Ship of Theseus
Also known as the Theseus’ paradox, Ship of Theseus is a philosophical puzzle about personal identity. The paradox is derived from a story in Plutarch and commonly used in giving illustrations of problems that revolve around the identity of composite objects. In the puzzle, a story is told about Theseus who had a ship, and in the way of things parts often require constant replacement. There reaches a point whereby all the original components have been replaced. The question is, can the ship still be the same? Besides, if someone went around collecting the discarded parts of the ship and used them to make another ship, which one would be the better candidate for being the original ship?
In order to understand this puzzle, it is important to note that the Ship of Theseus is not what it is by the individual parts that make it up. The ship ceased to be known as the Ship of Theseus the minute the first part was removed from it. Besides, the individual atoms in the parts are forever changing, therefore, the ship is never itself.
Another concept to this paradox is that the Ship of Theseus is what it is because of its structure. If the ship remains the same ship throughout the changes in parts, the result is contradictory because we will now have two ships. Thus, you will end up with the result that both of them are the Ship of Theseus. This means that two discrete things are one numerical thing.
The other side to the puzzle is that the Ship of Theseus is what it is because of its history. The ship remains similar due to its particular role in the world’s history. Parts are changed quite often but the actor remains the same. Each of the two ships shares a relevant history with the original ship.
Away from the ships, this paradox can be applied by individuals to be able to exactly evaluate themselves. We know that there are certain parts of us or things about us that keep changing from time to time, but we still think we are the same people. The ship has been used figuratively to represent us. Thus, there are quite a number of conclusions or lessons that can be driven from the paradox as indicated below:
- We are who we are because of our parts or the individual mater that makes us up
- We are us because of our structure for example, we lose a limb or even cut our hair, we are no longer the same.
- With regards to our history, if we were to be duplicated, we would either have a existential twin or even cease to be.
- If we lose any spiritual part like memories, we are no longer the same. Or if we even have a radical change of heart, the person we used to be is gone.
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