I have just one simple question. Maybe you think it's silly. But the question intrigues me ... and also stumps me. So I hope I get a few thoughtful or creative answers from some wise and venerable readers.
The question is borrowed from Paul Auster's story "City of Glass," a mystery of sorts involving writer Daniel Quinn, aka William Wilson, aka Paul Auster, who tracks down a father who had imprisoned his son for years in a dark room, and who has now been released from prison. The father is a former professor who is likely insane and might presumably pose a risk to the son.
The issue is posed by the father, who also holds himself out to be something of a philosopher, who thinks he has the answer to solve the problems of the world.
We have the word umbrella, he poses. The word is a noun. It has a meaning that refers to something that's typically made out of a stick, with some collapsible metal spokes, covered with a waterproof cloth. We all know what an umbrella is. It has a function. It keeps us dry in the rain.
Now, suppose the cloth is ripped off. We are left with just the stick and the spokes. The device doesn't work anymore. So the question is: Is this thing still an umbrella? Or is it now something else?