Who am I? A philosophical inquiry – Amy Adkins


Throughout the history of mankind, three little words have sent poets
to the blank page, philosophers to the Agora, and seekers to the oracles: “Who am I?” From the ancient Greek aphorism
inscribed on the Temple of Apollo, “Know thyself,” to The Who’s rock anthem, “Who Are You?” philosophers, psychologists, academics, scientists, artists,
theologians and politicians have all tackled the subject of identity. Their hypotheses are widely varied
and lack significant consensus. These are smart, creative people, so what’s so hard about coming up
with the right answer? One challenge certainly lies with the complex concept
of the persistence of identity. Which you is who? The person you are today? Five years ago? Who you’ll be in 50 years? And when is “am”? This week? Today? This hour? This second? And which aspect of you is “I”? Are you your physical body? Your thoughts and feelings? Your actions? These murky waters of abstract logic
are tricky to navigate, and so it’s probably fitting
that to demonstrate the complexity, the Greek historian Plutarch
used the story of a ship. How are you “I”? As the tale goes, Theseus, the mythical
founder King of Athens, single-handedly slayed
the evil Minotaur at Crete, then returned home on a ship. To honor this heroic feat, for 1000 years Athenians painstakingly
maintained his ship in the harbor, and annually reenacted his voyage. Whenever a part of the ship
was worn or damaged, it was replaced with an identical piece
of the same material until, at some point,
no original parts remained. Plutarch noted the Ship of Theseus was an example
of the philosophical paradox revolving around
the persistence of identity. How can every single part
of something be replaced, yet it still remains the same thing? Let’s imagine there are two ships: the ship that Theseus
docked in Athens, Ship A, and the ship sailed by the Athenians
1000 years later, Ship B. Very simply, our question is this:
does A equal B? Some would say that for 1000 years
there has been only one Ship of Theseus, and because the changes made to it
happened gradually, it never at any point in time
stopped being the legendary ship. Though they have absolutely
no parts in common, the two ships are numerically identical,
meaning one and the same, so A equals B. However, others could argue
that Theseus never set foot on Ship B, and his presence on the ship
is an essential qualitative property of the Ship of Theseus. It cannot survive without him. So, though the two ships
are numerically identical, they are not qualitatively identical. Thus, A does not equal B. But what happens
when we consider this twist? What if, as each piece
of the original ship was cast off, somebody collected them all,
and rebuilt the entire original ship? When it was finished, undeniably
two physical ships would exist: the one that’s docked in Athens, and the one in some guy’s backyard. Each could lay claim to the title,
“The Ship of Theseus,” but only would could actually
be the real thing. So which one is it, and more importantly,
what does this have to do with you? Like the Ship of Theseus, you are a collection of constantly
changing parts: your physical body, mind, emotions,
circumstances, and even your quirks, always changing, but still in an amazing
and sometimes illogical way, you stay the same, too. This is one of the reasons that
the question, “Who am I?” is so complex. And in order to answer it, like so many great minds before you, you must be willing to dive into the
bottomless ocean of philosophical paradox. Or maybe you could just answer, “I am a legendary hero sailing
a powerful ship on an epic journey.” That could work, too.

100 thoughts on “Who am I? A philosophical inquiry – Amy Adkins

  1. Check out this video which goes more into this question – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0uASoar8CCE
    I hope you enjoy!

  2. Who are you?
    You may rush to express who you are by detailing your name, your occupation, your background, your location, your hobbies, your number of family members.
    Or you might pleasure others with anecdotes of your past; the time you first travelled, when you first fell in love, the ones you love, and the ones you loved. A tragedy which shaped you, or a success which made you.
    It is true that your past, present, and future, however parallel to another story, holds strong as an inimitable progression of your being by the unstoppable propagation of time.
    You may trace back the path of a lustrous stone down its stream from distances ago, observing its shiny faces, chipped edges, its colour, and weight; yet to wonder what it is made of.
    Yet once all that is endured is traced,
    All that has been shared,
    The question stands firm, who are you.

    A flower in the midst of an unexplored forest is yet deemed to be beautiful. As a long forgotten talisman at the depths of the ocean to be collected for valuing. If not for an eye to see, an ear to hear, a nose to smell, a hand to touch; there would not be sensation of the being. If not for the mind to process, with its unparalleled exposure of the past, there would be no unique casting of judgement for the being.

    To another, you might simply be a sensation collated into a funnel of emotional influx.
    Perception may be the product of thought, yet, the instant eyes are laid upon you, ears are audience to your name; an emotion is evoked. Whether it be admiration, resentment, or indifference.
    To regard feeling may require contemplation; to feel, require not.

    Even so, every past is indelible. Exposures drawing the fine marks on your once blank canvas. The pleasures. The pains. Emotional fluctuations articulating the motion. A force of history, leading to a moment when the colours mix.
    Visions align, to define: YOU.

    After struggles intertwine, and all have consumed their gift of time. You will still describe what is yours and mine.
    A father to his child.
    A doctor to a patient.
    A voice in a song.
    An image on instagram.
    A sense of hope to a friend in pain.
    A side character in another’s book.
    A reflection in the mirror.

