The Ship of Theseus

Discussion in 'Opinions, Beliefs, & Points of View' started by Zurkhardo, Mar 9, 2011.

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  1. Zurkhardo

    Zurkhardo Well-Known Member

    Philosophical question!

    The Ship of Theseus is a paradox which raises the following question: if an object has had all it's component parts replaced, is it still fundamentally the same object? What if a ship, after a long period of gradual refurbishing, eventually had all it's parts replaced? Would it still be the same ship? This topic is pertinent to the concept of identity.

    There are many variations to this, such as Heraclitus's river: "Upon those who step into the same rivers, different and again different waters flow."

    Hobbes put an interesting spin on it too: what if all the planks from one ship were taken, after being replaced, and used to construct another? Which ship, if any, is the "original?
  2. aoeu

    aoeu Well-Known Member

    A ship is certainly the construction, not the parts/materials that make it up. This is intuitive - a shipbuilder is the individual who puts the ship together, not the one who makes the parts (though it gets a little more sketchy when it comes to the hull since the hull floats, which nearly defines a boat; for a wooden hull, though, the hull is intuitively the construction, not the individual planks.)

    I'm not sure if my explanation makes any sense. I hope it does.
  3. NoMoneyToPlease

    NoMoneyToPlease Banned Member

    Given that our cellular energies are withdrawn from decaying cells and reused to form new cells then I would say if the boats replacement parts came from the same trees as the original parts,then yes it is possible for that boat to get a complete overhaul in time but essentially remain the same ship it was before.

    I hope this answer was all knowing and pompous enough. ;)

    Just have to add,did not take into account that the same basic premise you present could also apply to the source of the wood for the boat repairs.Even if the trees were the same trees,would they be the same trees? :O
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 10, 2011
  4. bhawk

    bhawk Well-Known Member

    this is something i have often pondered with the fact the human body is constantly replacing cells.
    Am i the same person i was as a baby?
    So much has been replaced over the years yet i still feel like me
  5. Lovecraft

    Lovecraft Well-Known Member

    We are not our cells, we are the pattern those cells take on.
  6. NoMoneyToPlease

    NoMoneyToPlease Banned Member

    Thank you for that further understanding lovecraft.
  7. Chargette

    Chargette Well-Known Member

    When the ship totally replaced over time has the same ID numbers it's identified as the original ship.
  8. mulberrypie

    mulberrypie Well-Known Member

    if it happens piece by piece i think so
  9. Lovecraft

    Lovecraft Well-Known Member


    Does that look like a person due to the blocks or due to the ordering of the blocks? The same blocks in different order would be something else; as would we. As soon as you take a piece off the boat it's no longer part of the form. Were you to duplicate the form you could call the the same but distinct similar to the mathematical concept of two parallel lines that do not overlap literally being the same line but still distinct.
  10. Prinnctopher's Belt

    Prinnctopher's Belt Antiquities Friend SF Supporter

    I don't believe so. The parts make the whole. Even if replaced with similar or exact parts, those new parts would not have been through the same wear and tear or same experience, same sweat, blood, and tears on them as the old ones with the whole. The whole has changed with different components and goes through a new phase with the new parts.
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