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Consciousness and the Ship of Theseus

  1. Sep 1, 2012 #1
    I'm sure many of you have heard of the ship of Theseus. If not,


    "The ship wherein Theseus and the youth of Athens returned [from Crete] 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."
    -Plutarch, Theseus

    Now, you know where I'm going with this. The human brain is replaced one part at a time, and after about seven years, it contains no parts from the original. Most would agree that a human being's consciousness will survive after they have died.

    When I say consciousness, I am talking about the purely subjective ability to experience experiences. After my brain has been replaced entirely, (hopefully) I will subjectively still experience being alive even though my brain has quite literally been turned into mush and replaced by a new one.

    Now what if I create processors that can mimic the functions of parts of my brain, and replaced these parts one at a time? Would I eventually, subjectively get to experience being a robot?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 1, 2012 #2
  4. Sep 1, 2012 #3


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    Staff: Mentor

    I would hope that most would not agree.

    I'm sorry but this does not meet the requirements for posting in philosophy.
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