Claude Levi-Strauss, a Critical Analysis Claude Levi-Strauss, a French anthropologist, is associated with structuralism for his development of structural anthropology. According to him, structuralism is the search for unsuspected harmonies and structural anthropology is a perfect method of understanding human society and culture. In his works, especially in “The Savage Mind,” Claude Levi-Strauss applies structural anthropology to various cultural systems, namely, to mythological patterns and to kinship structures, and, being an ardent supporter of structuralism, his impact has been important not only on the social sciences alone, but also on the study of literature, comparative religion, and philosophy. Levi-Strauss ideas and interpretations of culture are widely used in other fields of history, philosophy, literary theory. Although the critics of Levi-Strauss theory claimed that his ideas were erroneous because the anthropologist made his conclusions on the basis of his studies of non-industrial cultures (mostly, the Indian tribes of Brazil), his somewhat controversial works gave birth to heated debates and innumerable comments both in anthropology and also far beyond, making him one of the most influential anthropologists in the second half of the 20th century. La Pensee Sauvage (known as The Savage Mind), published in 1962, is, arguably, the most important work written by Levi-Strauss in terms of his interpretation of culture. In the first half of work the anthropologist provides with his own understanding of culture and mind, while the last chapters of “The Savage Mind” provide an insight into a theory of history and social change.
... ‘Structural Anthropology’; he influenced many journalists and fellow anthropologists such as Leach, through his many studies including his structure of kinship. Levi-Strauss is ... about the human mind (Leach 7). Claude Levi-Strauss’s explains the incest taboo as the bridge between nature and culture, he speaks of ...
In “The Savage Mind” Levi-Strauss was obviously influenced by Saussures ideas and his view of language to culture. Levi-Strauss considered that the mankind should understand culture as a structure that acts and works like language. To put it differently, the anthropologist considers that culture is able to organize things into patterns, making up a logical structure (Levi-Strauss 1966).
In such a way, for example, football can be best understood in junction with other things resembling it, like tennis, baseball, cricket, etc. In “The Savage Mind” the anthropologist inspires the thought that the person doesn’t need to understand how the language works even as he uses it. The same is with culture the person doesnt necessarily understand how the culture is structures even if the person belongs to this culture and acts in compliance with its logic patterns.
It means that the persons thinking is the product of his culture (Henaff and Baker 1998).
According to Levi-Strauss, culture is a big system of different meanings affecting the way people act and behave within it. At the same time, the language is not the only one way, but only one of various ways in which different people act and behave within cultural meaning. Some other ways in which people operate within cultural meaning include kinship and food patterns, to mention a few. The anthropologist considers that different cultures have their own rules for people belonging to these cultures. There are general rules for all people, belonging to specific culture and there are rules for different people, depending on their social position or kinship.
The organization and structure of these kinship systems among different cultures (for example, in tribal cultures) can be compared with phonemic systems in language. The explanation provided by Levi-Strauss in “The Savage Mind” is as follows. Each rule in the culture, if to examine it in isolation, seems to have no specific meaning, however, if to look at it as a part of a whole system, the rule makes sense. Also, in examining myths, Levi-Strauss defined a number of different mythemes (the statements that, if looked at in isolation, also doesnt seem to mean anything, but make sense only in relation to other statements) (Rossi 1974).
The purpose of this paper is to familiarize foreign language instructors with the effectiveness of using literature as a mean of bridging the cultural gap between students and the target language. It will also discuss how teaching literature can help students become more effective communicators in the target language and at the same time making them appreciate other cultures different from their ...
In Levi-Strauss viewpoint, with the help of myths, different cultures find logical and intellectual explanations to such problems like illnesses, death, or conflicts and wars. As the anthropologist considers, it is very difficult for people to accept different hardships or problems, if they are unable to find logical explanations to them.
At the same time, it becomes easier to accept these problems if people can explain them logically and become able to fit these problems into logical structures that are based on beliefs and myths because, in this case, people are able to fit these problems into their own understanding of the world and can see these hardships as a logical and natural part of the whole structure. Although Levi-Strauss interpretation of culture attracted a lot of criticism, his ideas presented in “The Savage Mind” are very important, as he provides the readers with valuable and significant evidence about the culture and how the meaning works in society (Levi-Strauss 1966).
So, according to Levi-Strauss, there are various systems of meaning that constitute culture, and the melding of these systems of meaning represent the collective human mind. Levi-Strauss considers that this mind is quite simple in its structure, and the behavioral patterns of people belonging to different cultures are culturally defined without their conscious knowing it. However, unlike Freud, Levi-Strauss assert that collective mind is not based on instinctual drives, and, in contrast to Marx, Levi-Strauss claims that economic forces don’t determine people’s behavior. Instead, it is the logical structure that defines the behavior of people. So, the founder of structural anthropology managed to invent and shape the method for examining relatively primitive cultures to support his theory, according to which the man is just one more temporary species in the universe, in the Cosmos.
How relevant is the work of Propp and Levi-Strauss to the study of cinema This essay will focus on the different approaches to narrative structure employed by folklorist, Vladimir Propp and anthropologist, Claude Levi-Strauss to see if they can be applied to the study of narrative cinema. In his book, Morphology of the Folktale, 1928, Vladimir Propp analysed a group of Russian folk-tales in order ...
the man’s brain shapes the development of humanity – from animal-like to the civilized people (Rossi 1974).
This basis is the material that shapes and develops language. The language, in its turn, is the key allowing gaining understanding of the commonalities, therefore, Levi-Strauss concludes, language is culture. In such a way, Levi-Strauss analyzed cultural phenomena, such as kinship systems, myths and languages in his attempt to discover what structures or ordered patterns these cultural phenomena seem to represent. The scientist considered that this analysis could reveal the structure of human mind. In this book, Levi-Strauss introduced the idea that behind individual cultures there are universals, or so-called natural properties, that are common to all people irrespective of the culture they belong to (Henaff and Baker 1998).
To support his theory of culture and mind, Levi-Strauss examined the structures and patterns that exist behind the beliefs and the customs of all cultures. Levi-Strauss concept of structuralism was focused on search for universal laws of human mind. The scholar asserted that there must exist some mental structure on the basis of all universal mental thought processes, and focused attention on the idea that mental thought process is innate and universal. From his studies of myths, kinship systems, customs and oral traditions, Levi-Strauss discovered the opposition of the human mental structure he called a binary opposition, a psychic state present in all societies (savage/civilized, culture/nature, death/life, to mention a few).
This interpretation allowed the scholar to gain better understanding of the culture and mind. Works Cited Henaff, M., and M. Baker. Claude Levi-Strauss and the Making of Structural. University of Minnesota Press , 1998. Levi-Strauss, C. The Savage Mind.
London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1966. Rossi, Ino. The Unconscious in Culture: the Structuralism of Claude Levi-Strauss in Perspective. New York: Dutton, 1974..
The main aim of every organisation is increase demand for the goods and services it offers. To achieve this goal, organisations employ certain ethics that control their attitudes, beliefs, experiences and values. This ethical characteristic of an organisation is known as its ‘organisational culture’. In their book Strategic Management, Hill and Jones (2001) define organisational ...