By Maria Anna van Driel, www.nextttruth.com
Theseus’s ship is a thought experiment designed to make you question your identity.
Theseus was a great hero in ancient Greek mythology. On his adventures, he sailed on a famous ship. Traveling the high seas and battling monsters and gods caused wear and tear on the ship. So over time, Theseus replaced parts of his ship which had worn out. After many years, Theseus had replaced every single part of the ship piece by piece. So the question is, if every piece has been replaced, is it still the same ship?
Now here is what is really going to knock out of your chair. Imagine someone kept all of the discarded pieces and put them back together. Now you have two Theseus’s ships, so the question is which is the real one? The idea here is that identity is continuous. Each person alters over time piece by piece, and so eventually you are a completely different person as the one you started out as. So because your body keeps replicating cells and changing things, and your body sheds and whatnot, are you still the same person that you were 10 years ago, or are you someone completely different.
If that was not mind blowing enough for you, let me introduce you to the Boltzmann brain. To understand what a Boltzmann brain is, imagine the universe in a far-flung future.
Due to entropy and the expansion of the universe, everything will one day no longer exist. The universe will have unraveled from itself, leaving nothing but an infinite amount of empty space, except it will not be entirely being empty. Space will experience random thermal fluctuations.
So if the universe is infinite, then that means every possible configuration of fluctuation happens. And as bizarre as it might seem, sometimes these fluctuations will perfectly recreate a temporary version of ourselves. Those are called Boltzmann brains.
If they exist, it is mathematically likely that we are currently living inside one of these fluctuations. That means we are a strange temporary approximation of people who once lived perhaps billions of years ago. So you are you, but you are also someone else that was you, but you are that person, but you are only you….oh God…. never mind, I will let myself out.