The Ship of Theseus
Most of the tales of mythology are believed to be ancient tales that have morphed through the years, stories to explain the unexplainable, or perhaps allegories to teach moral lessons to the young. But in ancient Greece, the story of Theseus, Ariadne, and the Minotaur was taken as true history. In fact, for centuries there was a ship kept by the Athenians said to be the same one that Theseus and the rest of the Tribute used to flee Crete. As the years passed and some planks rotted away, they were replaced. The philosophers queried whether or not it was truly the ship of Theseus, since it had been replaced in its entirety. Plutarch wrote in his History of Theseus:
“The ship wherein 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 old planks as they decayed, putting in new and stronger timber in their place, insomuch that this ship became a standing example among the philosophers, for the logical question of things that grow; one side holding that the ship remained the same, and the other contending that it was not the same.”
Even today, the term “The Ship of Theseus” is used to describe this philosophical paradox: Is an object that has had all of its components replaced still the same object?
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