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Thread: Philosophical debating club: The Ship of Theseus, or Theseus' Paradox

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    Rift Disciple TemetNosce's Avatar
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    Default Philosophical debating club: The Ship of Theseus, or Theseus' Paradox

    I'm bored, it's 4 AM, and there's nothing here really for me to post in. As a result, I'm defaulting back to restarting an idea someone I knew ran on Forumfall and posting a simple, classic, paradox that I've spent a lot of time talking about in other forums for people to to mull over (and hoping some people here are interested enough in this kind of thing to respond). If this works out I'll post other "Philosophical debating club" topics at another time.

    Theseus' Ship

    Theseus was the founder of Athens and perhaps best known these days for the slaying of the Minotaur. When he returned to Athens the ship he used was preserved and as the old planks decayed they were replaced. Presuming that the ship itself was gradually rebuilt in an identical manner, and that eventually the entire original ship was replaced, would it at some point cease to be the same ship and if so when?

    Personally of course I already have my own views upon this, and I've heard a great many different ways of considering the issue. Due to this I'll wait to post my own thoughts on it till after some people who haven't heard this paradox have had some time to think about it and post their own viewpoints. I'd suggest similar patience for anyone who's already done some discussion or reading on the topic, but if you aren't that patient go ahead anyways.
    Ipsa scientia potestas est

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    Prophet of Telara Skythe's Avatar
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    I'd love to answer that, but I can't do since my head had exploded.
    It is an ironic habit of human beings to run faster when we have lost our way.
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    Champion of Telara Ancient's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TemetNosce View Post
    I'm bored, it's 4 AM, and there's nothing here really for me to post in. As a result, I'm defaulting back to restarting an idea someone I knew ran on Forumfall and posting a simple, classic, paradox that I've spent a lot of time talking about in other forums for people to to mull over (and hoping some people here are interested enough in this kind of thing to respond). If this works out I'll post other "Philosophical debating club" topics at another time.

    Theseus' Ship

    Theseus was the founder of Athens and perhaps best known these days for the slaying of the Minotaur. When he returned to Athens the ship he used was preserved and as the old planks decayed they were replaced. Presuming that the ship itself was gradually rebuilt in an identical manner, and that eventually the entire original ship was replaced, would it at some point cease to be the same ship and if so when?

    Personally of course I already have my own views upon this, and I've heard a great many different ways of considering the issue. Due to this I'll wait to post my own thoughts on it till after some people who haven't heard this paradox have had some time to think about it and post their own viewpoints. I'd suggest similar patience for anyone who's already done some discussion or reading on the topic, but if you aren't that patient go ahead anyways.
    Planks don't make a ship what she is, her history or Lore do. As long as the history is taught she will remain. I've been around the world twice both in Submarines and on surface vessels. Even though 2 of the boats I sailed on and one of the ships are Decommissioned they still are alive and well in the memories of those who sailed and fought them.

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    Champion Bellatrix's Avatar
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    No matter how much of the ship is replaced, it is still the same ship. If, one by one, the rooms in my house were completely renovated, it would still be the same house, just refurbished. (Perhaps that's not a very good example, but it's the best that I could think of to describe my thoughts.)

    “They say you are to be the greatest hero in a past I’ll never know. Learn this, and it shall be so:
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    If you can do that in your heart, glory will follow you.”

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    Ascendant Kula's Avatar
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    This reminds me of:

    "You cannot step in the same stream twice."

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    Ascendant Hanlo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kula View Post
    This reminds me of:

    "You cannot step in the same stream twice."

    unless you turn around? =p

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    Ascendant Kula's Avatar
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    Nope, the water has flowed on...

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    Ascendant Hanlo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kula View Post
    Nope, the water has flowed on...
    Well what if you run forward and catch it again?

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    Ascendant Kula's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hanlo View Post
    Well what if you run forward and catch it again?
    It has remixed itself as it flowed around your feet.legs and thus cannot be the same...

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    Ascendant Hanlo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kula View Post
    It has remixed itself as it flowed around your feet.legs and thus cannot be the same...
    And if you are Jesus and step ON the water rather than in it?

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    Ascendant Kula's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hanlo View Post
    And if you are Jesus and step ON the water rather than in it?
    Then you haven't stepped 'in' the stream...

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    Ascendant Hanlo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kula View Post
    Then you haven't stepped 'in' the stream...
    touche
    /10char

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    Ascendant Slyde's Avatar
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    The answer is 42
    Dual Targeting - The Targeting System of the Modern MMO

    If the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy was made by today's MMO designers, the first 8 hours would be condensed into 30 minutes, and the last hour would be stretched out over 8.5 hours. It would be all about 'The Ending' and not about 'The Journey'.

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    Ascendant Kula's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slyde View Post
    The answer is 42
    Win!

    /10char

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    Ascendant Slyde's Avatar
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    OK, now for a serious answer.

    The "stepping in a stream" example is actually pretty good.

    Technically, the instant something changes on the ship it is no longer the same ship. Maybe on the voyage home it hit a piece of driftwood that scratched the hull. That scratch was not part of the 'original ship', so now the ship is no longer the same.

    But realistically the real answer is relative to how people perceive the ship. Each sailor on the ship may remember certain blemishes (marks, scratches, other damage), and once those sections are replaced by new materials one or more sailors may now see it as "not the same ship". But others, years or centuries later, may consider it "original" even if every single piece has been replaced.

    So, the answer is, there is no definitive answer. It's all relative to how the viewer perceives it.
    Dual Targeting - The Targeting System of the Modern MMO

    If the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy was made by today's MMO designers, the first 8 hours would be condensed into 30 minutes, and the last hour would be stretched out over 8.5 hours. It would be all about 'The Ending' and not about 'The Journey'.

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