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Grelling's paradox




An equivalent, from the world of words and grammar, of Russell's paradox. Grelling's paradox involves dividing all adjectives into two sets: self-applicable and not self-applicable. Words like "English," "written," and "short" are self-applicable, while "Russian," "spoken," and "long," are not self-applicable. Now, define the adjective heterological to mean "not self-applicable." To which set of adjectives does "heterological" belong? This strange quandry was devised by the logician and philosopher Kurt Grelling (1886–1941/2), who was persecuted by the Nazis; it is not certain whether he died with his wife in the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1942, or whether he was killed in 1941 in the Pyrenees while trying to escape into Spain.


Related category

   • PARADOXES