Thomas Reid and Theseus' Ship

Topics: Change Pages: 3 (958 words) Published: April 8, 2013
Thomas Reid and Theseus Ship
Thomas Reid was an advocate of common sense realism, derived from the ideology of Aristotelianism. He strongly objected John Locke's theory of personal identity when pertaining to the idea of the ship of Theseus. Thomas Reid believed that there was a lack of sensus communis in Locke's attempt at deducing what defines something as itself. I agree with Thomas Reid. In my opinion, something did change from the beginning to the end of the reconstruction to Theseus ship. With no pre-existing original parts, it is no longer Theseus’s ship.

Thomas Reid believed that since all bodies consist of numerous parts, that can be removed by different causes, they are subjective to continual change and alteration. If something's structure and parts are completely altered to a molecular level, it is not the same as it used to be. When Theseus’s ship was being rebuilt, the name of the ship did not change when new parts were added. It kept the same identity through each and every change due to the fact that our language is not thorough enough to give a decisive name through every stage of change. Therefore, when all the original parts of the ship were replaced by new ones it retained the same name, even though it was not the same ship. The name of the new ship is the only piece of identity connecting it to the original. Thomas Reid states in his essays on the Intellectual Powers of Man, that "we say a tree is the same in the seed-bed and in the forest," and this is due to the absence of an abundance of terms to classify every slight difference between two things that are virtually the same. This falsifies the identity of the ship when the name of the original is kept throughout the transformation.

I believe that Theseus’s ship in the beginning, and the new ship constructed in replacement of the original have nothing in common. When two objects have nothing in common they cannot possibly be the same. This is the same concept as when a caterpillar...
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