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The ship of Theseus

Written by : Abhisek Pattnaik
Image courtesy : Freak’s shutter

What would you deduce of your life if it has come to this point where you take a leave from office for no particular reason at all or maybe because you had grown used to the paid holidays during lockdown period, only to find yourself attending office in your dream during the daytime nap that almost lasted for a day’s working hours. Too many layers, right!

I was aware of the never settling debate of dualism in philosophy i.e. body and mind are two radically different entities and the debate of reality/identity based on it inclined on one of them over the other. It reminds me of the Ship of Theseus Paradox. The Greek historian Plutarch was the first to mention it in his works which goes like the following:

“During its long voyage as the planks of the ship of Theseus needed repair, it was replaced part by part, to a point where not a single part of the original ship remained in it, anymore. So the question arises, whether the now sailing ship still continues to be the same ship?” To this Thomas Hobbes later added another layer i.e. if all the discarded parts of the ship is collected and used to build another ship, which of the two should be called the real ship of Theseus.

Some argue that it is the body that goes over mind. But our cells die and according to some estimates every seven years we become a completely new individual, because in that time, every cell in our body gets replaced by a new one. But then, the identity of us continues to survive. 

And if we go by the narrative that it is the mind over the body, we do change how we think, how we perceive things as we age. I certainly would like to believe that we grow wiser with age. Then what is it that remains constant to continue to give us our identity?

Guess, I personally feel inclined to the analysis that says, the only thing that remains constant in us is change. Like ancient greek philosopher Heraclitus puts it, “We never step in the same river twice.” Our body changes, so does our mind and its faculties to allow us to see things differently. What remains constant to give us our continued identity is only the illusion of unity like the roll film where each frame is followed by another but it happens with such spontaneity that it appears as a single film.

But I’m a practical man and I can be accommodative. Coming back to my earlier question of what I should deduce from my dream is a topic for another day. “Mind over body” shall be my choice of reality when it comes to attending office, but only in my dreams.

Author: buddingb

A humanist, Non-conformist who likes to see the world as half full. A seeker who is yet find all his answers.

116 thoughts on “The ship of Theseus”

      1. Dude!!!
        I’m in Works Deptt.
        I think I saw your PAR file a couple of days ago!!
        But thought it’s too big a coincidence to be true!! πŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒ


  1. It is neither the mind or the body, but the story of the person that is what they are, each day adding to it. Likewise it is the journey of the ship and who is carried that defines it.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Nice take on it…
      But any explanation ll find some flaw or other…
      But I too agree that Truth is subjective and we choose our own version of truth with our convenience… πŸ˜ƒπŸ€—β€οΈπŸ‘


  2. Mind boggling philosophy. It’s a tryst to unite so many contradicting theories in one string. And the outcome even more confusing, “Change is the only Constant”. But the supreme truth is, “Change is the only Constant”.

    I just love the way it is narrated.

    Keep it up and keep giving such master pieces to ponder about.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. I’m practical too…Both mind and body change over time and change definitely is the only constant…How nicely you related your everyday office routine with this beautiful ship anectode… So nice Abhishek…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much Madhuri… β€οΈπŸ€—
      Btw of all the times we have interacted, you spelt my name rightly only once. πŸ˜…πŸ˜ƒ

      How are you? How was your day?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Okay Abhisek…πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚I thought it’s fine either way LOL…My day is so normal like any other day…Hope I’ll get busy if I take up a job next year like you…For now jst chillin…How was urs…??? Seems like you are working right…???

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Haha… It’s fine… Just was messing with you.

        N mine was like usual…
        I planned to do something in the morning… N slept procrastinating the workload for the next day…πŸ˜…

        N yes… I’ve a job at state secretariat… It’s easygoing and the people have been very kind… So can’t complain much. πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Woww you have a govt. job…That’s cool…You don’t generally need to work from home like IT jobs I guess…Right!

        Keep safe:)

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Hmm right! πŸ˜…
        It was 2 months of paid holidays for me during lockdown…
        But I like going to work there… Be among those sweet people… πŸ™‚

        Where are you from btw?
        If I may ask…πŸ˜…

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Hahaaaah lucky you are to have such people around…
        Well I’m from south India…And why don’t you guess the state…???
        where are u from btw…???

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Hahaaah you always throw funny banters…maybe kolkatta r orissa one of the two you are LOL…
        How come you are so right…Okay is it is just a wild guess…???

        Liked by 1 person

      7. πŸ˜ƒπŸ€—
        I’m from Odisha…

        Haha… I could have easily been ‘so wrong’ as well. πŸ˜…
        But maybe it’s one of my lucky days…
        Where from in Andhra Pradesh btw?

        Liked by 1 person

      8. I have been there only once on a road trip… Visited Araku Valley and Vizag…
        We had plans to go further south… Till Guntur maybe… But had to cut short our plans for some reason.


      9. Till guntur ha…U told urself where I live hahaaah…Ur guessing game is on point I must say Abhishek…Vizag is so beautiful BTW…Good luck with ur plans next time:)

        Liked by 1 person

      10. Wow!!! πŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒ
        It’s indeed my lucky day it seems…
        N it is…
        We camped at Yarada beach… That place is so beautiful!

        Btw can we attach photos here in our comments?

