Sunday, May 10, 2009

89 Claude Lévi-Strauss

While Lévi-Strauss was well known in academic circles, it was in 1955 that he became one of France's best known intellectuals by publishing Tristes Tropiques.
This book was essentially a travel novel detailing his time as a French expatriate throughout the 1930s.

Lévi-Strauss combined exquisitely beautiful prose, dazzling philosophical meditation, and ethnographic analysis of the Amazonian peoples to produce a masterpiece.

After the rigid, almost scientific philosophy of the Vienna Circle we now enter the realm of speculative, interpreting thinking. In my opinion a typical continental thing of German and French philosophers.

It is a completely different approach to philosophical issues than the Anglo-American way which we have seen from John Locke on to now.

There is some resemblance between our latest philosopher, Chomsky , and Lévi-Strauss. They both observe an aspect of human behavior and both believe that there is some universal genaral structure at the base of it.

Chomsky had it with language, Lévi-Strauss had it with myths. All people, nations, have their myths and what struck Lévi-Strauss was that the themes in these mythological stories showed so many resemblances.

Not the literal content of a myth is important according to Lévi-Strauss, but the basic structure of the myth, which he called a mytheme. What he believed he had discovered when he examined the relations between mythemes was that a myth consists of nothing but binary oppositions.

Influenced by Hegel, Lévi-Strauss believed that the human mind thinks fundamentally in these binary oppositions and their unification (the thesis, antithesis, synthesis triad), and that these are what make meaning possible.

Myths are in Lévi-Strauss' view contexts, structures in which societies express certain universal problems. Just think of the binaries life and death, right and wrong, good and bad, healthy and sick, rich and poor, happy and unhappy, nature and culture.

The purpose of structuralist explanation is to organize real data in the simplest effective way. All science, Lévi-Strauss says, is either structuralist or reductionist. In a way he is right, all rationalism and empiricism we have seen so far were all reductionistic, but suggesting that it is either this or structuralist........well

The most fascinating in all this is to me how Lévi-Strauss believed that the human mind thinks fundamentally in binary oppositions, for this is such a simplification of the human mind. Things arent either black or white; there are thousands of shades of grey too.

Post-structural criticism of binary oppositions is not simply the reversal of the opposition, but its deconstruction, which is described as apolitical—that is, not intrinsically favoring one arm of a binary opposition over the other.

Deconstruction is the "event" or "moment" at which a binary opposition is thought to contradict itself, and undermine its own authority. It is a term used in philosophy, literary criticism, and the social sciences, popularised through its usage by Jacques Derrida in the 1960s. He will be our next philosopher after Foucault.

