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[Comments] (1) Pythagoras Facts: Someone at the picnic-party saw the book I'm reading, Philosophy Before Socrates (I got it from Zack) and asked if I was reading it for a class. In the way that implies that no one would read that kind of book unless someone was forcing them to. But actually I'm reading it because it's interesting. Before there were standards for judging hypotheses, how did philosophers explain the world? Phase 1: myths. Phase 2: coming up with stories and then kind of discussing how plausible they are.

A lesser known fact is that pre-Socratic philosophy is freaking hilarious. Both phases yield funny results (Everything is made of water! No, earth and water! No, air!). They sound ridiculous now but "everything is made of air" was actually a pretty sophisticated model; it supposed that you got other materials by compressing air to greater or lesser densities. Occasionally the book gives out kudos: "[Anaximenes's] view that the stars give no warmth because of their great distance contradicts Anaximander's theory that the stars are closer to earth than the moon and sun are. It is also true." I believe this author was the first to discover that Anaximenes and Anaximander were actually different people.

I just got to the chapter on Pythagoras, who is portrayed as an L. Ron Hubbard/Paul Bunyan/Chuck Norris figure of folklore and Internet meme. Here are some useful Pythagoras Facts (p79):

His followers were devoted to his sayings, which they collected, memorized, and passed down. He was a charismatic figure who became the subject of legends: he killed a poisionous snake by biting it; a river hailed him by name; he made predictions; he appeared simultaneously in two different places; he had a golden thigh. The people of Croton addressed him as Hyperborean Apollo. Pythagoreans identified three types of rational beings: gods, humans, and beings like Pythagoras.
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Comments:

Posted by Brian Danger Hicks at Mon Sep 11 2006 01:05

But how does Pythagoras stack up against Bruce Schneier?

http://geekz.co.uk/schneierfacts/


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