Hypothetical Tuesday: Paradox Edition!

OK, this week, I’m tossing a few paradoxes in here, as well.

• If your only concern were functionality and not aesthetics, would you rather have an extra arm, an extra leg, or a tail? Relatedly, what piece of clothing would be most vexing to you in your new anatomical framework?

• Human emotions are guided by complex chemical reactions happening within the body. Exhibit one: many cases of depression have a clear physiological link to a paucity of seratonin, AKA, the “feelgood” chemical. Patients who artificially fatten the chemical coffers by popping, say, a Zoloft a day, often describe a dramatic lift in their day-to-day moods. In other words, the chemicals (or lack of chemicals) within our bodies “program” us to feel how we feel. Working forward from this knowledge, we can begin to view the body as, essentially, an elaborate machine, guided by a series of interlocking “parts” that function (and occasionally break down) based on internal hardwiring. Computers function according to complex sets of commands and triggers in much the same way. So the question is, could you program a robot to have feelings? And if you could, would they be any less “real” than human feelings? Would you care if you hurt a robot’s feelings? If a robot said she/he was in love with you, would you have license to take her or him seriously?

• The famous stoical logician Chrysippos concocted the following paradox. (Fun fact: Ol’ Chryspy is rumored to have keeled over from sheer exhaustion while attempting to solve it.) Now, your turn:

Part A: This dude from Crete sails over to Greece. He sees a whole bunch of Greek dudes hanging out on the shore and he says to them, “Guess what? All Cretans are liars.” SOOOO…. Was he telling the truth or was he lying?

Part B: A week later, Cretan dude sails over to Greece AGAIN and says, “Guess what? All Cretans are liars and all I say is the truth.”

So the question is: Can you in any circumstance believe someone when he or she says, “I always lie”? Is such a statement always a lie, or always the truth?

Similarly, here’s a little play on a paradox concocted by English mathematician P.E.B. Jourdain.

The sentence you are about to read is seriously, positively 100% true.

The sentence you just read is a load of crap.

SOOO… Is the second sentence true or not? Are you sure?

• This one has been driving me crazy, because I am prone to very occasional lucid dreams: Can a person ever really “know” that he or she is dreaming while he or she is still inside the dream? I mean, how could you possible discern whether you knew you were dreaming, or whether you just dreamed that you knew you were dreaming? See what I mean? It’s tricky! Multi-layered, even.

That’s enough. I’ve given myself a brainache.


One thought on “Hypothetical Tuesday: Paradox Edition!

  1. Lisa says:

    Yeah, I don’t think I can answer any of these…they hurt my brain as well. The dream one is very interesting, though, because I’ve had the same experience- while dreaming I’ve had a dream and when I woke up from that dream, I wasn’t sure whether I was still dreaming or awake- but I was actually still dreaming. Whoa! It’s like the times when you are dreaming but you SWEAR you are awake since it is so realistic. Same thing for when I get deja vu, I would swear on my life that I had been in the exact same situation/scene as right then before- whether I experienced it in a dream or another parallel universe. Okay, I’ve got to stop now…I think my brain is going to explode!

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