memoirs, art and fragments by Thomas Milner

Archive for April 11, 2011

Who the heck was Zeno when he was at home?

Who the heck was Zeno when he was at home? All I know for sure is that he was the ancient Greek philosopher who was famous for his paradoxes and that his very name is redolent of an esoteric and all-embracing knowledge and wisdom. Let’s wiki him, shall we? (to wiki, to google, to blog … I never thought the day would arrive when I used those verbs … mind you, in our day we had to hoover, to zerox, to fax and to DHL …) Ah, here we are:
ZENO of Elea (ca. 490 BC?) was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher of Southern Italy, a member of The Eleatic School which was founded by Parminedes. Aristotle called him the inventor of the Dialectic. He was best known for his Paradoxes, which Bertrand Russell has described as «immeasurably subtle and profound».

Zeno’s arguments were the first examples of a method of proof called reductio ad absurbum. This form of argument soon became known as the epicheirema. In Book VII of his Topica, Aristotle says that an epicheirema is a dialectical syllogism … but let’s not go down there because it’s late and I’m going to call it a day; oh well, at least I now know who the heck Zeno was when he was at home!

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