Example of a Paradox and Postmodernism

Paradox © Erik Back 2012

No matter what kind of worldview you choose there will always be someone trying to prove you are wrong. Postmodernism is controversial and it is a way to approach traditional ideas in an untraditional way.

Most people prefer tradition because tradition is stable. Stability brings a feeling of security and safety. But to create change you have to break tradition.

When you choose to approach ideas and problems in a different way than people would normally do, then you will meet resistance. The most hardcore rationalists will have very good arguments that prove your approach and belief is wrong.

Your approach, your belief and your worldview is not wrong; it is not right either. Your worldview is a choice you make because it works well for you. You choose your worldview because it gives your life meaning.

I like to do things different and I have experienced a lot of discussions that are pointless because the arguments on both sides are strong. You will face the same questions and scepticism as I have faced.

Do not let yourself into these arguments because they will make doubt your choice and they will make you feel defeated. If you like philosophy then argue all you want, but in general it is better to accept that other people have made other choices and their arguments are as good as yours.

You will often experience paradoxes and antinomies.

Example of a Paradox

A paradox is an assertion that disagrees with the general view e.g. a scientific anomaly. In formal science anomalies are ignored and remain unexplained.

Zeno’s Paradox

An example of a paradox is Zeno’s paradoxes that he used to prove that motion is an illusion. I will not attempt to explain them here but instead I will give you a link to YouTube where I found a video that is much better at showing the four paradoxes of Zeno.

The Antinomy of The Liar

Eubulides of Miletus made seven paradoxes of which the antinomy of the liar is the most famous.

Eubulides asked, “A man says: – I lie. Is what he says true or false?”

When choosing a postmodernistic approach you be faced with a paradox from sceptics and hardcore positivists. Postmodernism claims that there is no overarching truth that applies to everybody. That claim would be an overarching truth i.e. a paradox.

When we create personal change we are seeking knowledge. We are seeking knowledge that will guide us on a better path in life that gives life meaning. If we knew the truth about everything then we didn’t have to search for it and we wouldn’t need a postmodernistic approach.

I could choose another approach e.g. positivism (not to be confused with being positive!) Positivism is the belief that the world can be explained by formal science. But then I would choose to ignore anomalies until they fall within the range of normality. Positivism has the advantage that it creates stability, but that’s not what you need to create change – is it?

As you can see, choosing an approach and worldview isn’t that simple. You will never know which is the right approach. You have to decide what feels right for you.

How to Argue for Postmodernism

If you would like to enter an argument then be prepared.

The paradox

“Postmodernism claims that there is no overarching truth that applies to everybody.”

Let’s substitute postmodernism an simplify the sentence:

“I say: – There is no overarching truth (that applies to everybody)”

This is equivalent to the liar-paradox. The argument has to be either true or false. It is a self-reference.

If the argument were true, then it would be false because the sentence is an overarching truth. The argument would have to be false to be true and that makes no sense.

Do not use this argument; it is not valid!

Postmodernists believe that people see the world in different ways and reality depends on the eyes that see; and so does the truth.

The real problem is that we do not have any data that can prove whether there is a reality or not. We cannot logically or by using formal science explain existence. We are facing problems like purpose and infinity.

The problem is of metaphysical nature and you cannot make an argument that is supposed to be either true or false. We have to make basic assumptions for the argument to be either true or false.

If you want to argue for or against postmodernism you have to focus on the basic assumptions.

Let’s say you base your argument on the assumption the Parmenides made: “Nothing but our perception of reality changes.” i.e. there is one reality and one truth. Then you can make an argument based on the perception of reality instead of making claims about whether there is an overarching truth or not.

When all is said and done it is your choice of worldview that is important and not whether you can prove it to be true or false.

Formal science can be questioned as well…

How does math explain infinity?

How would you explain anomalies?

Isn’t formal science based on certain assumptions?

We should focus on using the paradigms and worldviews that seem fit for our purpose. Sometimes it is better to use formal science and at other times postmodernism is optimal.


  1. I’m definitely NOT the argumentative type so seeing your advice to dismiss the opinions of others and accept that their mindset is different, definitely resonates well with me. Confrontation has never sat very well with me. Maybe this is kind of a “chickening out” approach but it’s way better for my anxiety as a whole. Great post!

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