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Thread: the creature

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    #1

    the creature

    Would you answer my question? Thanks in advance.

    A: "Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists."
    (C. S. Lewis)
    B: "The creature is not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists."
    (from google)
    C: The lion is a wild animal.

    I think "the lion" in C is a generalized concept of lions.
    I think in B, the author meant by the creature creatures in general as in A.
    However, I wonder whether B is really right or not.
    "The lion" in C has an upper class, that is; a wild animal, while I don't think of any upper class of creatures.
    If "the creature" can well be used, it's when used in contrast to the Creator as in D.

    D: Some people believe God is the creature / Creature as well as the Creator.
    (Should "creature" be capitalized?)
    Here the upper class might be, I think, beings or entities concerned with the Creation.
    I'd like your opinions about whether B is right or not, and about my explanation.

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    #2

    Re: the creature

    I don't think it's possible to say what (B) means out of context. (B) could be a rephrase of (A), or it could be something else.

    In (C), it's fairly safe to say that the The specifies lion (as an abstraction of lions) as opposed to other entities that may or may not be wild animals. if (B) is a rephrase of (A), then its use of The is functionally the same as (C)'s -- to specify creature from among other things that are born and yet aren't creatures.

    In (D), the Creature and the Creator share identical The's: God is the special, primary, first Creator, and, as some people believe, Creature. Since a creature is properly a created being, sentence (D) presents a complex theology and cosmology of which a proper discussion must transcend English linguistics. (If you capitalize God, you should capitalize both Creature and Creator; and if not, not.)
    Retired proofreader. ESL tutor. Not a teacher. Nor a typist, evidently.

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    #3

    Re: the creature

    Let's be clear about something: the actual quote that C.S. Lewis wrote is A, not B. There's therefore no point as far as I'm concerned in trying to understand what he may have meant by B, because he didn't.

    However, if he had used the form of B, then we would understand the use of The in the same way as C, as abaka says above.
    Last edited by jutfrank; 01-Sep-2019 at 10:25.

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    #4

    Re: the creature

    Thank you abaka.
    <quote>
    (B) could be a rephrase of (A), or it could be something else.
    -I agree. I assume the rephrase of (A) by the author might be for nobility or loftiness.

    <quote>
    the The specifies lion (as an abstraction of lions) as opposed to other entities that may or may not be wild animals.
    --I would agree if you said "The specifies lion as opposed to other (entities that are) wild animals. I think the opposition would be clear if it's that of the lion and other wild animals. Not so with the opposition of the lion and other entities that are not wild animals, I think.

    <quote>
    if (B) is a rephrase of (A), then its use of The is functionally the same as (C)'s -- to specify creature from among other things that are born and yet aren't creatures.
    --- Indeed the function of "the" is to specify something from other things in the same class of it. However, in the text including A (C. S. Lewis' Mere Christianity), there is no description of "things that are born and yet aren't creatures". Instead I repeatedly see the word God or other paraphrased words.
    I think in A creatures' upper class is the Creator, that is; God. And "things that are born and yet aren't creatures" are also made to come into being by God.

    My hypothesis is, in general, something (here the creature) is specified if it is well defined by its upper class (here God), just as the lion is defined and specified by its upper class, that is; a wild animal. Of course, the creature and the lion are both generalized concepts, so my hypothesis might be true only when sentences or discourses those concepts are used in are general ones.
    If my hypothesis is true, the specificity of the lion is determined not just by its opposition to other wild animals but also by its definition by its upper class, that is; a wild animal.
    (I think the definition or limitation of the lion by a wild animal is denoted in the fact that the lion is definitely a member of wild animals, and that of the creature by God is denoted in the fact that the creature is the very thing God created.)

    I'd like your opinion about my hypothesis. Sorry I'm a bit too philosophical rather than linguistic.
    I totally agree with your comment of D.
    Last edited by magic dragon; 01-Sep-2019 at 11:13.

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    #5

    Re: the creature

    Thank you jutfrank.
    Yes, B is not what C.S. Lewis wrote.
    I'm not trying to understand B. My concern is whether "the creature" in B is rightly used or not in grammatical terms. My point is clear in my reply to abaka.

