Origin of the Term Philosophy

The term ‘philosopher’ was coined by Pythagorus, shortly after establishing his school, the Pythagorean Brotherhood. At the Olympic Games Prince Leon of Phlius asked Pythagorus to describe himself, to which Pythagorus replied, “I am a philosopher’. When asked to explain further the sage replied:

Life, Prince Leon, may well be compared with these public Games for in this vast crowd assembled here some are attracted by the acquisition of gain, others are led on by the hopes and ambitions of fame and glory. But among them there are a few who have come to observe and to understand all that passes here.

It is the same with life. Some are influenced by the love of wealth while others are blindly led on by the mad fever for power and domination, but the finest type of man gives himself up to discovering the meaning and purpose of life itself. He seeks to uncover the secrets of nature. This is the man I call a philospoher for although no man is comletely wise in all respects, he can love wisdom as the key to nature’s secrets. (From Fermat’s Enigma: The Epic Quest to Solve the World’s Greatest Mathematical Problem by Simon Singh, Anchor Books, 1998, p11.)

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