Humans have always been fascinated by mind twisters. But nothing intrigues a human mind like Paradoxes. A paradox is a statement or proposition which, despite sounding reasonable from acceptable premises, leads to a conclusion that seems logically unacceptable or self-contradictory. This is the reason why so many of us have been perplexed by them. Here is a list of 5 most interesting paradoxes:
1. The Ship of Theseus Paradox
Suppose you have a ship made up of 100 pieces of wood. Every now and then, you replace a piece with a new piece and keep the old one. Over a certain period of time, you replace each and piece of wood by a new one. This is still the same ship. the paradox occurs when you reassemble all the replaced pieces and make a new ship. The big question that arises now is- “which one of the two is the original ship?”
2. The Omnipotence Paradox
Can god create a stone so heavy that even he cannot lift it? This is paradoxical because god has unlimited power and he can do anything. So, he can create such a stone. But if he himself can’t lift it, there is something which God can’t do. Hence the paradox. This is considered to be one of the oldest paradoxes in human history.
3. The Unexpected Hanging Paradox
A judge tells a condemned prisoner that he will be hanged at noon of any weekday in the following week but the execution will be a surprise to the prisoner. He will not know the day of the hanging until the executioner knocks on the door of his cell door at noon that day. The prisoner thinks about his sentence and reasons that since it is supposed to be surprise hanging, it cannot happen on Friday. Because if it hasn’t happened till Thursday, there will be just one day left and it will not be a surprise. He then continues to reason that the hanging can’t be on Thursday either. Because Friday is eliminated and if it has not happened by Wednesday, Thursday will not be a surprise. By similar reasoning, he concludes that the hanging can also not occur on Wednesday, Tuesday or Monday and believes that the hanging will not occur at all. This is until the executioner knocks at his door on Wednesday and everything the judge said suddenly becomes true. This paradox has intrigued people for a very long time.
4. The Barber’s Paradox
Suppose there is a town with just one male barber in it. The rule of the town says that everyone in the town must be clean shaven either by shaving himself or by going to the barber and having the barber shave them. But the barber is only allowed to shave those men who do not shave themselves. This is when the paradox arrives. If the barber doesn’t shave himself, he must abide by the rule and shave himself. This is an example of infinite regression.
5. The Liar’s Paradox
This again an example of infinite regression. This paradox is about a liar’s statement. Suppose someone says- “Everything I say is false”. Now if that person is in fact lying, then this statement would become true. But if it were true, that would make it false. And this regression goes on and on.Ref
There is no widely accepted solution to any of these paradoxes. Let us know if you have any solution to any of these. Also, if you find them to be intriguing, then let us know through your comments in the comments section.