50 Paradox Quotes For Redefining Life’s Contradictions

Seek out your inner philosopher with our mind-boggling paradox quotes. 

Paradoxes have been around since the beginning of humanity. 

Countless civilizations have had their minds blown with paradoxes. 

Check out our paradox quotes below to learn more. 

What is a paradox?

A paradox is a statement, problem, or condition that produces contradictory outcomes.

Paradoxes provide proof of things that go against what we intuitively expect. 

Paradoxes are not unique to the present era; they have been a central part of philosophical thinking for a long time. 

Below are some famous paradoxes that have stymied intellectuals:

  • The Fermi paradox
  • The Catch-22 paradox
  • The Hedonism paradox

Paradoxes are everywhere. 

For example, young college graduates are told they need experience to get a job, yet they cannot get a job without experience. 

Paradoxes challenge us to redefine how we interpret information and experiences. 

They turn our beliefs upside down and can lead to higher-level comprehension and thinking. 

What is the Hedonism paradox?

Hedonism is the belief that pursuing pleasure is the best way to achieve and maximize happiness. 

The famed psychologist Victor Frankl once wrote, “Happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself.”

It seems logical to believe that pursuing happiness leads to happiness. 

However, Frankl would ask to consider that constantly pursuing pleasure and happiness is not pleasurable and will not create happiness. 

Therefore, the best way to find happiness is to forget about trying to be happy and allow happiness to manifest on its own accord. 

What is the Catch-22 paradox?

Joseph Heller wrote the novel Catch-22 in 1961. 

The book was turned into a movie later on. 

Catch-22 is about a pilot named Yossarian who is trying to get out of military duty during World War II by requesting a psychiatric evaluation.

His doctor tells him that anybody trying to get out of flying in combat cannot be insane because the insane thing to do would be to want to fly in combat.  

The paradox manifests because if Yossarian wants to be considered insane, he has to fly in combat. 

Yet, if he flies in combat, being labeled as insane does him no good. 

To learn more, check out our paradox quotes below. 

Short paradox quotes about curiosity

All curious minds eventually come across paradoxes. 

1. “By denying scientific principles, one may maintain any paradox.” Galileo Galilei 

2. “You are doomed to make choices. This is life’s greatest paradox.” Wayne Dyer 

3. “Mastering the paradox of star brands is very difficult and rare, fortunately.” — Bernard Arnault 

4. “An intriguing paradox of the 1990s is that it isn’t called a decade of greed.” — Paul Samuelson 

5. “In love, the paradox occurs that two beings become one and yet remain two.” — Erich Fromm 

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6. “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.” Carl Rogers 

7. “This is a paradox of man: compared to God, man is nothing; yet we are everything to God.” — Dieter F. Uchtdorf 

8. “I have found the paradox that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.” Mother Teresa

9. “Life is full of ironies and paradoxes. John Hurt In contradiction and paradox, you can find truth.” — Denis Villeneuve 

10. “The oblique paradox of propaganda is that the lie in the throat becomes, by repetition, the truth in the heart.” — John Grierson 

The top paradox quotes about redefining reality

Paradoxes can help us understand our world more efficiently. 

21. “How wonderful that we have met with a paradox. Now we have some hope of making progress.” — Niels Bohr 

22. “The paradox of courage is that a man must be a little careless of his life even in order to keep it.” — Gilbert K. Chesterton

23. “The paradox of trauma is that it has both the power to destroy and the power to transform and resurrect.” — Peter A. Levine 

24. “If you study the writings of the mystics, you will always find things in them that appear to be paradoxes, as in Zen, particularly.” Alan Watts 

25. “Of all the logical impasses, unknowings, paradoxes, and terrors that provoke laughter, death by its finality and unsolvable mystery is paramount.” — Andrew Hudgins 

26. “Life is strong and fragile. It’s a paradox. It’s both things, like quantum physics: It’s a particle and a wave at the same time. It all exists all together.” — Joan Jett 

27. “The paradox of education is precisely this: that as one begins to become conscious, one begins to examine the society in which he is being educated.” James Baldwin 

28. “Every experience is a paradox in that it means to be absolute, and yet is relative; in that, it somehow always goes beyond itself and yet never escapes itself.” T. S. Eliot 

29. “The great paradox of the 21st century is that, in this age of powerful technology, the biggest problems we face internationally are problems of the human soul.” — Ralph Peters 

30. “The folly of mistaking a paradox for a discovery, a metaphor for a proof, a torrent of verbiage for a spring of capital truths, and oneself for an oracle, is inborn in us.” — Paul Valery 

The best paradox quotes about discovering new aspects of life

Paradoxes can lead to new levels of awareness and understanding. 

