After the last Tuesday’s class, I always want edto treat everything that appear in my eyes as a couple of opposite words. That is a dichotomy method to observe this world. For instance, I would like to propose an example .Naked men and women in long long ago like old stone age. There are no literature and text language. Human didn’t have awareness of the labels both of “men and women” or “male and female”. They are pursuing the first thing located in fundamental level of Maslow’s pyramid- food. They have to corporate to hunter animal to survive.
And one day when I was not worry about food anymore, I realized that there are distinction between me and another one: it has big breasts, and different sexual organism. And I observe another one: I find same thing with me. After I observe all people in this class, I inducted the conclusion that there are two group at all, people same as me is group A, the other people who has same thing is group B, and for group A, I put a label to them: male, for group B, I said female. So far, the first model of structuralism is built up.
And how do I know that? That is my hypothetic story. I live in 21 century, the time with multi touch screen iPhone, and I don’t know what happened in old stone age and if they concluded male/female in that way or not.
However, with my belief, my prejudice, my horizon, my expectation concerning the world, through the isolate “time” wall, I read historical records to try to understand the intention of what human did in the passed time. And then I recognized that that might be the way ancient making up the concept of male vs. female!
About structuralism, I have something to share. In book of Tao Te Ching, Yin and Yang theory, Lao Tzu simply put Yin and Yang as two opposite things. “Every entity always return to Yin after engaging Yang. the fusion of these two opposites(Yin and Yang) births the vital energy that sustains the harmony of life.” It is extremely similar with a concept of Marxism’s analytic materialism- the Unity of oppositeness. The motivation of everything development is the result of fighting within the two opposite things.
Actually I still I don’t quite clear what is differences betweenphenomenology and structuralism but after the talk with Mingxian, yenning and Zhuofeng, and when I read the chapter 2, 31page, the word of “neutralising” ,I do have a feeling that the trend of combination these two babies could lead to good design. Just need to practice hard using these two tools to observe and analyze this world and new things.
Deng Xiao ping , leader in China has a Cat theory: no matter black cat or white cat, we see it as a good cat only if it can catch mouse.
Great story treatment of structuralism, airlee! Everything’s easier to digest when you turn it into a good story, isn’t it? I think stories are like language with us humans – we’re hardwired for them as a species. But that’s another topic …
Anyway, your excellent story encapsultation got me to thinking about the problem of language as a tool to overcome inobjectivity. That is to say, we are using phenomenological and hermeneutical approaches in class in an attempt to overcome our innate inabiltiy to be truly objective because of the polluting effect that our lifeworlds can have on us as we try to objectively observe the world. And yet, language itself carries the same Original Sin of having been produced by our in-objective lifeworld. So, the strength in our comparison and descriptions would tend to rest, I would think, not in the words themselves (since we dare not trust them entirely), but in the dynamics of the comparisons and descriptions that we prop them to create.
Don’t you think?
I like how you use a myth to think through these issues. But I want to draw a distinction: there is the anthropological question of how early humans learned basic concepts (e.g., of gender), and there is the question of how WE (as modern humans) learned these things. I assure you, I did not discover the difference in gender the way you describe in your myth! I was taught these things by my parents, and they did so by explaining through (or merely using) language. That suggests that my earliest comprehension of the world is given to me through linguistic categories, and NOT because I discovered these things in reality and only afterwards developed concepts for them. Rather, it was language that led me to concepts. (See my comments on Adam’s most recent post for further explanation of this.)
The short version is, for a structuralist, language precedes, rather than follows, cognition.