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The Self-Incrimination Principle
Definition of "paradox"
Not to be confused with "antinomy."
From Webster's New World Dictionary.
- 1. a statement that seems contradictory, absurd, etc. but
may be true in fact. 2. a statement that is
self-contradictory in fact and, hence, false. 3. a person
or thing seeming inconsistent and full of contradictions.
From the Oxford English Dictionary.
- paradox, sb. (a.). Also 6-7 -oxe. [ad. (perh. through
Fr. paradoxe, 14th c. in Hatz.-Darm.) L. paradoxum, -on, sb., properly
neuter of paradox-us, Gr. nap oo3-os adj. contrary to received opinion
or expectation, f. nap past, beyond, contrary to + o 3a opinion; in
Gr. and L. also used subst., esp. in pl. nap oo3a Stoical paradoxes:
cf. Cicero Paradoxa, prooe m. 4. In Fr. and Eng. the sb. is the earlier
and more important.]
- A sb. 1 a A statement or tenet contrary to
received opinion or belief;
often with the implication that it is marvellous or incredible;
sometimes with unfavourable connotation, as being discordant with what
held to be established truth, and hence absurd or fantastic; sometimes
with favourable connotation, as a correction of vulgar error. (In
actual use rare since 17th c., though often insisted upon by writers as
the proper sense.)
1540 PALSGRAVE tr. Acolastus Prol. B ij b, We shall not wytsafe any
Paradoxes in noo place, i. we shall not wytsafe (to speake or make
mention of..) any thynges, that be aboue or beyonde the common
men. 1546 BP. GARDINER Declar. Art. Joye 54 b, Your fonde paradox of
only fayth iustifieth. 1581 MARBECK Bk. Notes 791 Paradox is a straunge
sentence, contrarie to the opinion of the most part.
Or thus: It is a straunge sentence, not easely to be conceiued of the
common sort. 1602 SHAKS. Ham. III. i. 115 This was sometime a Paradox,
but now the time giues it proofe. 1616 BULLOKAR Eng. Expos., Paradox, an
opinion maintained contrary to the common allowed opinion, as if one
affirme that the earth doth mooue round, and the heauens stand still.
1653 H. MORE Antid. Ath. II. xii. f17 (1712) 84 That pleasant and true
Paradox of the Annual Motion of the Earth. 1656 HOBBES Liberty, Necess.,
& Chance (1841) 304 The Bishop speaks often of paradoxes with such scorn
or detestation, that a simple reader would take a paradox either for
felony or some other heinous crime,..whereas perhaps a judicious reader
knows..that a paradox, is an opinion not yet generally received. 1697
tr. Burgersdicius' Logic II. xv. 65 A Paradox is said to be a Probleme
true against the common Opinion..such as that, viz., the Earth moves;
which, tho' it be true, yet may it be so against the common Opinion, and
therefore a Paradox. 1854 DE QUINCEY Templars' Dial. Wks. IV. 183 A
paradox, you know, is simply that which contradicts the popular
opinion-which in too many cases is the false opinion. 1890 Illustr.
Lond. News 26 Apr. 535/3 A paradox is a proposition really or apparently
contradictory to a commonly received idea... It is, as its name
indicates, a conceit contrary to opinion, but not..contrary to reason.
position contrary to reason is a paralogism.
b Rhet. repr. L. paradoxum. A conclusion or apodosis contrary to what
the audience has been led up to expect. Obs.
1678 PHILLIPS (ed. 4), Paradox..In Rhetorick, it is something which is
cast in by the by, contrary to the opinion or expectation of the
Auditor, and is otherwise called Hypomone.
