Paradoxes – Give Your Mindsets a Workout

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To provide a mindset workout is my goal for every episode of my podcast.

I want to create a space where you come to exercise your mind, such as when you go to the health club to keep yourself healthy and in shape.

In the last episode – 26: Do People Really Change? – I went back in time 2,400 years, to Ancient Greece to illustrate the point that the question “Do People Really Change?” is not a new one.

There I spoke about philosophers who argued that nothing really changes.

They reasoned that everything we perceive as changes are merely illusions of our senses.

This is a true paradox.

If we look to the origin of the word paradox, we learn that it’s the conjunction of two Greek words:

PARA that means “contrary to” and DOXA that means “opinions” or “to appear.”

A concept contrary to appearance is a paradox.

So, when we look around, we see things changing but maybe they are not changing – this interpretation is a paradox because it’s contrary to what it appears to be.

And yes, this makes our brain twist a little.

It creates new connections between neurons in our brain.

It causes some confusion, and makes us question if what we think is actually true. It’s a great workout for our minds.

In this episode, I want to describe some paradoxes created by Zeno – a student of Paramenides.

The reason why I want to twist your mind with these paradoxes, is because they are great illustrations of how we can question deep ingrained beliefs – in this case, that things change.

It makes us question our own perceptions.

Stay with me.

In Ancient Greece, Paramenides and Zeno had to convince other philosophers to trust their reasoning more than their senses.

So Zeno devised several situations that question what we perceive as change using strong logical arguments. I’m going to speak about two paradoxes that focus on movement.

Paradox One

Suppose that you want to go from point A to point B.

In order to do this, you first have to get to the half point between A and B – let us call it point C.

Now, to go from C to B, you have to first get to the half point between C and B – let us call it point D.

Then for going from D to B, you have to get to the half point between D and B – let us call it point E.

Are you getting the point? (Pun intended.)

We will run out of letters of the alphabet, and there still be a half point before we ever arrive to B.

So logically, by following this reasoning, it is impossible to really arrive at point B.

I know that you can walk from point A to point B, but logically we can argue that you are doing the impossible.

I warned you that this was a brain twister.

See video below:

Ready to another?

Paradox Two

Following the same logic, suppose that you have a race between Achilles and the tortoise.

Achilles gives the tortoise a head-start.

By the time that Achilles reaches the place from which the tortoise started, the tortoise has already advanced to another point; when Achilles reaches that point, then the tortoise will have reached another point.

So Achilles is getting closer and closer, but by this logic he never overtakes the tortoise.

See video below:

And yes, you can be telling yourself, “Yes, I get the logic. If we consider that between a point an the another, there is an infinite number of points (like they teach us in math), there always be a middle point between any two points, BUT I know that people go from point A to B, and I can trust my perception.”

Maybe. Yet, I will not be so sure to trust your perception so blindly.

Water Experiment

Did you ever experiment with three containers of water?

Imagine three glasses next to each other:

  • The glass on the left has hot water.
  • The glass on the right has icy water.
  • The middle glass has room temperature water.

Place your left index finger on the glass on the left with hot water; at the same time, place the right index finger on the glass on the right with the icy water; and after a minute, place both index fingers on the middle glass with the water at room temperature.

What do you perceive?

Can you trust your senses now?

You know that the glass in the middle is room temperature, yet each index finger feels the temperature differently.

So, can you trust your senses?

If you never have done this experiment, do it as soon as you can.

You are creating new connections between neurons in your brains – these are great workouts to shift your mindsets.