A Note on Zeno's Arrow Author(s): Gregory Vlastos Source: Phronesis, Vol. 11, No. 1 (1966), pp.

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2 I follow the usual translation of this peculiar phrase (cf. Uninterested in conserving in the mention of 'r670oq his summary of the puzzle (t67roqplays no role in the analysis of its reasoning presupposed by his refutation). at a place equal to itself]3 in the "now" (Iatv 8' acxEso yep6F. it would be natural for him to change &vT' rfa kmuvrinto xxra." The present Note incorporates results I have reached in a more thorough study of the Arrow made possible by a grant for research on Zeno from the National Science Foundation. then the arrow in motion is motionless. Vol. Kaufmann (Englewood Cliffs.") I assume that if Zeno had used this expression. are hereby advised that the present Note is meant to supersede it completely. frag. 1961). but on frail MS.on A note Zeno's Arrow. '67rov &XXicramv Parmenides. Burnet. Themistius: Lee # 30 to # 34. "when it occupies a space equal to itself. Readers who may be familiar with the account of the Arrow in the chapter on Zeno I contributed to Philosophic Classics. the commentators (Simplicius. and with these far from exhaustively.J. (Aristotle. 1 I shall deal only with the main topics. 8. 3 For the expansion cf. edited by W. 35 and (twice) at 239B3. as I explained at the time (27. since r6noq would have been the only word he is likely to have used in this in connection: cf. Lee puts the expansion into the text (he writes: &v'rij vUV xm'd& r6 taov). For more thorough treatments of the subject the reader may consult works listed in the bibliography at the end of this article (to which reference is made in text and notes by the name of author only). However. Untersteiner.g. That chapter had been prepared on short notice to fill an urgent pedagogical need and.2 [b] and the moving object is always [sc. I. N. 142 ff. he says. to which I wish to express my thanks. Phys. Zeno is more likely to have written &v'cp law kavr& 'r6nc for the is context suggests strongly that the construction with xawr& Aristotelian. 'r taov in conformity with his 6 uses of xacrci't in the preceding 15 lines. authority. 239B5-7. 41 (Diels-Kranz). n. For more extensive references to the scholarly literature see M. Aristotle starts talking of a mobile being xaoX tL as far back as 239A25. at 40-41. using the phrase again at 30. Philoponus. for the text see Ross 657-58). 3 . 27ff. [a] everything is always at rest when it is at a place equal to itself (6r=v 1f xa'r&'r aov). presented "purely provisional results of work-in-progress.. 34.evov&v'r7 v5v).! GREGORY VLASTOS [1] For if. his expansion of it would have been xawr Tov laov kaotcu 'r6nov. 1). e.

S Just before.which we know as one of Aristotle's cleverest and most characteristic creations (Phys. nor [B] in the place in which it is not. 231 B 20ff.r). 242. It is true that Sextus. 2. Frankel 7. Math. 10. Hyp.6 Sextus' failure DC to cite Diodorus as the inventor of this argument could hardly count against its authenticity: he is as silent concerning the authorship of the other argument whose use by Diodorus he reports in the same connection7 . 4 in Diels-Kranz. nothing moves. Doxographi Graeci. 10. Haer. 72) in a passage in which he appears to be following a good source: all citations in 71-73 are reliable and most of them are letter-perfect. But neither does he say that Diodorus was its originator. 5 Also in Pyrrh. 20). A brieferversionof [2]. he seems to imply the very opposite. 11. with no defense of the editorial decision. by introducing the argument in one passage with the esr remark that Diodorus '6v 7rpLpopij'nx6v uvep'rq X6oyov s'r ' xtveLaOoE (Adv. 48 and 85. 87. Math. if he had thought of [2] as a Diodorean invention. Of the two versions this is the one likely to be the closer to the original: the longer one in Epiphaniuslooks like an expansion of this one to make it "compl[y] with the rules and conventions of post-Aristotelian syllogisms" (Frankel 7). 3. when he goes on to cite the whole of [2] in the next paragraph.). without ascription to Diodorus or to anyone else. reporting on three separate occasions (Pyrrh. [b] But it moves neither [A] in the place in which it is. as Frankel (7. Hyp. H. Diels.that if time consists of indivisibles "has moved" will be true of things of which "is moving" was never true . at 86. 10. Sextus had given a fuller account of the reasoning by which Diodorus had supported [2bA] and [2bB].& Zenonian authorship.[2] Zeno argues thus: [a] A moving thing moves either [A] in the place in which it is or [B] in the place in which it is not. n. Math. he should refer to it in the above terms (note specially the force of auvepc. 2. Adv. 4 . 20) has observed.' practicallyidenticalwith its part [b]. cf. 245 and 3. 590). In any case. 86-89) the never mentions its use of [2] (with variations) by Diodorus Cronus. Adv. and I know of no good reason to doubt it. the ascription of [2b] to Zeno has the backing of both Diogenes and Epiphanius. it is connected closely with [2b] in the latter passage. 71. 4 Printed as frag. 9. 7 Adv. (Epiphanius. It would be hard to believe that. Therefore. is ascribed to Zeno by Diogenes Laertius (Vitae Philos. n.

