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Zeno of Elea

Posted on 2017.01.05 at 17:59
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Zeno of Elea

First published Wed Jan 9, 2008; substantive revision Thu Jan 5, 2017

Zeno of Elea, 5th c. B.C.E. thinker, is known exclusively for propounding a number of ingenious paradoxes. The most famous of these purport to show that motion is impossible by bringing to light apparent or latent contradictions in ordinary assumptions regarding its occurrence. Zeno also argued against the commonsense assumption that there are many things by showing in various ways how it, too, leads to contradiction. We may never know just what led Zeno to develop his famous paradoxes. While it is typically said that he aimed to defend the paradoxical monism of his Eleatic mentor, Parmenides, the Platonic evidence on which this view has resided ultimately fails to support it. Since Zeno’s arguments in fact tend to problematize the application of quantitative conceptions to physical bodies and to spatial expanses as ordinarily conceived, the paradoxes may have originated in reflection upon Pythagorean efforts to apply mathematical notions to the natural world. Zeno’s paradoxes have had a lasting impact through the attempts, from Aristotle down to the present day, to respond to the problems they raise. Since the subject of this article is Zeno himself, it undertakes to provide an historically accurate overview of his own thought, rather than an account of how philosophers, mathematicians, and physicists have responded to his provocative arguments....  (Go here)


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