Pythagorean Table of Opposites

1 Introduction

The Pythagorean Table of Opposites is one of the most important documents of Pythagorean dualism, known primarily from Aristotle and his later commentators (like the Aristotelian Alexander of Aphrodisias or the Neoplatonist Simplicius). That said, even Aristotle only ascribes it to some Pythagoreans, and used uncritically, it can be called upon to justify unphilosophical sexist attitudes. The meaning which it had and should have in our lives is not self-evident.

2 Translation (Aristotle, Metaphysics 986a)

Others among the Pythagoreans say that there are ten principles, and they are named as pairs of opposites (systoikhia):

Limit (peras) and Unlimited (apeiron).
Even and Odd.
One and Many.
Right and Left.
Male and Female.
At Rest and In Motion.
Straight and Curved.
Light and Dark.
Good and Evil.
Square and Oblong Rectangle.