e. Hyp. "for if it is in it [sc. or too easily solved? This would be hard to squarewith the fact that Diodorus. also in Pyrrh. Why then did Aristotle ignore it? Because he thought it a silly puzzle. thought so well of it. the place in which it is]. connoisseur of fine arguments. still stronger. 10. independent of [1]." This would be very lame . not worth solving. To realize how badly it does need defense one need only recall that it would be quite consistent with general usage in Zeno's time (and for a long time after) to think of the r64osin which a thing is as the room or region within which it stands or moves . 87. What would we then make of Aristotle's remark that "there are four arguments by Zeno that give trouble to those who try to refute them" (239B 9-11)? On the hypothesis. And that this is in fact the case appears from a fourth passage in Sextus (Adv. 2. Math.v.and what would that be? In three of the passagesgin which [2] turns up in Sextus the backing for it is just. 242 (cf. 71 and Adv.unless here again the equivalent of [ a] were being presupposed. Math. 4 above). its aptness as an answer to just this objection leaps to the eye: Its strategy is to cut down the thing's "place" to a space fitting so tightly the thing's own dimensions (just "equal" to its own bulk) as to leave it no room in which to move. we should face the question: Could it really have been a self-contained composition. Thus [ a] locks neatly into [2b A] in point of logic. n. 3. rather than its precise location. reason for rejecting the hypothesis: As [2b] now stands it makes at [A] a challenging claim that a thing cannot move 'V 4) ar.Once we decide that on the evidence [2b] was Zeno's (the sense. s. the man in the courtyard. And there is a third. where the equivalent of [la] 8 Many examples of the wider usage in Liddell & Scott. 2. Pyrrh. 9 5 . r67rog. the ship in the bay?' If we take another look at [1a] with this in mind.a patent begging of the question . 86). where the argument is tailored to fit the joke. Hyp. as its locale.8 Hence to be told out of the blue that a thing cannot move "in the place in which it is" would only provoke the retort. but not in Pyrrh. 'And why not? Why cannot the dog move in the kennel. 245. 10. Hyp. [2b] would have been a fifth. as the editors have generally assumed? Suppose it were. if not the exact wording). it rests there. Nor is it likely on aesthetic grounds that a construction trenching so closely on the Arrowshould have appearedin Zeno'sbook as a separate puzzle..i.LrO'6rca without putting up the slightest defense for it. while if it belonged to a separate argument we would have to suppose that Zeno had built into the original of [2] some other backing for [2bA] .

' i. He used it commonly as a name for the durationless instant. la How much of an Aristotelian innovation it is one can see by comparing Platonic usage. for Aristotle's quite different version of the Arrow. we have good warrant for rejecting it in favor of the assumption . 'it occupies no time at all. he uses 'z viv as short for 6 v5v Xp6voq (Parm. more tersely. that Diodorus too. the place which contains it] .12 but occasionally. when filling out the argument in [2bA] to make it fully convincing. he also allowed o Cf. this with the considerably fuller." The fact that the cited argumentis loaded with the special assumptionsof Diodorean physics (the body is an indivisible which. For Plato the "now" remains an interval. while to it and from it the moving changes to a state of rest and the resting to a state of motion" 6 . except for its mention of the viv at the end. would have to move through a space composed of indivisibles) in no way affects the point at issue.e. Comparing Nic. Calogero 131-38. a truncated version of the Zenonian original. on the same assumption. if it could move. i. 1174B8.for it fills this up.on which the rest of this Note will proceedthat both [1a] and [2b] belonged to the Zenonianoriginalof the Arrow. Eth. this is the heart of its reasoning. not itself in any time [Cornford. resorted to precisely the same reasoning as is provided. Nor would it be hard to account. while it needs a largerplace in which to move -. at [1a] in the Aristotelian summary of the Arrow. all of this too might well have figured in the original as the sequel to [2bA] duly backed by [1a] (see the conjectural reconstitution of the argument below).10That he should have kept [1a] is understandable: on any reconstruction of the puzzle. and taking also into account the first two reasons above against the hypothesis that [la] and [2bA] belonged to separate puzzles.e. nor etc.is given as Diodorus' reason for [2bA]: "and that is why [the body] moves neither in it [i. has no temporal stretch]. 152 B5). The closest he comes to Aristotle's instantaneous "now" is in something he calls the kocv(v "this queer thing situated between motion and rest. We need only suppose that he recognizedin [1a] and [1b] the significant part of the argument. and scornfully ignored the rest: witness his drastic abbreviation of the Race Coursein the same passage (239B 11-13). 11 Cf. account of the ? same argument at 263 A 5-6. in controversial contexts. though still abbreviated.1' This is one of Aristotle's favorite technical terms.This being the case. As for [1b].e. in the latter an expansion of that fragment. Their subsequent separation in Diogenes Laertius and Epiphanius (or their sources) could be accounted for easily: in the former.

