The Chicken or the Egg?

Perhaps the most famous and well known of all the paradoxes, which did come first, the chicken or the egg?

This paradox relies on two statements: that all chickens come from chicken eggs and that all chicken eggs come from chickens.

But if all chickens come from chicken eggs, and all chicken eggs come from chickens, what started this pattern? A chicken started off as an egg, and that egg came from a chicken, and that chicken from an egg, and so on forever.

YOU’VE BEEN PARADOXED!

To solve this problem we have to reject one of the principles it relies on. So either we reject that all chickens come from chicken eggs, or that all chicken eggs come from chickens. If we accept both these principles then we would continue in the cycle the chicken came from the egg came from the chicken came from the egg came from the chicken, so we must reject one of them. This is what most philosophers try to do.

Since both principles seem logical, it is obvious to anyone that chickens do come from chicken eggs and chicken eggs come from chickens, it would perhaps be better to simply amend one of the principles, for example, ‘all chicken eggs except the very first one come from chickens’.

To me, the problem with this is that it’s not very absolute. If one chicken egg came from a goose, for example, through evolution, then this introduces the possibility of further change. Perhaps if the first chicken egg did come from something not-a-chicken (like a goose) then a chicken will one day lay a goose egg?

Well those are just the basics. I should probably point out at this point that I’m not a very good philosophy student, I’m more into the English Literature side of my degree.

The thing I like with philosophy though is that anything can happen, arguments and discussions can go on forever, with new ideas being introduced all the time. Many paradoxes have technically been solved, but people still puzzle over them and think up new objections or new solutions.

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