|Born||c. 470 BC|
|Died||c. 385 BC|
Philolaus ( // ; Ancient Greek : Φιλόλαος, Philólaos; c. 470 – c. 385 BC) was a Greek Pythagorean and pre-Socratic philosopher. He argued that at the foundation of everything is the part played by the limiting and limitless, which combine together in a harmony. He is also credited with originating heliocentrism, the theory that the Earth was not the center of the Universe. According to August Böckh (1819), who cites Nicomachus, Philolaus was the successor of Pythagoras.
Philolaus is variously reported as being born in either Croton, BC, after which he migrated to Greece. According to Plato's Phaedo , he was the instructor of Simmias and Cebes at Thebes, around the time the Phaedo takes place, in 399 BC. This would make him a contemporary of Socrates, and agrees with the statement that Philolaus and Democritus were contemporaries.or Tarentum, or Metapontum —all part of Magna Graecia (the name of the coastal areas of Southern Italy on the Tarentine Gulf that were extensively colonized by Greek settlers). It is most likely that he came from Croton. He may have fled the second burning of the Pythagorean meeting-place around 454
The various reports about his life are scattered among the writings of much later writers and are of dubious value in reconstructing his life. He apparently lived for some time at Heraclea, where he was the pupil of Aresas (maybe Oresas), or (as Plutarch calls him) Arcesus.Diogenes Laërtius is the only authority for the claim that Plato, shortly after the death of Socrates, traveled to Italy where he met with Philolaus and Eurytus. The pupils of Philolaus were said to have included Xenophilus, Phanto, Echecrates, Diocles, and Polymnastus. As to his death, Diogenes Laërtius reports a dubious story that Philolaus was put to death at Croton on account of being suspected of wanting to be the tyrant; a story which Laërtius even took the trouble to put into verse.
Diogenes Laërtius speaks of Philolaus composing one book,but elsewhere he speaks of three books, as do Aulus Gellius and Iamblichus. It might have been one treatise divided into three books. Plato is said to have procured a copy of his book from which, it was later claimed, Plato composed much of his Timaeus . One of the works of Philolaus was called On Nature, which seems to be the same work which Stobaeus calls On the World, and from which he has preserved a series of passages. Other writers refer to a work entitled Bacchae, which may have been another name for the same work, and which may originate from Arignote. However, it has been mentioned that Proclus describes the Bacchae as a book for teaching theology by means of mathematics.
According to Charles Peter Mason in Sir William Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (1870, p. 305):
It appears, in fact, from this, as well as from the extant fragments, that the first book of the work contained a general account of the origin and arrangement of the universe. The second book appears to have been an exposition of the nature of numbers, which in the Pythagorean theory are the essence and source of all things.
Additionally Charles Peter Mason noted (p. 304):
Pythagoras and his earliest successors do not appear to have committed any of their doctrines to writing. According to Porphyrius (Vit. Pyth. p. 40) Lysis and Archippus collected in a written form some of the principal Pythagorean doctrines, which were handed down as heirlooms in their families, under strict injunctions that they should not be made public. But amid the different and inconsistent accounts of the matter, the first publication of the Pythagorean doctrines is pretty uniformly attributed to Philolaus. He composed a work on the Pythagorean philosophy in three books, which Plato is said to have procured at the cost of 100 minae through Dion of Syracuse, who purchased it from Philolaus, who was at the time in deep poverty.
Other versions of the story represent Plato as purchasing it himself from Philolaus or his relatives when in Sicily. (Diog. Laert. viii. 15, 55, 84, 85, iii. 9; A. Gellius,iV. iii. 17; lamblichus, Vit. Fyth. 31. p. 172 ; Tzetzes, Chiliad, x. 792, &c. xi. 38, &c.) Out of the materials which he derived from these books Plato is said to have composed his Timaeus. But in the age of Plato the leading features of the Pythagorean doctrines had long ceased to be a secret; and if Philolaus taught the Pythagorean doctrines at Thebes, he was hardly likely to feel much reluctance in publishing them; and amid the conflicting and improbable accounts preserved in the authorities above referred to, little more can be regarded as trustworthy, except that Philolaus was the first who published a book on the Pythagorean doctrines, and that Plato read and made use of it. (Böckh, I.e. p. 22.)