does not elucidate it as the temporal analogue of the geometrical point (so fundamental for Aristotle's analysis of the "now" Phys. the argument against the thesis that time and motion (no less than spatial extension) "are composed of indivisibles. and one might wonder if this. 14 There is no hint of the latter in Plato (Parm. itself is extensionless. "I 239B31-33. Its presence here is explicable as an Aristotelian plant: by sticking it into his account of the puzzle Aristotle makes it all the easier for his readers to feel the appositeness of his refutation. 101 ff. of non-consecutive succession.13 Since neither of these two uses of viv have any known precedent. 222B15. 12 above). they drop the "now". even if it had figured in the Zenonian original.. IV. does not specify its formal properties (especially the crucial one.himself to use it to denote the atomic quantum of duration."'5 If it did not have this function. if time were discontinuous. integral multiples of which would make up all larger temporal intervals.g. in all but the name. which centers in the claim that "it [Zeno's argument] assumes that time is composed of 'nows': if this were not granted." But there are great differences: Plato does not explicate in rigorous terms the concept he has in mind. 7 . n. 155 D) and certainly none of the former (cf. How expendable it is becomes apparent in a number of the summaries of the argument in the Aristotelian commentators: though undoubtedly dependent on our present Aristotelian passage. B8-9.: at its conclusion he represents the refuted thesis as holding that time "is composed of 'nows' which are indivisible" (232A19). Owen 2. it is doubtful that Aristotle would have found a place for it in his ultra-compressedaccount of the puzzle. the argument would not be valid. Aristotle is at pains to distinguish his V5V from the & xEpvij. so clearly identified by Aristotle for the "now". Thus Plato's k(aqtpsvr a limit of temporal extension. Phys.'4it would be most unsafe to assume that Zeno had anticipated one of them across a gap of a hundred years or more. n. remarking (perhaps with implied opposition to Plato's use of the term) that the latter refers to what happens in an imperceptibly small [stretch of] time. 218 A 18 et passim). and certainly not expecting that their (Parm. 152 Aff. 157 D6-E 3). 18 For this second usage (united with the first by the fact that the durationless "now" is also indivisible.) is the very foundation of Aristotle's theory of the temporal continuum. but never confused with it by Aristotle to my knowledge) see e. cf.) and reintroduces it in the first chapter of Physics VI: cf. 217B29ff. He announces it (218A8) early in the second paragraph of his essay on time (Phys. 231 B 6 ff. Cf. That "time is not composed of indivisible 'nows"' (loc. 13 above. cit. et passim). probably not even aware that they have done so." 231B18ff. is the Aristotelian "now.