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    #6

    Re: the creature

    If you would like me to comment on your hypothesis, I'll be happy to, but you'll have to be a little clearer. Could you take the trouble to restate it in different words? I don't want to waste time commenting if I'm not completely sure of how you're thinking.

    Quote Originally Posted by magic dragon View Post
    My hypothesis is, in general, something (here the creature) is specified if it is well defined by its upper class (here God), just as the lion is defined and specified by its upper class, that is; a wild animal. Of course, the creature and the lion are both generalized concepts, so my hypothesis might be true only when sentences or discourses those concepts are used in are general ones.
    As I've suggested, I don't think you should base your thinking around B as it is not a case of actual language. Mind you, this is also true of C, which you appear to have made up. Personally, I don't think you're going to get very far by using that particular example, but I'll make a comment nonetheless.

    I would agree with abaka that the use of The lion probably picks out the lion as a particular member from the class of all animals, whether wild or not. It is not in opposition to other wild animals. The lion is a wild animal. The goldfish is not.

    However, context does play an important part in setting what you call the 'upper class'. Although it is likely that I'm picking out the lion from all other animals, it may also be that I'm picking it out from a more narrow class (say, mammals) or indeed a much wider class (say, all things).

    The way I see it, by saying The lion is a wild animal, you're simply saying something along the lines of: I'm referring to a particular member of an unstated class as being a member of the subclass 'wild animal'. This is a statement of classification. The descriptor wild tells us what type of animal the lion is.
    Last edited by jutfrank; 01-Sep-2019 at 11:18.

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    #7

    Re: the creature

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    I would agree with abaka that the use of The lion probably picks out the lion as a particular member from the class of all animals, whether wild or not.
    -I wonder what you think defines an individual lion as particular.

    Abaka said: The specifies lion (as an abstraction of lions) as opposed to other entities--- .
    It seems to me that he is saying the specification is caused by the abstraction of lions and the opposition of the lion to other entities. If so, I agree with abaka.

    I think it can be said that "the lion" is qualified for having "the", just because it's an abstracted (a generalized) concept, which is one and only entity. However, it's not that "the lion" as such is well used in any kind of sentence or discourse. Context, as you say, plays an important role, I think.

    For example, you rarely say, "The lion is a thing (or a creature)." (The upper class / category here is things or creatures, and the opposition seems unclear.) or rarely say, "The lion is an animal" (unless it's a talk in kindergartens or something). (The upper class here is animals, and the opposition still seems unclear.)
    However, you could say, "The lion is a wild animal (or a mammal)," as long as you prepare the suitable context. (Here the upper class is wild animals or mammals, and the opposition to them seems clear. Of corse it's clearer in the case of a binary opposition as in E.)
    E: The lion preys on the zebra.

    And you could say, "The lion is the most dangerous among animals used in circuses."
    (Here the upper class is animals used in a circus. The opposition is clear.)

    I think it's when the lion's upper class is a relatively narrow one (such as mammals or wild animals or animals used in a circus) that the lion (the generalized version of lions) is rightly used in sentences (of course general ones). Then the opposition of the lion to other mammals or wild animals and animals used in a circus is clear-cut.
    I think, after all, what defines an individual lion as particular/ specific is the generalization of lions and the opposition of the lion to other entities of a narrow class.
    That's part of what I was trying to say.

    Sorry, I may have talked too much. So I'll put off stating my opinion about "the creature" in B and my hypothesis.

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    #8

    Re: the creature

    Quote Originally Posted by magic dragon View Post
    I'm not trying to understand B. My concern is whether "the creature" in B is rightly used or not in grammatical terms.
    It doesn't work for me.

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    #9

    Re: the creature

    Tdol, I'd like you to give me advice on how I should correct.

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    #10

    Re: the creature

    Quote Originally Posted by magic dragon View Post
    -I wonder what you think defines an individual lion as particular.

    Abaka said: The specifies lion (as an abstraction of lions) as opposed to other entities--- .
    It seems to me that he is saying the specification is caused by the abstraction of lions and the opposition of the lion to other entities. If so, I agree with abaka.
    Yes, I agree. I was trying to say the same thing. Sorry if it wasn't clear enough—I think I said it badly. I just meant that the lion refers to a particular kind of animal, not a particular animal.

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