Zeno’s First Argument Concerning Plurality

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De Gruyter


Until quite recently, scholars have been nearly unanimous inaccepting as correct Plato's characterization of Zeno of Elea as a faithful disciple of Parmenides. They have also adopted a reconstruction of his first argument against plurality made by Fränkel2.Both this view of Zeno and the accepted Interpretation of thereconstructed argument, however, have lately been subjected to incisive criticism by Friedrich Solmsen3. Solmsen has claimed that Zeno was no Eleatic, but rather a dialectician without positive philosophical commitments; and he has used the argument reconstructed by Fränkel to support his Interpretation.

Solmsen's case rests on three Claims. First, he argues that there is no reason to believe, and good reason not to believe, that Plato, the oldest source of the orthodox Interpretation, was aiming athistorical accuray in the portrait of Zeno he offers in the Parmenides. Second, he asserts that the later sources, particularly Simplicius, cannot provide independent confirmation of Plato's account because of their reliance on it. Finally, he argues that the argument reconstructed by Fränkel is really directed not against plurality alone, but against the Eleatic One also.