7 It is entirely possible that a reason may have been given for this proposition. 1034.18 II Why should Zeno have thought [1a] true? There are two possible answers. 19ff. utilization of our textual data.' 8 . 3. 4ff. 1011. such as the one in the versions of [2] which Sextus ascribes to Diodorus in Pyrrh. 816. Therefore. = Lee # 34 or in 200. depending on how we read its "when" (Cf. 30ff. the longer one (Phys. the flying arrow is always at rest. 199. 4ff. 89: "for it can neither do nor suffer anything where it is not. or better grounded. Hyp." IL A trivially different version. would repeat the first two premises as above and then proceed as follows: For everything is always at rest when it is in a place equal to itself (-= [1 a]). Therefore. the flying arrow is always at rest. Is Zeno saying (I) that everything is at rest for any temporal interval during which it is "at a place equal to itself". sticking more closely to Aristotle's [1 b] at the price of a slight roughness in the transition from [2 bA] to [1 a]. = Lee # 33) conserves the "now". But the flying arrow is always in the place in which it is ([1 b] with modifications). 29ff.17 But neither could it move in the place in which it is (= [2bA]): For this is a place equal to itself [supplied]. but the shorter ones (1015. Pending a fuller. = Lee # 32) do not. Black 128 and 144-46). = Lee # 30. it is reasonable to assume that some such argument was the original of the Arrow. 71 and 3. or (II) that everything is at rest for any (durationless) instant"I in which it is "at a place equal to itself" ? 16 Of the three summaries of the Arrow in Simplicius. = Lee # 31) includes the "nows". And everything is always at rest when it is in a place equal to itself (= [1 a]).readers would miss it. with a transitional sentence added to smooth out the reasoning: The arrow could not move in the place in which it is not (= [2 b B]). Themistius does not in Phys. And the flying arrow is always in a place equal to itself (= [I b] without I vu3v). Philoponus (Phys.16 It becomes quite superfluous to the sense and to the force of the reasoning when [1a] and [lb] (the latter with modifications) are spliced into [2b]. 19 Hereafter I shall always mean 'durationless instant' when I say 'instant. 19ff.

2'Now on the present reconstructionof 20 Cf. 21 I am not implying that the hypothesis is that the arrow is moving over every interval. not extensionless instants (i. This rarer.that the arrow. i. But he says (ibid. Elucidating the "when. So if Zeno wanted us to believe the contrary. as such. So unless he is being very careless. 13 above). e.moving by hypothesis.the authors say that it is used in the indicative with imperfect or aorist "to denote single events or actions in past time. where he is using "now" in the sense of instant. 30-32) that the assumption warrants the conclusion that the arrow is resting.g. none whatever: there is no more reason a priori why the flying arrowshould be in the same place for a billionth of a second. 31-33) are being "assumed" by Zeno's argument are atomic stretches. sense of 6Te has evidently not occurred to the original authors or later editors of the dictionary. n." with present "of a thing always happening or now going on. than for a whole second." etc. the assumption that time consists of instants would have warranted in his view the conclusion that the flying arrow is neither moving nor resting. he must be thinking of the "nows" of the supposed assumption not as instants.and to beg it for smaller periods would not make the offense to logic the smaller. would we be entitled to infer that it is at rest during that stretch. at the time when" sense of 6'e (&8av= 6're&v). It would be quite legitimate to hold that the hypothesis is. is in fact resting . for the use of 85e to refer not to an event or a period but to an instantaneous limit of an event or period. Is there then any reason to think that it would be in the same place during smaller periods? On the face of it. They make no provision here or subsequently in any of their statements or examples for sense (II) above. For only if we know that an object is in the same place for some stretch of time. Otherwise. the behaviour of Liddell & Scott. For since he says that there is neither motion nor rest in a "now" in 239B1-4.e. he would have to give us his reason. that he is using the v5v in the second of the two senses in which he employs the term: cf. to the start or finish of a race. but as atomic durations.Could (I) be the right reading?Its linguistic plausibility is so great that the second sense of 6Tov might not even occur to one here. non-committal as to motion over micro-intervals and does not exclude a priori the possibility that motion might be discontinuous after all.e. he would be begging the very question to be proved .20a But there is a strong objection to this reading: it would requireus to debit Zeno with a gratuitous fallacy. but perfectly authentic.20as it apparently did not to Aristotle: he seems to have taken it for granted that the 68av in [la] would refer to a stretch of time. And that is just what we do not know in the case of the arrow. To all appearanceit is never in the same place in the course of its flight during any sizeable period. But to assert (I) Zeno would have to go much further than profess agnosticism as to 9 . however small. '0a I think we may infer from the context (239 B 1-4) that the "indivisible nows" which Aristotle believes (ibid. 8-9.

