The Pythagorean School

The Pythagorean School, founded by the ancient Greek philosopher Pythagoras, was primarily concerned with mathematics, music, and metaphysics. While the surviving records of Pythagorean thought are fragmentary and often shrouded in mystery, there are certain themes and ideas attributed to the school, including concepts related to God and the self.

In the Pythagorean tradition, the main idea about God and the self can be understood through the lens of numerical symbolism and metaphysical principles:

  1. The Monad and the Dyad:
    • Central to Pythagorean thought is the concept of the Monad (the One) and the Dyad (the Two). The Monad represents the divine principle, the source of all existence and unity. It is the ultimate reality or God. The Dyad, on the other hand, represents multiplicity, diversity, and the material world.
    • The self, or individual soul, is seen as a reflection or emanation of the Monad. Each individual soul is a fragment of the divine essence, seeking to return to unity with the One.
  2. Harmony and Proportion:
    • Pythagoreans believed in the harmony and order inherent in the cosmos, which they expressed through numerical relationships and proportions. They saw the universe as a harmonious and ordered system, reflecting the divine intelligence of the Monad.
    • The self, in its quest for understanding and enlightenment, seeks to align with this cosmic harmony. Through knowledge of mathematics, music, and philosophy, the individual strives to achieve harmony within oneself and with the divine order of the universe.
  3. Transmigration of Souls:
    • Another key aspect of Pythagorean thought is the belief in the transmigration of souls, or reincarnation. Pythagoreans held that the soul undergoes a cycle of birth, death, and rebirth, moving through different incarnations in its quest for spiritual purification and enlightenment.
    • The self, understood as the immortal soul, is on a journey of self-discovery and self-realization, seeking to transcend the limitations of the material world and attain union with the divine.