Noble's Notes on Philosophy
By Richard E. Noble
A Paradox: a self contradictory statement, thus false?; a statement opposed to common sense, yet true? An unsolvable mystery? A statement seeming impossible in itself?
"This sentence is false ... Everything I say is a lie." These statements are paradoxical. Some would say that they present an unsolvable mystery. I know that I, personally, have no explanation for them, but I presume that there is an answer to these apparently contradictory statements, but I am just too stupid to figure it out. My guess is that the answer to the above statements lies in either semantics or the definition of the terms within them.
"This sentence is false." What's false? The sentence is false. But there is nothing stated in the sentence that could be defined as either true or false? The sentence contains no statement. But yes it does. It states that 'it' is false. What's false? The statement itself. But if 'this sentence is false' is a true statement, if we can believe the words contained in the statement, and we can believe that what it contains is truly false, then this sentence must be true. "Then this sentence is false" must be a true statement. The truth is that it is false. Or is it false that this statement can really be true? Daahhh?
"Everything I say is a lie."
Everything? Even this statement itself? This statement is a lie? If this statement is a lie, then really it must be the truth, because that is the only alternative to a lie. But where's the lie? What's a lie? Everything you say is a lie. If this statement is also a lie, then I can not believe it. So then, I must conclude that some things that you say must be the truth.
So is this a paradox, an unsolvable mystery? Or is this some kind of intrinsic fault in the terms employed and used above? Is this a language problem?
I'm not satisfied to say that this is an unsolvable mystery. There is something wrong here. At the moment, I don't know what it is that is wrong, but something is misplaced, or misunderstood, or defined improperly. I think that a paradox is not a mystical unexplainable, but an indication of a mistake, a problem not yet solved. We seem to have a good number of these paradoxes in mathematics, and I have no idea how to solve them, I can't even understand them. In philosophy, and in particular with regard to the notion of the concept of God, paradoxes seem to abound.
Can God create a rock so large that He is incapable of moving it? Can God terminate His own existence? Did God have a choice in His own Being? How can God be all-loving and all-just at the same time? How can God be all-knowing and man's choices not pre-determined? How can God be all-Good and yet have created Evil, thus being partly evil himself? How could a perfect God make an imperfect world? How can God be all knowing and yet make mistakes in his judgments with regards to his creations; man and his fall from grace, angels and devils? Is not the notion of redemption, the admission of a mistake on the part of God? How could a man, who is by definition 'the created' be the Creator?
Are these all unsolvable mysteries, faults of logic, or logical faults?