Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Paradoxes in our Daily Lives

UM LEVEL H - Higher Level



DEPARTMENT Centre for the Liberal Arts and Sciences

DESCRIPTION Throughout history the quest of deeper knowledge and understanding has driven humanity against limits which do not seem to be just boundaries of rational reasoning, but which lead to paradoxes and apparent contradictions. What might be surprising for many is that this has happened in virtually all directions of human intellectual endeavours, being mathematics, computation, science, mysticism; and rather than set boundaries to knowledge, these have typically led to breakthroughs in their domain. Paradoxes seem to show the creative compresence of the immanent and the transcendent in various fields.

In this unit, we explore several paradoxes and guide students to reflect on the ramifications these have had on humanity and what this can signify on a personal level. For this reason, students will keep a reflective diary throughout lectures. These entries will support the gradual synthesis of ideas into an essay.
Subsequently, during the final sessions, students will have the opportunity to present their personal intellectual journey as they grapple with some of the most exciting, yet mind boggling, discoveries in human knowledge.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- Understand and describe a number of paradoxes from varied contexts and knowledge domains;
- Outline the history of the discovery of paradoxes and how they shaped human thought;
- Frame wide ranging paradoxes within the human quest for ever deeper and more complete knowledge and understanding.

2. Skills
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- Synthesise the bigger picture of the paradox concept after being introduced to several examples;
- Reflect on the discovery of paradoxes and how these can impact our outlook on life;
- Present and communicate personal understanding and reflection.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Main Text

- A. W. Moore, The Infinite, Taylor & Francis Group, 1991.
- Martin Gardner, Aha! A two volume collection: Aha! Gotcha & Aha! Insight, The Mathematical Association of America, 2006.
- De Lubac, Henri. Paradoxes of Faith. Ignatius Press: San Francisco, 1987.

Supplementary readings

- M. Sipser, Introduction to the Theory of Computation, Cengage Learning, 2012.
- R. M. Sainsbury, Paradoxes 3rd Edition, Cambridge University Press, 2009.
- Hayden Gary, Paradoxes: 100 Philosophy Problems from Achilles to Zeno, Metro Books 2019.
- Sorenson Roy, A Brief History of the Paradox: Philosophy and the Labyrinths of the Mind, OUP 2005.
- Cuonzo Margaret, Paradox, MIT Press 2014.
- Alsamraee Hamsa, Paradoxes: Guiding Forces in Mathematical Exploration, Curious Math Publications 2020.
- Jung, Karl Gustav. The Essential Jung. London: Fontana Press, 1983.
- Simone Weil. Œuvres Complètes: Cahiers: La Connaissance Surnaturelle – Cahiers de New York et de Londres (juillet 1942- juillet 1943). Paris: Gallimard, 2006.
- Diderot Denis. The Paradox of the Actor. Createspace Independent Publishing Platform. 2015.


Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Sept. Asst Session Weighting
Reflective Diary SEM2 40%
Essay SEM2 60%



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It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2023/4. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.