Two Problems in Pythagoreanism

Carl Huffman

in The Oxford Handbook of Presocratic Philosophy

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780195146875
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:


Two Problems in Pythagoreanism

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Recently, the Pythagoreans have received rather more attention, both in their own right and as part of the developing picture of Presocratic thought, than they received for much of the twentieth century. Thanks to these studies, a new and more complicated picture is emerging. This article refines this picture critically examining Aristotle's claims about Pythagorean influence on Plato, along with the related question of who among early Greek thinkers actually counts as a Pythagorean. It provides a reminder that Aristotle's account of the history of earlier thought is always a history of just a part of the philosophy of his predecessors, and makes clear that the eagerness with which some present-day scholars find Pythagorean influence on later thought may be misplaced.

Keywords: Pythagoreans; Presocratic thought; Plato; early Greek thinkers; Aristotle's account

Article.  11129 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Classical Philosophy

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