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Zeno of Elea

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Zeno of Elea
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{{short description|Ancient Greek philosopher best known for his paradoxes}}{{distinguish|Zeno of Citium}}{{About|the 5th century BC Greek philosopher, famed for his paradoxes|other uses|Zeno (disambiguation){{!}}Zeno}}







factoids
Zeno of Elea ({{IPAc-en|ˈ|z|iː|n|oʊ|...|ˈ|ɛ|l|i|ə}}; ; {{c.|495|430 BC}}ENCYCLOPEDIA, Zeno of Elea - Greek philosopher and mathematician,weblink en, ) was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher of Magna Graecia and a member of the Eleatic School founded by Parmenides. Aristotle called him the inventor of the dialectic.Diogenes Laërtius, 8.57, 9.25 He is best known for his paradoxes, which Bertrand Russell has described as "immeasurably subtle and profound".Russell (1996 [1903]), p. 347: "In this capricious world nothing is more capricious than posthumous fame. One of the most notable victims of posterity's lack of judgement is the Eleatic Zeno. Having invented four arguments all immeasurably subtle and profound, the grossness of subsequent philosophers pronounced him to be a mere ingenious juggler, and his arguments to be one and all sophisms. After two thousand years of continual refutation, these sophisms were reinstated, and made the foundation of a mathematical renaissance..."

Life

Little is known for certain about Zeno's life. Although written nearly a century after Zeno's death, the primary source of biographical information about Zeno is Plato's ParmenidesPlato (c. 380 – 367 BC). Parmenides, translated by Benjamin Jowett. Internet Classics Archive. and he is also mentioned in Aristotle's Physics.Aristotle (c. mid 4th century BC), Physics 233a and 239b. In the dialogue of Parmenides, Plato describes a visit to Athens by Zeno and Parmenides, at a time when Parmenides is "about 65", Zeno is "nearly 40", and Socrates is "a very young man".Plato, Parmenides 127b–e. Assuming an age for Socrates of around 20 and taking the date of Socrates' birth as 469 BC gives an approximate date of birth for Zeno of 490 BC. Plato says that Zeno was "tall and fair to look upon" and was "in the days of his youth … reported to have been beloved by Parmenides".Other perhaps less reliable details of Zeno's life are given by Diogenes Laërtius in his Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers,Diogenes Laërtius. The Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers, translated by C. D. Yonge. London: Henry G. Bohn, 1853. Scanned and edited for Peithô's Web. where it is reported that he was the son of Teleutagoras, but the adopted son of Parmenides, was "skilled to argue both sides of any question, the universal critic", and that he was arrested and perhaps killed at the hands of a tyrant of Elea.{{rquote|right|{{nobr|Your noble wish, O Zeno, was to slay}}{{nobr|A cruel tyrant, freeing Elea}}{{nobr|From the harsh bonds of shameful slavery,}}{{nobr|But you were disappointed; for the tyrant}}{{nobr|Pounded you in a mortar. I say wrong,}}{{nobr|He only crushed your body, and not you.}}|Diogenes Laërtius, Life of Zeno, the EleaticWEB,weblink Archived copy, 2015-04-12,weblink" title="web.archive.org/web/20150607111231weblink">weblink 2015-06-07, yes,weblink}}According to Diogenes Laërtius, Zeno conspired to overthrow Nearchus the tyrant.Diogenes Laërtius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers. Book IX.5.26. Eventually, Zeno was arrested and tortured.Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy. Book 1.III. According to Valerius Maximus, when he was tortured to reveal the name of his colleagues in conspiracy, Zeno refused to reveal their names, although he said that he did have a secret that would be advantageous for Nearchus to hear. When Nearchus leaned in to listen to the secret, Zeno bit his ear. He "did not let go until he lost his life and the tyrant lost that part of his body".Valerius Maximus, Memorable Deeds and Sayings. Foreign Stories 3. ext. 3.BOOK, Maximus, Valerius, Walker, Henry J., 2004, Memorable Deeds and Sayings: One Thousand Tales from Ancient Rome, 97, Hackett Pub., 978-0-87220-674-8, Within Men of the Same Name, Demetrius said that the nose was bit off instead.Diogenes Laërtius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers. Book IX.5.27.Zeno may have also interacted with other tyrants. According to Laërtius, Heraclides Lembus, within his Satyrus, these events occurred against Diomedon instead of Nearchus. Valerius Maximus recounts a conspiracy against the tyrant Phalaris, but this would be impossible as Phalaris had died before Zeno was even born.Valerius Maximus, Memorable Deeds and Sayings. Foreign Stories 3. ext. 2. According to Plutarch, Zeno attempted to kill the tyrant Demylus. After failing, he had "with his own teeth bit off his tongue, he spit it in the tyrant’s face".Plutarch, Against Colotes.

