Eli5 : What is the difference between an oxymoron and a paradox?


Every year I encounter this and search it up and am left with no answers. Pls explain

In: 4

A paradox is a something self-referential which leads to a logical impossibility. The classic paradox is the Grandfather Paradox, you build a time machine to go back in time to murder your grandfather. Having achieved this your parents and you are never born, so you never build a time machine, never go back in time and never murder your grandfather. So… you are born, you do build…

… you get the idea.

An oxymoron is just a word or phrase that can be interpreted as illogical or inherently contradictory. A great modern oxymoron is “Humblebrag” which combines two contradictory ideas, humility and bragging. Basically oxymorons are semantic, paradoxes are fundamental.

An oxymoron is essentially just a contradiction. Something like deafening silence. It’s a figure of speech.

A paradox is a logical problem that no matter how you spin it it never makes sense. Like Pinocchio saying my nose will grow.

Edit: after being told not all paradoxes are like this.

Paradox revamp:
A logical problem that seems completely absurd and illogical but can if looked into further be completely correct.

Others have explained the difference well, I have just one other small distinction: if you need lung surgery, you’re better off with a paradox than with an oxymoron.

I’ll see myself out 😎

An oxymoron is to convey an idea with two seemly contradictory words. Ie “bitter sweet”

A paradox is a logical contradiction. Ie “this sentence is false.” It can’t be false because that would make it true, and it can’t be true because that would make it false.

A paradox is what happens when the conclusion tends to disprove one of the premises. The popular paradox we like to talk about is naive set theory and Bertrand’s paradox. That paradox shows up in linguistics as well, it is a problem of categorization and self reference. Paradoxes go back a lot further than that, Zeno famously presented a list of paradoxes that would lead you to conclude there is infinite distance between any two points in space. Philosophers argued for thousands of years about whether a void could truly exist.

An oxymoron is like spending a lot of money to look poor. It is contradictory but you don’t disprove a premise with the conclusion. True paradoxes, like various time traveling paradoxes (i.e. predestination paradox) are a lot more rare. They are rare because a true paradox can’t be broken. Like with Zeno’s paradox of infinite distances, an empirical philosopher like Epicurus or Democritus would say ‘that is all well and good but I can observe two objects pass each other so there cannot be infinite distances between them. Just because I can’t mathematically pinpoint the exact moment one passes the other doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen at all. Your conclusion tends to disprove a premise because the premise was untrue not because of the conclusion, but because it was untrue to begin with.’ Similarly, I don’t have to get really complicated about the void because the mere fact we can observe motion indicates a void must exist.

Categorization paradoxes, or self referential paradoxes are a little trickier to deal with because you can’t directly observe sets and categories, they are only logical constructs. You can break the paradox simply; logic, mathematics, language, bivalent categories, are all human constructs and therefore needn’t be considered to be 100% internally consistent in order to be useful. Language still makes sense, and can still be used as a tool even if we can’t categorize words that describe themselves and words that don’t describe themselves for every word except for autologic and homological.