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Paradox

  • By: Don Lee Fred Nilsen
  • In: Encyclopedia of Humor Studies
  • Edited by: Salvatore Attardo
  • Subject:General Media, Communication & Cultural Studies, Sociology of Culture

The most basic type of paradox is a dramatic rhetorical device that offers an unorthodox insight because of using a single word with different or contradictory meanings. On a very simple level, if John is walking through the door of a room, it can be said that “John is in the room,” or that “John is not in the room,” or that “John is partly in the room and partly not in the room.” That John can be considered to be in the room or not in the room is a paradox, because these statements can be seen as true but are contradictory.

Some scholars view paradox as a superficial and trivial rhetorical device, comparable to a pun. However, others view paradox as being on almost ...

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