Saturday, April 30, 2011

Z is for Zeno’s Paradox


It’s estimated that Zeno was born around 490 BC, and he apparently wrote a book of paradoxes. It has not survived, but some of his paradoxes are still known, largely due to other philosophers wanting to refute them. Aristotle in particular.

My favorite one is known as The Dichotomy because it’s about division. It goes something like this: If you want to move between two points, you first have to move halfway. And before you can move halfway you have to move a quarter of the way. And before you can move a quarter of the way you have to move an eighth of the way.

And so on and so on. Since there are an infinite number of points on any line, the division of the space goes on forever. Which logically means that movement is impossible.

The reason I like this paradox so much is that it’s neat and tidy and rational yet completely false empirically. Of course we can walk across the room. And as evidenced by this April Blog Challenge, we can get from A to Z, too.

So forget Zeno. You can get from here to there, wherever your “there” might be. Go ahead. Take the first step.

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