Clark Kent is a Superhero

Published by patrick honner on

Clark KentIt was superhero day at school, and a senior had donned some fake glasses as his costume.  Confused, I inquired as to which superhero he was supposed to be.  “Clark Kent,” he said.  “Clark Kent is not a superhero,” I said.  “Superman is a superhero, and Clark Kent is his alter ego.”

A rousing debate ensued.  Well, it wasn’t really a debate; it was pretty much me against everyone else.

“No one calls out for Clark Kent in desperation,” I said.  I was being difficult in my typical way.  Yes, I was trying to make a legitimate philosophical point, but mostly I was just trying to intellectually irritate the students.  The controlled chaos of classroom debate continued

“Bruce Wayne is not a superhero!”   I was growing more confident in my stance, and sensed the argument drawing to a close.  I was ready to claim victory.  Then a clever student raised her hand.  The class quieted.

“Clark Kent is Superman.  Superman is a superhero.  Therefore, by transitivity, Clark Kent is a superhero.”

In a rare moment, I had no clever response.  In light of this stunningly elegant argument, I was forced to concede.  But I’ll be back.

Categories: Appreciation

patrick honner

Math teacher in Brooklyn, New York


Alan · March 10, 2011 at 7:53 pm

+5 points to the clever girl in the back. It’s always the transitive property that saves the day. 😀

Ivan · March 13, 2011 at 2:18 pm

And the Lord said, let Mr.Honner be wrong, and there was a mistake.

Terry · March 13, 2011 at 9:27 pm

I would side with the student, though if the sentence had been “Clark Kent is known as a superhero”, then the statement becomes intensional and thus not transitive:

MrHonner · March 13, 2011 at 9:43 pm

I appreciate the advice. I will be ready with my “appeal to intensionality” the next time I appear to be losing such an argument!

Darren · February 3, 2013 at 5:55 pm

Clark Kent is fairly unique as far as alter egos go, Bruce Wayne is a real person but Batman is his made up disguised superhero character, but Superman is an alien who can fly so the made up character is actually Clark Kent as it is when he is Kent that he is hiding who he truely is!
I don’t think that helps your argument though.

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