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Is motion an illusion of the senses?

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According to Aristotle, Zeno of Elea (ca. 490 – ca. 430 BCE) said, “Nothing moves because what is traveling must first reach the half-way point before it reaches the end.”One interpretation of the paradox is this. To begin a trip of a certain distance (say 1 meter), a traveler must travel the first half of it (the first 1/2 m), but before he does that he must travel half of the first half (1/4 m), and in fact half of that (1/8 m), ad infinitum. Since there will always exist a smaller first half to be traveled first, Zeno questions whether a traveler can ever even start a trip. The paradox is this: while on the one hand, Zeno’s argument, which questions the very ability to even start a trip, is logical; on the other hand, all around us we see things moving. Hence, either Zeno’s reasoning is flawed or what we see is false.Proposed solutions have often aimed to find a flaw in Zeno’s reasoning. However, empowered by Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle of quantum mechanics, we’ll argue in favor of Zeno that at best, the phenomenon of mo­tion is experimentally unverifiable! The uncertainty principle discusses how nature limits our ability to make exact measurements regardless of how smart or patient we are or the sophistication of our experimental apparatus. A dramatic consequence of the uncertainty principle is this: observations are disconnected, discrete events; consecutive observations have time and space gaps—we can observe nature only discontinuously. Roughly speaking, it is as if we are observing nature by continuously blinking—our observations are discontinuous, dotted, intermittent, quantum! The concept of continuity in observation must be dismissed. It is a false habit of the mind cre­ated by the observations of macroscopic (daily) phenomena such as, for example, a flying arrow, for which the space and time gaps are undetectably small (due to the arrow’s relatively large mass), although not zero, giving the illusion of continuity in observation. Discontinuity in. . .

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News source: OUPblog » Philosophy

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