“Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished.”
-Daniel Gilbert, Psychologist,
Author of ‘Stumbling on happiness’.
The Theseus’ Paradox or The Ship of Theseus is a classic paradox which challenges the notion of a persistent self. Who are you? Are the ‘you’ reading this right now, your nine-year-old self and you from ten years away all the same person? Does the answer feel like an obvious ‘yes’ ?
However, would you call a ship, that has had all its parts replaced, one at a time as each one grew old or broke apart, still the same ship that it was at the beginning? Even though every last bit of it is new? Or if not, is it a brand new ship now? At what point did it stop being the old ship and turn new? From our cells to our values, we are constantly changing. So what justification do we hold to claim that we stay the same person? What if your future self that you are working so hard for, turns out to be a completely new person whose needs are entirely different and doesn’t appreciate your efforts at all? Are any long-term plans even valid?