See also: Paradox
paradox (plural paradoxes)
- An apparently self-contradictory statement, which can only be true if it is false, and vice versa.
- "This sentence is false" is a paradox.
1962, Abraham Wolf, Textbook of Logic, page 255:
- According to one version of an ancient paradox, an Athenian is supposed to say "I am a liar." It is then argued that if the statement is true, then he is telling the truth, and is therefore not a liar […]
- A counterintuitive conclusion or outcome.
- It is an interesting paradox that drinking a lot of water can often make you feel thirsty.
- A claim that two apparently contradictory ideas are true.
- Not having a fashion is a fashion; that's a paradox.
1879, W. S. Gilbert, “The Pirates of Penzance”, in The Complete Plays of Gilbert and Sullivan, published 1941:
- How quaint the ways of Paradox! / At common sense she gaily mocks! / Though counting in the usual way years twenty-one I've been alive, / Yet reck'ning by my natal day, / Yet reck'ning by my natal day, / I am a little boy of five!
- A thing involving contradictory yet interrelated elements that exist simultaneously and persist over time.
- A person or thing having contradictory properties.
- He is a paradox; you would not expect him in that political party.
- An unanswerable question or difficult puzzle, particularly one which leads to a deeper truth.
- (obsolete) A statement which is difficult to believe, or which goes against general belief.
1594, William Shakespeare, The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, Act III:
- Ay, truly; for the power of beauty will sooner / transform honesty from what it is to a bawd than the / force of honesty can translate beauty into his / likeness: this was sometime a paradox, but now the / time gives it proof.
- 1615, Ralph Hamor, A True Discourse of the Present State of Virginia, Richmond 1957, p. 3
- they contended to make that Maxim, that there is no faith to be held with Infidels, a meere and absurd Paradox [...].
- (uncountable) The use of counterintuitive or contradictory statements (paradoxes) in speech or writing.
- (uncountable, philosophy) A state in which one is logically compelled to contradict oneself.
- (uncountable, psychotherapy) The practice of giving instructions that are opposed to the therapist's actual intent, with the intention that the client will disobey or be unable to obey.
- (self-contradictory statement def.): A statement which contradicts itself in this fashion is a paradox; two statements which contradict each other are an antinomy.
- (counterintuitive outcome def.): This use may be considered incorrect or inexact.
1995, January 14, “Ian Stewart”, in Paradox of the Spheres[New Scientist]:
- Banach and Tarski's theorem (commonly known as the Banach-Tarski paradox, though it is not a true paradox, being counterintuitive rather than self-contradictory) […]
1998, Encyclopedia of Applied Physics, page 270:
- It is not a true paradox, merely highly nonintuitive behavior, if one accepts the realistic and local assumptions of EPR.
- (unanswerable question def.): This use may be considered incorrect or inexact.
1917, George Crabb, “ENIGMA, PARADOX, RIDDLE”, in Crabb's English Synonymes, Centennial ed. edition:
- An enigma, therefore, is not a paradox, but a paradox, not being intelligible, may seem like an enigma.
- (counterintuitive outcome def.): shocker (informal)
- (person or thing with contradictory properties def.): juxtaposition, contradiction
- (unanswerable question def.): puzzle, quandary, riddle, enigma, koan
- (therapy practice def.): reverse psychology
terms derived from paradox
apparent contradiction which is nonetheless true def.
in logic: a self-contradictory statement def.
person or thing with contradictory properties def.
- ^ Smith, W. K. and Lewis, M. W. (2011). Toward a theory of paradox: A dynamic equilibrium model of organizing. Academy of Management Review, 36, pp. 381-403
- ^ Zhang, Y., Waldman, D. A., Han, Y., and Li, X. (2015). Paradoxical leader behaviors in people management: Antecedents and consequences. Academy of Management Journal, 58, pp. 538-566
- Hyphenation: pa‧ra‧dox
- paradox in Duden online
paradox n (plural paradoxuri)
declension of paradox