A fable of a paradox, just for kicks


“A king, debating the nature of reality with a sage, decided to show him the objective nature of truth. He set up a gallows on the bridge into his castle, and stationed two guards to question people there. If they told the truth they could pass, but if they lied they were to be hung. In this way truth would be upheld. The following day, the sage approached the castle. The guards asked him his business. ‘I am on my way to be hanged,’ he said. They scratched their heads. ‘If we let him through, he will have lied,’ said one. ‘But if we hang him, he will have been telling the truth,’ said the other. Thus the paradoxical and relative nature of things was shown to the king.” — Phoebe McNaughton, Perspective and Other Optical Illusions

No philosophical statement intended here; I just admire the cleverness of the sage in this fable. These days, he’d be a lawyer, right?

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