We know in Language we have an affinity for the word 'Same', I've noticed that when we used it with respect to objects and people, my question is whether this is a particular problem with definition in our language or a greater idea involving how we deal with change over time.

The best example I have of this is the pre-socratic phrase about not being able to enter 'the same river twice', in our natural language we would refer to any river with the same name as 'the same river' even though it's properties change we accept that something can be the same 'object' even though its properties can change, whereas this suggests that due to the change in the river (water flowing) and the changed in the individual entering the river, the same person cannot enter the same river twice, this time the river being the 'same' is about not changing instead of having some sense of identity that we provide.

People are the best example of this, we may say that we've had the 'same boss' for the last ten years, but at the same time someone who has experienced change due to age or personal development may say that they aren't 'the same' as they were, or may take this further and say they aren't 'the same person they were' and hence my boss for the last ten years cannot be 'the same boss' as they have changed in this context due to aging in this time.

  • See the so-called Ship of Theseus problem. Commented Jan 31, 2022 at 10:04
  • And see Personal Identity Commented Jan 31, 2022 at 10:05
  • yeah, the ship of Theseus really is the essence of this question how do we define identity of things, thanks for that.
    – Confused
    Commented Jan 31, 2022 at 10:11
  • As usual, in metaphysical issues, there are several perspectives: the river is the same, also if water changes, and also when the river bed changes... A person is identical the day after: it bears the same name, etc. Commented Jan 31, 2022 at 11:06
  • 1
    @user1007028: but we can say that a person is not numerically identical with a previous version of themselves as they do not have all properties in common Well, so the point is to ask whether "having all properties in common" throughout multiple times is a reasonable standard for determining for/against numerical identity. If you have a banana on the counter that is unripe on Monday, and a banana on the counter that is ripe on Tuesday, and a banana on the counter that is mushy on Wednesday, is that (by itself) a reason to conclude that you have 3 distinct bananas? Commented Jan 31, 2022 at 14:24


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