Ship of Theseus – Thought Experiment [8:08]


Theseus’ Ship is one of the most famous thought experiments in metaphysics and personal identity.  Since Plutarch, there have been hundreds of permutations of the thought experiment.  In short, every year a plank is taken out of Theseus’ ship and replaced.  However, on the side, the shipbuilders save the planks and slowly build a perfect replica!  Which of the two ships is “Theseus Ship”?  Is it the rebuilt one with the original planks, or the one Theseus has sailed over the years but with all new planks?

Discussion Questions

  • Which do you think is Theseus’ ship?
  • What would happen if a neuroscientist slowly took all of your neurons, or maybe all of your cells, one by one replacing them, and made another brain and you?  Which one would be you?
  • What makes something the same thing over time, even though it goes over ‘gradual change’?  What do you think of the five solutions covered in the video?

Keywords: thought experiment, philosophy, Hobbes, identity, metaphysics, Theseus,


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