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1 PARADOX by Don L. F. Nilsen and Alleen Pace Nilsen.

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Presentation on theme: "1 PARADOX by Don L. F. Nilsen and Alleen Pace Nilsen."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 PARADOX by Don L. F. Nilsen and Alleen Pace Nilsen

2 2 LEWIS CARROLL Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass are filled with ironies and paradoxes: Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast. The rule is, jam to-morrow and jam yesterday---but never jam to-day. Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that.

3 3 CATCH-22 The expression “Catch-22” in Joseph Heller’s antiwar novel is so intriguing that the book’s title is now in dictionaries as the name for any tricky problem, especially one for which the only solution is denied by a circumstance inherent in the problem. In Heller’s book, the character Yossarian would be excused from flying bombing missions if he were declared insane. However, the fact that he is trying to get out of flying bombing missions proves his sanity; he therefore has to keep flying.

4 4 Another paradox in the novel Catch 22 is that the pilots can go home as soon as they have flown a certain number of missions, but the number of missions keeps being increased. This actually happened to Joseph Heller when he was a pilot in World War II.

5 5 People who can’t get a job until they have experience and who can’t get experience until they have a job are in a Catch-22. So are authors who can’t get their manuscripts published until they have an agent but can’t get an agent until they have been published. A newspaper story under the headline “Texas in Catch-22” told about a Texas state law forbidding the execution of anyone insane. A prisoner on death row refused to take the medication that would keep him sane. This is the kind of irony illustrated by many urban legends and contemporary novels, films, and plays.

6 6 GILBERT AND SULLIVAN Gilbert and Sullivan often relied on paradox for comic effect. In The Pirates of Penzance, they composed a song about paradoxes: How quaint the ways of paradox! At common sense she gaily mocks! A paradox, a paradox, A most ingenious paradox! Ha! ha! ha! ha!

7 7 GREEK PHILOSOPHERS The Greek philosophers often wrestled with paradoxes. The most famous was credited to the Cretan philosopher Epimenides: “All Cretans are liars.” Epimenides was a Cretan. Therefore, If he is lying, then the statement must be true. But if the statement is true, he must be lying.

8 8 PARADOX VS. CONTRADICTION Paradoxes are statements that seem contradictory, unbelievable, or absurd, but in some sense are nevertheless true. Because paradoxes highlight breakdowns in our expectations of a logical universe, they are sources of both delight and consternation as the human mind works to figure out how people can in good faith talk about a “large mouse” running between the legs of a “small elephant” or can make sense out of the Yiddish curse, “He should drop dead, God forbid!”

9 9 PARADOXES AND PARADIGM SHIFTS Whenever a paradigm shift occurs in a culture there are many paradoxes, because two social systems are competing with each other (the old one and the new one). The paradox can be part of both of these systems.

10 10 SCIENCE FICTION Paradoxes are explorations of philosophy, logic and social criticism. They are a verbal means of acknowledging real world conditions and frustrations. When put into “other” worlds (science fiction or fantasy), paradoxes can be even more intriguing.

11 11 For example, the “grandfather paradox” in science fiction is a variation on the plot technique in which a time-traveler goes back and murders his own grandfather before the time-traveler’s parent was born. This is a brain teaser because if the grandfather were prematurely killed then the grandchild couldn’t have been born and wouldn’t have been able to go back and commit the murder.

12 12 SIGNIFICANT PARADOXES FROM THE 16 TH CENTURY TO THE 20 TH CENTURY Sits he on ever so high a throne, a man still sits on his bottom. (Michel Elyquem de Montaigne, ) We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another. (Jonathan Swift, )

13 13 I laugh, so that I may not cry. (Pierre Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais, ) When a feller says, “It hain’t th’ money, but th’ principle o’ th’ thing,” it’s the money. (Josh Billings [pseudonym for Henry Wheeler Shaw], )  Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing. (Oscar Wilde, )

14 14 There ain’t any answer. There ain’t going to be any answer. There never has been an answer. That’s the answer. (Gertrude Stein, ) The vital question today is not whether there will be life after death, but whether there was life before death. (Marshall McLuhan, )

15 15 When I grow up I want to be a little boy. (Joseph Heller, ) [in reference to cartoonist Garry Trudeau] As with all anti-Establishment figures, Mr. Trudeau will soon be an honored member of the Establishment. (Art Buchwald, 1925-)

16 16 Visual Paradox

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