Monday, October 01, 2007

The Problem of Who Lois Loves

The other day, I got to thinking about one of the discussion topics in from Intro to Philosophy class I took seven years ago. I don't know why. It's a philosophical problem that goes as follows: If two things are the same, then everything that is true of one of them is true of the other. Clark Kent and Superman are the same person, but Lois Lane loves Superman and Lois Lane doesn't love Clark Kent. What's up with that? This problem seems to belong in the same league as Socrates' House (or is it Plato's Boat?), the omnipotence of God and such, but unlike some of these other introductory-level philosophical problems, I think I actually have an answer to it. Here it is; sorry to bore you if you've already got it figured out.

The concepts of Superman and Clark Kent (especially Lois Lane's concepts) are different, but they both are attached to the same real-world entity. Thus, what is true of Lois Lane's concept of Superman is not always true of her concept of Superman (in fact, they are quite distinct), but they do have one thing in common: Lois connects both of them to the same thing in reality (though she does not know it).

This implies something interesting about love: The act of loving someone - or at least of loving someone in the romantic sense of the word "love" - requires having a particular concept of who that person is. If it didn't, Lois would feel the same way when thinking of Clark Kent as she would Superman.

Lois' love for Superman is ultimately directed at the same object as her indifference to Clark Kent, but since this sort of loving implies conceptualizing its object, and Lois' concepts of Clark Kent and Superman are distinct, it is possible for Lois not to love Clark Kent.

By the way, I found out that the creators of Superman first conceived of him as a human villain. Far out.