The Discussion

[13:22] Herman Bergson: so much on Levi-Strauss..
[13:23] itsme Frederix: pffffffff
[13:23] Herman Bergson: what do you mean Itsme
[13:23] itsme Frederix: tuff
[13:23] Herman Bergson: Oh...really?
[13:23] itsme Frederix: although binary limits the scope
[13:23] Herman Bergson: there are a few interesting issues here
[13:24] Herman Bergson: one is that we are inclined to see structures
[13:24] Herman Bergson: a normal thing if it is scientific theory
[13:24] Herman Bergson: but applied to cultural and historical things it is an other matter to me
[13:25] Gemma Cleanslate: ah
[13:25] Herman Bergson: and a second thing is this inclination to think binary
[13:25] Gemma Cleanslate: well is there
[13:25] Herman Bergson: I think so yes, Gemma
[13:25] Gemma Cleanslate: yes
[13:25] Gemma Cleanslate: seems so especially in the computer age
[13:25] Sorcs Nolan: this binary concept seems like the way we at least start to making sense of things
[13:25] Ze Novikov: are we not a cultured to think that way
[13:26] Sorcs Nolan: seperate out the Big Pile into smaller piles
[13:26] Herman Bergson: the big difference between history and physics is that only in physics you can test and retest your hypothesis
[13:26] Herman Bergson: Yes is a very appealing notion
[13:26] AristotleVon Doobie: the ying and the yang of the world is an ancient thought
[13:26] Herman Bergson: but I dont like it at all..:-)
[13:26] Qwark Allen: perhaps more then we think, we are binary >>> i like, i dislike , etc
[13:27] itsme Frederix: Herman that is to fast, every event changes the universe, so a next test is in another situation (at last)
[13:27] Herman Bergson: that is the point Qwark...
[13:27] Qwark Allen: some dichotomie
[13:27] Herman Bergson: it is to me not a matter that I like or dislike...
[13:27] Qwark Allen: yes
[13:27] Qwark Allen: was example
[13:27] Herman Bergson: I like or like a little or some more or not at all and so on
[13:28] itsme Frederix: a litlle or a lot
[13:28] Bubblesort Triskaidekaphobia: I think binary is just one pattern that our minds seem hardwired to see... our minds see patterns all over the place... the real question is if these patterns are real or not
[13:28] itsme Frederix: still binary
[13:28] Ze Novikov: I agree bubblesort
[13:28] Qwark Allen: even the mind process could result in binary system
[13:28] Herman Bergson: Indeed Bubble..our ever recurring question Gemma would say...^_^
[13:29] Gemma Cleanslate: once you accept the opposites can you not then add modifiers??
[13:29] Gemma Cleanslate: yes
[13:29] Gemma Cleanslate: to each??
[13:29] Qwark Allen: cause it`s eletric, made of diferencial ions
[13:29] Ze Novikov: smaller piles
[13:29] Qwark Allen: + & -
[13:29] AristotleVon Doobie: did he mean opposition when he said binary?
[13:29] Herman Bergson: yes of course..the binary thinking is one aspect of our mind
[13:30] Herman Bergson: but the interesting issue here is that we apply this hardwired structure as bubble calls it to reality
[13:31] Herman Bergson: Levi-Strauss did in his structuralist approach of myths
[13:31] Alarice Beaumont: it's the easiest way to fix decisions ... if you forget about the sideways.
[13:31] Herman Bergson: so true Alarice
[13:31] Ze Novikov: good point Alarice
[13:31] AristotleVon Doobie: doesnt seem like a revelation to me, or was the opposites not recognized before Strauss?
[13:32] AristotleVon Doobie: in the west anyway
[13:32] itsme Frederix: excuse me - using hardwired structure - inclines to reallity , but why should it. & we still did not define reallity
[13:32] Herman Bergson: You are excused Itsme...^_^
[13:33] Alarice Beaumont: a lot of people are convenient...
[13:33] Herman Bergson: Got to think about what you say..
[13:33] Bubblesort Triskaidekaphobia: I define it as the world of objects and universals
[13:33] Herman Bergson: oops Bubble.....objects AND universals?
[13:34] Bubblesort Triskaidekaphobia: universals seem to not actually exist, but I think that they are real... only just started looking into the field though, so I don't have a good well formed opinion yet
[13:34] Nick Cassavetes: the binary thing started with Heraclite if you ask me
[13:35] Nick Cassavetes: and Spinoza also asked himself whether we can hold more then two considerations at one time
[13:35] Nick Cassavetes: it is interesting
[13:35] Nick Cassavetes: not an easy one to tackle
[13:35] Herman Bergson: yes Nick, has fascinated me always too
[13:36] Nick Cassavetes: when comparing stuff, can we comparae 3 thing at a time? my hunch would say no
[13:36] Nick Cassavetes: so Levi-Straus may have been touching ground with his thinking if you ask me