    One person in this world.
    Or possibly,
    One’s world in a person.

    All who knows, is you.

  3. I am all that makes me, me. My looks, my personality, emotions, etc. The past me, the present me and the future me. All of that makes me.

  4. interesting how they made an existential video in a cartoon… I imagine it started with "hey let's watch out for kids who have existential crisis and philosophical questions by making this." funny because as kids I even have these questions, only there wasn't a YouTube.

  5. Say we find out who we are as individuals, what then? I don’t know what I would do with myself if I had the answer. I wouldn’t suddenly become a new person, I’d be the same one as before. My point is, does it really matter? How far could we take it after we hypothetically found an answer to that question?

  6. If u think of The ship of Theseus as similar to ppl then the new version of the ship would only be equal to the body of the person and not his/her thoughts and perceptions so clearly they’re not the same person/ ship

  7. it is only then confusing, when you are a follower lacking leaders.
    remote leaders are too weak –> the failure of telecommunication and remote control.

  8. I am a cookie-cutter, my body is a cookie. I’m the recipe, but I’m also the batter. As well as the cookie

  9. The difference between the ship and you is that the ship doesn't have a soul; you change every aspect of it and you have a different ship.Instead, we change all the atoms in our body and yet we are the same, so matter isn't the answer for the question "who am I?".This happens because the soul is the same, even though the matter that makes our body has been replaced.Some would say that DNA is what makes ourselves who we are; even if someone would create a clone of ourselves, with an identical DNA, that clone would of course be a different person.Why? Because you can't replicate the soul.It's very easy and yet people still don't get it because they have been thought to reject Christianity and to only think inside the materialistic view of the world, which is of course very limited and cannot answer questions like this one.

  10. You are a product of your actions and experiences for the goal of carrying on your legacy. The people maintaining kind of create a bigger organism, through the memory and maintenance of the ship, carrying on its legacy.

  11. U are just building the same ship with support from the original ship over time

  12. The replaced cells in the body do not come from any external source and therefore when the cells all die and replaced after 7 years you are still you as 7 years ago.

  13. imagine an apple🍎 in your mind,
    see now your attention is on a thought of apple,
    biggest question than what is conciousness is that what is attention ?
    now lets be aware of feeling of being alive,
    now this is conciousness, the experience of being alive is consciousness, the real thing is when we become aware of being alive or conciousness is actually letting go of attention we pay no attention to the thinking or mind . Attention is the effect of conciousness you can pay attention because u are concious, when we sleep attention shuts off completely from mind, conciousness doesn't, conciousness is always on, so the conciousness is the result of your mechanism of body, the way we all think is different each and every individual thinks differently, but everyone experience same conciousness animals, insects and humans every living thing experience a feeling of i i.e conciousness which is result of its unique biological mechanism and conciousness has space between mind (thinking)
    " conciousness is you and mind is bunch of thoughts"
    you and mind is separated by attention if you pay attention to the mind for finding who you are you are going to pay attention towards a specific thoughts in the mind and you are going to come with a narrative, here you are stuck in wrong image of who am i , if you let go of attention and just be "aware of being alive, that aliveness is you"

  14. Each and every particles in “ my body “ created some where at some time in this universe ,accumulated in a certain way and became “my body”. So I am “ the universe” itself experiencing this universe through this physical body made up of matter. According to Einstein mass = energy. So I am energy. Thoughts in our brain create the experience of “I “. Energy flowing through brain create thoughts. So I am “ Energy”.

  15. According to Indian Hindu philosophy ( Advaitha ), My true identity is “ pure consciousness “. Whenever a series of thoughts pop up in brain, thoughts create a false identity and a group of attributes to it. In our day today life ,we call this false identity as “ I” .

  16. I have a question for everyone. Is reality real? Because we "know things are real, like us and the ground but we know its real because of our idea of what makes things real. Imagine if we never used the idea that touch, sight, taste, smell, sound were what made things real. How would we know things were real? What if things are only real because we make them real?

  17. WHO AM I: know about the philosophy of humans…

    https://youtu.be/nUwimsWxzAY

  18. Ask this:
    If a man walks through a storm,is he still the same man as him who did not walk through the storm yet?
    Actually,no. One step of your feet and you could be a different person already. Say you started walking at age 5 months. On your 4th day of that 5 months,you took 50 steps. So,you're not the same as the "you" who took only 30 steps before the present you.

  19. I don't know if it's just me but anyone else brain instantly plays the Who am I song from Les Miserable whenever we are asked this question?

  20. Me :hmm my mood is great today let's watch some ted ed vid
    4 min later ….goes to identity crisis

  21. (Sorry for the bad english, it's my second language)
    This is more like to the versions of a program. Winrar 1.0, winrar 1.1, winrar 1.2. Actualizations is the key
    Teseo's ship 1.0 is war ship, teseo's 1.2 (reparation) its a conmemorative ship (Teseo is dead), teseo's 2.0 (not one original pieces) total new version of the first, same all, but new pourpose, Teseo's 1.0.1 (original recicled ship) its original teseo's (he was in there) but diferent pourpose. A paint of the ship is still the Teseo's ship even thogh he's not a 2d caracter, but is a artistic teseo's ship, Teseo's 3.0.

