(5 Mind Blowing Paradoxes) A paradox is a problem or statement that leads to a self-contradictory conclusion and seems to defy logic.

“I know one thing,” Socrates said, “that I know nothing.” This is a paradox. Another famous one is from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, “I must be cruel only to be kind”.

Paradoxes date back to Ancient Greek times and have been a part of the philosophical thinking for ages and have been found to be promoting critical thinking. Some paradoxes are thought experiments and some are just a hasty generalization or a bit twist in language or confusion in abstraction.

Here are some of the paradoxes that would certainly blow your mind and certainly will make you think and then even think more.

1. Sorites Paradox

Old ancient paradox
Old ancient paradox

Sorites paradox gets its name from its original characterization, Sorites means heap in Greek, and popularly this paradox is also referred as Paradox of Heap.

An example of this paradox goes as follows:

Sentence 1:  A finite but very large number of grains of sand (say 1,00,00,00) is a heap of sand.

Sentence 2:  If you remove one grain of sand from a heap, it still remains a heap.

Now let’s take out one grain out of heap. Grain count: 9,99,999… still a heap.

Now repeat this process for long iterations. A heap minus one grain is a heap. But ultimately you are left with 1 grain. Is that one grain still a heap?. If not, then a what point did that the heap convert to non-heap??

Another fun variation of this problem is ‘The Bald Man Paradox’. A  man with a head full of hair is obviously not bald and removal of one hair will also not make him bald. Then at what point at the removal of hair does one become bald?

2. Grandfathers’ Paradox

Grandfather paradox
Grandfather paradox

Seen movie Looper? This paradox illustrates an entity being able to travel in the past and setting some course of events that results in the destruction of its original entity, hence ultimately destroying its own existence.

This paradox gets its name from its own common description that goes as follows:

“A person who is able to time travel goes to the past, kills his grandfather before he conceives his parents. What happens now? The time traveler never is conceived and does not exist!!!”

Another famous variant of this paradox is ‘Hitler Paradox’, which states an individual traveling back in time and killing Adolf Hitler before he can even initiate World War 1. This prevents the world was but it really deprives the individual for his motive to time travel.

3. Ontological Paradox

ontological paradox
ontological paradox

This paradox is opposite of Grandfathers Paradox. Movies like Predestination got us wondering about time travel. This paradox is one explaining the same. In this paradox, an object or some information leads to its creation in the past.

An example of this paradox goes as follows:

Suppose an Engineer is struggling to make a time machine and mysteriously he finds a book titled: How to make a time machine. He makes a machine and sends the machine back to the time when he was struggling with it.”

That kind of paradoxes come under categories of closed loop and are mostly hypothetic, but are kind of fun to think of..!!

4. Theseus’s paradox

Theseus paradox
Theseus paradox

Did you know that our body almost replaces all its cells in almost 7 years? Well if you see someone after seven years technically you will see a new person. This paradox focuses on same thought experiment and goes as follows:

“Does change in every part of original object one by one, results in the same fundamental object?”

If yes then if we use the spare parts remaining to get a new object, will it be the original object or the new one? This paradox was originated on the same concept on Ship of Theseus.

5. Card paradox

card paradox
Card paradox

This type of paradox is a variant of liar paradox.It is also referred as Postcard paradox. It is stated as follows:

“Suppose you have a card having these 2 statements printed on either side:

SIDE 1: The sentence on the other side of this card is TRUE.

SIDE 2: The sentence on the other side of this card is FALSE.”

For this one start with any statement and follow what is given next on another side of the card and you will find yourself in a circular reference and really get your mind to work.

Got your mind to work, huh??. There are much more paradoxes that would make you restless and keep wondering why? how? wait, I got it. No, wait, what? and finally, leave you all messed up.

Fun and confusing, still these paradoxes and a good exercise for the brain to think and great thought experiments.

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