Thursday, April 24, 2008

Another Paradox

I found this in an article at

All adjectives may be divided into two types:
self-descriptive and non-self-descriptive.

Here are some self-descriptive adjectives:

Here are some non-self-descriptive adjectives:


So, to which type does the following adjective belong?


If the word is really non-self-descriptive, then it applies to itself. But that would make it self-descriptive. And if it's self-descriptive, then it is describing itself as being non-self-descriptive.


  1. Why do paradoxes exist? Why are they possible? What do they reveal about the nature of God? What do they tell us about the limitations of our nature?

  2. Those are good questions. In the strictest sense, this example is not really a paradox. It's just a plain old contradiction. I would call it a "shifting contradiction" since the first statement is asked to change its meaning since it refers to itself.

    It's very similar to the statement, "I always lie." Or, "This barber shaves only those who do not shave themselves." If he shaves himself, then he doesn’t shave himself. This sounds like a paradox, but it's really just a contradiction.

    However, that doesn't really answer your question, since there are real paradoxes. A paradox is an apparent contradiction, not a real one. And I suppose their existence illustrates our inability as humans to understand many things.

    And it highlights the difference between man and God, who never contradicts Himself, or He wouldn't be God.

  3. So is every statement either true or false?

  4. I mean in general. Anytime someone makes a statement can it be said to be either true or false?

  5. No, many statements are neither true nor false. They're just nonsense. Possibly the most famous academic example is Noam Chomsky's, "Colorless green ideas sleep furiously." Of course, he should know since most of what he said was nonsense. Now look what you've started ;-)

  6. Lee Harvey Oswald shot John F. Kennedy.

    Is this statement true, false, or nonsense.

  7. ?

    I forgot the question mark.

  8. That statement would be either true or false. Not sure which. But not nonsense. Of course, many false statements could also be considered nonsense, but in another sense.