::: about
   ::: news
   ::: links
   ::: giving
   ::: contact

   ::: calendar
   ::: lunchtime
   ::: annual lecture series
   ::: conferences

   ::: visiting fellows
   ::: resident fellows
   ::: associates

   ::: visiting fellowships
   ::: resident fellowships
   ::: associateships

being here
   ::: visiting
   ::: the last donut
   ::: photo album

::: center home >> events >> lunchtime >> 2005-06 >> abstracts

Tuesday, 1 November 2005
A New Reconstruction of Zeno’s Flying Arrow
Milos Arsenijevic, U. Belgrade, Philosophy
12:05 pm, 817R Cathedral of Learning

Abstract: Whether in the capacity of interpreters or in the capacity of translators of Aristotle’s Physics, nearly all the prominent Aristotle scholars have followed Zeller’s lead in omitting “e kineitai” (“or moves”) from the 239b5-7 passage of Bekker’s 1831 edition. Though such an omission has no philologico-historical justification, it has been often argued that the sentence in 239b5-7 of Bekker’s edition has to be changed in one way or another in order to become intelligible, and the omission of “e kineitai” is the easiest way to turn the phrase “kata to ison” (“against what is equal”) into a definiens of being at rest. The glossing of “kata to ison” as “occupying a space equal to itself” not withstanding, I will show that by leaving the text of Bekker’s edition unchanged one can still obtain a perfectly natural reading: it is enough to realize that the kata-to-ison condition in conjunction with the either-at-rest-or-in-motion condition can be satisfied, and is satisfied, by bodies that, just like the arrow, are rigid during the time of consideration, and only by such bodies. This new understanding of the kata-to-ison condition is crucial for connecting the argument as presented by Aristotle with Zeno’s original fragment DK 29 B 4 that represents either a condensed version or the conclusion of the original Arrow argument. Since it is clear (from DK 29 B 4) that the original Arrow is a branching argument designed as a proof by cases, then, if in its first branch (the only one reported by Aristotle) the arrow is considered as being always at an instant, in the second branch it should be supposed to be (at least sometimes) in a time interval. In the first case the motion turns out to be impossible due to that which Aristotle calls Zeno’s Axiom (Metaphysics 1001 b 7), whereas in the second case it is so due to the incompatibility between being in motion and being “against what is equal”. The Flying Arrow reconstructed in such a way becomes not only a valid, subtle, and challenging argument but it can be viewed as a common source of both the dynamic and the static theory of motion: the first questions the unqualified generality of the kata-to-ison condition, the second rejects Zeno’s Axiom.

Revised 3/6/08 - Copyright 2006