3 Ideas in 2 Minutes on the Question of Who We Are
The Ship of Theseus, Healthy Authenticity & Your New Identity
I. The Ship of Theseus
The Ship of Theseus is a famous thought experiment about identity and identity change. First mentioned by ancient Greek philosopher Plutarch, it goes like this:
The ship wherein Theseus and the youth of Athens returned 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.
Put simply, if all the planks of Theseus’ ship are replaced, is it still the king’s ship?
I’ve written in more detail about the Ship of Theseus paradox and how to Solve the Paradox of Who We Are.
II. Healthy Authenticity
Sometimes it seems like we think being authentic means going our own way, no matter the consequences. Cognitive psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman begs to differ:
Healthy authenticity is not about going around saying whatever is on your mind, or actualizing all of your potentialities, including your darkest impulses. Instead, healthy authenticity, of the sort that helps you become a whole person, involves accepting and taking responsibility for your whole self as a route to personal growth and meaningful relationships. Healthy authenticity is an ongoing process of discovery, involving self-awareness, self-honesty, integrity with your most consciously chosen values and highest goals, and a commitment to cultivating authentic relationships.
—Scott Barry Kaufman, Authenticity under Fire
III. Your New Identity
Admittedly, it’s insanely hard to change our own habits. James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits, explains how we can change our identity through changing our micro habits:
Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become.
No single instance will transform your beliefs, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of your identity.
This is why habits are crucial. They cast repeated votes for being a type of person.
In this post about Yak Shaving, I’ve written more about how micro routines can help beat procrastination. 🐘
Have a great week,