Architecture of Theseus

13 May, 2018

"They took away the old planks as they decayed, putting in new and stronger timber in their place, in so much that the ship became a standing example among the philosophers, for the logical questions of things that grow; one side holding that the ship remained the same, and the other contending that it was not the same."

Plutarch, Ancient Greek Writer

Plutarch talks to us about the ancient ship that was highly prized by the Greek navy, 'Theseus'.  Over several centuries, all of her original parts were replaced, through good repair and maintenance until, eventually, no original elements of the ship remained.  So, after these changes, was she still the same ship?  Or not?  Some ancients argued that her immaterial soul was still present but physically she was not.  I am interested in this question because it leads us directly to discussions on how current day architecture is made too.  Much pastiche replaces older defunct classical and traditional features in our Victorian homes.

Descartes theories on Dualism, that separate the material body and the immaterial mind, were, in my opinion, catastrophically wrong.  Sitting thirty adolescent children in an exam hall for 3 hours testing their minds, will not get the best out of our society.  My mind see's hundreds or thousands of images per day on devices, because I see so many, my brain thinks it is @normal to see a @beautiful sink with onyx and brass taps.  But my body is unawakened until I meet the maker of that sink and until I understand the process of extraction from the quarry and until I successfully explain through drawings the making of the sink.

I think Theseus is the original ship, the physical timber elements that make her and the memories and battles she has one, is within her and contribute to her ongoing success.  The men that operate that vessel would have known her strength and history and this would have driven them onwards and made them better seamen - this is Theseus.  In many ways the eternally transient ship on the high seas can be compared to a architecture in a city like London. Exposed to the elements, continually decaying and being renewed and forever at the mercy of the landscape and the citizens who occupy her.