What Is a Paradox? (Definition and Examples)
ParadoxA paradox is a statement or a concept that is or seems to be self-contradictory.
Easy Examples of Paradox
- I always lie. (This statement is absolutely self-contradictory. If it's true, then it's not true. This would be accepted as a paradox in the field of Logic.)
- You can save money by spending it. (The idea seems self-contradictory, but it's possibly true. For example, spending money insulating your roof would reduce heating bills.)
Real-Life Examples of "Everyday" ParadoxThese next examples seem self-contradictory, but they're not. (Paradoxical expressions that seem self-contradictory but aren't are often described as "everyday paradox" as opposed to "logical paradox".) These are examples of "everyday paradox":
- To shut down your computer, first click Start.
- You have to be cruel to be kind.
- Less is more.
- When you increase your knowledge, you understand how little you know. (In essence, your unknown unknowns become known unknowns.)
Real-Life Examples of "Logical" ParadoxThe following examples are absolutely self-contradictory. They are examples of "logical paradox".
- My nose will grow. (Pinocchio)
- If you didn't get this message, call me.
- Your mission is to not accept this mission? Do you accept?
- No keyboard detected. Press F1 to continue.
- Youth would be an ideal state if it came a little later in life. (Prime Minister Herbert Asquith)
An Oxymoron Is a ParadoxAn oxymoron (a seemingly self-contradicting term) is a paradox (usually "everyday" paradox).
- female gunman
- fresh raisins
- escaped prisoner
Why Should I Care about Paradox?A paradoxical expression that seems self-contradictory but isn't can be impactful and memorable as it compels your readers to work out for themselves why your seemingly self-contradictory idea is true.
- We must go backwards to go forwards. (This is a memorable way of delivering a message like "we must align our old processes to the new methodology" or "we must rethink our strategy".)