ii).. 23 Nor is any such thing said. 21ff. iii) that Zeno's opponents believed that time. so that Zeno does not have to argue for it. these scholars have also supposed (T. Philos. 264ff. Burkert 37ff. was made up of indivisible quanta. ii) to hold a remarkable doctrine. the necessary presupposition of the argument. or suggested.) However.. and this would be begging the question. I trust. or even suggest. and would have to be added to its If premises." 10 . i) "T"in honour of the father of this hypothesis ." His remarkcan be read perfectly well as only tracking down the assumption which. 22Gnomon 25 (1953).24 I were to say.) that time is composed of "indivisible nows. Booth 90ff. 239B8-9 and 31-33) nor anywhere else does Aristotle say. Calogero 115ff.e.) a number of distinguished scholars have made just this assumption. iii). Untersteiner 197ff. 211ff. Supposing (T. is all Lee (78) means in saying that Aristotle here "points out. called "number-atomism"by Cornford. i) and (T.. 'In arguingthat motion or rest over micro-intervals.23 said (or claimed. (T. Hence the only possible way of bringing any such premiseinto the argument would be to assume that this is something which Zeno's reader already believes. he would have to assert rest. ii) were at least put forward on the basis of presumptive textual evidence. 84 This. was logically entailed by Zeno's argument. This is not the time to resume that argument.not one word . For neither here (i.. that this or any other argumentof Zeno's was directedagainst Nor does Aristotle tell us here that Zeno Pythagorean philosophers.to validate the conclusion. imply. in Aristotle's own judgment. In this respect they are in a totally different category from (T. or even mention it: he can just take it for granted. or even suggest.Zeno's argument there is absolutely nothing ..to say. that he was offeringus some reasonfor believing that the flying arrow stays put for tiny intervals.. maintained. But it might be just as well to remind the reader that that protest (preceded by such fundamental work as that of Heidel. Elsewhere22I have argued against (T.that Zeno's arguments were directed against Pythagoreans whom they supposed (T.) has been sustained in several later contributions (includingOwen 1. no less than matter and empty space.. i) and (T.. etc. 531-35 at 532ff. for which not a single item of positive textual evidence has ever been offered.Aristotle's last-cited remark does not constitute such evidence. and van der Waerden 151ff. by Eudemus or by any other ancient authority. 29-35 at 31ff. Under the influence of Paul Tannery (249ff. Review 68 (1959).

until well after the much more concrete hypothesis of the atomic constitution of matter had become thoroughly assimilated by the philosophical imagination.26 So we can be confident that if Zeno had expected his readers to concur with (I). 43. we have good reason to discount this first reading of the "when. 26 For this reason among others I would reject the interpretation of the fourth Zenonian paradox of motion as an argument against temporal indivisibles.25 and a most implausible one: so abstruse a speculation as the replacement of the temporal continuum by an atomic conception of temporal passage could not have been seriously entertained. and so plainly true that he felt no need to argue the point or even so much as mention it as his reason for [ a]. that you already believe R. one would have to produce other evidence tending to show that Aristotle wished us to understand his remark as ascribing such a doctrine to Zeno. strictly. understood to imply is that." (II). Therefore. That the quantization of time was espoused by Zeno himself or by his Pythagorean contemporariesthus remains a pure conjecture.' I would not be implying. p. let alone professed. n. i. If we think of the arrow as occupying a given position for a time of zero duration. explanation of the fact that Zeno thought [1a] true. it will be obvious enough that it cannot be moving just then: it will have no time in which to move.P entails Q. Black 133-34. and goes flatly against the one which all of our ancient authorities take to be the obvious sense of the paradox. Cf. and note that this interpretation of the paradox is unheard of in antiquity. of my essay cited in n. Such evidence does not exist. 1 above. if one wished to cite Aristotle as a witness of Zeno's profession of the discontinuity of time." 26 11 . 27 Cf. the first four paragraphs of his exposition of what he calls "a modem version of the paradox.e. and very simple. 31. allows a viable. since 'P entails Q' entails R. Since there is no trace of such an argument. he would have had to produce an argument for (I). well after Zeno's time. you cannot maintain the formerunless you are also prepared to stomach the latter." it must be at rest at that place. you are assuming the truth of R. if that is what he was asserting by means of [la]. If the arrow is not moving when it is "at a place equal to itself. arising out of their point-atom theory" see Lee 105-06. on the other hand. All I could be. For the "suggestion" that this was "a Pythagorean formulation.27To derive [la] we will then require only the following additional premise: H. he could not have presumed on their doing so because of their antecedent philosophicalcommitments. and might not even wish to suggest.

