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,[2] coined as a parallel of "Neoplatonism".

Apollonius of Tyana
Apollonius of Tyana ( c. 15?–c. 100? CE), one of the most important representatives of Neopythagoreanism


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.

The Porta Maggiore Basilica where Neopythagoreans held their meetings in the 1st century, believed to have been constructed by the Statilus family [3] was found near Porta Maggiore on Via Praenestina in Rome (discovered 1915).[4][5][6]

See also


  1. ^ Calvin J. Roetzel, The World That Shaped the New Testament, 2002, p. 68.
  2. ^ Definition of Neo-pythagoreanism by Merriam-Webster
  3. ^ The Family of Statilius Taurus, Herbert W. Benario, The Classical World, Vol. 64, No. 3 (Nov., 1970), pp. 73-76
  4. ^ Secret pagan basilica in Rome emerges from the shadows after 2,000 years, Nick Squires, The Telegraph, 19 Nov 2015
  5. ^ The Neopythagoreans at the Porta Maggiore in Rome, Lisa Spencer, Rosicrucian Digest No. 1 2009. p36-44
  6. ^ Underground basilica of Porta Maggiore map


  • 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 domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Neopythagoreanism" . Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
Australian philosophy

Australian philosophy refers to the philosophical tradition of the people of Australia and of its citizens abroad.


Axiology (from Greek ἀξία, axia, "value, worth"; and -λογία, -logia) is the philosophical study of value. It is either the collective term for ethics and aesthetics, philosophical fields that depend crucially on notions of worth, or the foundation for these fields, and thus similar to value theory and meta-ethics. The term was first used by Paul Lapie, in 1902, and Eduard von Hartmann, in 1908.Axiology studies mainly two kinds of values: ethics and aesthetics. Ethics investigates the concepts of "right" and "good" in individual and social conduct. Aesthetics studies the concepts of "beauty" and "harmony." Formal axiology, the attempt to lay out principles regarding value with mathematical rigor, is exemplified by Robert S. Hartman's science of value.

Cosmology (philosophy)

Philosophical cosmology, philosophy of cosmology or philosophy of cosmos is a discipline directed to the philosophical contemplation of the universe as a totality, and to its conceptual foundations. It draws on several branches of philosophy—metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of physics, philosophy of science, philosophy of mathematics, and on the fundamental theories of physics. The term cosmology was used at least as early as 1730, by German philosopher Christian Wolff, in Cosmologia Generalis.

Danish philosophy

Danish philosophy has a long tradition as part of Western philosophy.

Perhaps the most influential Danish philosopher was Søren Kierkegaard, the creator of Christian existentialism, which inspired the philosophical movement of Existentialism. Kierkegaard had a few Danish followers, including Harald Høffding, who later in his life moved on to join the movement of positivism. Among Kierkegaard's other followers include Jean-Paul Sartre who was impressed with Kierkegaard's views on the individual, and Rollo May, who helped create humanistic psychology.

Early modern philosophy

Early modern philosophy (also classical modern philosophy) is a period in the history of philosophy at the beginning or overlapping with the period known as modern philosophy.

Hellenistic philosophy

Hellenistic philosophy is the period of Western philosophy that was developed in the Hellenistic period following Aristotle and ending with the beginning of Neoplatonism.

List of Slovene philosophers

Slovene philosophy includes philosophers who were either Slovenes or came from what is now Slovenia.

List of philosophies

Philosophical schools of thought and philosophical movements.

List of years in philosophy

The following entries cover events related to the study of philosophy which occurred in the listed year or century.


Mathematicism is any opinion, viewpoint, school of thought, or philosophy that states that everything can be described/defined/modelled ultimately by mathematics, or that the universe and reality (both material and mental/spiritual) are fundamentally/fully/only mathematical, i.e. that 'everything is mathematics' necessitating the ideas of logic, reason, mind, and spirit.

Middle Platonism

Middle Platonism is the modern name given to a stage in the development of Platonic philosophy, lasting from about 90 BC – when Antiochus of Ascalon rejected the scepticism of the New Academy – until the development of Neoplatonism under Plotinus in the 3rd century. Middle Platonism absorbed many doctrines from the rival Peripatetic and Stoic schools. The pre-eminent philosopher in this period, Plutarch (c. 45–120), defended the freedom of the will and the immortality of the soul. He sought to show that God, in creating the world, had transformed matter, as the receptacle of evil, into the divine soul of the world, where it continued to operate as the source of all evil. God is a transcendent being, which operates through divine intermediaries, which are the gods and daemons of popular religion. Numenius of Apamea (c. 160) combined Platonism with Neopythagoreanism and other eastern philosophies, in a move which would prefigure the development of Neoplatonism.

Philosophy of dialogue

Philosophy of dialogue is a type of philosophy based on the work of the Austrian-born Jewish philosopher Martin Buber best known through its classic presentation in his 1923 book I and Thou. For Buber, the fundamental fact of human existence, too readily overlooked by scientific rationalism and abstract philosophical thought, is "man with man", a dialogue which takes place in the "sphere of between" ("das Zwischenmenschliche").

