statement that, despite apparently valid reasoning from true premises, leads to an apparently-self-contradictory conclusion
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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.

Frances MacDonald McNair, "A Paradox" (1905)
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. ~ Niels Bohr


It seems a little paradoxical to construct a configuration space with the coordinates of points which do not exist. ~ Louis de Broglie
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. ~ CIRCA
The Greeks observed a paradox about the dyad…The dyad simultaneously divides and unites, repels and attracts, separates and returns. ~ Priya Hemenway
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The assumption that anything true is knowable is the grandfather of paradoxes.
  • 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.
  • You undergo too strict a paradox,
    Striving to make an ugly deed look fair.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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."
  • The mind begins to boggle at unnatural substances as things paradoxical and incomprehensible.
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