Historians from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Chapter Philolaus' Book: Genuine Fragments and Testimonia, noted the following:
It is implied that these books were not by Philolaus himself, and it seems likely that the statement refers to three spurious works assigned to Pythagoras at D.L. VIII 6 (Burkert 1972a, 224–5). The story of Plato's purchase of these books from Philolaus was probably invented to authenticate the three forged treatises of Pythagoras. Burkert's arguments (1972a, 238–277), supported by further study (Huffman 1993), have led to a consensus that some 11 fragments are genuine (Frs. 1–6, 6a, 7, 13, 16 and 17 in the numbering of Huffman 1993) and derive from Philolaus' book On Nature (Barnes 1982; Kahn 1993 and 2001; Kirk, Raven and Schofield 1983; Nussbaum 1979; Zhmud 1997). Fragments 1, 6a and 13 are identified as coming from the book On Nature by ancient sources. Stobaeus cites fragments 2 and 4–7 as coming from a work On the Cosmos, but this appears to be an alternate title for On Nature, which probably arose because the chapter heading in Stobaeus under which the fragments are cited is 'On the Cosmos.'
The book by Philolaus begins with the following:
Nature (physis) in the world-order (cosmos) was fitted together out of things which are unlimited and out of things which are limiting, both the world-order as a whole and everything in it.
Robert Scoon explained Philolaus' universe in 1922:
Philolaus is trying to show how the ordered universe that we know came into its present condition. It arose, he says, by the action of harmony on a basic substance, which we do not know but must infer. This substance consisted of different primary elements, and harmony fitted these together in such a way that nature φύσις turns out to be an ordered world κόσμος.
Philolaus did away with the ideas of fixed direction in space, and developed one of the first non-geocentric views of the universe. His new way of thinking quite literally revolved around a hypothetical astronomical object he called the Central Fire.
Philolaus says that there is fire in the middle at the centre [...] and again more fire at the highest point and surrounding everything. By nature the middle is first, and around it dance ten divine bodies—the sky, the planets, then the sun, next the moon, next the earth, next the counterearth, and after all of them the fire of the hearth which holds position at the centre. The highest part of the surrounding, where the elements are found in their purity, he calls Olympus; the regions beneath the orbit of Olympus, where are the five planets with the sun and the moon, he calls the world; the part under them, being beneath the moon and around the earth, in which are found generation and change, he calls the sky.— Stobaeus, i. 22. 1d
In Philolaus's system a sphere of the fixed stars, the five planets, the Sun, Moon and Earth, all moved around his Central Fire. According to Aristotle writing in Metaphysics , Philolaus added a tenth unseen body, he called Counter-Earth, as without it there would be only nine revolving bodies, and the Pythagorean number theory required a tenth. However, according to Greek scholar George Burch, Aristotle was lampooning Philolaus's ideas. In reality, Philolaus' ideas predated the idea of spheres by hundreds of years.Nearly two-thousand years later Nicolaus Copernicus would mention in De revolutionibus that Philolaus already knew about the Earth's revolution around a central fire.
However, it has been pointed out that Stobaeus betrays a tendency to confound the dogmas of the early Ionian philosophers, and he occasionally mixes up Platonism with Pythagoreanism.
Philolaus argued at the foundation of everything is the part played by the ideas of limit and the unlimited. One of the first declarations in the work of Philolaus was that all things in the universe result from a combination of the unlimited and the limiting;for if all things had been unlimited, nothing could have been the object of knowledge. Limiters and unlimiteds are combined together in a harmony (harmonia):
This is the state of affairs about nature and harmony. The essence of things is eternal; it is a unique and divine nature, the knowledge of which does not belong to man. Still it would not be possible that any of the things that are, and are known by us, should arrive to our knowledge, if this essence was not the internal foundation of the principles of which the world was founded, that is, of the limiting and unlimited elements. Now since these principles are not mutually similar, neither of similar nature, it would be impossible that the order of the world should have been formed by them, unless the harmony intervened [...].— Philolaus, Fragment DK 44B 6a.
