Post-Structuralism & Structuralism

I like that the texts starts off right away by accusing post-structuralism to be a rebellious form of structuralism. The two differ in that structuralism deals with the way in which humans make interpretations, which makes it more abstract, and post structuralism “maintains that the consequences of this belief are that we enter a universe of radical uncertainty, since we can have no access to any fixed landmark which is beyond linguistic processing, and hence we have no certain standard by which to measure anything.” ( Peter Barry pg 61)

It almost seems as if both structuralism and post-structuralism need to coincide with each other, even though it may be hard to choose between the two. Structuralism is linked to scientific method, whereas post-structuralism states that “there are no facts, only interpretations.”(pg 63)  My question now is how do these two contradict common sense truths that humans already have developed over time? Or is there even such a thing as “truth”? For example, how might is contradict to the language? Language is arbitrary and is always open to change, yet there are still some things that can be read over time that have a specific meaning, or “truth” that may not be open to interpretation. How might these two work together in deconstructing a text? Do they both contribute to the text unraveling of the text?

I’m still quite on the fence between the two. I’m not really sure if I agree with one or the other. I just keeping thinking that post-structuralism is so adamant on the universe not having one set truth, but that sentence in itself is one set truth. It’s telling us there are many truths within language that is up to each person to find, but just the fact that it’s saying that so firmly and with no doubts is a very “structuralist” approach. I’m not sure why post-structuralism doesn’t want us to trust language. Humans have created language in order to communicate and build trust, so I’m not sure why we’re not supposed to trust signs, signifier and signified as a useful means of finding meaning.

3 thoughts on “Post-Structuralism & Structuralism”

  1. “It almost seems as if both structuralism and post-structuralism need to coincide with each other…” YES. I feel like this happens quite often in these essays we close read. Though structuralism and post-structuralism don’t technically depend upon one another, one definition only helps to explain the other.
    As for your question, “Is there even such a thing as truth?”, I’m not sure how that could possibly even get a justifiable answer. The loop of arguments to follow would be infinite. Since change is so constant, is anything really sustained, without the chances of being revised? How far we’ve come as humans in the world of language is almost baffling, I think anything is open to interpretations now. Think of something as obvious as gender for example. For years it was defined and couldn’t possibly be changed, men always had the upper hand. Women’s work suffered. The improvements made since then are tremendous.

    Shannen Coleman

  2. I like the ideal of structuralism existing as a science and post structuralism existing a philosophy. This is a little confusing though because it feels so open ended, which I guess it is. It seems like the farther we move into theory the farther we move away from rules in analysis. We can’t assume anything to be real or true or consistent. This is definitely confusing and a little unnerving. The notion of this cycle leaves a lot of room for interpretation.

  3. I agree with what yo said about stating that there are no absolute truths, as an absolute truth. This is a ridiculous statement, and I think human beings can do better than succumb to this mentality. I had a professor who tells a story about having a discussion with someone and the man was trying to make a point. My professor could not agree with him becuase he said the man was contradicting himself. The man replied that he doesn’t believe in the principle of non-contradiction. My professor maintains that the only thing you can say to these people is goodbye and good luck. Maybe human beings are unable to understand everything perfectly or even anything perfectly. But to project our limitations onto objective reality is ridiculous. There is a lot of gray area between perfect understanding and no understanding at all. Even if we are not going to get everything perfect adhering to the principle of non-contradiction is better than the ridiculous alternative. I personally think the principle of non contradiction is true, but even if you don’t there is no better alternative. Without the principle of non contradiction is there even a framework for suggesting a better alternative?

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