A paradox is a statement or group of statements that leads to a contradiction or a situation which (if true) defies logic or reason, similar to circular reasoning. Typically, however, quoted paradoxical statements do not imply a real contradiction and the puzzling results can be rectified by demonstrating that one or more of the premises themselves are not really true, a play on words, faulty and/or cannot all be true together. But many paradoxes, such as Curry's paradox, do not yet have universally accepted resolutions. The word paradox is often used interchangeably with contradiction. Literary and other artistic uses of paradoxes imply no contradiction and may be used to describe situations that are ironic. Sometimes the term paradox is used for situations that are merely surprising. An example of a paradox is "This statement is false.", and is explained below.
The logician Willard V. O. Quine distinguishes:
- Falsidical paradoxes, which are seemingly valid, logical demonstrations of absurdities
- Veridical paradoxes, such as the birthday paradox or the Monty Hall paradox, which are seeming absurdities that are nevertheless true because they are perfectly logical.
Paradoxes in economics tend to be the veridical type, typically counterintuitive outcomes of economic theory, such as Simpson's paradox. In literature a paradox can be any contradictory or obviously untrue statement, which resolves itself upon later inspection.
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Famous quotes containing the word paradox:
“The paradox of education is precisely thisthat as one begins to become conscious one begins to examine the society in which he is being educated.”
—James Baldwin (19241987)
“The conclusion suggested by these arguments might be called the paradox of theorizing. It asserts that if the terms and the general principles of a scientific theory serve their purpose, i. e., if they establish the definite connections among observable phenomena, then they can be dispensed with since any chain of laws and interpretive statements establishing such a connection should then be replaceable by a law which directly links observational antecedents to observational consequents.”
—C.G. (Carl Gustav)
“A good aphorism is too hard for the teeth of time and is not eaten up by all the centuries, even though it serves as food for every age: hence it is the greatest paradox in literature, the imperishable in the midst of change, the nourishment whichlike saltis always prized, but which never loses its savor as salt does.”
—Friedrich Nietzsche (18441900)