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\ PHRONESIS_ ISSN 0031-8868 AJOURNAL FOR ANCIENT PHILOSOPHY EDITOR: Dr. Malcolm Schofi St. John’s College Cambridge CB2 1TP, England [ADVISORY COMMITTEE: ; Professors J. Barnes (Oxford), J. Brunschwig (Paris), D. J. it i . Gigon (Bern), Furley (Princeton), K. Gaiser (Tubingen), O. Gb erfed (Manchester), J. Mansfeld (Utrecht), M. Mignuc- i (Padova), J. B. Skemp (Bristol). eld PUBLISHER: Van Gorcum, P.O. Box 43 9400 AA Assen - The Netherlands ssupscnirnion: 85,00 Dutch guilders = Subscriptions should be sent to the Publisher, SINGLE comIES: 30,00 Dutch guilders Back volumes are available not to the Editor ‘Three times a year NOTE TO CONTRIBUTORS Papers submitted for publication should be sent to the Editor; they may be written in Latin, English, French, German or align, ‘Allarticles must by typewritten on good quality Ad paper; leave fou ‘wide margins, and set all matter, including quotations and foow notes in double spacing, Footnotes should be numb-red consecutively an ‘at the end of the text. Passages in Greek, if they are legible. assembled handwritten, must be clear: i: ct ymned to them should ntributors who wish their papers to be rewurn coclxe ‘an addressed envelope and postage (international reply cou pons of overseas). HUFFMAN: PHRONESIS, NUMERO 33, PAG.1-30. The Role of Number in Philolaus’ Philosophy ‘CARL HUFFMAN Univensitd doi Stud = wAnO — Philolaus is a peripheral figure in the history of Greek mathematics. We know of no important advance in mathematics that is atributed to him, nor is there any evidence that he wrote a book exclusively or even primarily devoted to mathematical topics.' Indeed the tradition about Philolaus suggests that he wrote just one book and not a terribly long one at that.? ‘What is known of that book from fragments and testimonia suggests that it covered a wide range of topics despite a relatively small compass. There is ‘evidence that after an account of the basic principles of the cosmos Philo- laus went on to present his own astronomical system, his own views on the different psychological faculties of human beings, and a theory of the constitution of the human body and the origins of disease.’ Morcover, ‘mathematical ideas were prominent. The whole number ratios that deter- mine the concordant musical intervals are mentioned in Fragment 6 while ‘other fragments are concerned with number (Fragments 4 and 5) and include a classification of number into two primary types (odd and even) | Walter Burker’s book, Lore and Science in Ancient Pyihagoreanism tr. Edwin Mina (Cambridge, Mass., 1972; first German edition 1962) has established a new bass fr all study of ancient Pythagoreanism and my debt to his work willbe clea in the following notes. DK 44 A13 which might suggest that Philotaus had written books on mathematical topics ‘does notin fact provide us with any reliable evidence about Philolaus. The assertion that Philolaus’ “books” were the source for Speusippus' book On Pythagorean Numbers all probability of neo-Pythagorean origin. See Burkert p. 246 and n.40 and L.. Taran, ‘Speusippus of Athens (1981), pp. 257-98. ‘The following fragments of Philolaus may be regarded 2s genuine: DK 1-7,13,and 17. Of the tesimonia on Philolaus' philosophy (as opposed to his life) the following seem to be reliable: DK A914, 16 (in part) 17 (in part), 18-22, 24, 27-28. A25-26 may also be feliable but there are some grounds for doubt which I hope to develop ata future date. DK 44 ALB. See Burkert pp. 225-227, » Astronomy A16-22. Psychology BI3.Medicine A27-8, ‘and a third derivative type (the even-odd).* Both the breadth of ae and the type of topics are of course in accord with the tradition eA nese physiologia and bear close enough resemblance to the contents Be lat Timaeus to explain the malicious slander that Plato cribbed the Timacus from Philolaus.’ All of this makes clear that although Philolaus was ue fe original mathematician, mathematical ideas did play a signi pari is book as they did later in Plato's Timaeus. In fact I will argue that Phil Ee deserves a prominent place in the history of Greek Philosophy : the irs desc prominently ta cmpioy mathemati seus ae ee cae ie cata concerning the relation between Philolaus and Greek mathematics then becomes, “What sort of philosophical problems did Philolaus think mathematics could solve and what type of mathematics presupposed by his book?” Walter Burkert in his magnificent book, ee and Science in Ancient Pythagoreanism (1x. Edwin Minar, Cambridge MA, 1972), has argued that the type of mathematics that finds expression in Philolaus’ book is not the rigorous deductive mathematics that was mee psa openers Pl oegerees eras Chios and Theodorus of Cyrene but a reverence