Last modified on 14 April 2014, at 16:51
From Middle Chinese 矛盾 (/mjuw dwonX/), literally 矛 (“lance, spear”) + 盾 (“shield”).
From an anecdote in the book Han Feizi, c. 2nd century BC, illustrating a contradiction:
- 楚人有鬻楯與矛者 譽之曰 吾楯之堅 莫能陷也 又譽其矛曰 吾矛 之利 於物無不陷也 或曰 以子之矛陷子之楯 何如 其人弗能應也.
- There was a man in Chu who sold shields and spears. Praising the shields he said: 'My shields are so strong that nothing can pierce them.' And praising the spears he said: 'My spears are so strong that there is nothing that they cannot pierce.' A person asked: 'What if someone pierces your shields with your spears?' He could not respond.
矛盾 (hiragana むじゅん, romaji mujun)
- a contradiction, an inconsistency, a paradox