Talk:Identity and change

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
WikiProject Philosophy (Rated Start-class, Mid-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Philosophy, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of content related to philosophy on Wikipedia. If you would like to support the project, please visit the project page, where you can get more details on how you can help, and where you can join the general discussion about philosophy content on Wikipedia.
Start-Class article Start  This article has been rated as Start-Class on the project's quality scale.
 Mid  This article has been rated as Mid-importance on the project's importance scale.
Note icon
This article has been marked as needing immediate attention.

This article isn't clear or comprehensive. I would have expected to see at least some mention of essence and accident, for example, as well as a description of the well-known stances. Not sure I'm the right person to make these changes, though. Anyone up to it? Alienus 16:17, 2 December 2005 (UTC)

I'd say Wikipedia:Be bold in updating pages, It would be good to see more on all the things you mention, if only as pointers which others can fill out. --Pfafrich 12:27, 10 January 2006 (UTC)

NOTE: The Ship Of Theseus was the ship that belonged to Theseus, not a ship called "Theseus". While this doesn't change the final meaning of the example, it does reflect rather poorly on the research that went into writing that section. You could have at least checked the other Wikipedia article on the Ship Of Theseus, which got it right.

Printing this. I like it. I find the beginning perfectly clear. None of the articles I've read during the last few weeks were perfectly clear to me... even though many of them were 'well structured looking'.

On my wish list: Someone should write a little about the relationship between the equals sign used in math and this idea. Maybe that'd shed light what the math lecturers mean when they keep thrwing around words like "I identify this with that."

If put on the last page of a math textbook, beginner students of that field would surely love this article.

Admittedly, if it's put on the first page of a textbook, maybe they wouldn't understand a thing, but I'm in the mood to think that philosophy can only be appreciated after you've had an appropriate philosophical PROBLEM, anyway... and once that has been the the case, all philosophy can only be a suggestion for you to assemble your own structure with which to understand stuff. 06:25, 30 December 2005 (UTC)

move some content to Ship of Theseus[edit]

Wow this article needs some work. Some of the content here might be better under Ship of Theseus as there is very little philosophical treatment of the paradox there.

Question re Leibniz's law. If we treat the ship as a whole set of ships indexed by time S(t1), S(t2), S(t3), ... Then by Leibniz's law these are all separate things, as the properties exists at time t1, only holds for the first of these.

Wikipedia articles seem to be a good example of Ship of Theseus. These constantly change through time. If we ask the question of two different revisions, are these the same article? Then we can say Yes they are the same article as they both have the same name. We can also say with equal conviction No they are not the same article as they have a different set of words (properties). Maybe its just a question of our naming of a thing, if I choose to refer to the Wikipedia article: Identity and change and call that my object, then all revisions are the same object. If I wish to be more precise in my naming and specify a particular revision then all revisions are different things. Is identity anything more that what we subjectively choose to give a name to?

A lot more fun can be had with forking of software. If say programmer (A) creates a piece of software (X) and then programmers B and C get identical copies of the software and each perform separate modifications (Y and Z) is Y the same as X? is Z the same as X? Are Y and Z the same?

BTW does anybody know what a a non-receivable question is? --Pfafrich 00:20, 9 January 2006 (UTC)

Leibniz's solution -link to a disambiguation page[edit]

Towards the end of the "Leibniz's solution" section, there is a link to the disambiguation page for index. That's really not supposed to happen, but I have absolutely no clue what kind of index it's referring to. So, can someone who knows about this article please change it from the disambiguation page to the specific kind of index it's referring to? E946 03:17, 6 April 2006 (UTC)


This article looks to be in pretty good shape, but it's rather over the head of a person who isn't too familiar with philosophy or metaphysics. Perhaps someone could "dumb it down" a bit for the rest of us. =) --Kerowyn 00:42, 12 May 2006 (UTC)

Connection with philosophy?[edit]

I found this article to be very readable and useful. As a previous comment has stated there are many other domain-specific ways that identity and change issues can arise. He mentioned versions of computer programs being installed in different configurations on different machines. I think also of the case individuals of two (sub)species being hybridized.

I think none of these addition special examples (and the list is likely limitless) reduce the value of the current article.

I am concerned, however, that Google searches for "question domain", "subject matter domain", and for "non-receivable question" all returned only links to this article. That suggests that these are not terms that connect to the body of philosophical literature. I would appreciate added text to relate this discussion to philosophical literature so one could explore the issue more broadly if one wished. RobertWaller27 14:47, 26 June 2006 (UTC)

The Bare Essentials[edit]

I agree with what was mentioned before, this article is good and manages to explain a couple of things but somehow confuses others. One problem i saw was exactly what was mentioned before, there is no mention in the entire article of "essence". This is a concept that manages to propose an answer to the question of the ship and the pilot.

Of course this all could also be just a misinterpretation (a fair warning, i am no expert in the matter and what follows is simply my take on the situation).

Take for instance a dot. A dot viewed on a piece of paper could very well be just a dot, but if you viewed it in space, it might turn out to be a line as viewed from the origin or the end. If you take this line and viewed it closer you might find that it isn't a line after all, but a succession of dots. So the same object seemingly took 3 different identities depending on the perspective it was viewed from, this because each of the perspectives describes the object as having completely different properties.

Lets suppose the dot as viewed from the first perspective was actually a real object, and that it belonged to a world where geometrical figures had life. Suppose the objects name was Dotty. Dotty lived her entire life thinking she was a dot, but now, when you turn her around in space you find she is really a line, more over if you look at her closely, you even find that Dotty is not one object at all but a whole collection of objects. Does this mean Dotty never existed?

