Saturday, April 25, 2009

Your favorite paradox?

What is a Paradox? A paradox is a statement or group of statements that leads to a contradiction or a situation which defies intuition. It can also be an apparent contradiction that actually expresses a non-dual truth. Usually, either the statements in question do not really imply the contradiction, the puzzling result is not really a contradiction, or the premises themselves are not all really true or cannot all be true together.

Short list of my favorite paradoxes:

The buttered cat paradox is a joke paradox based on the tongue-in-cheek combination of two adages:

* Cats always land on their feet.
* Buttered toast always lands buttered side down.

The paradox arises when one considers what would happen if one attached a piece of buttered toast (butter side up) to the back of a cat, then dropped the cat from a large height.

Kantian paradox: Kant said causality is a conceptual organizing principle that we impose on nature. How then can he explain that while we are prohibited from absolute knowledge of the thing-in-itself, we can impute to it a cause beyond ourselves as a source of the representations with us?

Abilene paradox: People can make decisions based not on what they actually want to do, but on what they think that other people want to do, with the result that everybody decides to do something that nobody really wants to do, but only what they thought that everybody else wanted to do.

Paradox of hedonism: When one pursues happiness itself, one is miserable; but, when one pursues something else, one achieves happiness.

Rahel's paradox: Every model of reality might be missing a crucial ingredient, except the perfect model. The perfect model, however, is useless because it is already given by reality. Therefore, any model is useless.

Fitch's paradox: If all truths are knowable, then all truths must in fact be known.

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