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So I was wondering about this with two different characters who were both body-swapped and memory-wiped...
(don't mouse-over the "one" potholes to see what the works are unless you want spoilers - this is in parts 10-11 out of 12-13 in both of them).
One treats it more like reincarnation - particularly since time-travel is involved. The two characters knew each other before the first one died, and the second one was created from his corpse long after. They meet when the new version gets his memories back, so he's sitting next to himself, but he can't be in two places at once, so they have to decide which one gets to live, and which returns to death. It's clear everyone in the situation thinks of them as two separate characters.
One treats them as the same person. It helps that there's no time travel involved, and there's only one of him at a time. He's an immortal, incredibly powerful figure, memory-wiped and body swapped into an ordinary high school student. I was thinking about him and the way he acts early on, amazed at how he really thinks he's just an ordinary high school student... and then I thought of this paradox - one could say that at that moment, he is an ordinary high school student. Imagining if someone had told him his true/original identity before his memories returned. It would just freak him out. He wouldn't feel made-whole, he would feel broken. And when he gets his memories back, he tells his companions, "I may be (old name), but I'm still (new name). Nothing's really changed." It's not really clear which he sees himself as. He returns to his original body, and apparently he goes by his original name, but that could be because his original body is German and the body he was borrowing - and his new name - are Japanese...
... I guess I tend to take the Buddhist view on this - it is what it needs to be, the x of ten years, twenty years, etc. ago isn't the same as the x of today, but why does it need to be? Kinkakuji is Kinkakuji, and it's magnificent whether it's new or old. Though I doubt modernists would accept its claim to the term "new"...
But what do you think?
Earlier this month, hbi2k slapped this into the Real Life section of the article:
There are multiple problems with this claim—first among these, that hbi2k insists there is "no basis in fact" while simultaneously admitting that the body does replenish dead cells for much of its makeup.
This makes the urban legend a half-truth, not a complete fabrication—especially since, with respect to Real Life examples of this trope, there are multiple examples of objects which are debated to be examples of this paradox even when they still contain a significant amount of their original material (see the wooden-hulled ship examples—in fact, before I made my edits, the original example discussing the USS Constitution was right above his addition).
Because the Ship of Thesus Paradox is invoked and discussed with respect to real-life objects which haven't had all of their parts replaced, it stands to reason that the paradox could be invoked when discussing the human body if we recognize that yes, much of the human body does get replaced over time.
So, I modified his entry to be less problematic ...
... only for hbi2k to swoop right in four hours later and add his example back into the article (but not replace the original that I modified):
I'm going to say it again, hbi2k: your example is not an aversion, especially with respect to how this paradox is used when discussing real life objects. TV Tropes did not invent the Ship of Thesus Paradox.
I did give you the benefit of the doubt when modifying your initial example by noting that only most of the human body is continually replacing dead cells with new ones, but I could challenge your claims about, say, the human brain being a static organ by reminding you what neuroscience has learned of neuroplasticity in recent decades.
It's an urban legend. If we list it as such then the part about aversions needs to go, since the real life factual accuracy is irrelevant then.
That would also be a good idea. It'd certainly avoid any further debate on whether or not it had a basis in fact or not.
I never said anything about the human brain being a static organ. I honestly have no clue where you got that from. I said there are parts of it that are there from the day you're born until the day you die, which should be fairly uncontroversial. It's not the bit about parts of your body replenishing themselves that has no basis in fact— that should be pretty self-evident to anyone who's ever had a haircut— but the supposed seven-year-cycle, which is an invention of popular imagination.
I must have missed the fact that you replaced my example rather than simply deleting it. I've commented out your version while we hash this out.
Stripping away the passive-aggressive language referencing my original version would render it something like this:
Is that acceptable to you?
I think it's safe to just say "A popular (though untrue) urban legend..." and lop off the last sentence, as well as change "seven years" in the first to "every few years" because I've heard it as many different lengths of time.
I've heard it as a few different lengths of time, most commonly seven, sometimes ten. Part of the urban legend is that it's a fixed length of time, though, so some reference to that should stay in. Maybe:
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How well does it match the trope?