for and interpretation rnumber that arses from the same context asthe Pythagorean acusmata = finds its parallels in the numerology of numerous primitive peoples aroun« ptr ews iin igo i te yp brn 2 ys ean number lore that has its ultimate origin in the distant past and the recent tradition of lonian physiologia. He regards Pythagorean atone ics in Philolaus’ time as having literally nothing to do with the main line of Ionian mathematics represented by Hippocrates of Chios. The assumptions of Pythagorean number mysticism, Burkert argues, are directly contrary D those of rigorous mathematical proof. Accordingly, proofs such as that ot incommensurability would have had no impact on Philolaus and oS temporaries because they were concerned with number in a di ir sense.’ It remains a difficulty for Burkert’s view that he has to assign = Pythagorean achievements in geometry attested by Eudemus (the theore: ‘ sre other fragments and testimonia in DK which deal with mathematical topics var he ac tacy puree: Alz(Duksp 20), BIvi2 (Buen 236) AD ote Labowe). aoeccene SSRa On he story of Plato's plagiai,and the ikely conection betwen Tinacs and Pian book sex Burkert p. 2267 Spark pp. 465. » Barker a ‘on the angles of the triangle, the application of arcas, and Book IV of the Elements) to certain otherwise unknown Pythagorcans working independ- ently of Philolaus during his prime and old age (430-400).* Burkert’s case is forceful and persuasive but it has not won universal assent. Knorr, for instance, still clearly assumes that Philolaus is influenced by the main line of Greek mathematics and argues that he tries to respond to the discovery of ineommensurability by altering the Pythagorcan meta- physical system.’ Indeed, itis an odd feature of Burkert’s account that in Successfully showing that the Pythagoreans did not have an idiosyncratic and dominant role in the development of Greek mathematics he establishes them in a different idiosyncratic position as having nothing to do with ‘mathematics proper until the unnamed Pythagoreans of Philolaus’ old age and Archytas, the contemporary of Plato. Why need Philolaus have been in such a isolated position? For several reasons it seems to me still to be an ‘pen question as to what extent Philolaus was influenced by the mathemat- ics of his contemporaries Theodorus and Hippocrates. First, it is not clear that we have to accept Burkert's conclusion that “reverence” for numbers is completely incompatible with un outlook that emphasizes deductive proof. Given that Philolaus had belief in the power of Certain numbers itis not necessary that he have no interest in a tradition that tries to prove certain properties about numbers. Burkert's point is that roof makes the properties non-mystical by showing that they simply follow from other more basic principles. This is a possible outlook, but would someone fascinated by numbers really have no interest in relationships proved about them? Would it really diminish someone's belief in the power of number to see the proof of Euclid 1 47? Second, and more important, ‘more work needs to be done on the fragments of Philolaus’ book them. selves to sce what type of mathematics they presuppose. A large part of Burkert’s case is based on Aristotle's testimony. In particular he emphasiz- es Aristotle's references to the Pythagorcan equation of ideas such as justice, mind, and opportunity with certain numbers but it is not clear that this is the whole story for Philolaus. Moreover, the thesis that “all is number" which is assigned to the Pythagoreans by Aristotle and which {Burkert pp. 4494. and fr his dating ofthese Pythagoreans seep. 454. * WR. Knott, The Evolution of the Euclidean Elements (Dordreeht-Boston, 1975). p. 4. °° Burkert. 433, "What we ind amongthe Pythagoreansisamazement andreverence” for certain numbers... A scheme of proof could hardy be anything but annoying because it would show the result asa logical consequence of the preconception, and reduce it to banality" ‘underlies Burkert’s thesis can be shown not hold for Philolaus. A number of different aspects of Philolaus’ work need to be discussed for a full treatment of the problem but in this paper ! want to discuss specifically the role of number in Philolaus' philosophy and leave related questions such as Philolaus’ use of mathematics in music for another time. ‘The remainder of this paper will fall into three parts. First, I will discuss Philolaus' relationship to Aristotle's statement that the Pythagoreans be~ lieved that all things were numbers. My thesis is that Aristotle himself formulated the doctrine in this way as a convenient way of summarizing his interpretation of the Pythagoreans. The fragments of Philolaus show that he did not believe that all things