Saturday, September 7, 2013

Aristotle on Pythagoras

Given the prominence offered Pythagoras in Metamorphoses 15, it might be worth noting that Aristotle's early work in the dialogue form, entitled Protrepticus, was preoccupied with the work of that early school of philosophy. The link goes to a new reconstruction of Aristotle's piece, apparently composed while he was still a student at Plato's Academy.

In this snippet from the dialogue, a character named Heraclides is speaking of Pythagoras:
He took a philosophical view of many of the truths of mathematics, and made them part and parcel of his own projects, even the ones handed down to him by others, and made them fit in a suitable arrangement, he conducted the appropriate investigations about them, and produced the same agreement always in all respects, so that it never violates its logical consequence.
And he fashioned them into a starting point for his instruction, which was capable of guiding his listeners, if any of them by sufficient experience could understand the terms sufficiently. Indeed, in the purity, subtlety, and precision of his demonstrations, surpassing every similar type of theoretical observation of other things, he both employs great clarity and sets out from evident facts; and the most beautiful thing in it turns out to be its being high-minded and aspiring to the primary causes, and it both fashions its teachings for the sake of practical affairs and also lays hold of the things in a pure way, the mathematical theorems at times even combining with the theological ones. [68.2]

via rogueclassicism