Solutions Fitting Problems
The characteristics of solutions correspond to the characteristics of the subject-matter being considered. A detective trying to track down someone who has committed a crime may be satisfied with identifying fingerprints or DNA matches; a mathematician inter- ested in finding out how many prime numbers are in a finite series may be satisfied when he gets a reliable computer response to his query; a paleontologist interested in locating missing links from the Cambrian era may feel satisfied in carbon-dating some fossils from that era. But the subjects we have been considering are much more complex than the problems of mathematics or the physical sciences, since they bring in multiple subjective aspects necessarily omitted in order to arrive at objective results in these other disci- plines. We should not be surprised if the results that emerge are complex and paradoxical.
For example, a [straightforward] solution to the question, [what is the difference between human beings and the other ani- mals] would be in the form, [the essential difference-in-kind is X,] where [X] might be rationality, or the ability to make tools. But as we have seen, all of these common answers are subject to chal- lenges. The most impregnable conclusion—self-consciousness as the chief human difference—is paradoxical, insofar as, while it may be the most obvious to us as a clear-cut difference-in-kind, it is the least objectively observable and provable difference.
Numerous other paradoxes have been encountered in the other issues we have considered, including the following: