This is Part II of my answer to Mayo’s quip. See Part I. Obviously, it’s only a wee fraction of what could be said.
Are you you? I do not ask in jest. Consider that yesterday parts of what-might-have-been-you are no longer with you. What-might-have-been-you ate, what-might-have-been-you digested, some cells of what-might-have-been-you are no more, and some cells are new. Change has occurred from what-might-have-been-you to what-might-be-you now.
Given change occurred, the question is not an empty one: are you you?
Answer: of course you are you!
“You honor, I move to have this case dismissed. The client I represent is not the person who robbed the bank. My client wears a hat, whereas the person who robbed the bank did not.”
You are you because nothing essential that made you you changed, only things accidental to your essence changed, and accidents, as they are technically called, do not define essence. You are still you even though you’ve digested a banana, put on a hat, or dyed your hair. Cell content, hat status, and hair color (assuming you have any left) are accidents. That you can apprehend, intellectually grasp, this sentence is essential to making you you. Your rationality, your intellect, mind, and body make you you. Take something essential away, like rationality, by for instance gouging out your heart Aztec-style, and the corpse which remains is no longer you—even if the heart is stitched back in.
And of course people with heart transplants are still the same people. What about head transplants?
Everybody believes in essence, even those people who say they don’t. For the first thing people who do not believe in essence will do is to try to find other people to convince these other people that they don’t exist!
If there is no such thing as essence, there are no such things as people, because people are defined by the essence common to human beings. The committed non-essence holder must be willing to talk to ’57 Buicks, kumquats, and politicians and convince these non-entities that there are no such things as Buicks, kumquats, and politicians, and that the only reason they are not considered people is because of a wholly arbitrary definition.
If you say there is no such thing as essence, the only logically compatible belief is that everything is nothing. You cannot even say there are molecules, atoms, or even quarks, because defining these requires essence. If there is no essence, everything that is just is and any regular persisting pattern which might seem to exist really doesn’t. But if you don’t believe in essence, you cannot claim that some people are misled into seeing patterns, because creatures that can discern patters are defined by the (partial) essence of creatures-that-can-discern-patterns, and these cannot exist. That is, these creatures can exist, but lumping any two of them together based on any universal criteria makes no sense. Why should your criteria be my criteria?
Anyway, essence is trivial. But knowing it often isn’t.
Pug Cavet, Tex Covington, Oscar Stanage, Squanto Wilson, and Tyrus Raymond Cobb (a nice guy: no, really) in 1911 played a game the essence of which we call baseball. They (and others) played for a team called the Detroit Tigers. The field on which they played was called Bennett Park, which in 1912 became Navin Field, which in 1938 became Briggs Stadium (you heard me), which in 1961 became Tiger Stadium, and which is now a forlorn empty field named after the greatest announcer who ever lived, Ernie Harwell. The Tigers, if there is such an essential thing as the Tigers, now play at Comerica Park, which is in a new location, but still in Detroit.
It’s now 2016. Miguel Cabrera, Ian Kinsler, Justin Verlander, J.D. Martinez, and Victor Martinez are on the team. None of the men from 1911 are on the 2016 roster. The manager is not the same (Brad Ausmus now, Hughie Jennings then). The owner is not the same (Mike Ilitch now, Frank Navin then). The uniforms are not exactly the same. The fields are not the same, as we saw. The rules of baseball are not exactly the same then and now (there is now the dismal time-wasting soul-sucking play review, whereas before people realized perfection was impossible and it was just a game).
Question is, are the Detroit Tigers the Detroit Tigers?
If so, there has to be something that defines the essence of the Tigers. Can’t be the players, nor managers, nor owners, nor stadiums, nor precise uniforms, nor precise rules. I certainly think the Tigers are the Tigers, but that doesn’t mean I can specify with exactitude just what it is that makes them the same team through time.
The team has persisted, in the sense there was always some kind of continuous overlap, whether in men, uniform, name, location. That persistence is what convinces me the Tigers are the Tigers. It’s why I root root root for them every year.
So if the Tigers are essentially the Tigers, are the Dodgers essentially the Dodgers, given their shift from Brooklyn to LA? They certainly think so. You?