He was born around 570 B.C. on Samos, and he died after 510 B.C. in Metapont in the Basilicata (Southern Italy).
Between 532 and 529 B.C. he founded a school in Kroton, where he educated a community of students. What he exactly taught is still a controversial subject under historians of today. But there are information on Pythagoras stated by contemporaries, characterizing him from their point of view. A contemporary named Heraklit asserted for example that “he pursued more studies than any other person”, and accused him of being omni-intuitive.
Whatever he taught in detail can be for sure called interdisciplinary. Furthermore he built a community out of his students, that endured by far after his death while influencing society and science. Whatsoever he might have taught, it really left a sustainable impression.
The lack of reliable origins makes it quite difficult to explore his life and his impact. He doesn’t leave us any known, written proof, and cross references from other sources allow only for making cases, that remain contested.
But it can be assumed with certitude that he had a major influence on contemporary philosophy, mathematics, music, astronomy, politics and religion in the course of his life. He was meant to have introduced the term “philosophy” as such, since he set a very special value on the difference of a wise man (“sophos”) and a man seeking wisdom (“philo-sophos”). The “cosmos” was also of particular importance for him, and he defined it to be the “harmonically ordered whole world”.
His mindset was focused on the quality of an actual situation, on attributes and characteristics. In doing so he never excluded quantifiable considerations, as they are common in natural science. But they were simply not in the area of his focal point, and only seen as a supplement. Quantity means thereby being based on measurable, calculable dimensions, numbers and formulas, confirming a fact in form of evidence or a proof.
But he was not a friend of an empirical, or measuring approach. His analytical point of view – that is rather improperly called “speculative” – was more concentrated on a deeper, inner look on subjects and correlations, conducted by the search for a holistic, impartial truth.
The conclusion of the “Theorem of Pythagoras” for example was already known hundreds of years earlier at Babylonia and India, but the first argument for its validness goes probably back to Pythagoras. Thereby it is worth having a more accurate look at the different types of arguments, since this theorem is counted as the most proven one ever.
The most elegant arguments, thereunder the one (pretended to be) from Pythagoras, are simple, and based on a purely geometrical reasoning, that can be fulfilled using only a ruler and a pair of compasses – a hint towards holy geometry.
Pythagoras is also counted as originator of mathematical analysis of music, discoverer of musical harmonics with the definition of harmonic note intervals based on simple numerical ratios. Besides music he dealt also with astronomy, where his knowledge seems to go back to the store of knowledge of Babylonia, which inhered in the same concept and the same expertise.
The precise character of his political impact is not clear, but it can be assumed that he had at least an opinion-forming influence on politicians and citizens. In his religious, or spiritual conviction he advanced the view of the eternal soul, and metempsychosis, including cyclic incarnations on earth. He stated himself to remember previous incarnations.
On the whole this is a broad range of disciplines, being in a straddle between scientific and spiritual topics. Accordingly the professional world of historians is split in two poles, since those subject areas are considered to be incompatible.
Either Pythagoras is considered as a “shamanian fellow” having a spiritual background, and no interests in natural sciences at all, or as scientist and theorizing philosopher having a broad range of interests, which are though not of spiritual or religious nature. The truth seems to be somewhere in between.
Maybe he was simply an adherent of hermeticism, where you can’t face any contradiction between religious, spiritual, and scientific subjects. Since in the end everything is going back to one, single origin, allowing only for one truth, that is no longer in contradiction to itself.
In any case he leaves us a great, well documented heritage in the area of holy geometry – even if it is not marked as such. It suffices to look closely and to read between the lines…