Pythagoras Lehren nebst den Bruchstücken seines Werkes.
Heraclitus of Ephesus was an Ancient Greek, pre-Socratic, Ionian philosopher and a native of the city of Ephesus, which was then part of the Persian Empire.
Pythagoras of Samos was an ancient Ionian Greek philosopher and the eponymous founder of Pythagoreanism. His political and religious teachings were well known in Magna Graecia and influenced the philosophies of Plato, Aristotle, and, through them, Western philosophy. Knowledge of his life is clouded by legend, but he appears to have been the son of Mnesarchus, a gem-engraver on the island of Samos. Modern scholars disagree regarding Pythagoras's education and influences, but they do agree that, around 530 BC, he travelled to Croton in southern Italy, where he founded a school in which initiates were sworn to secrecy and lived a communal, ascetic lifestyle. This lifestyle entailed a number of dietary prohibitions, traditionally said to have included vegetarianism, although modern scholars doubt that he ever advocated for complete vegetarianism.
Pre-Socratic philosophy, also known as early Greek philosophy, is ancient Greek philosophy before Socrates. Pre-Socratic philosophers were mostly interested in cosmology, the beginning and the substance of the universe, but the inquiries of these early philosophers spanned the workings of the natural world as well as human society, ethics, and religion. They sought explanations based on natural law rather than the actions of gods. Their work and writing has been almost entirely lost. Knowledge of their views comes from testimonia, i.e. later authors' discussions of the work of pre-Socratics. Philosophy found fertile ground in the ancient Greek world because of the close ties with neighboring civilizations and the rise of autonomous civil entities, poleis.
Archytas was an Ancient Greek philosopher, mathematician, astronomer, statesman, and strategist. He was a scientist of the Pythagorean school and famous for being the reputed founder of mathematical mechanics, as well as a good friend of Plato.
Pythagoreanism originated in the 6th century BC, based on the teachings and beliefs held by Pythagoras and his followers, the Pythagoreans. Pythagoras established the first Pythagorean community in Crotone, Italy. Early Pythagorean communities spread throughout Magna Graecia.
Aesara of Lucania was a Pythagorean philosopher who wrote On Human Nature, of which a fragment is preserved by Stobaeus.
Speusippus was an ancient Greek philosopher. Speusippus was Plato's nephew by his sister Potone. After Plato's death, c. 348 BC, Speusippus inherited the Academy, near age 60, and remained its head for the next eight years. However, following a stroke, he passed the chair to Xenocrates. Although the successor to Plato in the Academy, Speusippus frequently diverged from Plato's teachings. He rejected Plato's Theory of Forms, and whereas Plato had identified the Good with the ultimate principle, Speusippus maintained that the Good was merely secondary. He also argued that it is impossible to have satisfactory knowledge of any thing without knowing all the differences by which it is separated from everything else.
Iamblichus was a Syrian Neoplatonist philosopher of Arab origin. He determined the direction that would later be taken by Neoplatonic philosophy. He was also the biographer of the Greek mystic, philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras.
Hippasus of Metapontum was a Pythagorean philosopher. Little is known about his life or his beliefs, but he is sometimes credited with the discovery of the existence of irrational numbers. The discovery of irrational numbers is said to have been shocking to the Pythagoreans, and Hippasus is supposed to have drowned at sea, apparently as a punishment from the gods for divulging this. However, the few ancient sources which describe this story either do not mention Hippasus by name or alternatively tell that Hippasus drowned because he revealed how to construct a dodecahedron inside a sphere. The discovery of irrationality is not specifically ascribed to Hippasus by any ancient writer.
