That seemingly innocent question belies a mystery that has, for millennia, troubled the minds of philosophers far and wide. That question turned into a long, thought-provoking read in the late night that leaves me wide awake at three in the morning.
Worth every second of it.
The link’s right here, but I’m gonna jump straight to one of the last few points it brought up, specifically the continuity of a person’s identity.
Imagine a 90-year-old man looking at the photo of himself when he was 6 years old, and told us: “That’s me!”, we’d probably be inclined to agree with him. But if we compare these two from the different timelines side-by-side, they could hardly be any more different. They’re different in their size, they’re different in their thoughts, they’re different in the experience they went through, and with 84 years sitting in between them, it’s likely that every single body cell that existed on his six-year old self died a long, long time ago.
When we put it that way, it sounds a wee little bit depressing, no? Fortunately, people tend to not mind. However different we may have changed – and people do change – we would still tend to call our 10-years-younger self “me”. If we deny that, then we might as well say that the one-second-younger me was a stranger.