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Pythagorean Man Emulation

For the PythAcademia, the "Pythagorean Man" is an ideal of a form of education, of human holistic formation, and virtuous behavior, that was extensively, and very successfully, promoted and implemented by its creator, the Greek philosopher Pythagoras, in the 6th century BC. His successors, iPythagorasncluding Plato some150 years later, maintained the same ideal quite well, in the best schools of the western world, for quite a few more hundred years, including the mini-renaissance of the High Middle Ages, in the 12th century, that was still based on the strong philosophical roots of Ancient-Greece, Pythagoras in particular. This 'Pythagorean Man' ideal had in fact a great cascading influence on the education systems of a good part of humanity, until the "Faustian Man" came along to gradually replace it, after the advent of the full Renaissance that started around the 15th century. The turning point of transition between the two types was in fact the "Machiavellian Man" that initiated the phasing out of the 'Pythagorean Man' that had already dominated the scene of the culture of the western world for the previous two millennia, via Plato's main influence. In other words, the educational, and the related social, decadence of the last 50 years, that we have seen in our Background page, has a much older origin than just the pseudo 1968 revolution. Strangely enough, it finds it real source in what is usually considered probably the most glorious period of achievements in the history of humanity: the 15th century European Renaissance. This period, admittedly magnificent in many ways, certainly brought in a long chain of great achievements and conquests of humanity from many points of view in the last 400 years. However, it brought in essentially a quantitative and external type of human life improvement, as oppose to a qualitative and internal one, from the point of view of the best formation, and desirable virtues, of the human being, and consequently his best possible civic behavior. With the advent of the Faustian mentality, the human conquests started to be essentially centered on the exterior side of human life, as opposed to its interior side. With the beginning of the 21st century, there is a need, now, to return to a better balance between the external and the internal aspects of human formation, achievements and desirable social perfection. In other wordHeartInHandss there is a need to return to a better Pythagorean Man mentality, through an emulation of what it was and meant, albeit maybe in a more modern way. The Pythagorean formation was so holistic and so exhaustive, let alone quite ascetic, that a similar attempt of formation today can only be an emulation, but nonetheless one that is highly desirable to be achieved to the highest possible degree in our contemporary world. This is where the EthoPlasìn intends to come in to help phase out the Faustian Man mentality and give its powerful contribution to the resurrection and reinstatement of the greatest part possible of a modern form of Pythagorean Man formation and behavior.

  1. The various types of protestant reforms, and Goethe's hero, Faust, phasing out the hero of Dante in our modern culture, are good symbols of this historical phenomenon of progressive minimizing of interior human virtuous formation and perfection, as opposed to emphasizing first and foremost exterior material norms of achievement and perfection. The Protestants may have quite successfully freed their followers from the corrupted dominion of the Vatican, but also, at the same time, they unfortunately started to deprive them from the positive pursuit of ascetics, and of strong interior discipline, characterizing most members of the church below the Vatican at, before, and until that time, let alone a critical mass of intellectually relevant people outside the Vatican sphere. Consequently the Protestants were never able to produce themselves any of the great men, 'saints' or not, that honored the Christian world for centuries before them. On the other hand, Dante's hero was the man who, starting from the lowest level of a most imperfect 'sinner', fought all his life for the attainment of a personal improvement that would bring him closer and closer to a more divine level of interior achievements and virtuous perfection. Goethe's hero, Faust, did the opposite. He fought all his life to try to achieve no more than his own selfish exterior and illusionary happiness. He was of course deeply influenced by the 'Prince' mentality of Machiavelli in between. These three heroes express clearly the history of a complete reversal of a world vision, and of the conception of man in that world. Dante's hero  still represented the ancient Greco-Latin genius, fighting idealistically for the attainment of a virtuous form of beatitude through a progressive qualitative improvement and control of self. Machiavelli's hero brought in a drastic change of predominance, from spiritual idealism and practical realism, in achieving one's best objectives of perfection and happiness in life. Goethe's hero finally completed the reversal to represent the modern Anglo-Germanic genius pursuing only a superficial and illusionary beatitude through the callous accomplishment of his own pleasure and ambitions. The first one represents the "Pythagorean Man", fighting up, vertically, for his best personal qualitative realization, with quite good results. The second one represents the "Machiavellian Man", fighting horizontally to achieve his calculative ambitions. The third one represents the "Faustian Man" fighting all over, vertically and horizontally, animated by the devil Mephistopheles, for achieving only his ambitious quantitative achievements, and withFaustAndMetisphole only negative results on the human soul side of its being. The first one was placed in a state of progressive agony in the last 400 years and is now, sadly, practically dead. The second one led the way for an effective transition to the third one. The third one grew in force in the last 400 years and is unfortunately alive more than ever today, having reached its peak of nihilistic behavior with the advent of the 1968 revolution. The first one needs to be resurrected and revived, while the second one needs to be substantially re-dimensioned, and the third one needs to be put aside, if not eliminated completely, or at least be totally reformed, as soon as possible. 

  2. In short, in spite of all its prodigious conquests, especially in the scientific and technological fields, the modern contemporary world of the Faustian Man has failed dramatically to improve human interior self-control and virtuous behavior, let alone maintain it at its good previous level. The last century, the 20th century, with its two world wars, has clearly been the most violent and decadent of the last two or three millennia. It was the crowning of the monstrous and violent Faustian Man mentality. By the same token, it was also unfortunately the beginning of the progressive disappearance the harmonious Pythagorean Man approach to human "perfection", through self-knowledge ("Know Thyself"), virtuous self-control of passions, and best possible behavior in civic, political and philoecosophical environments. This desire of the Pythagorean Man, of a progressive "Return to God", was eminently expressed by Michelangelo while painting the Sistine Chapel and sensing sourly its progressive disappearance. He immortalized beautifully that desire in that excerpt of the ceiling of the chapel as appearing to the right. With the turn of the 21st century, there are many timid signs of a diffuse will to return to the Pythagorean Man mentality. This required change is however felt more as an instinctive desire than an explicit conscious need, or an open social objective. The Pythagorean World Center, with its PythAcademia in particular, can help revive this desire, make it more conscious and explicit in a growing number of people, and contribute to the advent of a new era of a modern version of a more virtuous type of citizens or of a Pythagorean Man Mentality.

  3. Pythagoras is an incredible historical figure, representing just about the best human perfection that humanity has been able to produce in the last 3000 years, of an importance probably not inferior in global world influence to leading figures as eminent as Buddha, Confucius or Jesus. Contrary to these last three grandees however, Pythagoras was not only a spiritual guide, like these three were, but also a major philosophical, scientific and political leading figure, thus overall second to none as a historical human perfection representative of world standing. He was, and still is, not more famous as a mathematician than he was as a soul healer, or as a political reformer, let alone an excellent Olympic competition performer in his youth. His school formed the best scientists, artists, philosophers, legislators, magistrates and politicians of the time, through the use of a very strict discipline and life style (later baptized the "Pythagorean Life Tenor" by none than Aristotle) that included a vegetarian regime, intensive daily physical exercise, meditation, and a series of clear rules of behavior leading to the acquisition of the best personal and civic virtues. In spite of this well known severity, admission to his school was extremely in demand, and considered a great honor and privilege when conceded. The severity however did not prevent the school from being very joyful. Friendship, joyful sharing, mutual help and emulation of best companions were some of its main marks. As much as the Pythagorean Man was aiming at attaining virtue, his main objective was nevertheless to keep everything in good equilibrium: from this point of view, even an excess of virtue, preventing a happy and healthy life, would have been considered an imbalance, or a vice, to get rid of. Pythagoras never prohibited the enjoyment of the best pleasures of life, including food or sex, but all had to be enjoyed with measure and equilibrium. After 30 years of travelling for acquiring his knowledge from the best minds of the time, he got married, when he was turning 60, with a much younger woman, with whom he had 7 children. He died when he was about 100, which was very exceptional at that time, and still in perfect health, presumably only because he was assassinated by a jealous student rejected from his school and who put fire to the house where he was staying. Even pleasure however had to be kept under good control. As we will see below, Pythagoras required that everything be kept in good balance, within certain simple rules, and under full self-control, at all 4 levels of the Human Tetractys (see further down). The first three levels were the Body, the Soul, and the Spirit. Wisdom was the 4th level and component. To reach that 4th level however, the only possible way was to ensure that the first three had been already developed first in perfect equilibrium. Then the acquisition of wisdom, or the development of the 4th component, was finally possible, and the corresponding wisdom was constituted the only real form of human happiness on this Earth. Pythagoras worked on that basis with a maximum of 300 students, or really disciples, and provided them, directly or indirectly, depending on their levels, with the best and most holistic formation available on earth at the time. In fact he can be considered the inventor of what we call 'school' today, and of a real school, providing real 'education' instead of just 'instruction' like it is unfortunately mostly the case in public schools today. More than the inventor of the School, he is thus the inventor of Education in the purest and best sense of the word. Pythagoras was also quite a 'Demiurgos', that is a man with powers that often sounded like he was capable of miracles, like healing people, soul and/or body, whispering to wild animals to make them obey his commands and prevent their possible aggressions, remote viewing and accurate prediction of future events like even earthquakes. He travelled for probably around 30 years in all the known world, in the 6th century B.C., from Egypt to India, via Babylonia and Persia, where he got initiated to all the knowledge and practices of the best world leaders of the time in all the various fields of human activity, be they political, spiritual or scientific leading figures. He put all this immense experience at the service of a unique type of school of holistic formation, like there was probably never any other one of equivalent value in the in the following 2500 years, that is until today.HemicycleSchool As such he deserves all our admiration and commands our purest desire of emulation in the context of a school like the PythAcademia that also pursues holistic formation with a sense of a World Wellness Vocation from a civic point of view.  