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Sonali… πŸ˜ƒ
      Thank you so much for your kind words… πŸ€—β€οΈπŸ˜ƒ
      And I didn’t know you are active here in wordpress community… So good to see you here! ❀️

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi😊
    My pleasureπŸ₯°πŸ’•
    No, I am not active here before. Actually i got to know about this link from somewhere.
    Then checked and go through it, and felt it was so goodπŸ‘ŒπŸ‘πŸ‘

    Liked by 3 people

  5. That was my interpretation of your statements in the end. You kinda asked a question right. Mind over body or body over mind. So I believe it’s body over mind to receive anything butind over body to respond it both are equally important.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nice organic take on the subject. πŸ€—πŸ‘πŸ‘

      N question nahi puchha tha…
      I know it doesn’t have any universal answer to it…
      So kept it open ended… πŸ˜ŠπŸ€—

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha.. delete kyun karunga!!?
      n haan…
      But I didn’t address it at the end…
      Just tried a bit of humour… While taking only one topic in hand.. ki office attend krne ke mamle me…
      I’ll keep mind over body as the form of reality…

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Aathmana… how was your day??
      Thank you so much…❀️❀️❀️
      Thank you for being so kind with your words…
      It means a lot… And it feels like an achievement to recieve such a beautiful compliment from a fellow blogger…you made my day. πŸ˜ƒπŸ€—β€οΈ

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hey buddingb πŸ˜… (mind if I ask your name?)
        No prob my friend!
        My day was fantastic, I suppose, though I don’t really know what day today isπŸ€£πŸ˜‚πŸ˜…
        And pls don’t flatter anyone like this. Swishhhh!!! I am right now on cloud nine!!πŸ˜πŸ€©πŸ˜€πŸ˜ƒπŸ˜„

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hello Aathmana…
        Abhisek here. πŸ™‚

        Haha… Why so? Lockdown effect?πŸ˜…

        I believe good things should be appreciated…
        Thank you for being this beautiful. πŸ™ƒβ€οΈ

        N may I know your name as well??

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Hi Abhishek!
        I am Aathmana (I know it’s pretty difficult to pronounce.!πŸ˜… I have suffered quite a lot bcoz of my name!)
        Yep.. good things are to be appreciated. It was only during this lockdown that I started blogging.. so yeah. I am pretty happy
        Guess I found a new friend here!
        Happy to meet ya! Where are you from?

        P. S : you so sound so lovely. I bet you are lovely in person too. By the way, thanks for flattering me!πŸ˜…

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Hello Aathmana! You know in my native language it has a weird meaning! 😜

        I too started blogging during this lockdown!! Lockdown coincidence, eh? πŸ˜‰πŸ€—

        N all my pleasure! πŸ˜ƒπŸ€—πŸ€—
        Btw I’m from Odisha, India. What about you? I would love to know more about you…

        PS to your PS: Imagine a world where people grow old enamored by each other…
        N You deserve every bit of it. ❀️😊

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve often wondered what role memory plays in the greater creation, if any.

    And also as it pertains to the β€œarchetypal” memory of the collective unconscious. I believe Jung posited that it was a function of the body, inherited in our genes and passed along as potentialities for individual creation.

    But people like Tom Campbell thinks the universe behaves more like a computer with infinite memory, even allowing for people to commune with the dead, not as actual living entities, but with the data that still exists in memory recorded by the universe.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. It is over 40 years now since I was first introduced to Heraclitus. πŸ™‚ Ironic that human nature has changed so little in the centuries since he first wrote about change. Sad that his only known work was lost.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So true…

      Our language also helps in this direction…
      Helping us finding some deeper meaning everytime… to negate those changes, if any.

      Thank you for stopping by. πŸ€—

      Liked by 1 person

  8. The ship was re-built according to its previous shape. Although they were lucky enough to be able to replace every single material part of it, they were obliged to respect its shape. Same thing happens for your body. That’s your identity.
    Therefore, it is not true that “the only thing that remains constant in us is change”. Change is surely constant, but constant change is not able to create identity.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Albert,
      I’m aware that it’s a never ending debate…
      So I just shared the narrative that I find most acceptable… πŸ™‚

      Thank you for dropping by… I appreciate it. πŸ€—πŸ‘


      1. πŸ˜ƒβ€οΈπŸ€—
        Thank you so much again.

        I love finding meaning in what’s already out there. And this is a result of that. πŸ€—


  9. Grt yaar… U r getting a lot of frnds here who r truely appreciating u n ur talent. Happy to see this 😍.
    N bdw my opinion is same as u. I feel mind mostly dominates body. And there is nothing permanent except change. change is inevitable so let’s wear it.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Wow, you think as weird as I do!
    ” … what is it that remains constant to continue to give us our identity?” I asked this question at one of my high school reunions. It’s been decades since our class was in school, so we are definitely totally different bodies. So how do we recognize one another? – facial expressions, mannerisms, personality. I think I’d call it the soul.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Beautiful post. Thinking post. I had loved the movie.
    I think mind is all there is. As you say it learns and it grows. I have seen in my life that every 12 years I am a completely new person – in my thought process.

    Only when the mind grows still we realise that we are neither the body nor the mind. We are changeless soul

    Liked by 1 person

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