[33] The vexed problem of the relationship of word to thing. Poets, I think, would like for there to be something direct, intrinsic about the relationship; despite its analytical power, we poets find Saussure's assertion that the relation between sign & signified is arbitrary troubling. I think Wittgenstein, early & late, was also troubled by this relationship.

Your quoting W's "I will teach you differences" put me in mind of G. Spencer Brown's Laws of Form. Brown's first move in creating his calculus is to posit the marking of distinctions between one thing & another. I'm still not sure whether this is profound or superficial, to tell the truth. The Philosophical Investigations seems to be teaching us that we must constantly renegotiate the distinctions we make, more or less automatically, about the world. It might be possible to derive an ethical system form this: inability to renegotiate leads to inflexibility, doctrine. Or am I just finding a fancy way of rationalizing my own fairly radical relativism?


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