Attempting to Understand Zeno’s Paradox

The following is my understanding of Zeno’s paradox as we discussed it in class.

(I will admit that I went to Google in hopes of only locating a clearer explanation of the paradox–NOT an answer, per se–but stopped cold in my tracks when guilt washed over me. Sigh.)

I most easily understand the paradox in the context of crossing a football field. To get form end-zone to end-zone, you must cross the 50 yard line (in other words, the half-way point). From there, to cross the remaining half of the field, you must cross half of the remaining distance. This continues on and on, considering halves of each distance, until you realize that there is no way to get to the end of the field. There will always be another “half” left to go, and you will never reach the destination.

Visualizing this paradox (as I automatically did when discussing it in class), I imagine a person taking smaller and smaller steps as they approach the end-zone, until they are practically a foot away from their endpoint. Then, they start taking the most extreme form of baby steps you can imagine–a hilarious image, actually. What’s possibly more hilarious, however, is my instinct to walk up to this person and just shove them into the end-zone out of annoyance that they appear to be moving nowhere.

In my view, this notion of “shoving someone past the endpoint” is exactly what I believe to be wrong with Zeno’s Paradox. It doesn’t take into account motion, in the context of a human’s ability to increase and decrease range of motion freely, regardless of the distance they must travel.

Perhaps I’ve completely missing the mark, and there is a clearer, more enlightening solution to this paradox. I wouldn’t, however, consider this exercise a complete waste . . . it has given me solace in knowing I made the right choice in avoiding a Philosophy major.

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