato's students and earliest critics thought so, but scholars since the 19th century have been more skeptical. In Plato and Pythagoreanism, Phillip Sidney Horky argues that a specific type of Pythagorean philosophy, called "mathematical" Pythagoreanism, exercised a decisive influence on fundamental aspects of Plato's philosophy. The progenitor of mathematical Pythagoreanism was the infamous Pythagorean heretic and political revolutionary Hippasus of Metapontum, a student of Pythagoras who is credited with experiments in harmonics that led to innovations in mathematics. The innovations of Hippasus and other mathematical Pythagoreans, including Empedocles of Agrigentum, Epicharmus of Syracuse, Philolaus of Croton, and Archytas of Tarentum, presented philosophers like Plato with new approaches to science that sought to reconcile empirical knowledge with abstract mathematical theories. Plato and Pythagoreanism shows how mathematical Pythagoreanism established many of the fundamental philosophical questions Plato dealt with in his central dialogues, including Cratylus, Phaedo, Republic, Timaeus, and Philebus. In the process, it also illuminates the historical significance of the mathematical Pythagoreans, a group whose influence over the development of philosophical and scientific methods have been obscured since late antiquity. The picture that results is one in which Plato inherits mathematical Pythagorean method only to transform it into a powerful philosophical argument concerning the essential relationships between the cosmos and the human being.

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Product details

  • Hardback | 336 pages
  • 162.56 x 238.76 x 27.94mm | 566.99g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0199898227
  • 9780199898220
  • 1,445,869

Review quote

Philip S. Horky's Plato and Pythagoreanism is both deeply insightful and actually pleasant to read ... it is a great success. Michael Weinman, Archai Journal: On the Origins of Western Thought This is an inspiring book, widening the view on the Pythagoreans and their concept of number. The material is perfectly organized. Volker Peckhaus, Zentralblatt MATH Plato and Pythagoreanism is a fascinating, intelligent, and effective book. Federico M. Petrucci, Journal of the History of Philosophy

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About Phillip Sidney Horky

Phillip Sidney Horky is Lecturer in Classics at Durham University.

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Table of contents

Contents ; Acknowledgements ; Abbreviations ; Preface ; Chapter 1: Aristotle on Mathematical Pythagoreanism in the 4th Century BCE ; Chapter 2: Hippasus of Metapontum and Mathematical Pythagoreanism ; Chapter 3: Exoterism and the History of Pythagorean Politics ; Chapter 4: Mathematical Pythagoreanism and Plato's Cratylus ; Chapter 5: What is Wisest? Mathematical Pythagoreanism and Plato's Phaedo ; Chapter 6: The Method of the Gods: Mathematical Pythagoreanism and Discovery ; Afterword ; Index Locorum ; Bibliography ; General Index

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