Introduction to Philosophy (U Edinburgh) Forum, Courserahttps://www.coursera.org/learn/zhexue-daolun/discussions/forums/WwtCgxnzEeWmISIAC9QOog/threads/y-OcCpROEeaHgwrC2Qe0CQ
Minds and Machines (MIT), edX, archived, not active
and the thoughts have self-developed.
Main body in the original post:
The word “Pegasus” does not signify any particular thing in the real world; it signifies an imaginary animal, a kind of horse that can fly. Since we have such words, we say that our imagination can get rid of reality via creating new words and even new worlds. But perhaps there is another option to understand the relationship between “word” and “world”. Think about such a setting: the creator of the word “Pegasus” was a writer. An illustrator worked with the writer. “Pegasus” does not signify any real-world animal, then how could the illustrator draw it out? Obviously, the writer could draw first(give a visual representation first), or, she could explain the word “Pegasus” to the illustrator with the words that do represent something in the real world, and in this case, “Pegasus” could be interpreted into “a white horse that has wings and thus can fly”. “horse”, “wings” and maybe “white” and “fly”, these atoms that define the word “Pegasus”, all “solidly” relate to entities(or a feature that can be carried by entities, or an act that can be practiced by entities) in the real world.
If it is true that we created the word “Pegasus” via a reasonable combination of some atoms that do exist / are possible in the physical world, then here comes a question: is it true that, all the content words, at the level of atoms, relate to the real world in some way? And if it is true, how does such relationship alter our understanding of “word” and “world”?
It seems that I was talking about a re-arrangement of existing things——re-arranging parts and properties of existing things——which could be the origin of all fictional creations. Why do we have giants? Perhaps giants came from adding “huge”, a property that can be limitlessly vague, to ordinary human beings? Where did the property “huge” come from? Perhaps it came from mountains that somehow humbled human beings?
And we may not only operate at atom levels but also at propositional levels. e.g. “Human beings are not capable of controlling the weather.” By deleting “not”, the proposition could be altered into “X is capable of controlling the weather”. Ancient Chinese replaced X with e.g.风伯(controlling wind)、雨师(controlling rain)、滕六(controlling snow). Certainly, X could be replaced by other names in other cultures.