Theano of Crotone is the name given to perhaps two Pythagorean philosophers. She has been called the pupil, daughter or wife of Pythagoras, although others made her the wife of Brontinus. Her place of birth and the identity of her father are just as uncertain, there is some uncertainty if Theano can be the daughter of Brontinus the Orphic, it is still misleading but many sources are explaining that Brontinus might be the best chance to be the father of Theano, even though other made her the wife of Brontinus, leading some authors to suggest that there was more than one person whose details have become merged. A few fragments and letters ascribed to her have survived which are of uncertain authorship.
Thomas Taylor was an English translator and Neoplatonist, the first to translate into English the complete works of Aristotle and of Plato, as well as the Orphic fragments.
Timaeus of Locri is a character in two of Plato's dialogues, Timaeus and Critias. In both, he appears as a philosopher of the Pythagorean school. If there ever existed a historical Timaeus of Locri, he would have lived in the fifth century BC, but his historicity is dubious since he only appears as a literary figure in Plato; all other ancient sources are either based on Plato or are fictional accounts.
Lysis of Taras was a Greek philosopher. His life is obscure. He was said to have been a friend and disciple of Pythagoras. After the persecution of the Pythagoreans at Croton and Metapontum he escaped and went to Thebes, where he became the teacher of Epaminondas, by whom he was held in the highest esteem. There are, however, serious chronological difficulties with his being both a disciple of Pythagoras and the teacher of Epaminondas. Some of the commentators and doxographers have failed to distinguish between the two different anti-pythagorean revolutions: the first one around -500, when Pythagoras himself died, and the second one fifty years later. This could clarify the source of the chronological incoherence.
Alcmaeon of Croton has been described as one of the most eminent natural philosophers and medical theorists of antiquity. He has been referred to as "a thinker of considerable originality and one of the greatest philosophers, naturalists, and neuroscientists of all time." His work in biology has been described as remarkable, and his originality made him likely a pioneer. Because of difficulties dating Alcmaeon's birth, his importance has been neglected.
Ocellus Lucanus was allegedly a Pythagorean philosopher, born in Lucania in the 6th century BC. Aristoxenus cites him along with another Lucanian by the name of Ocillo, in a work preserved by Iamblichus that lists 218 supposed Pythagoreans, which nonetheless contained some inventions, wrong attributions to non-Pythagoreans, and some names derived from earlier pseudopythagoric traditions.
Damo was a Pythagorean philosopher said by many to have been the daughter of Pythagoras and Theano.
Eurytus was an eminent Pythagorean philosopher who Iamblichus in one passage describes as a native of Croton, while in another, he enumerates him among the Tarentine Pythagoreans.
Cleinias of Tarentum was a Pythagorean philosopher, and a contemporary and friend of Plato, as appears from the story which Diogenes Laërtius gives on the authority of Aristoxenus, to the effect that Plato wished to burn all the writings of Democritus which he could collect, but was prevented by Cleinias and Amyclus of Heraclea. In his practice, Cleinias was a true Pythagorean. Thus, we hear that he used to assuage his anger by playing on his harp; and, when Prorus of Cyrene had lost all his fortune through a political revolution, Cleinias, who knew nothing of him except that he was a Pythagorean, took on himself the risk of a voyage to Cyrene, and supplied him with money to the full extent of his loss.
Telauges was a Samian Pythagorean philosopher and, according to tradition, the son of Pythagoras and Theano. Little is known about his life and works other than a scattering of remarks from much later writers.
An astronomical system positing that the Earth, Moon, Sun and planets revolve around an unseen "Central Fire" was developed in the 5th century BC and has been attributed to the Pythagorean philosopher Philolaus. The system has been called "the first coherent system in which celestial bodies move in circles", anticipating Copernicus in moving "the earth from the center of the cosmos [and] making it a planet". Although its concepts of a Central Fire distinct from the Sun, and a nonexistent "Counter-Earth" were erroneous, the system contained the insight that "the apparent motion of the heavenly bodies" was due to "the real motion of the observer". How much of the system was intended to explain observed phenomena and how much was based on myth and religion is disputed. While the departure from traditional reasoning is impressive, other than the inclusion of the 5 visible planets, very little of the Pythagorean system is based on genuine observation. In retrospect, Philolaus's views are "less like scientific astronomy than like symbolical speculation."