A friend once relayed to me, “What happens if Pinnochio says that his nose is about to grow?”
Of course, Pinnochio’s nose only grows when he is lying. But if his nose does grow then he would be found to have been telling the truth, so his nose shouldn’t therefore grow. But if his nose does not grow, then he would be lying, and the natural consequence of Pinnochio’s lying is therefore avoided by his cunning linguistic manipulation.
So… what actually happens? I would say that his nose grows. Pinnochio’s default state can probably be said to be one of truthfulness rather than deceit. I say this because his nose is more often not growing than growing. This means that at any given moment in time, we can say that his nose in the next moment is going to be the same, contingent on his current state of truthfulness. Yet Pinnochio at this time breaks the non-consequential nose. His statement makes an assumption about the future, contrary to what his current state of truthfulness necessitates the future to be: without nose growth. If so, he makes an incorrect statement about the immediate future, therefore breaking the state of truthfulness and entering into a state of lying. His nose will grow because at the very moment he said “My nose is about to grow” he was lying; his nose in the state of truthfulness was never “about to grow” and he is only found to have been speaking the truth in retrospect of the consequences of his words¹. The paradox can therefore only be understood when placed in time.
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¹If the paradox has a solvable consequence, beyond time and space imploding at the whim of Pinnochio’s thoughtless words, then it therefore creates the new paradox: Pinnochio is simultaneously lying and speaking the truth. Why does he only receive the consequences of a lying Pinnochio then? Why does his nose not meet him half way and grow sideways or at half the speed or into his face instead of out, in some way acknowledging that he is at the same time truthful? This is because at the moment that he lied his nose had not yet grown. In retrospect he was truthful and his nose had not yet grown. In the present he lied, as his nose also grew in the present.