Meeting 63: The Ship of Theseus

Public group

Justine's apartment

47 East 88th Street · New York, NY

How to find us

The doorman will buzz you up.

Location image of event venue


CUNY philosophy PhD candidate Liam Ryan will lead us.

This little thought experiment from Ancient Greece illustrates the philosophical problems: "A man named Theseus has a ship. After a storm rips the main sail, he replaces it. Some time later, a wooden plank on the main deck warps, and is replaced. Pulleys rust and are replaced. None of this happens over night, but occurs gradually. Imagine fifteen years have passed and every piece of the ship, and every bit of tackle, the pitch and tar, the ropes, the rudder, and every other bit of material on the ship has been replaced. The ship now has none of its original components." The question is this: Is this still Theseus's Ship? If it is, how is it that all of the substance of a thing can change, and yet it remains the same thing? If it is not Theseus's ship, at which point did it cease being the same ship? How much change can a thing go through without its identity changing?

The reading is available here: