Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Theseus Paradox: An Existential View

In continuation of my experience of watching Ship of Theseus, I wanted to present my own views on the paradox. I don't claim that there views are novel in any way: I'm quite sure that philosophers before me have discussed and dissected it. This is just my own reaction to it.

So, to restate the Theseus Paradox: If the planks of a ship are replaced one by one over the course of its service, until a point is reached where none of the planks are the same as the original anymore, then does the ship remain the same ship?

In my opinion, the ship never existed to start off with. Does that sound surprising? Consider this: what differentiates the Ship of Theseus from any other ship? At the dry dock, they're one and the same - just a ship. What makes it the Ship of Theseus is the fact that it was actually used by Theseus: the journeys and adventures that the two had together made it what it was. If the ship just stayed in the dry dock, it would never have become anything more: every moment is spent out in the seas made it what it was. Therefore, in itself, the Ship of Theseus does not exist: it is the experiences of the Ship that exist. Therefore, none of the planks were ever the Ship, they were just that - planks. And hence, when you change all the planks, you do not have the same ship simply because there was no ship to begin with.

In many ways, people are just the same. When they are born, they are just the same. It is our experiences that differentiate us. Truly, we don't even exist: it is just our experiences that do. 

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