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What came first, the chicken or the egg? Show more Show less
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This age-old question was first asked by Aristotle back in the 4th century BCE. Since then, the question has been seen throughout society and has become one of today's most iconic paradoxes. So which one actually came first?

Neither the chicken nor the egg came first Show more Show less

This question is supposed to be an infinite sequence. There is no definitive answer as to what came first, and that is okay.
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There is no true origin of the first chicken or the first egg

Some things simply came to be and are outside of the boundaries of human investigation. The problem of the chicken and the egg is one of those. Without a chicken, there could be no egg, and without an egg, there could be no chicken.

The Argument

As the original conceivers of the chicken and egg question from Ancient Greece agreed, the point of the paradox is not to find out what actually came first, but to acknowledge that sometimes, the origin of an object will remain unknown forever. We intuitively know that there must have been an egg that it hatched out of for the chicken to have been born. However, we also know that for an egg to have been created, there must have been a chicken that birthed that egg. This loop can continue forever, with a chicken being hatched by an egg being birthed by another chicken. And that is exactly the point of the paradox. It goes back forever in an infinite loop and sequence. To try and wrap our minds around what exactly was the origin is pointless. Sometimes, when things go in an endless cycle, the cycle itself becomes more useful than actually needing to find the exact origin of something. Aristotle used this idea to show the limitations of knowledge. There always comes a point where our human capacity to understand will stop, and knowledge simply gives way to the unknown, which is okay.[1]

Counter arguments

Science might not have been advanced enough in Aristotle’s time to prove what came first, but now our genetic testing capabilities have gotten to the point where the origin of this question is conceivable.[2] Beyond proving that the question does have a definitive answer, this also shows why the philosophical underpinning of Aristotle’s analogy was flawed. Because although he argues that sometimes human knowledge is limited, that doesn’t mean our capacity to gain knowledge will always be limited. In 41 BCE, humans might not have had the technology to discover the answer to the chicken-or-egg question, but in our modern-day, we certainly do. People should not accept that there are boundaries to their knowledge and that certain things should simply be left up to infinite sequences and the unknown. As the case of the chicken and the egg shows, there are ways of discovering new ideas and eventually making the unknown known. Any human development will concern some unknown, but that doesn’t mean that humans will never catch up with the universe around us.

Proponents

Premises

[P1] The chicken and egg dilemma is an infinite sequence with no possible correct answer. [P2] The dilemma is meant to be a thought experiment showing how human knowledge will have boundaries.

Rejecting the premises

[P1] Technology can discover the answer to this question. Therefore it is not an infinite sequence but simply a question that requires a lot of prehistoric dating. [P2] Developing technology from 41 BCE to now shows that technology can expand the boundaries of human knowledge.

References

  1. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/aristotle-causality/
  2. https://www.theguardian.com/science/2006/may/26/uknews
This page was last edited on Wednesday, 14 Oct 2020 at 21:41 UTC

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