If the ship on which Theseus sailed has been so heavily repaired and nearly every part replaced, is it still the same ship — and, if not, at what point did it stop being the same ship?
The ship wherein Theseus and the youth of Athens returned had thirty oars, and was preserved by the Athenians down even to the time of Demetrius Phalereus, for they took away the old planks as they decayed, putting in new and stronger timber in their place, insomuch that this ship became a standing example among the philosophers, for the logical question of things that grow; one side holding that the ship remained the same, and the other contending that it was not the same.
We all think of “I” as a single person, isn’t it?
I mean, if one were to say that you were not one, but multiple people and at multiple points in time, you would instantly dismiss the thought as ludicrous.
Yet, if you think of it, you are not the “you” you were when you were born, or even a year old, or even a minute ago. You changed (yes, a lot of people have told me that, and so here is the explanation) – and you will keep changing.
“Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think that they are finished”
So said Daniel Gilbert.
From our cells, to our values, our thoughts, our outlook – and thus the way we experience the world – all changes, and constantly. So at what point in time do you decide who the “I” is?
“A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.”
That was from Mohammed Ali.
We are more in a flux, both physically, mentally and emotionally – with changes happening as I type this blog. You cannot escape it. So how do you determine who you are as a person? Do you take a balance sheet of yourself, watching yourself at a single point in time? Or someone else for that matter?
The nature of reality is so complex that science has not even begun to comprehend it. Our ancestors comprehended it well, and called it Maya – an illusion. Even the self is an illusion, they argued. There is no I, and there is no YOU. There is only US, and we are a single continuum, thinking that we are divided into multiple portions each distinct from another.
The ship of Theseus is the thought experiment that still remains. And if you wish to find answers, you need to seek within.
See you tomorrow…or a different you tomorrow?