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Ship of Theseus

Posted on November 19, 2014 — 2 Minutes Read

There is a fascinating story called the Ship of Theseus. It is about whether a ship would remain the same if it was entirely replaced, piece by piece, and philosophers have been debating this for centuries without consensus. If that was not puzzling enough, the 17th-century English philosopher Thomas Hobbes, took this further by asking a second question, what if the original planks were gathered up, and used to build a second ship. Now which ship, if either, would be considered the original Ship of Theseus?

This puzzle is obviously one of how an object is defined and I am sure this is where people part. To me, an object is, as much how it is now and what it can be in the future, as what it has been in the past. That is to say, an object constitutes all its temporal parts, past and future alike. The Ship of Theseus is, ergo, the one with its original planks replaced anew, and precisely because it has its planks replaced anew and that it no longer has the original planks, that makes it the original Ship of Theseus. Things get trickier when it comes to personal identity for the interrelation between the mind and the body, if any at all, is still not clearly understood, not to mentioned this dichotomy may be entirely misguided after all. Having said that, I will probably still be who I am if I lose some part of me, like a little finger, but I am not sure if I will still be, if I am unwilling to give up one.