    A coin has two diferent sides but its the same coin. In this point the identity it is a created concept and "me" its all the part of that concept (like a dice with many faces and valors)

    Winrar can change version, but all of them are winrar, equal to Teseo's ship and me too.

  22. Who am I = What ever words follow the 2 words; "I Am" is who and what you are.

  23. the answer is that the name of the object, it, am, I, et cetera and not the material or the Characteristics of the object

  24. let's say my name is Jon so it will maintain that way no matter how would ill look like or feel like but as an existence that takes part in space and time under the label "Jon" and what comes out of me is not Jon but a different existence that takes part in space and time and what replace that part in me comes under the label "Jon"

  25. What if this universe and everyone and everything in it is all in my head? Like none of this is real, nobody exists besides me and all that I see and interact with is all just perceived by my mind? What if YouTube, internet, transportation, etc are all a product of my thoughts and I'm alone in this universe? That even the people reading/replying is a creation of my consciousness.

    And similarly, what if everyone is living in their own universes and we see the truth only when we die? Gosh my brain exploded.

  26. Identity is a concept. Hence the first ship is ship of theseus. The concept about the ship that carried thesues

  27. You are all of these things.. And none of them.
    You are an ever changing idea.
    Like time. You are each moment one at a time. Jumbled all together. Layered over and over.
    But..
    There are two or three connected pieces.. Like your name..
    Which is why names are probly so important in some cultures.

  28. Instead of asking who am I
    It's imp to notice that the answer would change the philosophy of life, which to be honest can be changed by our acts[both logical and emotional] and
    Thus This Question Doesn't matters

  29. instead of asking who am i, i want to know why is the rum always gone?

  30. Is it just me, but when I look in the mirror I feel like apart from my body and mind there’s another me like the one that uses it’s conscious to choose, not the brain but the me, me that’s there idk the more I think about it the more confused I get!

  31. But technically I am a soul… Sure certain body parts change, but the pure existence is inside the body or more precisely the brain. Till the time I am dead, I know I am existing.. The feelings the memories remain the same until there is a severe damage to the brain. Even then they are stored subconsciously till literally stressed and provoked on it…

    I liked the idea and technically agree "a" does not equal "b". But it's not with self even if parts get changed, because soul is existing the body…

  32. You can break this down to a science all you want, but you'll never find the real answer to it because its not a question of science. Go read the Bible (Esv/King James) that's where the answer is, and its sooo clear. Start with the gospels, Mathew, Mark, Luke, John. That's where you find who you are, and why. Hope this helps someone out there struggling with this question, I sure did.

  33. "Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die."

  34. As a kid, I would get out of myself and would and travel somewhere unknown just trying to answer or understand who I am. . . I remember I even cried sometimes.

  35. "these people are smart creative people" then why is that artist scratching his ear with a carrot?

  36. "You're a collection of constantly changing parts". This is a metapysical presupposition entirely inadequate according to phenomenology (according to Heidegger, this conception is retrieved from the being of the things merely given). A a priori unity is the condition of possibility of the being-there.

  37. the answer to “who am i?” is “who do you think you are? who do you consider yourself to be?”

  38. I have a very simple answer to the question who "you" are, who you are is what you believe "you" are.

    My answer is that "I" is just a collection of personality, actions, emotions, beliefs and experience and "I" is the representation of it.

    Don't think too much about who "you" are, because we're different and similar at the same time.

  39. Who am I?
    A bunch of atoms randomly selected to perform a desired form, identity and function, individually in the microscopic scale or collectively in the macroscopic scale.

  40. The answer is actually simple: I am ME, and you are YOU. It's not that hard!

  41. I and all my friends identify me as a potato.

    but the a has the sound in naw

  42. This types of videos makes me overthink.

    Which is something i don't like!

  43. Whenever i feel low watchig others better life i always say to my brain ok what can i do with this body now?
    It's weird but i come up with so many ideas.

  44. Who am I?
    I always used to ask my self this question as a kid when I was 7 and I was very confused. But I became to find things such as philosophy.
    Now, I am 13. But for me, not to get confused. I always tell myself I am here to complete my spiritual mission in this world and help others. (This is just my opinion don't misunderstand)
    Overall I used to get depressed in this topic but now I don't. I just want to go with life and see happy moments with others.

  45. I would argue that the ship B is in fact similar to ship A based on the qualifications of what it means to the people.
    If the ship represents the victory and achievement then it doesn't matter if it's the same ship, it just needs to look similar.
    In the end everything comes down to perception.
    If no one knew that it wasn't exactly the original ship, then it simply isn't.

  46. Does anyone else look in the mirror and sometimes think "Wow, I'm this human."

  47. So which ship was the real one? I think they both were!!

  48. Im not still me. Im something else. My brain just thinks i am the same.

  49. This video assumes a conclusion. That the witness, that which is conscious, depends on matter.

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