Video:What Is a Paradox?with Jen D'Amore
A paradox is a linguistic tool that seems contradictory or to defy logic. Learn all about this multi-layered and widely-used concept in this how-to video from About.com.See Transcript
Transcript:What Is a Paradox?
Hi, I'm Jen D'Amore for About.com and this video is about paradox.
What is a Paradox?
A paradox is a statement, a concept, a person, a situation, anything that seems contradictory or seems to defy logic.
The most commonly recognized paradoxes are in the form of a statement that appears to be absurd, like the Liar paradox which is "this sentence is false." What makes this a paradox? Well, if the sentence is false, then it's not true, which means that the sentence must be true, but it can't be, because if it was true, then it would be false.
The statement defies logic, it contradicts itself. It's a paradox.
Another example is the Socratic paradox, that says "I know that I know nothing at all." This is a paradox because if you know nothing, then you can't know that you know nothing.
Where Do You Find Paradoxes?
You'll find many paradoxes in math and the sciences from biology to thermodynamics, like the Irresistible force paradox that is "What would happen if an unstoppable force hit an immovable object?"
There are also many paradoxes in philosophy, like the old chicken and the egg "which came first the chicken or the egg?"
Mahatma Gandhi has said "whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it." This is also a paradox.
You may see documents with the Intentionally blank page paradox, which is a page that contains the text "This page is intentionally left blank." Obviously the text on the page keeps it from really being blank. That's a paradox.
From the highly conceptual philosophies to the quirky comedic notes, paradoxes are all around us.
To learn more, visit us on the web at About.com.