One would think that sliding into one’s mind through the various foramina in the base of the skull, one could figure out the domain of the mind; its conjectures, thoughts, rationale, opinions, ideas and all the rest that make us who we are. Even peering from the outside with the likes of fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) we aim to reveal he inner secrets of the various parts of the brain as they tie into a thought or action. But do they? At a moment in time, in a snapshot of one's life, maybe. But that is all. This is not a judgment about the various pronouncements and discoveries related to the fMRI or the manifestation of the BOLD data that is utilized in such experiments, but a careful cognizance of the true and unblemished reality of life...
Plutarch back in the 1st century wrote about the Life of Theseus, in which he wondered, if a ship whose planks and oars from stem to stern are replaced, does that constitute the same ship or one completely different? Others like Thomas Hobbes asked if the planks and oars were replaced with another ship’s would that ship become that from which the planks and oars were replaced? These philosophical debates have much in common with us as who we are.
Think about our bodies for instance, they undergo a constant remodeling from the forces of nature. We are born, we grow into adulthood and then through aging and decay we grey and ultimately reach the undiscovered country. But during the process of those 80+ years of life the multi-trillion cells we were born with have long been replaced. Each organ is in a phase of replenishment as the old cells undergo decay, apoptosis and are metabolized to create new cells to continue the process of renewal and life.
Ultimately this renewal hits the firewall of the Hayflik limit predicated by the Telomeric loss and cells void of the last bit of that tandem repeat in the DNA goes into a chaotic frenzy of uncontrolled growth and dysfunction.
The red cells in our blood stream have a120 day limit of survival and the white cells depending on what type can survive from a few hours to over 10 years. There in lies the vision of the macabre hood and sickle of the grim reaper.
That brings me to those of us who get transfused with others blood, Stem cell or organ transplanted, how indeed is the matrix of their Morpheus? Is the metamorphosis a blindingly slow and imperceptible conclusion at a later time. And one wonders, “Wow, he/she is a shell of who he/she used to be. He/she has changed!” Or not?
So we are who we are, when we are in any state of being. We flourish through the nurture of time. We change and evolve, both in physique and in thought, in ideas and execution, in love and hate, in cognizance and in contemplation, in virtually any argument and in every mode of expression, we change for the better or worse. But we change!
So Plutarch and before him Plato, Socrates Heraclitus were correct in their philosophizing about the Ship of Theseus. Yes indeed as the planks and the oars change so does the foundational basis of the ship. It may look the same, a little different or a lot different, but at the base level it is altogether different.