The present essay will cross, inside the matter of the sources of the platonic thought, the suggestion of Damascius of Damascus, with the intention to draw clear understanding, unless in this particular point, of the relationship between the ancient pythagoreanism and the platonic philosophy. In this, the study of the matter of the dialectics of the limiters/unlimited one is central. The page 16c of the Philebus is the crucial point of this discussion: here Socrates introduces the theme of the unity/multiplicity as a very beautiful hodos, a run that comes from a very distant point of departure: it’s a “gift of the gods” and a discovery of the ancient ones. The comparative study of these footsteps of the Philebus and the fragments of Philolaus, especially В 2, 3, 6 and 7 bring us to conclude that the presence in the pages of the Philebus of the theory of the limiter/unlimited be taken as a pre-platonic “discovery” of the more ancient pythagorean philosophy.
This paper aims to analyze the tradition of the theory of the immortality of the soul and its metempsychosis, with the intention, on the one hand, of determining whether it can be traced back to the practice and doctrine of proto-Pythagoreanism, and on the other hand, of understanding to what extent it has contributed to the definition of the category of Pythagoreanism throughout history. The oldest testimonies attributing that doctrine to Pythagoras suggest two different hermeneutic routes. First, although old, the theory of the immortality of the soul, apocalyptic by its very nature, does not imply the existence of a dogmatic system of beliefs. That is to say that throughout the various strata of the Pythagorean tradition, the concept of this immortality significantly differed. Second, as a result of the first route, it turned out to be necessary to verify how the reception of the theory by later sources contributed to the construction, through it, of the category of Pythagoreanism. The testimonies of Xenophanes, Heraclitus, Ion and Empedocles suggest that metempsychosis is quite an old theory, corresponding to the proto-Pythagorean stratum. One finds in the most explicit testimony of the existence of a proto-Pythagorean theory of metempsychosis: the use of the term mýthoi to refer to the Pythagorean doctrines of the soul suggests that considered them sufficiently old, and therefore in all probability proto-Pythagorean. The Aristotelian lexicon ultimately will reveal proto-Pythagoreanism as the source of the doctrines of the immortality of the soul and its transmigration.
Brill’s Plato Studies Series aims to gather together the most recent and relevant contributions, in order to identify debates and trends within the study of Plato and to provide a holistic understanding of the wide range of issues related to Plato’s philosophy. Of special significance for the series will be the examination of Plato’s literary style and its relationship to his theoretical project as, perhaps, one of the central problems in the study of Plato and Ancient Philosophy as a whole. Even after two thousand years there is still no consensus about why Plato expresses his ideas in such a unique style and the series will aim to address this question. In addition, the Series will warmly welcome contributions focusing on internal and recurrent issues like the relation between myth and philosophy, language, epistemology and ontology in Plato’s work. Special attention will also be given to new interpretative challenges and recent hermeneutical trends, which have emerged from the globalization of current Platonic studies. These new approaches to Plato are likely to change the future frame of Platonic scholarship, providing instruments and renewed impulses for the generations of philosophers to come.
According to Glaucus of Rhegium Democritus was “a disciple of a Pythagorean” (dk 68 A1, 38). The tetralogical catalog of his works prepared by Thrasylus begins its section on ethics with the three following works: Pythagoras; On the Disposition of the Wise Man; On the Things in Hades (dk 68 B0a–c). The very order of the first three ethical works of Democritus could point to some sort of dependence on Pythagoreanism. This was suggested earlier by , who believes that this is due to the fact that Democritus saw Pythagoras as basically the founder of an ethic-religious sect. Without being forced to agree with Frank, it is undeniable that there are many similarities between Pythagorean and Democritean ethics. The Democritean sentences that speak about the sense of shame before oneself as a way of preventing evil deeds (dk 68 B84, 244, and 264) recalls the practice of anamnesis, the examination of conscience in the Pythagorean tradition. Even more important are the parallel uses of measure as a basis for ethical reasoning. This paper aims to review this connection between Pythagorean traditions and Democritus, examining what emerges as the most probable core issue to determine how close this relation between atomists and Pythagoreans could have been: the Aristotelian testimony (de An. 1.2 404a16-20 [dk 58 B40]) on the material conception of the Pythagorean soul. In fact, a corpuscular conception of the soul (“dust in the air”), foreshadowing the psychology of Democritus, is attributed to the Pythagoreans. Is the argument of de An. 1.2 404a16-20 a misunderstanding by Aristotle? Or does this testimony represent an actual dialogue that Pythagoreans were having with atomists in the fifth century bce?