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   RE: I want to parse like Superman (was Re: Identity)

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  • From: Leigh Dodds <ldodds@ingenta.com>
  • To: xml-dev@ic.ac.uk
  • Date: Wed, 23 Jun 1999 10:40:27 +0100

> Here's an interesting problem -- in the world of DC comics, there
> exists no time T in which Superman and Clark Kent both exist
> simultaneously, and as a corollary, there exists no person P such that
> P is both Superman and Clark Kent.  

And presumably if the change from Superman to Clark Kent is not 
instantaneous, then there exists a time T in which neither 
Superman nor Clark Kent exist, but some intermediate entity (Super Clark?,
Man Kent?) does.

>On the other hand, there does
> exist a person who is always *either* Clark Kent or Superman.  

Following on from above then that person isn't *always* one of 
the two alter egos, but at some point is also neither.

While I love philosophical debates like this, I've got the (niggly) 
feeling that its not addressing the issue square-on. 

The existence of multiple frames of reference for identification isn't 
necessarily bad - I might want to talk solely about Superheroes and 
not mild-mannered reporters, or refugees from Krypton. 
However as long as (ultimately) all frames of reference discuss the 
same object then things are OK (consistency). 
An object can have multiple identifiers, depending on the context in which 
it is being discussed.

Attempting to generalise across contexts causes problems such as 
when does Clark stop being Clark, and when does he become Superman?
You might argue that its when he changes his costume, but he (Kal-el) 
would say that the distinction doesn't exist.

Probably a less than meaningful (and coherent) contribution to 
the discussion...



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