  4.  After his extensive travelling all over the known world, and acquiring all the knowledge he could from the best minds of the time in his last span of 30 years, Pythagoras returned, as an adult, to the island of Samos in Greece, where he was born. He soon discovered the veracity of the old proverb saying that: "Someone cannot easily be a prophet in his own country". He was clearly appreciated, because of his exceptional prestige and knowledge but, at the same time, he found there, in Samos, an old culture that was reluctant to any substantial change in terms of human education and virtuous behavior. In Athens, there was an even older culture, yet more reluctant to the reception of a new philosophy of life, in particular a virtuous one like the way of life he was promoting. He consequently chose to move to the Greek colonies of the Magna Graecia (the "Great Greece", mainly in southern Italy, sometimes called ironically the "Hellenic America" of that period) where the populations and the cultural environment were much younger and consequently much more receptive to new ideas. The young and athletic populations of that area offered more potential of 'Ethical Plasticity' (like in Etho-Plasìn...) than other people, in order to receive his new ideas and his kind of holistic and virtuous formation leading to a higher degree of human perfection. He established in Crotone, under the 'foot' of Italy, facing mainland Greece. The city of Crotone was renowned at the time for her particular healthy climate, the fame of her athletes, considered the best ones so far in all previous Olympics, and the beauty of her women. Pythagoras was himself known to them as an ex Olympic Games champion from when he was 12 years old. When he reached Crotone he was also already famous for all sorts of other disciplines. He was also tall, elegant, handsome, brilliant and an exceptionally eloquent person. He was received in the area as a kind of divine being. His influence soon became enormous. He was addressing continuously various kinds of people, politicians, women, youths, children, aristocrats and workers alike, always with an incredible success, promoting a more virtuous life to everyone, and higher levels of attainable human perfection, both from a personal and a civic point of view. On his influence, the constitutions of many cities were completely reformed on the basis of his ideas of meritocratic justice. He succeeded in reconciling the parties of most conflicts in the area at the time, and establishing a new kind of harmony in all human and political relations in the whole area. Many new governments were formed on his direct intervention and guidance. They were all basically 'aristocratic' governments, based on the excellence of their members, but aristocratic in the best sense of the Greek word 'Aristos', that is 'best', or 'excellent': he demanded an extremely virtuous life, background and behavior on the part of all government leaders, based on social meritocratic justice, in particular on the part of those having legislative or judiciary roles or powers.