[13:37] Herman Bergson: To some extend he definitely did...
[13:37] itsme Frederix: in math you use binary propositions, and go to the third by a transition rule (if a>b & b>c) then a>c
[13:37] Herman Bergson: but that is what I already said in the beginning....we are here on speculative and interpreting grounds
[13:38] Nick Cassavetes: I'm not to well informed about him, as I am about all french philsophy, allthough I'm allways attacking rigid dichotomies, I couldn't give a good explanation of what deconstructivism is
[13:38] itsme Frederix: Herman we always have been the last year!
[13:38] Herman Bergson: I think it is a highly creative way of looking at our world
[13:38] Nick Cassavetes: will defiantly try to catch the Derrida lesson
[13:38] Herman Bergson: and then we were on more firm ground
[13:39] Nick Cassavetes: deffinatly lol, that was a funny typo
[13:39] itsme Frederix: just because we defined it a-priory
[13:39] Gemma Cleanslate: lol
[13:39] Herman Bergson: Yes..I think Derrida is going to be fun now
[13:40] Nick Cassavetes: ok, thx again for lecturing and hosting Herman
[13:40] Nick Cassavetes: see you all later
[13:40] Gemma Cleanslate: bye nick
[13:40] Alarice Beaumont: bye Nick
[13:40] Qwark Allen: cyw
[13:40] Ze Novikov: bb
[13:40] Herman Bergson: The interesting thing of men like Levi-Strauss is that when you read their books it gives you a new look at things
[13:41] AristotleVon Doobie: perhaps Derrida and Foucault will make it more clear
[13:41] Gemma Cleanslate: rodney should be arriving any minute
[13:41] Alarice Beaumont: ;-)
[13:41] Ze Novikov: lol
[13:41] Herman Bergson: it is not about the right or wrong look, but the new wondering about what seemed obvious
[13:41] itsme Frederix: never loose wondering
[13:42] Herman Bergson: right Itsme
[13:42] itsme Frederix: I'm still wondering about my wondering
[13:42] Gemma Cleanslate: :-))
[13:42] Bubblesort Triskaidekaphobia: were levi-strausses mythemes kind of like the momomyth?
[13:42] Herman Bergson: and the quality of men like Levi-Strauss is that they look at things in a new way
[13:42] itsme Frederix: it's an amazing thing that we stil wonder
[13:43] AristotleVon Doobie: it is important to look at things in as many views as you can
[13:43] Qwark Allen: yes
[13:43] Herman Bergson: you could say that, Itsme....probaly a part of the system
[[13:43] Qwark Allen: the more sides of one thing, we can see, the better we know it
[13:44] itsme Frederix: I found Levi very interesting t read - good style also and coming up with a kind of passion
[13:44] Herman Bergson: Yes...and it gives rise to new ideas
[13:44] Qwark Allen: :-)
[13:45] Herman Bergson: class we'll see what Foucault will add to this
[13:45] Gemma Cleanslate: ah
[13:45] Qwark Allen: nice
[13:45] Herman Bergson: And Aristotle...Foucault you pronounce like You and au is as in know
[13:45] Gemma Cleanslate: yes
[13:45] Gemma Cleanslate: lolol
[13:46] Herman Bergson: and then complete Deconstruction with Derrida...^_^
[13:46] itsme Frederix: I remember (a little after all those years) Levi comes up with interesting examples of old or "strange" cultures
[13:46] Qwark Allen: yes
[13:46] Qwark Allen: he lived several years with somes
[13:46] itsme Frederix: o I see we already passed further on
[13:47] Herman Bergson: No's ok Itsme..:-)
[13:47] itsme Frederix: THX Quark, that makes him "practical"
[13:47] Gemma Cleanslate: boroco tribe
[13:48] itsme Frederix: facination how he analyses these cultures / structures -- trying to find some more general ideas
[13:48] Herman Bergson: yes..that is always the most fascinating....the interpretation
[13:49] itsme Frederix: mmm Herman now you place interpretation above /beside reallity ? in a way
[13:49] Herman Bergson: yes...
[13:49] itsme Frederix: so reality is just dumbo, its what you make out of it what counts - thats the positive formulation
[13:50] Gemma Cleanslate: hmmmm
[13:50] Herman Bergson: well...scientific theories are interpretations
[13:50] Gemma Cleanslate: how do you dismiss scientific realities itsme
[13:50] itsme Frederix: yes definitly
[13:50] Gemma Cleanslate: poven ones
[13:50] Herman Bergson: and as I said physics this is a rather clear matter
[13:50] itsme Frederix: prove is interpretation
[13:51] Gemma Cleanslate: ah
[13:51] Gemma Cleanslate: ok
[13:51] Herman Bergson: but applied to culture and history it is a different story
[13:51] itsme Frederix: well maybe because the actors in culture and history are objects that themself give an interpretation
[13:52] Herman Bergson: no....
[13:52] itsme Frederix: and that interpretatation leads to extrapolation
[13:52] Herman Bergson: when physicist discuss their interpretation of reality, which is their scientific theory