2 a A statement or proposition which on the face of it seems
self-contradictory, absurd, or at variance with common sense,
investigation or when explained, it may prove to be well-founded (or,
according to some, though it is essentially true). spec. in Literary
1569 CROWLEY Soph. Dr. Watson i. 187 Your straunge Paradox of Christes
eating of his owne fleshe. 1607 J. NORDEN Surv. Dial. IV. 195, I can
tell you a pretie paradoxe..Boggy and spungy ground,..though in it owne
nature it be too moist, yet if it be overflowed with water often, it
will settle and become firme. 1624 HAYWARD Suprem. Relig. 5 Three or
foure at the table; who esteemed that which I had said, not for a Para-
doxe, but for an Adoxe, or flat Absurditie. 1694 BENTLEY Boyle Lect. 66
'Tis no less a truth than a paradox, that there are no greater fools
than atheistical wits; and none so credulous as infidels. A. 1716 SOUTH
Serm. (1744) XI. 127 If you will admit the paradox, it makes a man do
more than he can do. A. 1806 HORSLEY Serm. (1811) 369 Of the two
parts..of a paradox, both are often true, and yet, when proved to be
true, may continue paradoxical. 1809-10 COLERIDGE Friend (1865) 54 The
legal paradox, that a libel may be the more a libel for being true. 1885
SEELEY Introd. Polit. Sc. i. (1896) 3 In my opinion, to lecture on
political science is to lecture on history. Here is the Paradox-I use
word in its original sense of a proposition which is really true, though
it sounds false. 1902 Daily Chron. 30 Oct. 3/1 Perhaps the only
immortal paradoxes are the divine paradoxes called Beatitudes; for
each generation sees their truth, but as no one ever acts upon them,
their paradox comes with perpetual freshness to every age.1939 BROOKS
Understanding Poetry VI. 637 Paradox, a statement which seems on the
surface contradictory, but which involves an element of truth. Because
of the element of contrast between the form of the statement and its
true implications, paradox is closely related to irony. 1942 C. BROOKS
in A. Tate Language of Poetry 37 Few of us are prepared to accept the
statement that the language of poetry is the language of paradox... Yet
there is a sense in which paradox is the language appropriate and
inevitable to poetry. 1947 C. BROOKS Well-Wrought Urn 230 Paradox, as
a device for contrasting the conventional views of a situation, or the
limited and special view of it such as those taken in practical and
scientific discourse, with a more inclusive view. 1960 Commentary Nov. 369 He
had been instructed in paradox, tension, and ambiguity in a course
called `Introduction to Literature'.
b Often applied to a proposition or statement that is
actually self-contradictory, or contradictory to reason or
ascertained truth, and so,
essentially absurd and false.
Hence some (cf. quot. 1639) have denied statements to be paradoxes
when they can be proved after all to be true, or have called them
`apparent paradoxes' (quot. 1876), when they are real paradoxes in sense
1570 FOXE A. & M. (ed. 2) 1299 This monstrous paradoxe of
transubstantiation was neuer induced or receaued publickly in the
the tyme of y[e] Lateran Councell. 1588 SHAKS. L.L.L. IV. iii. 253
Berow..No face is faire that is not full so blacke. Kin. O paradoxe,
Blacke is the badge of hell. 1628 WITHER Brit. Rememb. III. 39 Vulgar
men, doe such expressions hold To be but idle Paradoxes. 1639 FULLER
Holy War III. iv. (1840) 121 It is therefore no paradox to say, that in
some case the strength of a kingdom doth consist in the weakness of it.
1645 MILTON Tetrach. (Matt. xix. 7-8) Wks. (1851) 215 The most grosse
and massy paradox that ever did violence to reason and religion. 1777
PRIESTLEY Disc. Philos. Necess. ix. 110 This will be no paradox, but a
most important and necessary truth. 1822 LD. JEFFREY in Life (1852) II.
211 The dulness is increased in proportion to the density, and the book
becomes ten times more tedious by its compression. This is not a
paradox now, but a simple truth. 1851 GLADSTONE Glean. VI. xxvi. 17 To
mind there could be no more monstrous paradox, than such a proposition
would involve. 1876 L. STEPHEN Eng. Th. 18th Cent. II. 375 The apparent
paradox that while no man sets a higher value upon truthfulness..than
Johnson, no man could care less for the foundations of speculative
c Logic. A statement or proposition which, from an acceptable premise
and despite sound reasoning, leads to a conclusion that is against
sense, logically unacceptable, or self-contradictory;
freq. distinguished by name, esp. of its propounder or of the type of
raises. Cf. LIAR 1 d, Russell's paradox s.v. RUSSELL.
1903 B. RUSSELL Princ. Math. xliii. 358 This paradox, which, as I
shall show, is strictly correlative to the Achilles, may be called for
convenience the Tristram Shandy. 1921 W. E. JOHNSON Logic I. iii. 45 The
paradox of implication assumes many forms, some of which are not easily
recognised as involving mere varieties of the same fundamental
principle. 1948 H. C. BRODIE in Brodie & Coleman Chwistek's Limits of
xxxiii, Typical of such paradoxes is the contradiction of Burali-Forti.