On the hypothesis that the body is at rest in an instant. which would be only another way of saying that the arrow is at rest throughout the whole period. If we conceded sense and truth to the statement that the arrow is at rest in each instant of its flight. 216-17. clear statement of its error in Chappell 203: "What is at rest is motionless. on the contrary. distance. s. But its consequent is false (in the broadersense in which "false"covers senseless statements no less than significant falsehoods): to say that the arrow is at rest for an instant is. we would be admitting that the whole period of the flight can be accounted for in terms of rest. velocity. This would be a mistake.e. its motion becomes nothing but a sum of rests" (James 157) . 0 the value of t will also be zero.This hypothetical is the crucial tacit premise of the puzzle. or at more than one moment [= instant]: for a single moment there is neither motion nor rest. Its antecedent is indeed true: the arrow does not move when (i. [1a] would certainly follow. Cf. and the success of the whole argument would be assured28.e.presumably because occupying a point of space at a point of time entails the antecedent of H and thereforeits consequent. If this were granted. Here is one example from a distinguished modern philosopher: "If a flying arrow occupies at each point of time a determinate point of space. Since a body at rest has zero velocity and covers no distance. '9 A good. Owen 1. in the instant of zero duration at which) it occupies a space equal to its own bulk.and an invalid one.that. so far from being tautologously true.and we will then get v = . but we cannot infer that what is motionless is at rest without the added premise that it is motionless through a period of time. the values required for v and s to represent the state of rest will be zero. time).29Yet James had at his disposal tools of analysis by means of which he could easily have satisfied himself that H.How then would H have struck Zeno? Would it have looked to him a hazardous inference in need of argumentative support? I shall try to convince the reader . by means of the familiarv S formula (v. arithmeti28 It might be thought that [1 a] could be granted and the conclusion escaped by arguing that even if at rest in each instant the arrow need not be at rest during the whole of its flight.if he does need to be convinced . i. senseless. Let me begin by pointing out that even today most people (perhaps even some readers of this journal!) would think it so. strictly speaking. Evidently it has not occurred to James that H involves a substantial inference ." 12 . is certainly false. This can be established. t. it would have seemed to him trivially true. for example.

All I am claiming is that it is not extensive enough to enable him to (i) state formally the crucial point (in some such way as I proceed to do above or in some logically equivalent way) and. And even so. to represent the body as being at rest during some temporalinterval.however short. or second. 32 Some readers may think I am underestimating Aristotle's insight at this point. it does not take Aristotle far enough to enable him to understand clearly the fact that the antecedent of H. reasons:32 The sense in which the arrow is not moving in any instant is vastly different from that in which the Rock of Gibraltaris not moving in any day. therefore (ii) see its full implications for questions of immediate concern to him. To say that the arrow is moving in any instant 80 A perfectly good sense may nonetheless be given to 'instantaneous rest' as a limit: cf. To say that the Rock is moving in some period would be merely false.e. Owen 2. Here at last we do get the denial of H we have been looking for: It is implied in (2) that the antecedent of H is true (the arrow would not be moving in the "now") and in (1) that its consequent is false (the arrow would not be at rest in the "now"). They may retort that since Aristotle has come to see that a body is neither moving nor resting in an instant (while knowing all too well that a body must be either moving or resting during an interval).e. while having a determinate position] in a "now". The second deficiency will be apparent in n. for all the brilliant advance in insight this treatise represents.He demonstrated that. 239A11-17) Aristotle reached an equivalent result without benefit of algebra by a conceptual analysis of the "now".30 In Physics VI (234A32-B7. though certainly true. I am not questioning that Aristotle has some understanding of the difference. since "restingconsists in being in the same [place] in some [interval ofl time" (239A26). 35 below. hour. but (3) it would not be the case that [any body.31 and continued with rare diligence and penetration in the Physics. however small].e. but semantic. 13 . 31 Cf. 92ff. i.cal nonsense. then a moving body would be at rest (239 B 1-4). The only way to get the required v = 0 is to assign a value greater than zero to t. But this comes only at the high point of an intensive exploration of temporal concepts. begun in the Academy. he must have grasped the semantic difference in the two types of assertions. is true not for physical. it follows that (1) in any "now" there can be neither motion nor rest: it is only true to say (2) that [any body. the explanation of 'instantaneous velocity' in Section III below. whether moving or resting] could be over against a stationary body in a [period of] time: for if the latter were the case [i. if a body had a determinate position for some temporal interval. whether moving or resting] is not moving while it is over against something [i.

