Consider what effects that might conceivably
have practical bearings you conceive the
objects of your conception to have. Then,
your conception of those effects is the
whole of your conception of the object.
A riddle is a description of something, typically in metaphorical, oblique, and very partial terms, from which the respondent must abduce the identity of the thing described. One of the interesting things about Gollum’s riddle is the pragmatic way he describes the object of his conception in terms of its effects on the contents of a whole universe of discourse. If we weren’t at hazard for being devoured ourselves, we’d be at leisure to sit down and work out a logical analysis of those effects. There are a few fine points we’d have to settle, like when he says this thing devours all things — Does it devour itself or other things only?
I meant to write more, but it’s later than I thought it would be by now …