A web article on structuralism contrasts the objectivity of structuralism with the subjectivism of the existentialism that preceded it: "So while Existentialism emphasizes subjectivity, Structuralism embraces an objectivity so impersonal that it tends to dispense with the individual altogether. All myths are homologous, capable of being generated out of one another by permutations and combinations. So the romantic notion that myth expresses a distinctive culture goes as well: in the end, Levi-Strauss is after universal patterns of thought."
This offers two, somewhat contradictory ways to characterize post-structuralism: First, that it is a revival of existential impulses; second, that it is an intensification of the objectivism of structuralism. Insofar as the former is true, the charge that post-structuralism is anti-humanist misses the point, for post-structuralism appears to be a kind of humanism, a brief for the subject. Insofar as the former is true, the effort to combat post-structuralist subjectivism is misguided, since it is an extreme form of objectivism.
posted by Peter J. Leithart on Monday, April 10, 2006 at 08:35 AM
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