Hello everyone, and welcome to 111 Archer Avenue. What started as a film review blog has become my online judgment forum. I will review the occasional movie or DVD, post an interesting trailer, critique a newly-read book, talk about sports, and share my thoughts and opinions on random issues. You can also follow me on Twitter (@OlieCoen) or check out my work on DVDTalk.com. Thank you and enjoy!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Thought - Zeno's Paradoxes

A couple of years ago at CSCC I took two philosophy classes to fill prerequisites for my Associates of Arts degree.  I found them extremely interesting; learning about the various influential philosophers and their theories on life, God, reality, etc.  A few of the lessons stuck with me, and I was reminded of one just last night.  I actually wrote a paper about it, discussing its basis and application.  Here are two especially curious ideas that are hard to argue against, and yet are hard to accept.

  • Zeno's Paradoxes - There are three famous paradoxes supported by Zeno, but the one that always interested me was the Dichotomy Paradox.  Imagine that I need to walk from my house to the street.  It would take a certain amount of time for me to get from point A to point B.  But before I could get to the street, I would have to walk halfway.  Before I walked halfway I would have to walk a quarter of the way.  Before I walked a quarter of the way I would have to walk and eighth of the way.  So on, so on, and so on.  To get from my house to the street I would have to walk an infinite number of small distances, requiring an infinite number of small periods of time.  Therefor, I could never reach the street.  So if I can visibly reach the street, then the street, my house, myself, something, must be an illusion.  Question is, what's real and what's not?
  • The Coin Flip - I can't remember/find if this idea went with a certain philosopher or if it was just common thought.  But here are the basics; imagine that I am about to flip a coin.  One can guess that it will either land showing heads or tails.  We assume that we already know the outcome of the flip; a 50/50 chance more or less of either one or the other.  We say this with certainty because we've always seen it happen every time we've flipped a coin.  Therefor, we assume that if something has happened every time it will always happen again.  But what if the coin lands on its edge?  Difficult, but not impossible.  Then we just bet our certainty on something that didn't happen, even though it has always happened before.  Now, what if the next time the coin flies into the sky and never returns?  Or doesn't flip at all.  Or disappears.  Or starts singing.  Are these things impossible, or just unlikely?  Can we truly be certain about anything just because it has always happened before?
Anyway, just some food for thought.  Tomorrow, a Sports post.  And very soon my second DVD Review post, but my first that can be read here and also on DVDTalk.com.  Have a nice day!


  1. The breakdown of the paradox occurs when the first step, and each step that follows, exceeds the infinitely small first step defined in the paradox. If the size of our step is limited as described, the paradox exists.

    Coin Flip - confidence in occurrence is the result of two paths of thought: logic and experience. Experience (or lack there of) pushes us through any uncertainly lacking in the logic. Logic prevails until experience tells us otherwise casting a doubt. Logic dictates that since the chances of me winning the lottery are practically non-existant, I can extrapolate that non-chance to definitive with confidence. What stops me from doing that is my experience seeing someone win, disproportionately affecting me decision to buy a ticket.

    1. Right, the paradox is the key; if you can use logic to prove both ways then you have a paradox, which means there is another variable that you can't see. Or something you can see isn't real.