the antecedent of H will itself seem fully as paradoxical as its consequent. io. Only when this has been understood will one be in a position to see that the arrow's non-moving in any given instant is absolutely irrelevant to its moving or resting during some interval containing the given instant.g. and will provoke the question. correct. Pi. This inference is. 236 A 15ff. One must point out that to ask. with A as the boundary instant common to the two periods. 84 And. as has just been explained) and motion (or rest) at an instant (to which sense can and must be given: cf. the citation from 239B in the text above). at which it is at pl.35 0 As much so as would the . where he is dealing with a period of rest. but inapplicable. non-convex and non-concave . 'How can the arc be curved when none of its points are curved?': motion (or rest) apply to what happens not in individual instants but in intervals (or ordered sets of instants). of course. To get around the apparent inconsistency Aristotle would have to understand how vastly different is the 14 . whenand howdoes it manage to move?' To answer this question one must expose the confusion lurking behind the expectation that.. to a place. Po. But it appears to be in flagrant contradiction -C (234 A 32-34. therefore.would be (strictly speaking) senseless:33it is non-moving and nonresting in the same way in which e. a6 il. in which it is at a given instant. 'But if the arrow is not moving in any given instant of its flight.34and that conversely the arrow'smoving (or resting) during a given interval allows no inference whatever that it is moving (or resting) in any instant contained by that interval. CA. Section III below) .Aristotle totally failed to grasp.and the implied distinction between motion (or rest) in (or. line 18. for) an instant (which is senseless. If this is not understood. if the arrow is to move at all. it must move in the instant. This . as curvature is a property not of individual points but of lines and surfaces (or orderedsets of points)." While certainly allowing the inference that it is moving (or resting) at any instant contained by that interval. it would follow that xxl &v'r& A ipeLe. For positive evidence of this failure see Phys. a point is non-straight and noncurved. during an interval which contains both io and the later 88 instant. in whicb it is not at io. immediately followed by a period of change.result for v in the formula above. and for parallel reasons. 'How can the arrow be moving during an interval when it is non-moving in every instant contained by that interval?' would be like asking.the predicates are not falsely applicable. He remarks that if something were at rest throughout CA. AD. that the disjunction in [2a] is not exhaustive: it stops short of a third possibility which (stated with pedantic completeness) would run: "or [C] from the place. with Aristotle's formal doctrine that 'pcrLeZv is impossible &v vwov and cf.

if valid. by thinking of duration cut to zero as the distance traversed was cut to zero." But I am not entering this as evidence for the above conclusion.e." i. Is it surprising if in such circumstances he should have thought of the arrow's being at rest in such a time as being no more than verbally different from its not moving in it. It was only recently that it became possible to explain motion in detail in accordance with Zeno's platitude. he would have needed to possess a clear-cut understandingof the instant/interval distinction and to bring this to bear on H in spite of the fact that it does not mention "instants"). since the extent to which the relevant texts have preserved Zeno's original wording is unknown.g.. it changes its position within the instant. QpqLiv. It should now be clear that to see the falsehood of H.. Zeno's ability to meet this condition may be gauged from the fact that. for] a given instant. in all probability. Iv 'r v5v (where &v= "in" or "within" [i.g.) 86 It should be evident on inspection that in the Zenonian argument as reconstructed above (end of Section I) "not moving" and "resting" are being used as logically equivalent expressions: so e. at the third step where the arguer says "cannot move" though his inference. Here is one of Bertrand Russell's glosses on it: Philosophers often tell us that when a body is in motion. Here Zeno is given credit for having grasped the following truth: If time-specifications are made not in terms of temporal intervals. and they have continued down to our own day to repeat the same phrases which roused the Eleatic's destructive ardour. but a retort so simple and so brief was not of the kind to which philosophers are accustomed to give weight. 2. but in terms of instants. To this view Zeno long ago made the fatal retort that every body always is where it is. thereby realizing that its evident truth for intervals is not the slightest reason why it should be true for instants. then it is possible to say that a moving body sense of iv in 236A18 Ogv 7ri9oxe.We may now return to Zeno. or even to suspect it. 234A34 (where Av -T& A = "at instant A") from e. 15 . would have entitled him to say "must be at rest. 1582. and therefore felt as certain of the former as he was entitled to feel of the latter?36 III We saw above what William James made of the Arrow.e. and in opposition to the philosophers' paradox. he did not even have a term for "instant" and could only get at this concept indirectly by thinking of what would happen to the time of the flight "when" the arrow was "at a place equal to itself.