  5. In the meantime Pythagoras was managing his school, often called the 'Hemicycle' because of its shape. Because of our full empathy for the history of that school, and our desire to emulate it, our school also has a hemicycle, but it is usually called by the nickname of 'PythAcademia', combining the prefix 'Pyth' of Pythagoras, and 'HermesOratorAcademia' as the name of the school of Plato that followed some 150 years later, and is much more well known, even if it was in fact of pure Pythagorean conception. The choice of the hemicycle shape of the premises of the school of Pythagoras was not completely made by chance. A circle, in sphere form in particular, was considered a symbol of perfection in Pythagorean geometry. The shape of the school environment was a semi-spherical volume where 'imperfect' pupils were expected to complete the 'circle' of their formation to 'perfection'. Pythagoras was certainly forming 'imperfect' youths to become 'Aristos', that is sort of "Perfect". The demand for entry at the school was enormous, but the admission was very selective. Pythagoras used to say that "Not all wood is good to sculpt a Mercury" (Mercury was the messenger of the gods, usually sculpted with the winged feet).  Most were rejected before admission, and many soon after. Pythagoras exerted a kind of mysterious fascination on everybody. His school was the top there was at the time from a scientific point of view, but at the same time it was also the top from a human soul formation point of view. His school was providing a completely holistic formation: physical, moral, social, intellectual, professional, and spiritual, even musical. The internal discipline was very severe but all aspects of this holistic regime had nevertheless to be handled joyfully and successfully by all students at the same time, otherwise they were swiftly excluded. The alimentation was strictly vegetarian (except in part for the best athletes). Sport competitions were also very demanding. Even music training was considered an essential requirement. All aspects however had to be kept in a perfect equilibrium that represented a kind of human harmony that was a base for the civic and political harmony he wanted to establish, itself only a reflection of the harmony of the cosmic universe. The three levels of the human being (body, soul and spirit) had to be formed and equilibrated: muscles, emotions and intelligence. He was clearly forming an elite, but an elite based strictly on best talents and efforts, never on money or family links. His whole systeLaurelsCrownm of holistic formation was essentially meritocratic and fully appreciated as such. Even kings and most important political leaders were fascinated by his ideas and formation and often requested lessons or training from the Pythagorean Hemicycle, but students of all social classes were included, even some women, which was new and unexpected at the time, not to say quite revolutionary. The candidates who got fully formed were not considered as any kind of 'Superman' at the time, but rather as a kind of 'UpperMan', the 'OverMan' with the 'Over'soul', the 'ExcellentMan' ("Aristos": often represented with a crown of fresh natural laurels, like the one to the left, also used for crowning Olympic champions instead of the modern gold medals. The practice is also beautifully preserved in the modern use of the term "Laureate") ready to achieve their best own personal realization and give their best contribution to the formation of the best possible civic and political environments. A "Council Of the 1000" was ensuring 'democracy' in the cities under his influence, similar to what a democratic parliament does today, but that 'democracy' was not by far a democracy like it is today. It was clearly a meritocracy, like we talk about in our page on Meritocracy, where everyone is given the same chance, and the best opportunity, on the starting line, but everyone can only get their best lot in life on the basis of their best talents and efforts, like in sports or in Olympic competitions, not on the basis of money or family roots. It was a human, social and political system animated by what we, at the PythAcademia, call the "SOS" (Social Olympic Spirit), as promoted by our Academy and our Association.

  6. For Pythagoras, the worst of evils was nihilistic chaos, as the source of all violence and injustice (just like the situation we are in today). On the other hand, the type of order preventing chaos could only be based, in his mind, on meritocratic justice. In turn, the merit system could only be applied correctly with young people being given best care, and their best chance of knowing themselves and their full potentialities. This chance was first given to them at the very time they were still like tender flower buds (like the blue flowers to the left), in the middle of their adolescence. The formation lasted until they reached the age of at least 30. This meant a total of at least 15 years of basic formation. The oBudsBluenes aspiring to senior government positions, and to political, legislative or judicial functions, had to continue their formation until they were at least 50 year old adults. The formation involved tough holistic educational formation, but with the possibility of using their freewill positively or negatively, or even leaving the school freely at any time, let alone being expelled swiftly when required. The base of the whole formation process was thus the famous  "Γνῶθι σεαυτόν" ("Know Thyself"), written on the door of the Apollonian temple of Delphi, and the theory of the "Sacred Tetractys" in relation to 4 parts of the composition of the human being that needed to be harmonized and balanced as perfectly as possible (see the figure and note above to the right). This formation involved first the perfect self-control of all passions and emotions of the human Soul. The control of its emotions and related passions was even more important than the development of the rational intellect, in fact a pre-requisite to its development, as without it, a strongly developed intellect could only be a dangerous negative asset. The development of the Mind (the rational intellect of the soul) was nonetheless very important, but undesirable at an early stage, without having first secured the control of the emotions and related passions of the soul, or a at least a harmonious development of all spheres of the human Tetractys all together. Of course, the beauty of this interior development was inconceivable without a similar harmonious exterior development involving the best aptitudes of the Body, including the control of its basic instincts and passions. That overall process also involved at the same time the philosophical study of the great Absolutes, the ideal concepts that should be founding all human development and activity: "Good", "Just", and "Kallos" (Beauty), all pursued in a state of Love, the great cosmic attraction force of Love, commanding all aspects of our world, from the force of gravity in the (apparently) 'inanimate' realm of the mineral kingdom, to the aspirations of the soul to perfection in the spiritual kingdom, via the loving reproductive forces of the vegetal and animal kingdoms. As seen in our page on Science Of Being, this great cosmic force of Love is, and was, considered 'the' main force behind the whole world, and is thus the most meaningful attribute of what we call the CoPHLE energy. The artistic development (mainly music but also other expressions of Kallos beauty) came to crown the whole process as a reflection of the cosmic harmony of the "Music of the Spheres". The final aim and result of the overall holistic formation process, if and when completed, was the attainment of Wisdom, associated to the Spirit element of the human being, intended in terms of pure intelligence capable of producing best Judgment and thus best meritocratic Justice and best Good. Wisdom was thus the fourth element of what Pythagoras called the "Sacred Tetractys". In fact, the four columns of the EthoPlasìn logo at the top of the page represent this holy Pythagorean Tetractys. The whole process of formation was also based on an intense life in common, with mutual help and sharing of belongings, but with also good moments of complete isolation for meditation and self-examination purposes. It was not centered on producing 'technicians', like schools do today, even if it produced the best ones at the time, but rather first and foremost 'geniuses' or, much better said, using an untranslatable word from Ancient-Greek, 'Demiurgos', a type of men capable of prodigious creativity, outstanding achievements, and meritocratic justice for themselves and all the other members of their communities; a type of man with wisdom where, in his heart and mind, passion was transmuted into compassion and fire into light. The harmonious development of the Tetractys was also inevitably leading to Kallos Beauty, as seen in that related page. Our page on EthoPlay also mentions these techniques as elements of help in controlling the passions of the body and of the soul while attempting to achieve a harmonious development of the Tetractys.

