Structuralism Extracts Meaning From Phenomena

Conflicting Opinions

Metaphorically speaking, it has been said that the structuralists have built incredible mansions for people to live in and, indeed, the mansions have been built and the lights are on, but, we might want to ask the question: Is anybody living in these mansions? Out of the five structuralists I will discuss only Chomsky and Piaget appear to be actively seeking the mansion’s inhabitants. As the above lesson on Kant cautions, finding these inhabitants takes extraordinary care.

Structuralists understand experience on two levels. Phenomena are first encountered by a given arbitrary level of experience and second, phenomena are then integrated (transformed) into communicable levels of experience. Thus, structuralism prescribes a method for understanding how to extract meaning from phenomena; however, on the whole, structuralism constitutes a diverse agenda of pursuits. By way of an introduction, De George offers the following perspective on structuralism:

“Structuralism has been described as a method, a movement, an intellectual fad,  and an ideology. Each of these characterizations is in part valid. For structuralism is a loose, amorphous, many-faceted phenomenon with no clear lines of demarcation, no tightly knit group spearheading it, no specific set of doctrines held by all those whom one usually thinks of as being associated with it. It cuts across many disciplines–linguistics, anthropology, literary criticism, psychology, and philosophy. For some it gives hope of uncovering or developing a common basic approach to the social sciences, literature, and art
which would unify them and put them on a scientific footing, much as the “scientific method” grounds and unifies the physical sciences.” [ De George and De George, The Structuralist: From Marx To Levi-Strauss, 1972, p. xi]

In a l986 lecture delivered at the University of Melbourne, Australia, the renown sociologist Anthony Giddens had the following to say about structuralism:

“Structuralism, and post-structuralism also, are dead traditions of thought. Notwithstanding the promise they held in the fresh bloom of youth, they have ultimately failed to generate the revolution in philosophical understanding and social theory which once was their pledge.” [ Anthony Giddens, Social Theory and Modern Sociology, 1987, p. 74]

I disagree with Giddens!


About bwinwnbwi

About me: Marvin Gaye’s song, "What’s Going On" was playing on the jukebox when I went up to the counter and bought another cup of coffee. When I got back, the painting on the wall next to where I was sitting jumped out at me, the same way it had done many times before. On it was written a diatribe on creativity. It was the quote at the bottom, though, that brought me back to this seat time after time. The quote had to do with infinity; it went something like this: Think of yourself as being in that place where infinity comes together in a point; where the infinite past and the infinite future meet, where you are at right now. The quote was attributed to Hermann Hesse, but I didn’t remember reading it in any of the books that I had read by him, so I went out and bought Hesse’s last novel, Magister Ludi. I haven’t found the quote yet, but I haven't tired of looking for it either.
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8 Responses to Structuralism Extracts Meaning From Phenomena

  1. I have noticed, David, that whereas my posts used to be featured regularly on Postaday2011, yours are almost ALWAYS featured now. I scroll down that page and see your opening graphic montage for almost every post. Good work!

    • bwinwnbwi says:

      Thanks again. However, were it not for your above comment, I would still be in the dark concerning the “new feature format” of WordPress postaday. I realized, some time ago, that some blogs have not been featured, but when I checked them out they had postaday photo (or something like that) in their tag words. Since I am not participating in the photo essays, I figured they must be featured elsewhere. When postaday2011ended there was a huge reduction in posted blogs. I know this because every day I would scan 14 or 15 pages of blogs, liking most and avoiding a few. Before the new feature format replaced the old “pages of blogs”— one page (that’s probably 12-15 blogs per day) became the sum total of participants in postaday. Now, if I’m right about all that then it is totally outrageous that WordPress would not feature all 12-15 daily posted blogs–go figure?

      As far as my blogs are concerned (at least the more technical ones), if I were WordPress, they wouldn’t be featured at all. Boring is the only word that seems to fit here. Thanks loads for all your support. Take care.

  2. You’re right about the posts to Postaday 2011 drying up. On the current top page, three of your posts are featured and three of mine are featured. The reason that I continue to use the “postaday2011” tag is that I’m convinced I’m still picking up unique visitors (and subscribers) from there. WordPress just might BE featuring all of the posts tagged with postaday2011, because all of my recent posts have shown up there.

    I liked the “newsmagazine” format of Postaday 2011. The simple catalog-type entries they are using for Postaday 2012– with a thumbnail gravatar, post title, and opening sentence– is boring. I don’t enjoy browsing it. I use the “postaday2012” tag with my posts, but don’t think many people are browsing/clicking there, which is why I think I’m still geting traffic from the 2011 site.

    • bwinwnbwi says:

      I’m still confused. I don’t see the old format anymore, I just see the new featured format, but it really doesn’t matter because it’s just one day at a time for me. It’s nice (even great) to be appreciated, but if no one reads my post except me, well, I appreciate the fact that its at least available on the internet. Take care.

  3. It took me a half hour to figure this out. I knew I had looked at the old format for Postaday 2011 JUST this morning, but kept getting the new format since. TO SEE THE OLD FORMAT, log OUT of your WP account and THEN go to

    • bwinwnbwi says:

      What’s up with that? It doesn’t make sense. Why can I go to the old format and discover new posts, but when I click on the “like” I am told to log in. When I log in I end up back here where the post that I just read does not exist. Where’s the logic in that? I wanted to like the story of the black bears, but after logging in, I end up back here where the black bear post doesn’t exist (or at least I haven’t found it yet). It’s probably about power, the power to tell me which posts I “ought” to like as opposed to which posts I want to like (that kind of power always sucks). Thanks for the help. Take care.

  4. Pingback: Cambiamo stile di vita di Anthony Giddens « Default Democratico

  5. Pingback: Sociological structuralism | Bgmiami

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