2 min read

Is to change to become someone else?

The Ship of Theseus Thought experiment has been discussed a lot.

By Heraclitus, Plato, much later also by John Locke.

“A ship, that has changed all of its components while sailing… Is it still the same or a different ship?”

“When a human changes their opinion, behaviour, clothing style, taste in music…

have they become someone else?”

It’s anancient thought experiment...

First of all, we must understand the metaphysical meaning of change. It means something is not the same as it once was.

It does not have the same material/spiritual composition as before.
Only something that stays EXACTLY the same is considered “unchanged.”

Let me elaborate…

Look at this picture.

It shows the erosion of dripping water on the rock.

Look at it closely and you'll see the timegaps in between each spot on the stone.

As we can see, the rock is not the same as it was 50 years ago.
We can imagine that 50 years ago the stone didn't have near as much erosion.

So when exactly did the change occur?

Even after 15 years, we can see significant change. But we could also see erosion after just 5 years.

There would also be a difference after "just" 1 year of erosion. And just half a year.

We might not notice, because our eyes can only pick up so much.
But scientifically, we can measure a difference.

Change happens faster than we think.

Small particles of the stone are washed away day by day, like a whispering death.

The moment something becomes different is not clear, because change can not be perceived like that.

"The only constant in life is change."

Change is in every moment of our reality. That means change is fluid.

By the moment you finish describing it, it has already changed.

It’s the same for us humans, too.

We change our tastes, our opinions, views, behaviours, interests...

Suddenly someone likes a new hairstyle.
Someone discovered a new movie they loved.

They are now a new person. Because something in their spiritual or physical composition has changed.

We only tend to notice the “big” changes in people. If something happened in their lives, a new direction, a new habit...

Point is:

The amount of change doesn't matter.
Even when change is almost invisible... It's still there.

So, when has the stone become different?

The second the first droplet hit the stone.

There’s also a great quote on this.

"No human ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man.” - Heraclitus

Thank you to this little fundament at the Capilano Suspension Bridge in Vancouver for proving this reality in the scenario.