are numbers but rather that all things that are known are known through number. In the second part I will speculate ‘on what reaction Philolaus might have had to the discovery of incommensu- rability in order to show the difference between his view of number and the view that Aristotle assigns to the Pythagoreans. I will suggest that incom- ‘mensurability would provide no difficulty for Philolaus and in fact would provide a good illustration of his central thesis about the cosmos. Finally, 1 will examine the use Philolaus makes of mathematics in his philosophy and argue that he uses it to address an important problem in Presocratic thought. The upshot of this last point will be the conclusion that Philolaus ‘was drawing on the rigorous mathematics of figures like Theodorus and Hippocrates rather than number lore. ‘One important note of caution should be sounded at the beginning. The relative chronology of Philolaus, Hippocrates, and Theodorus cannot be determined with sufficient precision to allow any inferences to be drawn on the basis of the temporal priority of the one over the others. Plato's Theaetets presents Theodorus as a rather old man in 399 BC. There is a tendency in the scholarship to want to make Hippocrates a slightly older figure but Eudemus treats Hippocrates and Theodorus as contemporaries and we have no good basis for giving any more precise temporal relation between their work than that."" The most reliable evidence that we have for Philolaus’ date is provided by Plato's Phaedo. Simmias and Cebes are said to have heard Philolaus at Thebes sometime before their conversation with Socrates in 399. All this indicates is that Philolaus was a prominent enough figure before 399 to have attracted pupils such as these. Other less reliable evidence points to a date for Philolaus’ birth in the 470s or 460s and indicates that he may have been alive and living in Tarentum around 390." proctus, in Evel. p. 66.4, DK 42 At. So M.F. Durnyeat “The Philosophical Sense of “Theaetetus? Mathematics”, isis 1978, p- 499 and n.33. In DK Ada Plutarch has Philolaus escape with Lysis from the destruction of the ‘Thus he appears to be a rough contemporary of Socrates or perhaps somewhat younger; that is to say he isa rough contemporary of Hippocrates and Theodorus. Thisis important because the chronology of these figure sometimes made to appear more precise than our knowledge justifies. Thus it is important to Knorr's argument that Philolaus write his book at the improbably late date of 400 so that he is writing in response to the discovery of Sacoramcararabity thirty years earlier at the time of Hippocrates’ work.” In both histories of Greek philosophy and also histories of Greek mathe- matics the doctrine that “all things are numbers” is commonly regarded as the foundation of Pythagorean philosophy. The reason for this is lear. Aristotle the most valuable secondary source available for early Pythago- reanism, states flatly that the Pythagoreans say that “all things are num- bers”. In fact this doctrine is a the center of Aristotle's account of eurly Pythagoreanism and is ascribed to them many times. The ascription takes two basie forms in Aristotle: 1) In five instances the Pythagoreans “say” “make”, or “suppose” that r meéynata, xa Svta, oF tov Shov obipavov are number or numbers. 2) In seven eases the Pythagoreans are said to ‘make” or “construct” va Svia, vd adware, ras alotnttc ovoias, thy ‘piow, of tov xbouov out of (&x) number oF numbers." Now Aristotle Pythagorean meeting place but Aristoxenus names Archi ; ames Archippus a Lysis’ companion. As Buskrc argues (p. 28 m 48) i kely tat Patach subd the mote famous Pilolaus for Archippus. For Philolaus as the teacher of the last Pythagoreans sce Diogenes Laertius VIII 46 (DK 44 As). For Plato's supposed mecting with Phiolaus in ‘Tarentum see Diogenes Lacrtius Hl 6 (DK 48. AS) for which the source might be Heanor. Oympiodor report (In Phd, Al 13) which hs Phils ving the tomb of Lys loks ike late compilation rom many sours. See Barker pp 228-29 Knorr p. 45. Knorr pus 100 much credence in Olympiodorus’ report that makes Phila «pupil of Lys Litewse he acts the stly sporous ltr of Lito Hipp a genuine nds evidence rhe stuationina “Pythagorean seta Thebes “Eg. T.L. Heath, Greck Mathematics, Vol. 1 (Oxford, 1921), K . 5, Vol. 1 (Oxford, 1921), p. 67 and W.K.C. Guibre, History of Grek Philosophy, Vo. 1 (Cambridge, 1962), p. 225 Forte formulation “things are numbers" see Mets 98633, 986221, 987628, 1083b17 ‘Things are said to be “out of numbers” at Meta, 990321, 10GODIGKt. (2), 1083611. 4os0s24, 1090332 and De Caclo 30016. At De Caclo 30308 Aristotle says that ina way the atomists to say that all things are numbers. He admits that they may not show it