“Which you is ‘who’? The particular person you might be at present? 5 years in the past? Who you’ll be in fifty years? And when is ‘am’? This week? As we speak? This hour? This second? And which side of you is ‘I’? Are you your bodily physique? Your ideas and emotions? Your actions?”
By Maria Popova
All through our lives, we come to inhabit the seven layers of identification, typically interpolating between them and always altering inside every. And but by some means, regardless of this ever-shifting seedbed of personhood, we handle to consider ourselves as concrete selves — our selves. Hardly any perplexity of human existence is extra fascinating than the continuity of private identification — the query of what makes you and your childhood self the “similar” particular person, regardless of a lifetime of change, out of your cells to your values. Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert captured this paradox completely: “Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly assume they’re completed.”
Two millennia earlier than trendy psychologists got here to tussle with this puzzlement, the good Greek historian and author Plutarch examined it extra lucidly than anybody earlier than or since. In an excellent thought experiment generally known as The Ship of Theseus, or Theseus’s paradox, outlined (although not for the primary or final time) in his biographical masterwork Plutarch’s Lives (free e book | public library), Plutarch asks: If the ship on which Theseus sailed has been so closely repaired and practically each half changed, is it nonetheless the identical ship — and, if not, at what level did it cease being the identical ship?
The ship whereby Theseus and the youth of Athens returned had thirty oars, and was preserved by the Athenians down even to the time of Demetrius Phalereus, for they took away the previous planks as they decayed, placing in new and stronger timber of their place, insomuch that this ship grew to become a standing instance among the many philosophers, for the logical query of issues that develop; one aspect holding that the ship remained the identical, and the opposite contending that it was not the identical.
On this fantastic animation, the visible educators at TED-Ed — who’ve beforehand explored how you recognize you exist by means of Descartes and the character of actuality by means of Plato — study the well-known thought experiment and the way it illuminates the perennial query of who we’re:
Which you is “who”? The particular person you might be at present? 5 years in the past? Who you’ll be in fifty years? And when is “am”? This week? As we speak? This hour? This second? And which side of you is “I”? Are you your bodily physique? Your ideas and emotions? Your actions?
Complement with Hannah Arendt on being vs. showing and the place our pondering ego resides, then revisit different illuminating TED-Ed animations exploring what despair truly looks like, why some persons are left-handed, how melancholy enhances creativity, and why taking part in music advantages your mind greater than some other exercise.