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Paradoxical Catch Phrases
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Posted 4/20/07 , edited 4/20/07
At times we come across statements that have such a profound meaning - but end up being a paradox or confusing by their own nature.

I just encountered one of those today, and I thought it would be fun to hear one from everyone and their thoughts on the meaning and implications of the statement - go ahead and re-explain someone else's statement in your own words if you wish. They don't have to be deep, even funny statements would be more then welcome.

Some notes to the Mods
-I don't consider this a forum game of any kind, but a discussion on common catch phrases and complex phrases that are hard to understand and need explanation, sorry if there is already a topic like this.

-This isn't a quotes thread, it's an explanation of thoughts/ideas thread. But it's encouraged to use the quotes/phrases in your explanation ^^

-This isn't necessarily a Philosophy thread, for that already exists. The purpose of that thread is to ask philosophical questions and explain person philosophy This thread covers/emphasizes a boarder spectrum of famous thought/sayings and instead of personal philosophy, aims at personal/common interpretation with a heavy emphasis on PARADOX.

Today I heard the statement,

"To become a seeker of knowledge, you must admit you know nothing.
To gain any knowledge, you need to know where to look"

When I look at this statement I have to laugh almost... It's an interesting paradox that says you have to know nothing to learn something, and need to know something to learn anything! If it's true then at the end it says that we will always remain ignorant or falsely guided in our pursuit of knowledge, and that no man can truly find truth.
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30 / M / Japan
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Posted 4/20/07
^ Don't take it literally. It's just saying that for one to gain true knowledge, one must be humble. And to be guided in the search of knowledge, one must have wisdom.

There's this famous phrase written by the national hero of my country:

"...which is why I fall in order to give you flight; why I die in order to give you life."
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Posted 4/20/07
It is not profound, but there is a very common saying in England that gets me every time.

"Waste not, want not."

That alone drives me insane because it doesn't make sense. Don't waste what you have -- yeah, I get that, but how does it work if it's coupled with "want not"?
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Posted 4/20/07

catex wrote:

It is not profound, but there is a very common saying in England that gets me every time.

"Waste not, want not."

That alone drives me insane because it doesn't make sense. Don't waste what you have -- yeah, I get that, but how does it work if it's coupled with "want not"?


Here in the states the order is reversed, "Want not, Waste not"

It sorta applies to the food-bank and goodwill stores. If you don't want it, don't waste it, find someone/somewhere it'll be useful to.

"...which is why I fall in order to give you flight; why I die in order to give you life."

That is a very pretty work of speechcraft. I'd like to know what it applies to.
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Posted 4/20/07
^ really? I've never heard it reversed like that. But for some reason, it makes more sense...
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Posted 4/20/07
I changed the first post a tiny bit to make it more acessible, I'd really like to see more of these common phrases explained and thought upon.

Yeah, it being the other way around confuses the crap out of me O.o

If this topic dies I'll change the title and remake it to be more appealing.
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Posted 4/20/07
“To be is to be perceived.” Bishop George Berkeley

I'm no physicist, but I (sort of) understand that the outcome of certain events and that the state of matter cannot be determined at a quantum level without observation. So, it would seem this statement has some truth to it. However, Berkeley covered his ass nicely by saying that God perceives everything anyways, neatly rendering his idea tautological. Everything is observed, therefore everything exists. Anyways, it seems like this "observation leads to existence" mindset will at least contribute to the future of our understanding of energy and matter.
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Posted 4/20/07
You sow what you reap .. what a retarded phrase... so paradoxial and reatarded O_________________O;;
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Posted 4/20/07
^ That is very much like the statement,

"I think, Therefor I am"
Which seems to state that existence is based on the fact of being able to question your existence is proof of it.