Philosophy of film

The philosophy of film is a branch of aesthetics within the discipline of philosophy that seeks to understand the most basic questions regarding film. Philosophy of film has significant overlap with film theory, a branch of film studies.

Philosophy of geography

Philosophy of geography is the subfield of philosophy which deals with epistemological, metaphysical, and axiological issues in geography, with geographic methodology in general, and with more broadly related issues such as the perception and representation of space and place.

Philosophy of psychology

Philosophy of psychology refers to the many issues at the theoretical foundations of modern psychology.

Porta Maggiore Basilica

The Porta Maggiore Basilica is an underground basilica discovered in 1917 near Porta Maggiore in Rome. It is dated to the first century BC . It is believed to have been the meeting place of the neo-Pythagoreans, and is the only historical site that has been associated with the neo-Pythagorean movement. This school of mystical Hellenistic philosophy preached asceticism and was based on the works of Pythagoras and Plato. It was a precursor to the basilicas built during the Christian period, centuries later. It was opened to small groups of visitors only in April 2015.


Pythagoras of Samos (c. 570 – c. 495 BC) was an ancient Ionian Greek philosopher and the eponymous founder of Pythagoreanism. His political and religious teachings were well known in Magna Graecia and influenced the philosophies of Plato, Aristotle, and, through them, Western philosophy. Knowledge of his life is clouded by legend, but he appears to have been the son of Mnesarchus, a seal engraver on the island of Samos. Modern scholars disagree regarding Pythagoras's education and influences, but they do agree that, around 530 BC, he travelled to Croton, where he founded a school in which initiates were sworn to secrecy and lived a communal, ascetic lifestyle. This lifestyle entailed a number of dietary prohibitions, traditionally said to have included vegetarianism, although modern scholars doubt that he ever advocated for complete vegetarianism.

The teaching most securely identified with Pythagoras is metempsychosis, or the "transmigration of souls", which holds that every soul is immortal and, upon death, enters into a new body. He may have also devised the doctrine of musica universalis, which holds that the planets move according to mathematical equations and thus resonate to produce an inaudible symphony of music. Scholars debate whether Pythagoras developed the numerological and musical teachings attributed to him, or if those teachings were developed by his later followers, particularly Philolaus of Croton. Following Croton's decisive victory over Sybaris in around 510 BC, Pythagoras's followers came into conflict with supporters of democracy and Pythagorean meeting houses were burned. Pythagoras may have been killed during this persecution, or escaped to Metapontum, where he eventually died.

In antiquity, Pythagoras was credited with many mathematical and scientific discoveries, including the Pythagorean theorem, Pythagorean tuning, the five regular solids, the Theory of Proportions, the sphericity of the Earth, and the identity of the morning and evening stars as the planet Venus. It was said that he was the first man to call himself a philosopher ("lover of wisdom") and that he was the first to divide the globe into five climatic zones. Classical historians debate whether Pythagoras made these discoveries, and many of the accomplishments credited to him likely originated earlier or were made by his colleagues or successors. Some accounts mention that the philosophy associated with Pythagoras was related to mathematics and that numbers were important, but it is debated to what extent, if at all, he actually contributed to mathematics or natural philosophy.

Pythagoras influenced Plato, whose dialogues, especially his Timaeus, exhibit Pythagorean teachings. Pythagorean ideas on mathematical perfection also impacted ancient Greek art. His teachings underwent a major revival in the first century BC among Middle Platonists, coinciding with the rise of Neopythagoreanism. Pythagoras continued to be regarded as a great philosopher throughout the Middle Ages and his philosophy had a major impact on scientists such as Nicolaus Copernicus, Johannes Kepler, and Isaac Newton. Pythagorean symbolism was used throughout early modern European esotericism and his teachings as portrayed in Ovid's Metamorphoses influenced the modern vegetarian movement.


Pythagoreanism originated in the 6th century BC, based on the teachings and beliefs held by Pythagoras and his followers, the Pythagoreans. Pythagoras established the first Pythagorean community in Crotone, Italy. Early Pythagorean communities spread throughout Magna Graecia.

Pythagoras’ death and disputes about his teachings led to the development of two philosophical traditions within Pythagoreanism. The akousmatikoi were superseded in the 4th century BC as a significant mendicant school of philosophy by the Cynics. The mathēmatikoi philosophers were absorbed into the Platonic school in the 4th century BC.

Following the political instability in the Magna Graecia, some Pythagorean philosophers fled to mainland Greece while others regrouped in Rhegium. By about 400 BC the majority of Pythagorean philosophers had left Italy. Pythagorean ideas exercised a marked influence on Plato and through him, on all of Western philosophy. Many of the surviving sources on Pythagoras originate with Aristotle and the philosophers of the Peripatetic school.

As a philosophic tradition, Pythagoreanism was revived in the 1st century BC, giving rise to Neopythagoreanism. The worship of Pythagoras continued in Italy and as a religious community Pythagoreans appear to have survived as part of, or deeply influenced, the Bacchic cults and Orphism.

Turkish philosophy

Turkish philosophy has long been affected by Islam and the country's proximity to Greece and ancient Greek philosophy.


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