The Pope and Doctor Who

(Not much linguistic here. But I was seriously tickled by this Dinosaur Comics. It seems to be cartoon appreciation day.)

But there is a linguistic, or at least epistemological, issue here, having to do with the persistence of identity over time. The Arnold Zwicky I am now is very different from the Arnold Zwicky of 1962 or 1946, say. But there’s a historical chain that connects us.

Doctor Who, on the other hand, is a title (and role) that is reassigned periodically to fresh people. That is in fact similar to the Pope (and the President of the United States, and many other cases).

2 Responses to “The Pope and Doctor Who”

  1. Stan Says:

    Alfred Korzybski proposed adding a year in subscript after names (and other terms) to draw attention to this change in identity over time. It didn’t catch on, obviously, but it’s an interesting idea.

  2. Alon Says:

    Doctor Who, on the other hand, is a title (and role) that is reassigned periodically to fresh people.

    Not in-world!

    In the Doctor Who universe, the Doctor is an alien immortal, who —when subject to damage that would kill an ordinary being— regenerates into a new form that, minus personality quirks, is essentially the same Doctor. The face and mannerisms change, self-perception and temporal continuity do not.

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