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.

Post Structuralism vs. Structuralism

Post structuralism and deconstruction deals with the differences between the two terms. In the essay there are 4 different key points that can show the reader the difference between post structuralism and structuralism. The certain key differences that I decided to write about were tone and style, attitude to language and, project. The essay points out the differences between the two terms in order to get a better understanding what the differences are and to compare the two theories to one another. structuralism writing is one that is seen as abstract and general. There is a form that structuralism takes on that has an order that takes on aspects of scientific writing although it does not want to be labeled as a term that is only scientific. Post-structuralism writing is euphoric and urgent. This means that the writing is supposed to give off a certain feeling or expression to the reader that is associated with happiness. Structuralist believe that the world is constructed through language. Reality is only seen through a linguistic medium. I find this interesting because I think that the structuralism is trying to state that language is very important in the sense that it creates the world we live in. Structuralism also is thought of as having a structure and order that the world revolves around. Post structuralist’s believe that reality is seen as textual. “post structuralism develops what threatens to become terminal anxieties about the possibility of achieving knowledge through language.” I think that this quote helps us understand how post structuralism causes certain tensions that are brought up by the idea of language. This idea is further explained to express the idea of words in language that mean one thing may not successfully be understood the way one refers to them. There is a lost in translation at times and meaning can vary according to the words that are used in language. Post structualists also believe that words are known and understood through the help of other words that are opposite of the original word that is trying to be identified. The goal that structuralism wants to fulfill is the breakaway from the modes of perception/categorization and get words to be seen in a more reliable point of view. Post structuralisms goals are for one to see an individual as a product of social and linguistic forms and to take away the idea of skepticism in language.

Structuralism

I found this text to be quite interesting because it focuses on the methodology of human culture. I see that it is very fixed on how humans find meaning, but isn’t exactly interested on the meaning itself. The first thought that popped into my head on structuralism was the idea of religion verses science. Where do humans find meaning in each of these categories, and do people find that one may be more significant than the other, since the actual substance of meaning doesn’t really seem to matter to Barthes. If we apply structuralism to each religion and science, we would have to break apart each of these categories in order to examine it more clearly. So for example, if we choose to examine religion, we would have to study it in its many sections that make it up as a whole. It can teach us about language, also myths. A lot of stories about gods can be perceived as mythological. Also, it can teach us about the language used in religious books, such as the Bible…etc. We can get a clearly picture as to why the human culture developed certain beliefs and language over time. This goes back to Saussure’s text on linguistics.

I think that this text along with Saussure’s “Nature of the Linguistic Sign” are very similar in that they both believe in close reading and critical thinking in order to find “meaning” to words and the way they are used. It is in doing so that we can make texts more intelligible over time.

Are Barthes and Saussure Alike in Some Aspects of Theory?

In The Structural Activity Barthes tries to explain the word Structuralism. Structuralism is seen as a mode of thought that “refers to the linguistic model that was originated by Saussure’s theory that deals with economics, linguistics, and the science of structure.” Not only is structuralism complex and has many different working parts but it also involves a second part that includes history, and the immobilization of time. When I think of the second part to the definition of structuralism I think of the historical time period in which you are analyzing a text. The historical aspects play a role in analyzing the text because the text has historical references in it. The more modern structuralism is noted to be during Marxism. I found this interesting because Marxist theory deals with the political, social and economic policies that Karl Marx was questioning during the 18th century. His theories questioned religion in regards to scientific facts. Structuralism cannot be put into one solitary category such as Marxism but it has a series of concepts and cannot be associated with only one school or movement such as Marxism. Marxism is only one way we can see structuralism play out in theory. Structuralism is broken down in order for one to understand the goals of structuralism which is known as the structuralism activity. What exactly does this mean? Well Barthes explains that a structuralism activity involves dissection and articulation. These two terms used to show a change an actual meaning in a text. The actual meaning of the text can be interpreted as an allegorical meaning that is hidden in the text that reveals more than just its elements. Like Saussures theory of linguistics both theorists try to find the allegorical meaning of a text through the historical aspects by looking further into the text by breaking it down into different parts. When Barthes tries to explain how the dissection operation part works in structuralism he states that “The dissection operation thus produces an initial dispersed state of the simulacrum, but the units of the structure are not all anarchic before being distributed and fixed in the continually of the composition, each one forms with its own virtual group or reservoir an intelligent organism, subject to a sovereign motor principle: that of the least difference.” What I thought the dissection process referred to as when one tries to come up with the image of structure in a text it is not controlled or has any rules or principles in the way that it is supposed to be broken down into. Each part that is being dissected is formed in its own group that has a certain principle that has more similarities than differences. The question that I have is whether or not this dissection is within one text or a medium or several texts that are being analyzed in reference to one another? If the structuralism activity does in fact involve several texts that are being viewed and analyzed for their allegorical meanings that have a connection this reminds me of Saussure’s theory that involves looking at several texts elements/themes throughout history that have the same myths. The difference is that Barthes has a method for analyzing the text in a way that not only focuses on a historical aspect of a text but also its different themes and ideas. The second part to the structuralism activity involves the articulation. The way in which the linguistics aspects of a texts forms meaning. This also reminds me of Saussure’s theory because he was very much involved with analyzing how language and words are thought of and produced. Barthes is concerned with the meanings of certain words and the historical and contingent variables of the words. The difference between Barthes and Saussure is that Barthes is interested in the fabrication of meaning in a text than the meaning of a word itself. Barthes also believes that a text is a work and that the work itself has one identity. So does this mean that the work is not looked at an analyzed with several other works? This is where Barthes and Saussure are very much different in terms of their theories.