The Ship of Theseus

The Ship of Theseus

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
Read more here concerning The Ship Of Theseus.
I don’t really see the Ship of Theseus as a paradox because I don’t admit the subject/object dichotomy, except as a tool of language. The ship exists as a phenomenon in a moment of time. The phenomenon changes as time changes. Since there is no real self-hood with ontic beings, there is nothing to remain the same. The fact that we call the ship by the same name, even after every part has been replaced, is a quirk of language, not really describing reality as it actually is. I think there is confusion concerning the definition of “the same,” as the Wikipedia article discusses. The whole thing about Aristotle’s four causes seems to be based entirely on the subject/object mistake, in my estimation. I would say that the ship is “ontic,” i.e. it has factual existence (see  “ontic” in Wikipedia). This is different from “ontological.” Ontological applies only to humans, since they are the only beings to ask questions  about their own being. Non-questioning phenomena are ontic. Yes, this is very Heideggerian.

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