Friday, December 26, 2008

Dr. Jeckle and Dr. Hyde

"What is the definition of 'paradox,'?" I like to ask my students, especially the blond girls.

"A paradox is like two opposite things?" is the typical question-like answer.

"Oh," I'd say, "you might be right. I always thought a paradox was two physicians." That's usually acceptable to the blond.

Now I've come across the Tristram Shandy paradox in a book on philosophical and scientific arguments on cosmology. This paradox is one of those mind-bending explanations of the nature of time, and has been used by the famous atheistic philosopher-physicist, Bertrand Russell. I have trouble grasping it, though it's delightful. It's named after an Englishman's book of, I think, the 1800s; and, to my surprise, a British movie, "Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story," was made on it a couple of years ago. Anyway, try to find the Shandy paradox for your own reflection. I don't think I'll bother mentioning it to my blonds.

-Old Gargoyle

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