There are some obvious holes to Berkeley's statement like you said, as not everything is perceived (e.g. The soul)

It also doesn't count for such things as optical illusions - which are observed, yet known to be tricks of the eye. It's a good definition, but one that could lead to a closed mindset.
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Posted 4/20/07
gosh...it's all so complicated?

i think therefore i am.

for me...it's more like...being able to have opinions (which do need some thought process) and to have beliefs defines a person. thus the phrase??

waste not, want not.

i think it's already been explained...but i've never really heard it reversed before. hm. i think it's like your wants can change...so if you don't waste...you shouldn't satisfy your wants as well??
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20 / M / Boston
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Posted 4/20/07

Jorlwind wrote:

^ That is very much like the statement,

"I think, Therefor I am"
Which seems to state that existence is based on the fact of being able to question your existence is proof of it.

There are some obvious holes to Berkeley's statement like you said, as not everything is perceived (e.g. The soul)

It also doesn't count for such things as optical illusions - which are observed, yet known to be tricks of the eye. It's a good definition, but one that could lead to a closed mindset.


Just a quick response since I don't really want to get into a debate about the statement. Optical illusions are in fact a tangible thing in that they happen and are describable. While they are tricks of they eye even tricks have an existence do they not?
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Posted 4/20/07

Hopchow wrote:


Jorlwind wrote:

^ That is very much like the statement,

"I think, Therefor I am"
Which seems to state that existence is based on the fact of being able to question your existence is proof of it.

There are some obvious holes to Berkeley's statement like you said, as not everything is perceived (e.g. The soul)

It also doesn't count for such things as optical illusions - which are observed, yet known to be tricks of the eye. It's a good definition, but one that could lead to a closed mindset.


Just a quick response since I don't really want to get into a debate about the statement. Optical illusions are in fact a tangible thing in that they happen and are describable. While they are tricks of they eye even tricks have an existence do they not?


@.@ I concede sir, that was way over my level of thought. Touche
I think what I ment though is that the optical illusion is a mis-processing of a perceived image that you eye has sent to your brain, and thought has no tangible matter besides the energy inside your brain. Yes, an illusion has a cause, but doesn't mean its exactly there. I figured your definition was talking about "matter" in existance. Sorry ^^;

Debate is good though, it helps us learn.

"You sow what you reap .. what a retarded phrase... so paradoxial and reatarded O_________________O;;"

Also backwards, here (in a farming community) it's
"You reap what you sow"
Which is a common phrase that basically says that all your problems are of your own cause (Sow - the spreading of seeds. I think this expression originates from the practice of not sifting through grain seeds to find the seeds of weeds and grass)

So, if your careless and sow weeds, your harvast will be of weeds. Applying that to life basically means "its all your fault dumb-ass"

But then you could also turn it around, as last years crops can become next years, so
"You sow what you reap"
Could also mean that each of your original mistakes will come back to haunt you and history will repeat itself, as all your weeds (eg. wrongs) will only sprout more weed-seeds to be sown again.

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Posted 4/20/07
^ I know, I was just kidding about the statement
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Posted 4/20/07

logain wrote:

^ I know, I was just kidding about the statement


How dare you make me think! xD
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30 / M / Japan
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Posted 4/20/07

Jorlwind wrote:

^ That is very much like the statement,

"I think, Therefor I am"
Which seems to state that existence is based on the fact of being able to question your existence is proof of it.

There are some obvious holes to Berkeley's statement like you said, as not everything is perceived (e.g. The soul)

It also doesn't count for such things as optical illusions - which are observed, yet known to be tricks of the eye. It's a good definition, but one that could lead to a closed mindset.


This is actually a very crude translation of Descartes' original "cogito ergo sum". The more direct translation would be understood as "I think; I am". The discrepancy is that thinking is not a cause to the effect which is exsitence, rather, existence preceeds and succeeds rational thought, therefore the two cannot be placed temporally to bring about the other. In other words, it wouldn't make sense to prove your exsitence because you can think of yourself to exist, because this implies, a priori, you exist to begin with. But the paradox is that even if existence preceeds rational thought, rational thought brings about existence, which is Descartes' search into the idea of the infinite (he begins by disregarding God, but jumps all of a sudden in a spur of ecstasy in his rediscovery of the infinite, which is God. I found this part of his reflections very odd, as if he took a pill of viagra and a couple shots of burbon).

I guess what I'm trying to say is I don't really like Descartes' philosophy because he used the universal methodical doubt. I'd agree more with the Philosophies of Marcel and Levinas.
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