Zeno of Elea


Zeno of Elea was a famous and renowned Greek philosopher . He is known as the last representative of the Eleatic School , after Xenophanes of Colophon and Parmenides of Elea . He was a fervent disciple of Parmenides with whom he went to live in Athens in the middle of the 5th century BC. In this place, he met Socrates and wrote his prose book on nature looking for a way to defend Parmenides’ thesis . This writing was divided into several parts which Plato called logoi or arguments.  These logois contained a number of hypotheses and premises of their adversaries. Zeno of Elea died trying to free his homeland fromNearco , a tyrant who exercised absolute power over the people and was an oppressor.

  • Occupation:  Philosopher
  • Why he’s famous: For his paradoxical reasoning and infinitesimal thinking

Who was Zeno of Elea?

Renowned and famous Greek philosopher representative of the Eleatic School . Disciple of Parmenides . He wrote a book about nature divided into several parts or arguments. He died trying to free his homeland from Nearco. He was the inventor of paradoxical reasoning by showing that the opinions of his detractors reached less acceptable conclusions than his own.

  • Biography of Zeno of Elea
  • Thought of Zeno of Elea
  • Arche of Zeno of Elea
  • Paradoxes

Biography of Zeno of Elea

Although much of the information regarding the biography of Zeno of Elea , we can mention among some things that he was born in Elea, a city located in the southwest of Italy. He was known as the favorite disciple of Parmenides and who accompanied him during his trip to Athens. He studied philosophy in Athens for some years and concentrated fully on the part of metaphysics . He wrote a prose book about nature. Zeno of Elea did not have a doctrine of his own, on the contrary, he spent his life defending the doctrine of his teacher Parmenides. He was concerned from the beginning to explain the movement of objects since there is nothing thinkable and therefore nothing was logical.


Thought of Zeno of Elea

As for the thought of Zeno of Elea, he was well known for his paradoxes or aporias , mainly for denying the existence of the movement of being. He tried to prove that the being must be in a homogeneous, unique way and, therefore, he firmly believed that space was not made up of discontinuous elements, but that, on the contrary, it was made up of the cosmos or the universe which was a single unit. He was a defender of the Parmenides thesis of Elea, Parmenides believed that what existed had neither beginning nor end, could never change and did not have many parts. It is for this reason that it is said that Zeno continues with the thought of the school of Parmenides, since they affirmed that things could not be one day and then no longer be. I thought that themovement was only illusory. His thinking was very oriented to combat pluralism .

Arche of Zeno of Elea

Zeno of Elea conceives the universe as an eternal cycle and thinks that the universe, which begins with fire , will have to end at a certain moment and be infinitely renewed in the fire that purifies everything. For him, this is the way the world is both eternal and limited, continuous and repeating. Eternally the same in its eternal renovations.


All of Zeno’s paradoxes have been presented as a great challenge for thought and have played a decisive role in the history of philosophy.  They are a series of paradoxes or aporias created by him. They were focused on the ongoing problem and the relationships that existed between space, time, and motion. In total there were 40 paradoxes, of which about nine or ten are still kept. The main group is known as ” paradoxes of movement “, which was focused on the problem of impossibility and consisted of: Achillesand the tortoise (the best-known and most famous paralogism, in which a person who ran fast would never be able to catch up with the slower if the latter had an advantage), the paradox of the dichotomy and the paradox of the arrow. The paradox of plurality and continuity or argument from density can also be mentioned.

The paradoxes of Zeno of Elea follow the principle of indirect demonstration and are formulated and posed in such a way that at the beginning of each one there is the statement to be refuted. Zeno’s argument is based on a single question: can the world be divided into discrete units? This divisibility statement leads us to think if the problem is okay or if everything is infinitely divisible in space and time. Some stories comment on and reflect Zeno guiding his paradoxes to defend the doctrines of the master Parmenides which said that only the infinite existed and that everything that moved was only an illusion. With his paradoxes, he questioned some conceptions about the infinitely small and great. Zeno’s aporias belong to the category of false paradoxes.

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