[13:52] Herman Bergson: they always can rely on tests and falsification
[13:53] Herman Bergson: when you have theories like Levi-Strauss hold, you also can put the theory itself in question
[13:53] itsme Frederix: mmm tests are not totally without interpration - mostly these are wellformed by theory
[13:54] Herman Bergson: the interpretation canbecome a matter of debate itself
[13:55] itsme Frederix: Herman so you say the physics interpretation can not be discussed in itself - it is "kind of" part of physics / the object you study?
[13:55] Herman Bergson: no...every theory can be questioned...
[13:55] Herman Bergson: what I mean is this
[13:56] Herman Bergson: take chemistry...complete industries work with the theories of what reality is...medicines ..oil refineries...and so on
[13:56] Herman Bergson: you dont discuss the theory there
[13:56] Herman Bergson: makes no sense
[13:57] itsme Frederix: mmm you are just looking to the outcome /result
[13:57] Herman Bergson: but when I have an interpretation of a cultural phenomenon, like Levi-Strauss investigated myths
[13:58] Herman Bergson: you can easily discuss the theory which he applied to the phenomenon
[13:58] Ze Novikov: must go to RL tyvnm Herman bb all
[13:58] Gemma Cleanslate: bye Ze
[13:58] AristotleVon Doobie: soyy, I have to run...great lecture Herman...good bye all
[13:58] Herman Bergson: that theory is even highly questionable
[13:58] Gemma Cleanslate: time anyway
[13:58] Gemma Cleanslate: :-)
[13:58] Wisdom Streeter: good class
[13:58] Herman Bergson: ok..we'll save this for Foucault and Derrida
[13:58] Gemma Cleanslate: yes
[13:58] itsme Frederix: good idea
[13:58] Herman Bergson: thank you, Wisdom
[13:59] Gemma Cleanslate: thursday
[13:59] Gemma Cleanslate: :-)
[13:59] itsme Frederix: gives us some own theme
[13:59] Herman Bergson: Yes, Thursdaay
[13:59] Qwark Allen: ok!!! thank you herman!!!!!
[13:59] Gemma Cleanslate: we are off to burning life again
[13:59] Qwark Allen: yes
[13:59] Qwark Allen: \o/
[13:59] Gemma Cleanslate: hope you have been there
[13:59] Qwark Allen: yes
[13:59] Herman Bergson: ok
[13:59] Gemma Cleanslate: so much to see!!!
[13:59] Qwark Allen: lots of time
[13:59] Qwark Allen: like the door man
[13:59] Qwark Allen: eheheh
[13:59] Alarice Beaumont: oh.. where is hope by the way?!
[13:59] Qwark Allen: or security
[13:59] Bubblesort Triskaidekaphobia: thanks, herman... great class
[13:59] Gemma Cleanslate: was here
[13:59] Herman Bergson: Yes...Burning Life drives you crazy....
[13:59] Gemma Cleanslate: before
[14:00] Gemma Cleanslate: by the door
[14:00] Qwark Allen: yes
[14:00] Gemma Cleanslate: lol
[14:00] Herman Bergson: so much creativity there lives in SL
[14:00] Qwark Allen: long time
[14:00] Gemma Cleanslate: yes it does!!!!
[14:00] itsme Frederix: what is Burning Life ?
[14:00] Qwark Allen: and that is nice
[14:00] Gemma Cleanslate: keep finding so many things!!!
[14:00] Gemma Cleanslate: oh wow
[14:00] Herman Bergson: You should see that Itsme
[14:00] Qwark Allen: burning man festival, at sl
[14:00] Gemma Cleanslate: itsme
[14:00] Qwark Allen: :-)
[14:00] Qwark Allen: 22 SIMs
[14:00] itsme Frederix: do I miss someting
[14:00] Gemma Cleanslate: i will pass a nlotecard of all the sims
[14:00] Qwark Allen: 2 weeks to build
[14:00] Qwark Allen: 1 week to see
[14:00] itsme Frederix accepted your inventory offer.
[14:00] Gemma Cleanslate: i recommend you start with the bottom lm
[14:00] Herman Bergson: Use the LM Itsme
[14:00] Gemma Cleanslate: the entry
[14:00] Qwark Allen: i think i only have been at 3
[14:01] Qwark Allen: so far
[14:01] Gemma Cleanslate: i have been at 12
[14:01] Gemma Cleanslate: or 14
[14:01] Qwark Allen: loool
[14:01] Qwark Allen: lol
[14:01] Qwark Allen: O_O
[14:01] Qwark Allen: @_@
[14:01] Alarice Beaumont: i have been to one today
[14:01] Herman Bergson: 22 sims with creative stuff
[14:01] Qwark Allen: yes
[14:01] Gemma Cleanslate: very very creative!!!!
[14:01] Alarice Beaumont: started with the bottom one.. as you wrote in your article gem
[14:01] Qwark Allen: and some are really nice building
[14:01] Gemma Cleanslate: yes
[14:01] Gemma Cleanslate: good
[14:01] itsme Frederix: oke thx all, I just googled and got lots of screens
[14:02] Gemma Cleanslate: oh yes lol
[14:02] Qwark Allen: and they got there a wood burning man, to burn at the end of festival to
[14:02] Herman Bergson: yes it is everything..from trash to art
[14:02] Gemma Cleanslate: go to the unoficial blog
[14:02] Gemma Cleanslate: one
[14:02] Gemma Cleanslate: yes
[14:02] Gemma Cleanslate: and great outhouses
Posted by herman_bergson on 2008-10-01 17:19:23

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