Lore and Science in Ancient Pythagoreanism

For this first English edition of his distinguished study of Pythagoreanism, Weisheit und Wissenschajt: Studien zu Pythagoras, Philolaos, und Platon, Walter Burkert has carefully revised text and notes, taking account of additional literature on the subject which appeared between 1962 and 1969. By a thorough critical sifting of all the available evidence, the author lays a new foundation for the understanding of ancient Pythagoreanism and in particular of the relationship within it of "lore" and "science." He shows that in the twilight zone when the Greeks were discovering the rational interpretation of the world and quantitative natural science, Pythagoras represented not the origin of the new, but the survival or revival of ancient, pre-scientific lore or wisdom, based on superhuman authority and expressed in ritual obligation.

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Platonic and Pythagorean Number Theory
The Philosophy of the Pythagoreans according to Aristotle
The Later NonAristotelian Tradition and Its Sources
Pythagoreanism in Plato and the Origin in Platonism of the
Pythagoras in the Earliest Tradition
Metempsychosis and Shamanism
Acusmatici and Mathematici
The Cosmos of Philolaus
Harmony of the Spheres and Astral Immortality
Pythagorean Musical Theory
Number Symbolism and Calculation of Proportions in
Pythagorean Number Theory and Greek Mathematics
Pythagorean Arithmetic
Pythagorean Geometry and Mathematical Secrets
Number and Cosmos

Early Evidence for Pythagoras as a Scientist?
The Spurious and the Genuine in the Philolaus Fragments
Reflections of Pythagorean Philosophy in the Fifth
Astronomy and Pythagoreanism
The Theory of Planetary Movements

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Sobre el autor (1972)

Walter Burkert was Professor Emeritus of Classics, University of Zurich.

German-born scholar Walter Burkert currently teaches at the University of Zurich. He is the leading active scholar of the religion of early and classical Greece. Burkert's work proceeds through intense, meticulous historical and philological investigation, seeking to understand Greek religion in and of itself. His studies wed philology and history with methods drawn from anthropology and resemble the work of Jonathan Z. Smith. But, unlike Smith, who seems to rule out diachronic considerations categorically in favor of synchronic taxonomies or analogical comparisons, Burkert remains interested in questions of long-term historical evolution and cross-cultural influence. Burkert gives particular attention to psychological causation and the biological roots of human behavior as revealed by the science of ethology. For example, his study of Greek sacrifice, Homo necans, roots the practice of sacrifice in the biological necessity faced by prehistoric hunting groups that killed to survive. Burkert suggests that this necessary, aggressive behavior gave rise to anxiety, but through the practice of sacrifice the unavoidable aggression, which otherwise threatened to destroy society, was redirected to its promotion instead. In Structure and History Burkert's theoretical concerns are larger, including both myth and ritual. The precise relation between myth and ritual has been a vexing question for scholars of ancient religions; Burkert places them side by side and links them at a structural level. He thinks ritual is older than myth, because it is a form of behavior found even in animals. Nevertheless, ritual and myth share several important features: Both depend upon basic biological or cultural programs of action and detachment from pragmatic reality. Both serve communication. Because myth and ritual are related in this way, it is possible for them to be found together. Burkert's Greek Religion is the current, standard handbook on the religions of ancient Greece. His most recent work has been devoted to examining the influence of the ancient Near East on archaic Greek civilization.

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