Some would be tempted to say she didn't, but in fact she did. The fact that the identity of Dotty originally referred to one dot, later to a line, and finally to a miriad of dots does not imply these are not actually Dotty to begin with, it does not even imply that they do not share the same properties.

The only real thing that is changing in all three cases is perspective. The dot, the line, and the group of dots could in reality be one object. But this doesn't mean that A = B = C, what this implies is that in reality we are only discussing object "A" three different times. The rules of logic suggest that one object cannot be two other objects, but in reality this all depends on perspective. This can all be true if you analyze the possibilities. The line and the dot can easily be interpreted as being the same simply by considering a change in the canvas. If you saw Dotty in a 2D world she would be a dot, but if you viewed her in a 3D world you would find she really is a line, this means its the same object, a line, seemingly mislabeled as a dot. The difference between the 2D world, and the 3D world is the additional axis, or depth, of the canvas. However, the group of dots still hasn't been explained.

To explain this group, first you must consider that you are now dealing with a real situation, governed by the laws of time and space. When analyzed a certain way, time is just another form of depth. So really the collection of dots could be the same dot at different points in time, displayed all as a single moment. In this manner, the dot, the line, and the group of dots are all the same object with essentially the same properties but in different perspectives and situations. In this manner you find that through the explanation of Dotty's actions you find her actual identity. This could be considered Dotty's essence.

Now, the point of the example is to show that any object in truth, can have various interpretations, but what holds it together in the end, and grants it it's identity is not the properties as viewed, but the "essential properties". These "essential properties" are what make up the true identity of an object, but cannot be found without further analysis of the situation. The collection of descriptions given about Dotty are what make up her essence.

In reality properties alone cannot give something identity, what gives an object an identity is its essence. So if you take the ship, and consider its story, using subjectivity, one can arrive at the conclusion that both ships aren't the same. The question still arises as to which of the two is in fact the Theseus. If you would consider the essence of the ship to have been its actions, its usage, or its purpose then the true Theseus is the one that was upgraded gradually with new parts. However if you consider, on the other hand that the true Theseus is the materials it was crafted from, then the real Theseus is the one reconstructed out of the old parts.

If you consider the pilot, than he is in fact the same man, although he no longer shares the same body parts. As an object, his essence grants him his identity. The "soul" can be viewed as the link between the mind and the essence. The mind, is the record of our existence within our body. Since the ship has no mind, its essence is tied directly to its existence as viewed through other consciousness. The ambiguous nature of the answer to "which ship is the true Theseus?" proves my point, the ships definition depends on the person interpreting it's story. Just as you can consider it to be S2, it can be S3.

Now this brings up another interesting question: If the ships essence is tied to a consciousness does this means its identity can be changed if the consciousness desires it?

My answer is: Why not?

If what i said holds any truth, then in actuality its the mind that in fact defines the universe. Without the mind nothing can hold an essence, without an essence nothing can hold an identity, and without an identity nothing can exist.

Id really appreciate input on this, i wrote it as i went, but some of the things i mentioned i have been thinking of for a real long time. Feel free to criticize, but remember, this is only my opinion :P MCMXCIX 22:26, 15 August 2006 (UTC)

Conscious beings[edit]

Section Identity and change in conscious beings presents a case where a human is "reconstructed" from his top head only. Here at home (doesn't matter where, it's probably an international phenomenon), there are a lot of puns and stories walking around where diverse high ranked individuals are "reconstructed" from hands, thumbs, fingernails and farts (!!), and the point use to be that an especially despised named individual is reconstructed from the fart. ... said: Rursus (mbork³) 15:03, 30 December 2009 (UTC)

Definition of 'same'?[edit]

This section (sentences in bold) could be cleaned up - there has to be a better way to show the distinguish between the definitions of 'same' than merely italicizing the word.

There is one answer which is a little too easy and quick. One might say: "No, of course not. The Theseus has changed a lot, so it's not the same ship. At the end of your life, you're not going to be the same person as you were, when you were a teenager. You're going to change a lot in the meantime." However, this is not quite answering the intended question. What is intended by the question is the sense of the word, "same", in which an old woman is the same person at the end of her life as she is, at the beginning of her life. Certainly, the word, "same", has such a sense. After all, one implicitly depends on it when one says, for example, "She has changed a lot". In order for someone to change a lot, there has to be one person who underwent the change. (One could perhaps reject that sense, saying that objects do not change over time.) Thedeepestblue (talk) 05:07, 1 June 2011 (UTC)

Impossible to put into context. Please add references.[edit]

This article is interesting to read, but it reads like the private train-of-thoughts of the author. The only reference is a dead link. For most of the statements, by no means can a non-expert judge whether the author states his/her own thoughts or whether the concepts are common sense among some greater commmunity. Alright, "Ship of Theseus" and "Leibnitz' solution" seem to be known outside of Wikipedia, but what about , e.g., the definition of change "An object, O, changes with respect to property, P, ..."? Who proposed it? Was it by some famous philosopher? (I'd say it's a rather poor definition.) — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:31, 10 January 2014 (UTC)

"Just in case"[edit]

On behalf of the general audience, I have replaced the misleading and confusing expression "just in case", with its correct, and easily understood equivalent, "if, and only if" (also, in more technical writing, "if and only if"). The following explains the error: