What is the ‘ship of Theseus’ thought experiment?

The legendary ship of Theseus raises a number of philosophical questions. Right here, we see a Twenties illustration of an historical Greek Bireme that has two decks of oars. (Picture credit score: Pictorial Press Ltd / Alamy Inventory Picture)

As soon as upon a time — at the very least based on the traditional Greek author Plutarch — the hero Theseus sailed from Athens, Greece, to the island of Crete, the place he slayed the half-man, half-bull Minotaur earlier than crusing again to rule Athens. 

The wood ship that Theseus sailed on, Plutarch imagined, will need to have change into a nationwide treasure, and he posed a thought experiment that has fascinated philosophers ever since: In case you repaired Theseus’ ship plank by plank in order that no authentic planks remained, is it nonetheless the identical ship?