We Are the Ship of Theseus

We have had [most] of ourselves replaced regularly over time (with the exception of brain cells), are we the same person?

Folksonomies: philosophy identity existence paradox

Ship of Theseus Paradox

The ship wherein Theseus and the youth of Athens returned [from Crete] 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.


Is a ship that has every board and nail replaced the same ship?

Folksonomies: philosophy paradox

Additional Support/Evidence

You Are Not the Same Person You Were as a Child

Think of an experience from your childhood. Something you remember clearly, something you can see, feel, maybe even smell, as if you were really there. After all, you really were there at the time, weren’t you? How else would you remember it?

But here is the bombshell: you weren’t there.

Not a single atom that is in your body today was there when that event took place … Matter flows from place to place and momentarily comes together to be you.

Whatever you are, therefore, you are not the stuff of which you are made.

If that doesn’t make the hair stand up on the back of your neck, read it again until it does, because it is important.


All your cells and atoms have been replaced since then -- this is not true, but it is partially true and food for thought.

Folksonomies: philosophy identity existence