solvitur ambulando …..

Solvitur ambulando is a Latin term which means:

  • it is solved by walking
  • the problem is solved by a practical experiment

Diogenes of Sinope, also known as “Diogenes the Cynic,” is said to have replied to the argument that motion is unreal by standing up and walking away.

The phrase appears early in Lewis Carroll’s “What the Tortoise Said to Achilles”. Achilles uses it to accentuate that he was indeed successful in overtaking Tortoise in their race to empirically test one of Zeno’s paradoxes of motion. This passage also appears in Douglas Hofstadter’s book Gödel, Escher, Bach.

The phrase appears in Dorothy L. Sayers’s “Clouds of Witness”. During the Duke of Denver’s trial before the House of Lords, the Lord High Steward suggests (to laughter) solvitur ambulando to determine whether the decedent crawled or was dragged to a different location, as this was a matter of dispute between the prosecution and the defense.

The phrase is also cited in “Walking” by H.D. Thoreau and in “The Songlines” by Bruce Chatwin in its first meaning.

 

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