“The Ship of Theseus” of Life

  The ancient Greek philosopher Plutarch asked a question: a richly decorated wooden galley has been sailing on the vast sea, and whenever the boards on the ship are damaged, they are replaced with the same boards. Will it still be the same ship hundreds of years later when all the planks have been replaced? This is the famous “The Ship of Theseus” thought experiment in the history of philosophy. Many science fiction works also involve similar issues.
  The two works published in this issue can also be regarded as the “ship of Theseus” problem in the field of science fiction. “The Lost Art” is an excerpt from the science fiction novel “Tower No. 17” written by the famous science fiction writer Jiang Bo. The novel describes a future world where everything is interconnected, and humans create micro-robots that can move freely in the body to act as a “second immune system”. They can destroy harmful pathogens in a targeted manner, making the human body a “ship of Theseus” that can be continuously renewed. But without any warning, the “second immune system” in the body of Wen Ju, the designer and founder of the whole network center, suddenly collapsed, and his life was at stake. Relevant departments launched a secret investigation, and a conspiracy surfaced…
  Shu Yonghui’s “Rebirth” tells the story of the continuous high temperature in the world, and the confrontation between evolutionists and mechanics is becoming increasingly fierce. Ji Zi, who was born in an evolutionary family but is an ordinary person, yearns for a mechanical family, but after a series of experiences, he finally understands: What is the separation of body and mind? Under the influence of Ji Zi, the two factions reconciled, and since then there has been no distinction between mechanics and evolutionaries. The whole work is exquisitely conceived and grand in narrative, showing the author’s astonishing imagination, which is worthy of praise.

  The famous science fiction writer Liu Cixin once mentioned the “macro details” in science fiction creation. “Macro detail” means that although it is a detail in the novel, it represents a macro scale in the history of human civilization development. For example, there is such a sentence in his work “The Wandering Earth”: “The sun sets very slowly, as if it stopped on the horizon, and it took three days and three nights to set… The eastern hemisphere has been in a long period of time (there are ten years) will be in perpetual twilight.” This is a kind of macro detail. In traditional novels, three days, three nights, and more than ten years are a long time span, but in the long “wandering” journey on the earth, it can only be regarded as a short moment. These grand descriptions in traditional novels have become the details of building stories in science fiction. “Rebirth” embodies the application of this “macro detail” in science fiction creation.

  Of course, the use of “macro details” serves the needs of the structure of the whole novel. That kind of outline science fiction full of so-called “macro details” can hardly become a valuable science fiction literature, and it can only be regarded as a manifestation of the creator’s lack of ability.
  Whether it is the science fiction work itself or the fantasy world constructed by the science fiction work, there is no lack of philosophical speculation in the style of “The Boat of Theseus”. In 2005, the sci-fi film “Escape from Clone Island” directed by American director Michael Bay told the story of a group of “survivors” who lived in underground cities to “avoid deadly radiation” after the “nuclear war”.
  These “survivors” are clones of the world’s top rich people. The purpose of their existence is to wait for the corresponding rich man’s body to become a rich man’s organ supplier… When the rich and unethical scoff at it, there is no need to worry about it becoming a reality one day. Because the development of modern biological science has clearly told us that in the whole life process, individual genes are constantly changing. Therefore, even if it is a clone, its genetic composition is obviously different from that of the main body. The idea of ​​trying to obtain immortality by obtaining a clone is actually a dream. And this is the fundamental reason why the “Boat of Theseus” of life cannot really exist.
  For everyone, there is only one life, as the Soviet writer Nikolai Ostrovsky wrote in “How Steel Was Tempered”: “A person’s life should be spent like this: when When he looks back on the past, he will not regret for wasting his life, and will not be ashamed for doing nothing.” Such a boat of life is truly great and glorious.