Catch-22 (logic)  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

A Catch-22, coined by Joseph Heller in his novel Catch-22, is a logical paradox arising from a situation in which an individual needs something that can only be acquired with an action that will lead him to that very situation he is already in; therefore, the acquisition of this thing becomes logically impossible. Catch-22s are often spoken with regard to rules, regulations, procedures, or situations in which one has knowledge of being or becoming a victim but has no control over it occurring (i.e. heads you win, tails I lose, output is the input...)


See also

Situations which have logical similarities to a Catch-22.

  • Circular logic
  • False dilemma - a situation in which only two alternatives are considered, when in fact there are additional options
  • Irony
  • No-win situation – real choices exist, but no choice leads to success.
  • Kobayashi Maru – a scenario involving a choice between death of civilians or of the civilians and the officers who try to save them.
  • Reductio ad absurdum
  • The Lady, or the Tiger? – a short story involving a princess who must make a decision in a no-win situation.
  • Chicken or the egg – a seemingly unbreakable cycle of causation, which has an unknown origin.
  • Cornelian dilemma – a choice between actions which will all have a detrimental effect on the chooser or on someone they care for.
  • Deadlock – in computing, when two processes reach a standstill or impasse, each waiting for the other to finish.
  • Double bind – a forced choice between two logically conflicting demands.
  • Hobson's choice – the choice between taking an option and not taking it.
  • Lesser of two evils principle – a choice between two undesirable outcomes.
  • Necessary Evil – anything which, despite being considered to have undesirable qualities, is preferable to its absence or alternative.
  • Morton's Fork – a choice between two equally unpleasant alternatives.
  • Paradox – a statement or group of statements that leads to a contradiction or a situation which defies intuition.
  • Game of Chicken – Two participants desire a positive outcome by taking an action, yet if taken by both the result is devastatingly negative.
  • Sophie's Choice – a choice between two equally beloved entities, one of which must be destroyed to preserve the existence of the other.
  • The Trial – a novel by Franz Kafka.
  • The Captain of Köpenick
  • Gift of the Magi – Where two people in love with each other sell their belongings to buy gifts for each other, only to end up giving gifts related to the belonging they have sacrificed. (ie. A man sells a pocket watch to buy a brush for his wife. The wife then sells her long beautiful hair to buy a chain for the man's pocket watch.)

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Catch-22 (logic)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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