Zeno of Elea
(5th century BC)

Philosopher and mathematician from Elea in Italy. He studied under Parmenides and followed his techer to Athens when he was 40. There he became a teacher, and had several famous students, including Pericles and Callias.Later in life he was to return to Elea, where he is said to have tried to overthrow the tyrant Nearchus. The plan failed, and Zeno was tortured, but couragously gave no information.
Zeno worked out a series of paradoxes to demonstrate his ideas, including the logical impossibility of motion and the illusority of the senses. In doing this, he was called the inventor of dialectical reasoning by Aristotle. His best known paradox is the one about Achilles and the turtle. According to Zenon, if the two are put to race and the turtle is given some distance to start before Achilles, there is no way Achilles can pass it as the turtle will move a little while Achilles is running. By moving forward the turtle is always ahead, and so it will be at least a tie.


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