Paradox Is Illuminating the Black Hole

This essay is one of the five winners in the 2019 writing competition held by the Black Hole Initiative at Harvard University. “The Black Hole Initiative offers a unique environment for thinking about the topic of black holes more creatively and comprehensively,” says BHI director, Avi Loeb. To add context to the exciting April 10 announcement that astronomers have observed a black hole for the first time, this week Nautilus is featuring all five winning essays.

The way up and the way down are one and the same,” says the Sage.

Paradox has a way of plaguing thought. It illuminates the inconsistencies and inadequacies of the concepts with which we make sense out of our experience. It casts into doubt our framework of understanding as much as the understanding itself. Whatever tower of thought may be built in an attempt to see past its contradictions teeters and, with slight perturbation, collapses. However, it can also become a tool of epiphany, if only we wield it skillfully enough. The philosopher

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