Conceptual Paradoxes

Logan Stout


Feeling uncreative or having trouble understanding that problem your professor assigned? Well it sounds like to you need to build your mental might! Sure you can repeatedly bang your head against the same problem until you get it, but what you really need is better critical thinking skills.

Why not try a dose of paradoxes?

Paradoxes are to critical thinking skills as weight lifting is to muscle mass. A paradox is a statement that, despite apparently sound reasoning from true premises, leads to a self-contradictory, or a logically unacceptable conclusion. A famous example of a paradox leading to an unacceptable conclusion is the “Paradox of the Heap,” also known as Sorites paradox, which dates back to Ancient Greece. This paradox is founded upon two logical statements. First, 1,000 grains of sand is a heap. Second, removing a grain of sand does not turn it into a “non-heap.”

Now if you repeat this process removing a single grain of sand one at a time you will eventually end up with one grain of sand. This leads to the conclusion that a single grain of sand is a heap and even zero or negative grains of sand are a heap.



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