Ship of Theseus

Here is another Thought Experiment. Theseus was a Greek Hero founder and the king of Athens. Like many Greek heroes he defeated many enemies and accomplished many great deeds. Why this thought experiment is name for him I am not sure. It has been talked about by many famous philosophers such as Socrates and Plato. More recently Hobbes and Locke have also discussed this dilemma. The idea goes that if a ship, as was the main mode of travel in those days, had all its wooden planks replaced, is it still fundamentally still the same ship? There are a few different variations of this idea, such as grandfathers ax, and a sock that develops a hole but is patched. All have basically the same idea just different objects that are being replaced. The Ship of Theseus is arguably the most famous.

So is a thing having many parts, having all of those parts replaced, would it essentially be the same thing you started with? My first reaction was no, if it has all its parts replaced then it is essentially a different object as you have changed what you started with. BUT, I got to thinking about the body and how cells die and get replaced and what not. I have heard that after about 7-10 years that every cell in the body is replaced by a new younger cell. So essentially it is the same idea. You have this thing, a human body, that replaces all its moving parts at the smallest level every 7 years or so. Are you a different person at the end of that 7 years? That is tough to say. People always grow and change, but technically you are not the same person you were 7 years ago.

It is interesting to think about, but I will confess that it is not entirely accurate. Not every cell in the human body gets replaced and they all have different life spans, so the 7 year thing is kind of a misnomer to say the least. But at the end of the day it is still interesting to think about. It is always fun to play the “what if game.” IF all your cells were replaced after 7 years, would you be the same person? Maybe, maybe not, it is tough to say, but it is fun to think about.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *