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Neopythagoreanism

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Apollonius of Tyana ( c. 15?c. 100? CE), one of the most important representatives of
Neopythagoreanism
Neopythagoreanism (or Neo-Pythagoreanism) was a school of Hellenistic philosophy which
revived Pythagorean doctrines. Neopythagoreanism was influenced by Middle Platonism and in turn
influenced Neoplatonism. It originated in the 1st century BCE and flourished during the 1st and 2nd
centuries CE. The 1911 Britannica describes Neopythagoreanism as "a link in the chain between the old
and the new" within Hellenistic philosophy. As such, it contributed to the doctrine of monotheism as it
emerged during Late Antiquity (among other things influencing early Christianity). Central to
Neopythagorean thought was the concept of a soul and its inherent desire for a unio mystica with the
divine.[1]
The word "Neopythagoreanism" is a modern (19th century) term, coined as a parallel of "Neoplatonism".

Contents
[hide]

1History

2See also

3Notes

4Bibliography

History[edit]
In the 1st century BCE Cicero's friend Nigidius Figulus made an attempt to revive Pythagorean
doctrines, but the most important members of the school were Apollonius of Tyana and Moderatus of
Gades in the 1st century CE. Other important Neopythagoreans include the mathematician Nicomachus
of Gerasa (fl. 150 CE), who wrote about the mystical properties of numbers. In the 2nd
century, Numenius of Apamea sought to fuse additional elements of Platonism into Neopythagoreanism,
prefiguring the rise of Neoplatonism. (Iamblichus, in particular, was especially influenced by
Neopythagoreanism).

Neopythagoreanism was an attempt to re-introduce a mystical religious element into Hellenistic


philosophy (dominated by the Stoics) in place of what had come to be regarded as an arid formalism.
The founders of the school sought to invest their doctrines with the halo of tradition by ascribing them
to Pythagoras and Plato. They went back to the later period of Plato's thought, the period when Plato
endeavoured to combine his doctrine of Ideas with Pythagorean number theory, and identified
the Good with the Monad (which would give rise to the Neoplatonic concept of the One), the source of
the duality of the Infinite and the Measured with the resultant scale of realities from the One down to the
objects of the material world.
They emphasized the fundamental distinction between the soul and the body. God must be worshipped
spiritually by prayer and the will to be good, not in outward action. The soul must be freed from its
material surrounding, the "muddy vesture of decay," by an ascetic habit of life. Bodily pleasures and all
sensuous impulses must be abandoned as detrimental to the spiritual purity of the soul. God is the
principle of good, Matter the groundwork of Evil. In this system can be distinguished not only the
asceticism of Pythagoras and the later mysticism of Plato, but also the influence of the Orphic
mysteries and of Oriental philosophy. The Ideas of Plato are no longer self-subsistent entities but are the
elements which constitute the content of spiritual activity. The non-material universe is regarded as the
sphere of mind or spirit.
A basilica where Neopythagoreans held their meetings in the 1st century was found near Porta
Maggiore on Via Praenestina in Rome (discovered 1915).

See also[edit]

Pythagoreanism

School of the Sextii

Allegorical interpretations of Plato

Notes[edit]
1.

Jump up^ Calvin J. Roetzel, The World That Shaped the New Testament,
2002, p. 68.

Bibliography[edit]

Charles H. Kahn, Pythagoras and the Pythagoreans: A Brief History, Indianapolis: Hackett
2001 ISBN 0-87220-575-4 ISBN 978-0872205758

This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh,
ed. (1911). "Neopythagoreanism". Encyclopdia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University
Press.