Fri 30 Jul, 2004 08:14 pm
This is a theoretical question that I'm sure has been asked time and time again.
Okay there is a boat called Aristotle's boat. This boat is very old and a young internet millionaire decides to buy the boat and refurnish it. So, piece by piece they tear this boat apart and throw all of the parts in a junkyard. An old man who once sailed upon Aristotle's boat sees the remains and is enraged. He begins to pick up all of the pieces and eventually rebuilds the entire boat, all with the original pieces of the boat. Now the question is, which boat is Aristotle's boat?
Well, this is a little confusing. Was the boat going to be refurnished? If so, why would the pieces end up in a junk yard? If the pieces were abandoned, then the old man could lay claim to them through purchase from the junkyard and do the re-assembly, but, in any case, it is not the same boat, even when composed of a lot of the original pieces, the re-assembly process would entail new hardware, screws, bolts, hinges and the like, plus a new coat of paint or two.
So you think the boat the young man made is the Aristotle?
If you took my car, carbonsystem, and dismantled the entire thing with the exception of the wingnut that holds the air filter cover, then built an entirely new car around that wingnut, that would be your car.
If I took my car parts and rebuilt it and then added a new wingnut, well, I guess I would have my car back.
It's like the theoretical question of being transported. Is it really you after you have been transported or is it just a copy? Is the real you just standing there or are you really just stored in memory somewhere left there for eternity?
Why is this in the Politics forum? This is a variation on a "sorites paradox," a logical paradox that is thousands of years old. It should be in the Philosophy forum.