In graduate school a colleague of mine was doing his dissertation on “what is a word?”. I was like “What?” and he said “Well, you’re not a word, presumably.”
I always thought of this exchange as a pithy explanation of what was wrong with academic philosophy until last night when I read Peirce’s paper on consequences of four incapacities. In it he argues that no thought is what it is except in reference to the future, and that our whole mental life is actually a sign for what we will be in the future.
Insofar as I understand it.
Just what he means by “sign” and “habit” and “thought” and “emotion” repays careful study. But so far it looks like…I am a word! Word.