Chapter

Pythagoreanism: emerging from the Presocratic fog Pythagoreanism: emerging from the Presocratic fog <i>Metaphysics</i> A 5

Malcolm Schofield

in Aristotle's Metaphysics Alpha

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199639984
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191743337 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199639984.003.0005

Series: Symposia Aristotelia

Pythagoreanism: emerging from the Presocratic fog Pythagoreanism: emerging from the Presocratic fog Metaphysics A 5

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The Pythagoreans are presented by Aristotle in Chapter 5 as a sort of bridge between the physicists and the Platonists. They resemble the physicists in treating their principles as material, although with the striking innovation that these are conceived in mathematical terms; and they talk less obscurely than their predecessors about principles as such. The ontology presupposed by their thesis that ‘numbers are primary in nature’ and ‘constitute the whole heaven’ can be reconstructed from elsewhere in Aristotle and Alexander of Aphrodisias. No less importantly, however, they anticipate the direction in which Socrates and Plato will take philosophy. Their principles — limit and unlimited — are not natures like fire or earth, but substances in their own right of the things of which they are predicated; and they made attempts, albeit superficial and confused, at definitions.

Keywords: Alexander of Aphrodisias; limit; matter; numbers; physicists; Platonists; principles; Pythagoreans; universals; unlimited

Chapter.  13623 words. 

Subjects: Ancient Philosophy

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