Moore’s Paradox

Post 385

It’s raining, but I don’t believe that it is raining. I am stating that it is raining. But I do not believe it is raining. So there are two facts for you to digest. It’s raining, but I don’t believe that it is raining. Both are correct. This is what’s called an absurd paradox. And why is it a paradox? It was raining, but I did not believe that it was raining. No paradox. It is raining, but you do not believe it is raining. No paradox. It was raining, but they did not believe that it was raining. No paradox. It is raining, but I don’t believe that it is raining. Paradox. All four statements are identical, only the tense has changed. All four are true, yet one is paradoxical, a complete absurdity. How is that possible? It is raining, but I don’t believe that it is raining. Both statements are true but they can’t be. This is what can only be described as the mother of all paradoxes. Can it be solved? ‘Tis the question, readers.

This absurdity is from the mind of George Edward Moore, an English philosopher, 1873-1958. The statement he gave us seems strange. It’s odd yet it could be true. The speaker implies that the speaker believes what the speaker asserts. The speaker is saying, ‘This is what I believe and I am asserting that’. That is a contradiction. An absurdity.

I can say that it is raining. I can say that I don’t believe that it is raining at a particular time. If I say both at the same time, I am saying something absurd. But what I have said is perfectly consistent. It may well be raining, and I may not believe it. I can believe it was raining when it wasn’t, it’s absurd, but if I say that you, he or they didn’t believe it, it isn’t. Why not? It’s the kind of thing that will bug you for a very, very long time.

It’s all about belief. Let’s change it. It is raining but I have no evidence that it is raining. There’s no belief in there. If the second statement is true, no evidence, then the first must be false and since we have no reason to doubt the speaker, then we must conclude that in the paradox, the second statement is false. Because ‘belief’ is not evidence. Therefore, it is raining. But this is the problem. What is belief? What is the mental state of the speaker? Can we trust them? Whilst the ‘Evidence vs. Belief’ argument is pretty compelling, it gets to the heart of the issue. This paradox has no solution. It never can. Hence why it’s the mother of all paradoxes. Because it cannot be resolved.

It’s a mystery as to why the speaker believes one thing and knows another, but it’s a mystery that will never be solved.

There is believed to be no answer.

But what about you, readers? Think you’re up to it? How would you solve this paradox?

Toodle-pip :)(:


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Please feel free check out the latest posts from my other two blogs:

The Indelible Life of Me
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