1950 R. CARNAP Logical Found. Probability vii. 469 This is an instance
of what Hempel calls the paradox of confirmation. 1955 A. N. PRIOR
Formal Logic III. i. 224 As with Lewis's paradoxes, these appear less
startling when the definitions of the terms used are considered. 1966 W.
V. QUINE Ways of Paradox i. 7 The paradoxes in this class are called
antinomies, and it is they that bring on the crises in thought. An
antinomy produces a self contradiction by accepted ways of reasoning.
1971 Brit. Jrnl. Philos. Sci. XXII. 337 The Nelson-Grelling paradox
requires separate notice, because it can be presented with an explicit
distinction between predicative phrases and what they are supposed to
express. 1972 T. STOPPARD Jumpers I. 29 Zeno overlooked the fallacy
which is exemplified at its most picturesque in his famous paradoxes,
which showed in every way but experience that an arrow could never reach
its target. 1973 J. L. MACKIE Truth, Probability & Paradox vi. 237
There is a group of paradoxes..which includes the Epimenides and other
forms of the liar, heterologicality, Russell's class paradox..and so on.
3 (Without a or plural.) Paradoxical character, condition,
or quality; PARADOXY.
1589 PUTTENHAM Eng. Poesie I. xxix. (Arb.) 71 It may be true in manner
of Paradoxe. 1788 GIBBON Decl. & F. xliv. (ed. Milman) IV. 186 They
imbibed..the love of paradox..and a minute attachment to words and
verbal distinctions. A. 1852 WEBSTER Wks. (1877) II. 91 A
lover of liberty of our time, said, with apparent paradox, that the
quantity of liberty in any country is exactly equal to the quantity of
restraint. 1869 J. MARTINEAU Ess. II. 88 A perpetual source of fallacy
4 transf. A phenomenon that exhibits some contradiction or conflict
with preconceived notions of what is reasonable or possible; a person of
perplexingly inconsistent life or behaviour. hydrostatic paradox: see
A. 1625 FLETCHER Woman's Prize IV. ii, Not let his wife come near him
in his sicknes?.. Is she refused? and two old Paradoxes, Peeces of five
and fifty without faith, Clapt in upon him? A. 1687 PETTY Pol. Arith.
(1690) 92 The wonderful Paradox that Englishmen..pay Customs as
Foreigners for all they spend in Ireland. 1706 E. WARD Wooden World
Diss. (1708) 45 He's a down-right Paradox. 1846 LYTTON Lucretia II.
xviii, One of those strange living paradoxes that can rarely be found
out of a commercial community.
5 A shortening of the specific name paradoxus of the Platypus
1815 in O'Hara Hist. N.S.W. (1817) 452 The water-mole, or paradox,
also abounds in all the rivers and ponds.
6 attrib. and Comb., as paradox-monger.
1642 FULLER Holy & Prof. St. II. iv. 62 A Paradox-monger, loving to
hold strange yea dangerous Opinions. 1879 Spectator 23 Aug. 1069 Which
made the same brilliant paradoxmonger [Prof. Clifford] enjoy saying,
`There is one thing in the world more wicked than the desire to command,
and that is the will to obey'.
B adj. = PARADOXICAL a. Obs.
1624 CAPT. SMITH Virginia VI. 220 Let no man then condemne this
paradox opinion. 1654 H. L'ESTRANGE Chas. I (1655) 61 Though paradox
seem, and out of the rode of common beleef. 1660 BARROW Euclid III.
xvi. Cor., Many Paradox and wonderful Consectaries.
- 'paradox, v. rare. [f. prec. sb.]
- 1 trans. To affect with a paradox, to cause to show a
contradiction. Obs. rare.
1627-77 FELTHAM Resolves II. xv. 189 The same City that bred him a
slave, for his virtues chose him a King; and to his eternal Honour, left
his Statue paradox'd with Servitude and Royalty.
2 To bring or drive by paradox. nonce-use.
1692 R. L'ESTRANGE Josephus, Life (1733) 807 Paradoxing soberer Men
than himself out of their Senses.
3 intr. To utter paradoxes. Also to paradox it. Hence 'paradoxing
1647 WARD Simp. Cobler 55 If that Parliament will prescribe what they
ought, without such paradoxing. 1694 R. L'ESTRANGE Fables lviii. (1714)
73 There must be no Paradoxing or Playing Tricks with Things Sacred. A.
1811 R. CUMBERLAND in T. Mitchell Aristoph. II. 46 I
could..dogmatize..and dispute And paradox it with the best of you.
Last modified: 19 December 1996
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