Pythagoras’ Definition of Philosopher


The following anecdote was attributed to Pythagoras, a sixth century BC Greek philosopher:

“I have no trade,” he once declared; “I am a philosopher.”

“And what may that be?” he was asked.

“This life,” he said, “may be compared to the Olympic games. For in that concourse some seek glory or strive for wreaths; others, peddling goods, pursue profit; others again, less base than either, go to the games neither for applause nor for gain, but merely to enjoy the sport and keep abreast of the times.

“In the same way, we quitted our celestial home and came into this world, where some toil for honor and the majority for gain, and only but a few, despising greed and vanity, study nature for its own sake. These last I call philosophers.”

Its authenticity is hard to prove so this is most likely an apocryphal story thought up by some bard or storyteller. Nonetheless, this anecdote leaves some things to ponder about.

Posted by

My name Edmark M. Law. I work as a freelance writer, mainly writing about science and mathematics. I am an ardent hobbyist. I like to read, solve puzzles, play chess, make origami and play basketball. In addition, I dabble in magic, particularly card magic and other sleight-of-hand type magic. I live in Hong Kong. You can find me on Twitter` and Facebook. My email is

3 thoughts on “Pythagoras’ Definition of Philosopher

What's On Your Mind?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s