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Paradoxes

There are several opinions on what constitutes a paradox, and you can find several differing definitions, but, in general a paradox is either:

  • a statement that appears to be correct but also appears to contradict itself, or
  • a statement that appears to be correct but also appears to contradict commonly accepted opinions, or
  • a statement that appears to be correct but also appears to be counter intuitive.

 

The apparent contradiction can almost invariably be attributed to one or more of the following:

  1. The ambiguity and context dependency of natural languages such as English.
  2. The incorrect application of a logic to a statement of natural languages such as English.
  3. An unproven assumption.
  4. Faulty intuition.

 

 

Some Paradoxes Discussed

Some paradoxes raise interesting issues and some of the more interesting ones will be discussed on this site. More may be added at a later date. Currently there are the following:

Note that this is not intended to be in any way comprehensive, since there are plenty of descriptions of paradoxes available elsewhere.

 

 

A contradictory delight in paradoxes

The response of mathematicians and logicians to paradoxes has shifted considerably since the beginning of the twentieth century.

 

At that time, when Bertrand Russell discovered (in 1901) his famous paradox, (Footnote: See, for example Russell’s paradox entry in Stanford Encyclopedia.) such paradoxes were viewed as intolerable contradictions that were totally unacceptable in the world of logic. Russell’s paradox marked a crisis point in logic and mathematics, and logicians and mathematicians tried, without success, to come up with a foundation of logic and mathematics that was simple and appeared intuitively to be correct.

 

As time progressed, however, particularly after Gödel published his incompleteness proof, the way in which paradoxes such as Russell’s paradox were viewed underwent a subtle shift. Logicians began to believe that contradictory paradoxes were an inevitable part of any comprehensive system of logic, and that one might as well learn to live with them.

 

So, instead of the viewpoint that was prevalent at the time of the discovery of Russell’s paradox, when the common opinion was that the source of such contradictions should be rooted out and dealt with, we now have a situation where many people (for example, Gregory Chaitin and Raymond Smullyan) take a perverse delight in such contradictions, and embrace them as desirable notions, rather than as problems to be solved.

 

But it is not only possible to eliminate such contradictions from logical language and logical analysis, it is imperative that this should be done. In fact, when it is seen that the root of most of these contradictions arise from confusion of levels of language, it is seen that the elimination of such contradictions is quite straightforward.

 

 

Footnotes:

 

 

Diverse opinions and criticisms are welcome, but messages that are frivolous, irrelevant or devoid of logical basis will be blocked (comments will be checked before appearing on this site). Difficulties in understanding the site content are usually best addressed by contacting me by e-mail. Note: you will be asked to provide an e-mail address - this will only be used to notify you of replies to your comments - it will never be used for any other purpose, will never be displayed and does not require verification. Comments are common to the entire website, so please indicate what section of the site you are commenting on.

 

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The Lighter Side

 

NEWS

Peter Smith’s ‘Proof’

It has come to my notice that, when asked about the demonstration of the flaw in his proof (see A Fundamental Flaw in an Incompleteness Proof by Peter Smith PDF), Smith refuses to engage in any logical discussion, and instead attempts to deflect attention away from any such discussion. If any other reader has tried to engage with Smith regarding my demonstration of the flaw, I would be interested to know what the outcome was.

 

 

There’s something about Gödel by Francesco Berto

There is a new addition to the page Yet another flawed incompleteness proof, where Berto’s proof of incompleteness in his book There’s something about Gödel comes under scrutiny.

 

 

Easy Footnotes

I found that making, adding or deleting footnotes in the traditional manner proved to be a major pain. So I developed a different system for footnotes which makes inserting or changing footnotes a doddle. You can check it out at Easy Footnotes for Web Pages (Accessibility friendly).

 

 

O’Connor’s “computer checked” proof

I have now added a new section to my paper on Russell O’Connor’s claim of a computer verified incompleteness proof. This shows that the flaw in the proof arises from a reliance on definitions that include unacceptable assumptions - assumptions that are not actually checked by the computer code. See also the new page Representability.

 

 

New page on Chaitin’s Constant

There is now a new page on Chaitin’s Constant (Chaitin’s Omega), which demonstrates that Chaitin has failed to prove that it is actually algorithmically irreducible.

 

Previous Blog Posts  

 

13 May 2015 Good Math, Bad Math?

 

16th Mar 2015 Bishops Dancing with Pixies?

 

23rd Feb 2015 Artificial Intelligence

 

31 Mar 2015 Cranks and Crackpots

 

30 Apr 2015 The Chinese Room

 

Links  

 

For convenience, there are now two pages on this site with links to various material relating to Gödel and the Incompleteness Theorem

 

– a page with general links:

Gödel Links

 

– and a page relating specifically to the Gödel mind-machine debate:

Gödel, Minds, and Machines

 

Printer Friendly

 

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Comments

 

Comments on this site are welcome, please see the comment section.

 

Please note that this web site, like any other is a collection of various statements. Not all of this web site is intended to be factual. Some of it is personal opinion or interpretation.

 

If you prefer to ask me directly about the material on this site, please send me an e-mail with your query, and I will attempt to reply promptly.

 

Feedback about site design would also be appreciated so that I can improve the site.

 


Copyright © James R Meyer 2012 - 2017  
www.jamesrmeyer.com