Ship of Thesus Paradox

Are we really who we think we are?

Group of bikes chained together at 59th Street, Columbus Circle
There’s this philosophical puzzle that I like to tell people called the Theseus Paradox and it goes like this:

The Greek hero Theseus returned from Crete with new planks on his ship. It turns out that, while Theseus was away, he replaced bits and pieces of his ship all along. The philosopher Plutarch wondered, after hearing this, whether or not it would be the same ship if in fact every piece of that ship was replaced.

In other words, if that were the case, is it the same ship or a completely different ship?

Turning to myself, I know that I am a completely different person than I was when I was in my early 20s. Again different in my late 20s to early 30s. And I think my last major shift in personality and temperament came in my mid-30s. That’s my mental state.

Physiologically, there’s the old adage is that every single one of our cells are replaced every 10 years.

It turns out not to be entirely true, as some brain cells are always ever the same. But even if that is the case, the question remains: how much of us can be replaced so that we are still who we think we are? If 99.87% of us is wholly different than the person we were 10 years ago, are we the same person?

I say this as I look down on my swollen leg. It has the ACL of a dead man now. That fact is neither scary or sad to me, just interesting.

Said it before that Sleepy Logan and Younger Logan have both screwed and helped me in my life.

Met someone recently who proudly said that she was the exact same person with the exact same beliefs she had in her late 30s as she did in her teens.

Me: There are those that would say that you’ve wasted the last 20-some odd years of your life, then. You’ve learned nothing from those versions of yourself.
She: Would you say that?
Me: I would say that the 18-year old you should not hold hostage the destiny of a 38 year-old adult. But I’m here to drink and really, what do I know?

Because, maybe it’s just a cop-out. It’s a way for me not to take responsibility for being a truly terrible person in my possible pasts.

———-

Him: …two weeks, in the Bronx.
Me: I can’t do it. Not with my leg.

It turns out that if you live an eat-what-you-kill life and can’t physically get out the door to do work, your clients get disappointed. Disappointed clients are never good.

Turned down my third gig already this month.

Worried that this injury will be far more costly than I first imagined.

———-

Posting my follow-up to 10 Tips on how to write a good Match, OK Cupid, or POF dating profile: Part 1 on Friday after noon.

You’ll like it, I think.

Location: a chair, finally
Mood: concerned
Music: really want to go out, I really want to go outside
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9 thoughts on “Ship of Thesus Paradox”

  1. I once read that the cells on your face are fully replaced every 2 years – which is why you look different through the years – the cell memory is trying to replicate what it knows, but it still comes out slightly different. I thought that was cool as well.
    Hope your ACL heals fast. And get a spike for your cane before winter. 😉

    1. I will use that – that sounds cool. I like to think we're getting better as much as it is we're getting older.

      Man, I hope my ACL heals fast too – this feels like it's been going on forever.

      A spike in my cane? Hmmm, that'd actually be kinda cool. But hopefully I'll be done with canes by then.

      1. Not in the cane but for the end – it's for snow/ice traction. They always sell out when the snow shows up. I guess it crossed my mind as we got snowed on this week.

  2. T=0 Thesus' Ship, T+1 Thesus' ship with a new plank, T+2 Thesus ship with 2 new planks… T+n Thesus ship with all new planks

    Thus at all times, it is Thesus' ship. The paradox taps… woot woot

    1. Fair enough, however, what if T=5,000 planks, 20 oars, 20 seats, etc.

      And each of those elements were changed. Wouldn't that then mean that T= something else entirely?

      I have not tapped nor been tapped in weeks. It's sad, dude, sad…

      1. I meant T is a moment in T. If at all individual moments in time the ship is Thesus' ship then in the end it is still Thesus' ship.

        Seems like you ground and pounded that pulled pork pretty well

        1. Well, I can't argue with that.

          Dude, I went to town on that pulled pork. You should give it a go one of these days, it's stupid easy.

  3. This post…. gave me a lot to think about! Am I the same person? I don't know anymore!

    Either way, I wish you a speedy recovery!

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