of a motion which is accomplished in.by showing that 'velocity at instant. 179: "the plausibility of the argument seems to depend upon supposing that there are consecutive instants. there is always a member of the set such that the differencebetween its length and zero is less than e. n. an instant (cf.1. 186. We may be grateful to Russell for helping us see how important and 87 I. interval e. the first sentence in the citation from Russell). at every moment [ = instant] of its flight." How so.this on the strength of the fact that Zeno is supposed to have proved that there is no instaneous state of change (= "Zeno's platitude" above). is not obvious nonsense.' and our dynamics cannot dispense with the notion of "instantaneousvelocity. what poor James made of it.g. 347 ff. if motion in (or for)an instant does not? It was only with the greatest labour and after many false moves that it was found possible to give a satisfactory answer to this question ."to explain motion in detail in accordance with Zeno's platitude" . and only if. for any preassigned. 805: here Zeno's denial of motion (suppressed in the citation from 2.is at one and only one place at any given instant just as unambiguously as we can say this of a body which is at rest. is truly at rest" ." There seem to be almost as many Zenos in Russell as there are Russells.e. where "approachingzero" can be defined without covert appeal to an instantaneous state of change (or to its mathematical twin. Another assumption is imputed to Zeno in the still different analysis of the Arrow in 3. though (strictly) nonsense.is a brilliant piece of writing and would be wholly delightful if it were not confusing for those who are not fully up to Russell's tricks (see e. 1). For we do say such things as 'the ship is now moving at the rate of ten miles per hour. the infinitesimal) by employing only variables quantified over intervals of finite length: the set of intervals containing i approaches zero if. Here Russell tells us that Zeno (and Weierstrass following unknowingly in Zeno's footsteps) have proved "that we live in an unchanging world and that the arrow. 16 . or within.: the historical fable and further leg-pulling of the "philosophers" . 1582 in the text above) is acknowledged and pegged on Zeno's assumption that there can be no motion unless there are instantaneous states of motion. i' can be understood to mean no more than the limit of average velocities over intervals approachingzero and always containing i. if the instantaneous state of motion makes no sense? How could motion at an instant make sense. as though this entailed the vastly different propositions that there are instantaneous states of rest and that the moving arrow is always in one of these! For still another Russellian analysis of the Arrow see 4. arbitrarily small.' meaning by "now" 'at this instant. This insight liberates the philosopher from the idea of an instantaneous state of motion37an idea which. 38 Russell's most frequently cited gloss on Zeno .

17 . "Were Zeno's arguments directed against the Pythagoreans?"." Proc.Levx". 1877). Burkert. Booth. Tannery. for a criticism which has prompted some revisions in the penultimate paragraph of Section II and in note 35. "Time and Zeno's Arrow. Owen. 1936). 198ff. of the department of mathematics of Brooklyn College. Chappell.) Heidel. I am also indebted to Professor Gunther Patzig for some useful suggestions. 1952. 199-222. " Zeno of Elea's Attacks on Plurality. by J. 1932).A.L." American Journal of Philology 61 (1940). Studi Sull' Eleatismo (Rome." Journal of Philosophy 59 (1962). 1903). Zeno has indeed seen that the arrowdoes not move in a given instant. Boyer. V. H. B. W."39 Princeton University I am deeply indebted to Professor Carl B. (1) "Zeno and the Mathematicians. Fragmente der Vorsokratiker. G. W. M. Diels. D. and Kranz.P. "The Pythagoreans and Greek Mathematics.E." in The World of Mathematics. ." American Journal of Philology 63 (1942). 1962). 83-103. 197 ff. 1 ff. 89 Bibliography Black. (2) "TtO6vmL Lptv6. (Transinto German in Wege und Former Fruhgriechischen Denkens [Munich." With our own analysis of the texts behind us. 1911). ed. Ross. Some Problems of Philosophy (New York. Pour l'Histoire de la Science Hellgne (Paris. and 193ff. H. But he could only have had a faint glimmering of what this means. W.6th edition. 90-103. Aristotle's Physics (Oxford. 1961). 1956): the date of Russell's essay not given. Frankel. Zeno of Elea (Cambridge 1936). N. (1) Principles of Mathematics (London. Arist. P. Problems of Analysis (Ithaca. Recognizing Zeno'smistake.(2) "Mathematics and the Metaphysicians. 1955]. H.L. Phronesis 2 (1957). D. G.Aristote et les ProblUmesde Mdthode '8 (papers presented at the Symposium Aristotelicum held at Louvain in 1960) (Louvain. Zeno's paradox is not a bad first move in the direction of "Zeno's platitude. C.how true is that insight he has called. we need not be disturbed by the accompanying historical fable. W. G. Society 58 (1957-58). Berlin. we need not belittle his achievement.E.38 If the foregoing interpretation is correct. 1ff.. Lee. Owen. else he would not have jumped to the conclusion that it must be resting at that instant and during all intervals containing that instant and that all bodies must be resting during all intervals containing all instants. Newman (New York. James. Russell. "Zeno's platitude.B. William. 1954). R. Calogero. with pugnaciousunderstatement. Weisheit und Wissenschaft (Nuirnberg.

Untersteiner. M..(4) History of WesternPhilosophy (New York. 1945). . Zenone: testimonianze e frammenti (Florence." Mathematische Annalen 1172 (1940). 18 . van der Waerden. 141 ff. "Zenon und die Grundlagenkrise der griechischen Mathematik. B.(3) Our Knowledge of the External World (London. 1963). 1914). L.

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