  7. The intellectual development process itself was based on mathematics because it involved logic and order at the base of all good development. Mathematics included geometry, astronomy and music as the "Four Sister" basic sciences. Then followed a vast varKerykeioniety of sciences related to physics, morality, economic administration, political involvement, judiciary and legislative functions etc. Only the students having completed the whole cycle of this holistic education were considered worthy of leading other people as politicians, magistrates or legislators, and usually not before having reached at least the age of 50... They were the only ones with the necessary "Tetractys Wisdom" to do so, as they had not received only 'instruction', like our schools provide today, but real 'education' through a fully holistic formation. In fact the school of Pythagoras was not usually considered a simple school of 'students' being instructed in various matters, as it was often called a school of 'governments', or of 'governors', because of its formation of persons with a type of 'holistic perfection' that made them worthy, and the only ones worthy, of governing other people. It was an institution of professional instruction but first and foremost an institution of real education in the best and purest sense of the word. Like we say in our opening page, the Pythagorean school and formation was "Instruction made Education", like the PythAcademia hopes to achieve: a "Learning Process" made a "Living Process", in turn made a "Loving Process".      

  8. All the above is what the PythAcademia intends to try to emulate, with a type of "Polite Emulation" (Ευγενησ Αμιλλα) to use a beautiful Ancient-Greek expression related to the Olympic competitions and to what we call the SOS (Social Olympic Spirit). The Olympics at the time were not felt like "games", not even a competition in a modern sense, even if competition there was, and very tough indeed, to the outmost degree, but perceived and fApolloelt mainly as an emulation of the ideal represented by the best athletes, not only as sport performers but also as harmonious human beings with an equilibrated development of their "Tetractys". The most famous Olympics performer of all times is still considered to have been Milone, who was probably the son-in-law of Pythagoras, trained by Pythagoras directly, through a holistic Tetractys formation that made Milone's physical performance only a reflection of his overall excellence as a person who had become a "Demiurgos".  

  9. The Pythagorean Man ideal to its full extent is quite probably an impossible objective to have today, but the best contents of this ideal concept deserve to, and can certainly, be emulated, as much as possible, for the best benefits of this and future generations on this beautiful Planet Earth. Pythagoras wanted to bring Man, considered a divine creature in essence, back to a level as close as possible to God, and give men clear co-creation powers as much as possible, for all their purposes at their own level, making them Demiurgos. In the later Pythagorean tradition, these Demiurgos became what Plato called "Responsive Virtuous Counselors" (Αγαθος συμβουλος) at the full service of the good of the community independently of their work or profession. This might be a difficult objective today, but nonetheless many youths today are, or should be, attracted by the basic Pythagorean ideal of obtaining the best holistic personal formation possible, to in turn be able to provide their best possible contribution to the most meritocratic society possible.

  10. These are the types of candidates the PythAcademia hopes to attract and form. Like the Pythagorean Hemicycle, the PythAcademia will only handle 300 candidates at any given time, but the EthoPlasìn Association in turn can influence and form thousands more at distance, if not eventually possibly even millions, in all kinds of civic environments around the world. The combined efforts of all members, at the Academy and around the world, with their formation to excellence and their World Civic Wellness Vocation, shall contribute to help society find back some of its harmony, and make a step forward from its present decadent Dionysian ways to a better Apollonian kind of life style based on Beauty, Merit and Justice, let alone Love animating the conquest of these three beautiful objectives in a spirit of Philoecosophical Oneness. 

 

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