Past Phrasle (#595)

Monday, September 11, 2023

‹ Puzzle #596
Puzzle #594

the chicken or the egg?
The phrase "which came first, the chicken or the egg?" is a philosophical and scientific conundrum that has been pondered for centuries. This question has both literal and metaphorical dimensions. At its core, the question asks about cause and effect, origin and consequence, and the beginnings of complex processes.
From a biological standpoint, the question can be approached through the lens of evolution. The egg, laid by a bird that was genetically very similar but not quite a chicken, underwent a genetic mutation to become the first true chicken. Therefore, the egg came first, if by "egg" one means "egg carrying the first true chicken" and by "chicken" one means "the first true chicken as defined by its genetic makeup." Metaphorically, the question is often used to discuss problems of cause and effect or to highlight dilemmas where it's not clear which of two related events should be considered the "starting point." It's a way to encapsulate complex cycles of causality in a simple and memorable phrase.