Synthese 192 (5):1315-1335 (2015)

Patrick Reeder
Kenyon College
I offer a novel solution to Zeno’s paradox of The Arrow by introducing nilpotent infinitesimal lengths of time. Nilpotents are nonzero numbers that yield zero when multiplied by themselves a certain number of times. Zeno’s Arrow goes like this: during the present, a flying arrow is moving in virtue of its being in flight. However, if the present is a single point in time, then the arrow is frozen in place during that time. Therefore, the arrow is both moving and at rest. In “Zeno’s Arrow, Divisible Infinitesimals, and Chrysippus,” White suggests using an infinitesimal value as the length of the present. Contra Zeno, this allows the arrow to be moving in the present, rather than frozen in place. In this paper, I follow the basic outline of White’s solution but argue that his solution suffers from arbitrariness and a related theoretical artificiality in relation to the system of infinitesimals he invokes, viz. in relation to the hyperreal infinitesimals of nonstandard analysis. After arguing that any solution to the paradox must satisfy certain theoretical requirements, I examine White’s solution alongside two nilpotent solutions. One of these solutions is inspired by F.W. Lawvere’s Smooth Infinitesimal Analysis and the other is inspired by Paolo Giordano’s ring of Fermat Reals. I argue that Giordano’s nilpotents supply the best answer to Zeno’s paradox
Keywords Zeno  Infinitesimal  Nonstandard analysis  Nilpotent infinitesimals
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-014-0620-1
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The Taming of the True.Neil Tennant - 1997 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
The Last Word.Thomas Nagel - 1997 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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