Difference Between Paradox and Oxymoron

Paradox vs Oxymoron
 

Paradox is an argument which is inconsistent with logic and common sense, but oxymoron is a figure of speech where contradictory words are combined. An oxymoron could also be a paradox at times.

Paradox

Paradox is an argument which shows inconsistency with logic and common sense. These could be invalid arguments; however, they may promote critical thinking. Some paradoxes are related to mathematic and logic e.g.: Russell’s Paradox, Curry’s paradox. Other popular paradoxes may come from physics (e.g. Grandfather Paradox) and philosophy (e.g. Ship of Theseus). If paradoxes can be categorized according to themes, most common ones would be self – reference, contradiction, infinite regress and circular definition. A self-reference paradox is a statement bringing inconsistency and illogical meaning on itself. One such statement is “Nothing is impossible” where it means it is impossible for something to be impossible. The grandfather paradox, which comes in physics, is also very interesting. Assume a time traveler is going to kill his grandfather, where his deed may prevent his own birth and indeed change the future while changing the past.

W.V Quine classifies paradoxes into 3 classes: veridical paradox, falsidical paradox, antinomy. After Quine’s work, another class called dialetheism was identified. Veridical paradox means a paradox which produces non sense results but apparently could be proved to be true. (E.g. a 21 year old has only 5 birthdays.) This statement is true if the person is born on a leap day. A falsidical paradox is a paradox which is false (e.g. 4 = 10). A paradox, which is not either of the above, is called an antinomy. A paradox, which is true and false at the same time, is called dialetheism. This is common in speech e.g. “Well, She is. But she isn’t”.

Oxymoron

Oxymoron is a figure of speech where contradictory terms are combined. The word originated from the Greek word giving the meaning “sharp-dull”. Oxymora (plural) appear quite often in modern speech. Oxymora may appear in a word pair where one is an adjective and the other a noun. This is the most common form of oxymora. Dark light, mad wisdom, living dead, and violent relaxation are some examples. Sometimes oxymora could be a word pair where one is a noun and the other is a verb. This form is less frequent compared to the previous; e.g. …silence whistles.

Oxymora as it appears to be are not always pairs of words. Some oxymora could be phrases, as well. Some oxymora are paradoxes. E.g. bright smoke, sick health, heavy lightness etc. These are mostly used by writers, to bring attention to contradiction in a certain situation. There are also physical and visual oxymora. The definition of visual oxymoron is where the material, which a thing appears to be made or made, is the adjective, and the thing is the noun. E.g.: electrical candle, invisible ink etc. Some oxymora have become clichés over the time; bitter sweet, dry drunk, and serious joke are some of the popular ones.

Some words such as business ethics, civil war, freedom fighters etc. are misunderstood as oxymora but they are used mostly to add humorous effect.

What is the difference between Paradox and Oxymoron?

• A paradox is an argument which is inconsistent with logic and common sense, but oxymoron is a figure of speech where contradictory words are combined.

• An oxymoron could also be a paradox at times.