You know the Trolley Problem drill: philosophical thought exercise with a train is running off the tracks, about to do something terrible, so you flip the switch and prevent it, but it might cause something worse, and either way, someone dies.
I always get a kick out of ridiculous trolley problem meme jokes. But some clever meme-r took it to the next philosophical extreme by mashing it up with Sisyphus, the Grand Hilbert Hotel, and the Ship of Theseus:
A quick Philosophy 101 rundown, in case you're not a pretentious nerd like me:
- Sisyphus was the king of Ephyra/Corinth from Greek mythology, who pissed off Zeus so much that Zeus condemned him to an eternity of pushing a boulder up a hill, only for it to fall down every time he gets close to the top.
- The Grand Hilbert Hotel is a mathematical paradox about the concept of infinity. There's a hotel with an infinite number of rooms, but also an infinite number of guests, and you have to figure out (mathematically) how to make room when a new guest arrives.
- Finally, the Ship of Theseus is a metaphysical thought exercise, where a famous ship returns triumphantly from battle and is put on display. Over time, the planks start to rot, so the museum replaces them with newer, stronger wood … and eventually, there will be more new planks than the old planks that actually were present for the battle. So the question remains: is it still the Ship of Theseus if all its parts have been replaced?
Not that any of that actually matters, because this particularly Trolley Problem is clearly not meant to be solved in any traditional sense.
I couldn't find the original source for the image; I consult with TinEye, but it just gave me a bunch of social media posts, which wasn't helpful. Still, whomever you are: hats off to you. Unless my hat is also the Ship of Theseus?