Dmitry Usenco – Putting the infinite within the finite or, On the Zenonian paradox of verbal thinking

Date(s) - 03/03/2024
12:30 pm - 2:00 pm

The Crown Lavender Hill

Our next meeting will be Sunday 3 March 2024 when Dmitry Usenco will speak on “Putting the infinite within the finite or, On the Zenonian paradox of verbal thinking”

The talk will take its start from a famous exchange of letters between Robert Browning and John Ruskin, where reading poetry is compared to crossing a glacier. This metaphor has a rich potential and can be expended not just to poetry but to thinking in general. Jumping over a glacier versus negotiating it ‘with ladder and hatchet’ can stand for nonverbal/intuitive reasoning as opposed to verbal/logical thought. The flaws of intuitive reasoning (which I take the liberty to identify with nonverbal thought process) have been brilliantly exposed by Kahneman in Thinking, Fast and Slow. However, the tradition of complaining about the inadequacy of ‘words’ is much older and more persistent in human history. The source of that problem is, in my opinion, that thinking as such was not an original application of language. Language’s primordial use was (and still is) communication, something that always involves at least two parties. Language was only later ‘retrofitted’ into human mind as a means of ‘monological’ speculation. This adaptation was never seamless. Any alleged monologue will always display its dialogical features at close scrutiny (Bakhtin). A verbal bridge built across a mental glacier will always have at least one joint in the middle which will always threaten to fail at the most undesirable moment. This moment corresponds to the point in time when the thinker switches between different ‘interlocutors’ engaged in his internal conversation. Setting the switch to the ‘off’ position ushers a moment of nonbeing which is always infinite in its nature, however infinitesimal it may look to an outside observer. It is during that split second of nonbeing that the tortoise is able to gain that critical inch that will allow it to stay forever clear from the pursuing Achilles. Forever – at least as long as we choose to remain within the framework of verbal thinking

Dmitry will give his talk at The Crown, 102 Lavender Hill, London, SW11 5RD but the meeting will also be on Zoom see SLPC Zoom Meeting


We always welcome new speakers.  If you would like to give a talk on a philosopher or a philosophical topic please contact Adrian Carter at

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