31. “It is a paradox that every dictator has climbed to power on the ladder of free speech. Immediately on attaining power, each dictator has suppressed all free speech except his own.” — Herbert Hoover 

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32. “The main advantage of blockchain technology is supposed to be that it’s more secure, but new technologies are generally hard for people to trust, and this paradox can’t really be avoided.” — Vitalik Buterin 

33. “The paradoxes of today are the prejudices of tomorrow since the most benighted and the most deplorable prejudices have had their moment of novelty when fashion lent them its fragile grace.” — Marcel Proust 

34. “The bed is a bundle of paradoxes: we go to it with reluctance, yet we quit it with regret; we make up our minds every night to leave it early, but we make up our bodies every morning to keep it late.” — Ogden Nash 

35. “People pretend to be nice; people pretend to be smooth and polite and everything, but this is only an appearance because the way we’re built as human beings is only in paradox and contradictions.” — Vincent Cassel

36. “In its famous paradox, the equation of money and excrement, psychoanalysis becomes the first science to state what common sense and the poets have long known – that the essence of money is in its absolute worthlessness.” — Norman O. Brown 

37. “There is an ecstasy that marks the summit of life and beyond which life cannot rise. And such is the paradox of living, this ecstasy comes when one is most alive, and it comes as a complete forgetfulness that one is alive.” — Jack London 

38. “One of the best paradoxes of leadership is a leader’s need to be both stubborn and open-minded. A leader must insist on sticking to the vision and stay on course to the destination. But he must be open-minded during the process.” Simon Sinek 

39. “Many people say I believe aliens built the pyramids. I don’t. In fact, I’m not a supporter of the ‘ancient alien’ hypothesis at all. I think a lost human civilization is a much better explanation of the mysteries and paradoxes of ancient cultures.” — Graham Hancock 

40. “The paradox is really the pathos of intellectual life, and just as only great souls are exposed to passions, it is only the great thinker who is exposed to what I call paradoxes, which are nothing else than grandiose thoughts in embryo.” — Soren Kierkegaard 

Famous paradox quotes about exploring the unknown

The unknown offers limitless new paradoxes for us to wrap our minds around. 

41. “The paradox of reality is that no image is as compelling as the one which exists only in the mind’s eye.” — Shana Alexander

42. “Perhaps this is our strange and haunting paradox here in America – that we are fixed and certain only when we are in movement.” — Thomas Wolfe 

43. “The most tragic paradox of our time is to be found in the failure of nation-states to recognize the imperatives of internationalism.” — Earl Warren 

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44. “The paradox explored in my book ‘The Innovator’s Dilemma’ is that successful companies can fail by making the ‘right’ decisions in the wrong situations.” — Clayton M. Christensen 

45. “Western people ask me whether it is a paradox that I am King but support democracy. I have to tell them that in Thailand, the King is the guarantor of democracy.” — Bhumibol Adulyadej 

46. “A king, realizing his incompetence, can either delegate or abdicate his duties. A father can do neither. If only sons could see the paradox, they would understand the dilemma.” — Marlene Dietrich 

47. “Ordinary readers, forgive my paradoxes: one must make them when one reflects; and whatever you may say, I prefer being a man with paradoxes than a man with prejudices.” Jean-Jacques Rousseau 

48. “It is the paradox of life that the way to miss pleasure is to seek it first. The very first condition of lasting happiness is that a life should be full of purpose, aiming at something outside self.” — Hugo Black 

49. “It is a paradox of the acquisitive society in which we now live that although private morals are regulated by law, the entrepreneur is allowed considerable freedom to use – and abuse – the public in order to make money.” — Gore Vidal 

50. “You might find me outside with a can of hair spray, spraying it with the hope that the sun will burn a hole in the Earth. Another part of me hopes people will grow up and evolve and get smarter. That’s the paradox of Marilyn Manson.” — Marilyn Manson 

What is the Fermi paradox?

The Fermi paradox is one of the most well-known paradoxes. 

The paradox is named after physicist Enrico Fermi and deals with life in the multiverse. 

The Fermi paradox is the contradiction between the likeliness of alien life in the universe and its apparent absence. 

The galaxy has billions of observable stars, many similar to our sun. 

Many Earth-like planets are orbiting those stars. 

The likelihood that one of these stars managed to help to develop intelligent life on one of these planets seems inevitable. 

The assumption is that our multiverse should be teeming with intelligent life, yet many people and scientists feel they have yet to hear of or observe aliens. 

This naturally creates the question, Where is everyone? 

Perhaps they are in an alternate reality, or maybe they are right in front of our faces. 

Physicist Michio Kaku once said, “The river of time may fork into rivers, in which case you have a parallel reality, and so then you can become a time traveler and not have to worry about causing a time paradox.”

Who knows?

Do you have a favorite paradox quote?

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