The Hooded Man Paradox: Knowing And Not Knowing Your Brother At The Same Time

Eubulides of Miletus (c. 400 BC), a philosopher of the Megarian school and a student of Euclid of Megara (not to be confused with Euclid of Alexandria who compiled the Elements of Euclid), posed the following paradox:

You say you know your brother.

Yet when your brother is hooded you are unable to identify him.

Therefore you both do and do not know your brother.

This is called the Hooded Man paradox. It is one of the four major paradoxes attributed to Eubulides, the other three being “The Heap”, “The Liar” and “The Horned Man”.

Personally, I don’t have a brother so I can’t surely tell whether I would be able to recognize him if he’s wearing a hood. However, if, hypothetically, I have a brother, I’m pretty confident that I woild be able to discern his identity based on things like his physique, mannerisms and actions even if he’s wearing a hood. But who knows… Now, that just sounded like a paradox too.

Forther Reading

Logical Paradoxes

Advertisements

Posted by

My name Edmark M. Law. I work as a freelance writer, mainly writing about science and mathematics. I am an ardent hobbyist. I like to read, solve puzzles, play chess, make origami and play basketball. In addition, I dabble in magic, particularly card magic and other sleight-of-hand type magic. I live in Hong Kong. You can find me on Twitter` and Facebook. My email is edmarklaw@learnfunfacts.com

10 thoughts on “The Hooded Man Paradox: Knowing And Not Knowing Your Brother At The Same Time

  1. I think “Brother” could mean anyone you think you know well.
    It would be interesting combined with the Socratic, know thyself. If somehow you could identify yourself or not in a hooded crowd. I don’t know how that experiment could be performed.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. There was a tradition among some Rajputs in India. When a man went to his in laws’ house to take his wife back home, he was required to find his wife from a group of women, all standing with their faces veiled. If he succeeded, he was permitted to sleep with her if not, he would sleep alone.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think the issue is language and not paradox. You “know your brother” (assuming “know” is not meant in the biblical sense) means “I know my brother when I see his face”.

    BTW, if the brother is wearing a hood in his story and NOT the other brother’s executioner, the author really needs a refresher in irony…

    Liked by 3 people

What's On Your Mind?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s