Works

Although many ancient writers refer to the writings of Zeno, none of his works survive intact. The main sources on the nature of Zeno's arguments on motion, in fact, come from the writings of Aristotle and Simplicius of Cilicia.JOURNAL, Cajori, Florian, The Purpose of Zeno's Arguments on Motion, Isis, 1920, 3, 1, 7–20, 10.1086/357889, Plato says that Zeno's writings were "brought to Athens for the first time on the occasion of" the visit of Zeno and Parmenides. Plato also has Zeno say that this work "meant to protect the arguments of Parmenides", was written in Zeno's youth, stolen, and published without his consent. Plato has Socrates paraphrase the "first thesis of the first argument" of Zeno's work as follows: "If being is many, it must be both like and unlike, and this is impossible, for neither can the like be unlike, nor the unlike like."According to Proclus in his Commentary on Plato's Parmenides, Zeno produced "not less than forty arguments revealing contradictions",Proclus, Commentary on Plato's Parmenides, p. 29. but only nine are now known.Zeno's arguments are perhaps the first examples of a method of proof called reductio ad absurdum, literally meaning to reduce to the absurd. Parmenides is said{{Citation needed|date=May 2008}} to be the first individual to implement this style of argument. This form of argument soon became known as the epicheirema. In Book VII of his Topics, Aristotle says that an epicheirema is "a dialectical syllogism". It is a connected piece of reasoning which an opponent has put forward as true. The disputant sets out to break down the dialectical syllogism. This destructive method of argument was maintained by him to such a degree that Seneca the Younger commented a few centuries later: "If I accede to Parmenides there is nothing left but the One; if I accede to Zeno, not even the One is left."Zeno in The Presocratics, Philip Wheelwright ed., The Odyssey Press, 1966, pp. 106–107.Zeno is also regarded as the first philosopher who dealt with the earliest attestable accounts of mathematical infinity.{{citation needed|date=February 2013}}According to Sir William Smith, in Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (1870)DGRBM,weblink Parmenides, 1870, 125,

Zeno's paradoxes

Zeno's paradoxes have puzzled, challenged, influenced, inspired, infuriated, and amused philosophers, mathematicians, and physicists for over two millennia. The most famous are the arguments against motion described by Aristotle in his Physics, Book VI.Aristotle. Physics, translated by R.P. Hardie and R.K. Gaye. Internet Classics Archive.Zeno Achilles Paradox.png|Achilles and the tortoiseZeno Dichotomy Paradox alt.png|The dichotomyZeno Arrow Paradox.png|The arrowZeno Moving Rows Paradox.png|The moving rows

See also

  • {{annotated link|Incommensurable magnitudes}}
  • {{annotated link|List of speakers in Plato's dialogues}}

Notes

{{reflist|2}}

References

  • BOOK, Plato, Plato, Fowler, Harold North, trans. W. R. M. Lamb, Plato in twelve volumes. 8, The Statesman.(Philebus).(Ion), 1925, 1914, Loeb Classical Library, Harvard U.P, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 978-0-434-99164-8, 222336129,
  • BOOK, Proclus' Commentary on Plato's Parmenides, Proclus, Proclus, Morrow, Glenn R., Dillon, John M., 1992, 1987, Princeton University Press, Princeton, N.J., 978-0-691-02089-1, 27251522,
  • BOOK, The Principles of Mathematics, Russell, Bertrand, Bertrand Russell, 1996, 1903, Norton, New York, NY, 978-0-393-31404-5, 247299160,
  • BOOK, The Three Paradoxes, Hornschemeier, Paul, Paul Hornschemeier, 2007, Fantagraphics Books, Seattle, WA,

Further reading

  • Barnes, Jonathan. 1982. The Presocratic Philosophers. 2d ed. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
  • Lewis, Eric. 1999. "The Dogmas of Indivisibility: On the Origins of Ancient Atomism. In Proceedings of the Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy. Vol. 14. Edited by John J. Cleary and Gary M. Gurtler, S. J., 1–21. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill.
  • McKirahan, Richard. 2001. "Zeno’s Dichotomy in Aristotle." Philosophical Inquiry 23.1–2: 1–24.
  • Navia, Luis. E. 1993. The Presocratic Philosophers: An Annotated Bibliography. New York and London: Garland.
  • Owen, G. E. L. 1958. "Zeno and the Mathematicians." Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 58:199–222.
  • Papa-Grimaldi, Alba. 1996. "Why Mathematical Solutions of Zeno’s Paradoxes Miss the Point: Zeno’s One and many Relation and Parmenides’ Prohibition." Review of Metaphysics 50.2: 299–314.
  • Sainsbury, Mark. 1988. Paradoxes. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Salmon, Wesley C., ed. 1970. Zeno’s Paradoxes. Indianapolis, IN, and New York: Bobbs-Merrill.
  • Vlastos, Gregory. 1967. "Zeno of Elea." In The Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Vol. 8. Edited by Paul Edwards, 369–379. New York and London: Macmillan.
  • White, Michael J. 1992. The Continuous and the Discrete: Ancient Physical Theories from a Contemporary Perspective. Oxford: Clarendon.

External links

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