A statement which contradicts itself, or which seems to do so. Example:

This sentence is false.

This is called the Liar Paradox; it can make you feel dizzy if you think about it too long, and it is said to have caused the premature death of Philetas of Cos, philosopher, romantic poet and tutor to the young Ptolemy II in the fourth century BC.P11 Paradoxes are extremely important because many of the most interesting truths contain seeming contradictions: as Francis Bacon remarked, “There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion.”P12

A person who is intolerant to paradox is likely to be excluded from an understanding of systems, and to be confined instead to a fallacious world-view consisting of smoothly-consistent error and fraudulent simplification. But an excessive fondness for paradox can be dangerous too, allowing the person simply to accept contradictions without thinking about them or, in a Marxian way, revelling in paradox and refusing to accept that an analysis has been accomplished unless it ends in mind-numbing contradiction. Paradoxes are in a sense alive: greater understanding of them does not solve them but uncovers deeper layers of interest. A paradox that is “solved” is not a paradox.P13


Related entries:

Logic, Self-Denying Truth, Ironic Space, Slippery Slope, Good Shepherd Paradox, Hunt, Sorites Paradox, Freedom.

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David Fleming
Dr David Fleming (2 January 1940 – 29 November 2010) was a cultural historian and economist, based in London, England. He was among the first to reveal the possibility of peak oil's approach and invented the influential TEQs scheme, designed to address this and climate change. He was also a pioneer of post-growth economics, and a significant figure in the development of the UK Green Party, the Transition Towns movement and the New Economics Foundation, as well as a Chairman of the Soil Association. His wide-ranging independent analysis culminated in two critically acclaimed books, 'Lean Logic' and 'Surviving the Future', published posthumously in 2016. These in turn inspired the 2020 launches of both BAFTA-winning director Peter Armstrong's feature film about Fleming's perspective and legacy - 'The Sequel: What Will Follow Our Troubled Civilisation?' - and Sterling College's unique 'Surviving the Future: Conversations for Our Time' online courses. For more information on all of the above, including Lean Logic, click the little globe below!

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