The trend is obvious ... CGI is here to stay. Many movies wouldn't stand a chance in the box office sans computer generated images and I don't mean just the slew of superhero movies (DC & Marvel dominating that department).

What I find interesting is that the expression "anything's possible" seems to hold in what could be called game worlds (computer-based universes).

What implications, if any, does this have on modality in re the philosophy of possibility & necessity.

Has anyone seen a CGI contradiction? Can a computer do a contradiction? Can they show us, for example, a square circle in Euclidean space?

  • 1
    You might find the question of imaginative resistance interesting and relevant: despite its supposed subjectivity and fictitiousness, moral possibility tends to be hard to imagine loosely. When cinema is an aid to emotion and imagination, perhaps it can undermine imaginative resistance (c.f. propaganda films motivating whole nations towards tyranny and atrocity). Video games with moral branching would manifest the resistance issue in a certain way, I suspect. Jul 27 at 14:46
  • Gracias for the assist. I believe a particular respondent to this query hit the target, more or less in the bullseye. There are certain particulars that need to be sorted out before we have everybody casting a yea vote on the issue, oui? Jul 27 at 16:05
  • 1
    I don't know what it is called but there is a distinction between things that are contradictory even in principle (e.g. four-sided triangles) and things that are logically consistent but cannot exist in our universe (e.g. time-travel)
    – user253751
    Jul 28 at 17:37

2 Answers 2


"Movie magic" doesn't really create impossible situations it rather produces the illusion of them.

The classic example would be that of continuous motion itself. Like what you experience on screen is perceived as a continuous evolution of events. But in reality it is not, it is a rapid sequence of single pictures, that is fast enough so that we don't see the gaps in between.

Though what that means is that what is shown on the next frame does not depend on what is shown on the previous frame. The connection between them is not a matter of logical consistency but of the viewers expectation that they are connected. The magic isn't happening on screen it's happening in your brain because you run out of options to explain what you see, so you either have to give up the idea that these events are logically connected or you have to accept that there are some supernatural forces at play that do not need to adhere to logic (or to a different one).

Or you again cheat and use the fact that this is all overwhelming and that the intuitive reaction to that means to narrow the focus away from the entire universe of concepts where this would lead to contradictions and towards a particular scene and within the limited focus of the observer you've got a lot more leeway to push all the contradictions to "the off (-screen)" and if they aren't relevant to the story just ignore them.

Also that is not a novelty of CGI that already happens with regular special effects (SFX), and we call these contradictions "plot holes". In some cases it literally renders the events on screen impossible even within the set of rules of it's own universe, but as that is outside of the focus of vision of the observer we usually tend to ignore it, similar to how we tend to ignore that these things are in contradiction with the rules of our own universe.

and in terms of a squared circle, well think of a single pixel, it's both a square and a circle, depending on the context and it certainly has the same size.

  • 1
    Arigato gozaimus for the answer. Well then, can we use CGI to create an illusion of a square circle? Jul 27 at 9:22

To answer one part of the question, computers cannot operate on contradictions. Computers are fundamentally logic machines, built upon layers and layers of logic gates with binary states. A contradiction in logic should cause a computer to produce an error or crash.

This doesn't mean the computer cannot produce an illusion that seems contradictory, like a square circle. However, the square circle concept is self-contradictory, and has no true representation.

  • Well, I can't disagree with what you say. Is your background computer science? If so, can you tell me what exactly would happen if a computer's asked to display a square circle. Assume you're on a shape generator website and you type in "square circle" in the textbox. Would it return an Error Message, like calculators do when we ask them to divide by 0? Jul 27 at 9:01
  • 2
    Not a square circle, but see, e.g., thenounproject.com/icon/penrose-square-358772 (also google Penrose triangle, etc). Jul 27 at 11:47
  • @JohnForkosh, I like where we're headed. Why not a square circle though? I mean all the ingredients required seem to available on the animator's ribbon. A few lines/curves, one or more clicks should ... do the trick, no? Jul 27 at 16:08
  • @JohnForkosh I notice the computer processes this as a 2D picture where no contradiction exists. If you want to create this in your favourite 3D modelling software, you'll have trouble.
    – user253751
    Jul 28 at 17:38
  • 1
    I believe that your sticking point of displaying a square circle is flawed due to the self-contradiction. The concept of a square and the concept of a circle define shapes. Attempting to combine these concepts into a square circle is inherently contradictory to the concepts, and has no true or consistent representation. Therefore, there is no way for any computer to display something which cannot be defined. If you can define exactly what the "square circle" should look like, then a computer should be able to display what you've defined. Jul 28 at 17:53

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .