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  • Writer's pictureEfthimios Sifounios

What is Pythagoreanism

Updated: Jan 28, 2023

Pythagoreanism refers to the philosophy and teachings of Pythagoras, an ancient Greek philosopher, and mathematician who lived in the 6th century BCE. Pythagoreanism is known for its emphasis on the spiritual and mystical aspects of numbers, and the belief that numbers are the fundamental reality of the universe. The followers of Pythagoras, known as the Pythagoreans, were known for their strict adherence to certain ethical principles, such as vegetarianism and the belief in the transmigration of souls. Additionally, the Pythagoreans made significant contributions to mathematics, including the discovery of the Pythagorean theorem.





Pythagoras and his followers believed that numbers were the fundamental building blocks of the universe and that everything, including objects, ideas, and even morality, could be understood in terms of numbers. They believed that numbers had a mystical and spiritual significance and that certain numbers, such as the number 1, represented unity and the ultimate reality of the universe. They also believed that the properties of numbers could be used to understand and explain the natural world. The Pythagoreans were also known for their devotion to mathematics, which they believed was a way to understand the universe and come closer to the ultimate reality of the universe. They made significant contributions to mathematics, including the discovery of the Pythagorean theorem, which states that in a right-angled triangle, the square of the length of the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides. They also developed a system of number symbols, known as the Pythagorean numerals, which were used to represent numbers in geometric patterns. In addition to their mathematical and philosophical beliefs, the Pythagoreans were known for their strict adherence to certain ethical principles. They were vegetarians, believing that all living things had souls and that it was morally wrong to kill animals for food. They also believed in the transmigration of souls, the idea that after death, the soul of a person is reborn into another body. They placed a strong emphasis on living a simple and virtuous life, and their beliefs and practices were highly influential in the development of Western philosophy and spirituality.



The Pythagoreans were also known for their emphasis on the importance of education, and they developed a school of thought that was focused on the study of mathematics, music, and philosophy. They believed that knowledge of these subjects was essential for understanding the universe and achieving a higher level of spiritual enlightenment. One of the key aspects of Pythagoreanism is the belief in the existence of a perfect, eternal universe. This is often referred to as the "cosmos" and it is the embodiment of reason and harmony. The Pythagoreans believed that the universe was made up of an infinite number of eternal and unchanging entities, which they referred to as "the eternal things." These eternal things were believed to be the building blocks of the universe and the source of all knowledge.


Pythagoreanism also had a strong emphasis on the importance of living a virtuous life and following certain moral principles. They believed that living a virtuous life was essential for achieving harmony and balance in the universe. They also believed in the concept of "cosmic justice" which states that the universe is in a constant state of balance and that any imbalance or injustice must be corrected. Pythagoreanism had a great influence on the development of Western philosophy and spirituality. Many of its ideas were adopted and developed by later philosophers, including Plato and Aristotle, and it continues to be studied and discussed by scholars today. Some of the concepts and teachings of Pythagoreanism, such as the emphasis on the spiritual significance of numbers, the importance of living a virtuous life, and the belief in the transmigration of souls, have also been influential in other spiritual and religious traditions, such as Buddhism and Hinduism.


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