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A paradox is a seemingly true statement or group of statements that lead to a contradiction or a situation which seems to defy logic or intuition.
- Paradox is the sharpest scalpel in the satchel of science. Nothing concentrates the mind as effectively, regardless of whether it pits two competing theories against each other, or theory against observation, or a compelling mathematical deduction against ordinary common sense.
- Hans Christian von Baeyer, Information, The new Language of Science, Chapter 23, p. 204.
- I myself find the division of the world into an objective and a subjective side much too arbitrary. The fact that religions through the ages have spoken in images, parables, and paradoxes means simply that there are no other ways of grasping the reality to which they refer. But that does not mean that it is not a genuine reality. And splitting this reality into an objective and a subjective side won't get us very far.
- Niels Bohr, in remarks after the Solvay Conference of 1927, as quoted in Physics and Beyond (1971) by Werner Heisenberg
- It seems a little paradoxical to construct a configuration space with the coordinates of points which do not exist.
- Louis de Broglie, La nouvelle dynamique des quanta (1928), translation by Bacciagaluppi, G., Valentini, A. (2009). Quantum Theory at the Crossroads: Reconsidering the 1927 Solvay Conference. Cambridge University Press. p. 380. ISBN 0521814219.
- In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, "I don't see the use of this; let us clear it away." To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: "If you don't see the use of it, I certainly won't let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it."
This paradox rests on the most elementary common sense. The gate or fence did not grow there. It was not set up by somnambulists who built it in their sleep. It is highly improbable that it was put there by escaped lunatics who were for some reason loose in the street. Some person had some reason for thinking it would be a good thing for somebody. And until we know what the reason was, we really cannot judge whether the reason was reasonable.
- G. K. Chesterton, The Thing : Why I Am A Catholic (1929), Ch. IV : The Drift From Domesticity.
- Paradoxes often arise because theory routinely refuses to be subordinate to reality.
- L.K. Samuels, In Defense of Chaos: The Chaology of Politics, Economics and Human Action, Cobden Press (2013) p. 324.
- Since the beginning of time tricksters (the mythological origin of all clowns) have embraced life's paradoxes, creating coherence through confusion — adding disorder to the world in order to expose its lies and speak the truth.
- The more I know, the more sure I am I know so little. The eternal paradox.
- James Clavell, in his screenplay The Fly (1958), based on the short story by George Langelaan.
- A paradox is a situation which gives one answer when analyzed one way, and a different answer when analyzed another way, so that we are left in somewhat of a quandary as to actually what should happen. Of course, in physics there are never any real paradoxes because there is only one correct answer; at least we believe that nature will act in only one way (and that is the right way, naturally). So in physics a paradox is only a confusion in our own understanding.
- The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald, from The Crack-Up, February 1936.
- The Greeks observed a paradox about the dyad: While it appears separate from unity, its opposite poles remember their source and attract each other in an attempt to merge and return to the state of unity. The dyad simultaneously divides and unites, repels and attracts, separates and returns.
- Priya Hemenway in Divine Proportion : Φ (Phi) In Art, Nature, and Science (2005), Ch. 2 : Pythagoras and the Mystery of Numbers, p. 52.
- A great many individuals ever since the rise of the mathematical method, have, each for himself, attacked its direct and indirect consequences. ...I shall call each of these persons a paradoxer, and his system a paradox. I use the word in the old sense: ...something which is apart from general opinion, either in subject-matter, method, or conclusion. ...Thus in the sixteenth century many spoke of the earth's motion as the paradox of Copernicus, who held the ingenuity of that theory in very high esteem, and some, I think, who even inclined towards it. In the seventeenth century, the depravation of meaning took place... Phillips says paradox is "a thing which seemeth strange"—here is the old meaning...—"and absurd, and is contrary to common opinion," which is an addition due to his own time.
- Augustus De Morgan, A Budget of Paradoxes (1872) Introductory pp.2-3
- Paradox, a thing that seems strange, absurd and contrary to common Opinion: In Rhetorick, Paradoxon is something cast in by the by, contrary to the Opinion or Expectation of the Auditors, and otherwise call'd Hypomone.
Paradoxol or Paradoxical, belonging to a Paradox, surprizing.
- The best paradoxes raise questions about what kinds of contradictions can occur — what species of impossibilities are possible.
- William Poundstone, Labyrinths of Reason (1988), chapter 1, p. 19.
- Paradox is thus a much deeper and universal concept than the ancients would have dreamed. Rather than an oddity, it is a mainstay of the philosophy of science.
- William Poundstone, Labyrinths of Reason, chapter 1, p. 23.
- The assumption that anything true is knowable is the grandfather of paradoxes.
- William Poundstone, Labyrinths of Reason, chapter 12, p. 260.
- A logical theory may be tested by its capacity for dealing with puzzles, and it is a wholesome plan, in thinking about logic, to stock the mind with as many puzzles as possible, since these serve much the same purpose as is served by experiments in physical science.
- Bertrand Russell, "On Denoting", Mind, Vol. 14, No. 56 (October 1905), pp. 479–493; as reprinted in Logic and Knowledge: Essays, 1901–1950, (1956).
- These are old fond paradoxes to make fools laugh i' the alehouse.
- William Shakespeare, Othello (c. 1603), Act II, scene 1, line 139.
- You undergo too strict a paradox,
Striving to make an ugly deed look fair.
- William Shakespeare, Timon of Athens (date uncertain, published 1623), Act III, scene 5, line 24.
- More than any other Hellenic thinker, Julian insisted on the virtue of paradox and on the importance of the search for religious truth.
- Gedaliahu A. G. Stroumsa, in Hidden Wisdom: Esoteric Traditions and the Roots of Christian Mysticism (2005).
- But now we come to the real paradox: that something as explosive as sexual excitement can nevertheless become a matter of habit, But then that applies to all our pleasures. We discover some new product in the supermarket, and become addicted to it. Then our tastebuds become accustomed to its flavour, and our interest fades. In the same way a honeymoon couple may find an excuse to hurry off to the bedroom half a dozen times a day; but after a month or so sex has taken its place among the many routines of their lives. They still enjoy it, but it no longer has quite the same power to excite the imagination. Sex, like every other pleasure, can become mechanical.
- Colin Wilson in The Corpse Garden, p. 14 (1998)
- PARADOX: A statement that reduces the matter at hand to complete obscurity while clarifying it. … Paradoxes are sensitive and can be routed by sneering.
- Gene Wolfe, "Words Weird and Wonderful", Castle of Days (1992), p. 237.
- Paradoxes explain everything. Since they do, they cannot be explained.
- Gene Wolfe, The Book of the Short Sun, Volume 1: On Blue's Waters (1999), Ch. 9.
- A Paradox is truth spelt with seven letters instead of five
- Harold Wheeler, How Much Do You Know? A book of fascinating questions and answers on every subject.
Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations
- Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 579.
- For thence, — a paradox
Which comforts while it mocks, —
Shall life succeed in that it seems to fail:
What I aspired to be,
And was not, comforts me:
A brute I might have been, but would not sink i' the scale.
- Robert Browning, Rabbi-Ben-Ezra, Stanza 7.
- Then there is that glorious Epicurean paradox, uttered by my friend, the Historian, in one of his flashing moments: "Give us the luxuries of life, and we will dispense with its necessaries."
- Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table (1858), VI.
- The mind begins to boggle at unnatural substances as things paradoxical and incomprehensible.
- Bishop South, Sermons.