I have a few questions to add to the “Question about Structuralism” post by yenning. I’ve been thinking a lot about the ‘which came first?’ question with regards to lifeworlds and codes.
Would a structuralist say that participation in a linguistic community is necessary to have (and accept) lifeworlds?
Would a phenomenologist say that lifeworlds are already there and language just comes from them?
I think this question backs to a very early entry posted by airlee. In the post, he try to understand the beginning of the human world. And Tyler argued that this is one of the egg-chicken problems. They are always shaping each other and you never know which comes out first, maybe there is no clear boundaries between them. We humans have a big brain and an ability of speaking language which make us too complicated to understand all the questions we asked ^_^…
Structuralists probably would say Yes to this question. That is, participation in a linguistic community is prior to thinking (our cognition is always already informed, structured, and even conditioned by language). Thus, whatever lifeworld emerges happens after (and perhaps in part because of) the particular uses of language in that community.
I’m not exactly sure how a phenomenologist would answer this question. What I have read from phenomenology doesn’t focus on language nearly as much as structuralists do, and so I’m not sure I recall seeing this question addressed head-on by a phenomenologist. My guess is that they would consider language to be one–but not the only or perhaps even the primary–way we get to know our worlds, and so they would probably say language does not condition lifeworlds but primarily reflects our lifeworlds. But I’m not terribly confident I am altogether right about this, so take me with a grain of salt.
I don’t know what do you guys think but it seems to me that I try hard to define the distinction between structuralism and phenomenology after we start learning structuralism. However, after further discussion in class and on our blog, I found that the boundary is both explicit and blurry. We say that we use phenomenology to study the intention of people and apply structuralism to explore the sign. But no matter we work on which one, it is difficult to block the other one from affecting our analysis. Once we have human beings, we have signs. Once we have signs, we have human beings.
You are, of course, right! I see structuralism and phenomenology largely as two sides of the same coin, two complementary ways of breaking down the same problem. I guess you might say it is a major thesis of mine that it’s unfortunate HCI has traditionally only made use of one of these sides, and I’m hoping to contribute to making HCI more theoretically inclusive and diverse.