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Zeno of Elea

Zeno of Elea 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. He is best known for his paradoxes, which Bertrand Russell described as “immeasurably subtle and profound”.


Zeno’s Paradox

Zeno’s most famous paradox states that in a race between Achilles and a tortoise, the much faster Achilles can never over­take the slower tortoise in front of him. Achilles must first reach where the tortoise started, and by this time the tortoise would have moved ahead. Achilles must then reach the tortoise’s new position, and by then the tortoise would have moved further ahead, and so on. This way the slower tortoise must always hold a lead.

Of course this is false in real life, a faster runner will always eventually overtake a slower runner. Think about what’s wrong with the argument in the above paragraph.


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