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Describing Food 描述食物

(2010-08-06 10:43:30)
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kris

克礼

教育

分类: Critical_Thinking

I had a debate with a friend recently about the value of food descriptions. I don’t think this is popular in China, but in the U.S., many people love television shows and blogs about food and cooking. One of the joys, my friend said, is hearing or reading descriptions of delicious, exotic foods. Our argument was whether it was possible to describe a new flavor to someone. I argued that it was impossible, that the only way it was possible to describe something was in terms of other, already known flavors (like saying that a fruit tastes something like an apple and a pear combined), and that even then, that the description was not really meaningful compared to actually tasting something.

 

This actually represents a broader philosophical issue: is it possible to describe something to someone who has never seen it? In some cases, the answer is surely no. Imagine someone trying to describe an entirely new color to you, one that no person has ever seen. It would be impossible for you to picture the color, because the colors that we can see are limited by the way our eyes are formed. On the other hand, someone can describe a mythical monster that no one has ever seen by saying it has the head of a dog and the body of a snake, and you can imagine that quite easily. Nonetheless, one could argue that this is not actually imagining something new, but rather just assembling what has already been seen. Think about these problems – what do they imply about human existence?

 

-Kris克礼


 

最近,我就食物描述的价值与一位朋友辩论了一番。我不认为这在中国是流行的,但在美国,有许多人爱看关于食物和烹饪的电视节目和博客。其乐趣之一,据我朋友说,是听到或读到对珍馐美馔的描述。我们争论的是:向某人描述一种新味道是否可能。我说那是不可能的,描述某种味道的唯一途径是借用其他已知的味道(比如说某种水果尝起来像是苹果和梨的混合体),即便那样,与真的尝到某样东西相比,这样的描述也无多大意义。

 

这实际上代表着一个更为广泛的哲学问题:向从未看到过某样东西的人描述这样东西是否是可能的?在某些情形中,答案绝对是否定的。设想某人试图向你描述一种全新的颜色,一种从没人看到过的颜色。你不可能想象出这种颜色的样子,因为我们所能看到的颜色是被我们双眼的构造所限制的。但另一方面,某人可以描述出一种从没人见过的神话怪兽,说它长着狗的头颅和蛇的身体,而且你能很轻易地想像出来。不过,人们可以说这并不是真的在想象什么新东西,而只是把已经被看到过的东西组装起来。思考一下这些问题——它们对人类的存在有何意味?

 

-克礼

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