Levi Strauss: polarities and deconstruction

Essay by twiggie10 July 2002

download word file, 5 pages 3.6

Downloaded 117 times

In the book, Introducing Levi-Strauss, Claude Levi-Strauss states his views of structuralism, the systems, and their opposites. He uses polarities to contrast many of the topics he writes about. A polarity, according to Webster's Dictionary, is "the having or showing of contrary qualities, powers, tendencies, forms, etc." Levi-Strauss demonstrates polarities by presenting his idea of "hot" and "cold" societies.

The "hot" society is what he said was the Western societies and he compares them to steam engines. These were capable of doing large amounts of work as well as keeping order at the same time. These "hot" societies also use structures, which lead to polarities so as a complete opposite to order comes disorder and a need for social hierarchy.

The "cold" societies were known for their resistance to change. Their biggest objective was to keep things going the same and not have any problems. They keep everything equal and maintain a union.

Levi-Strauss compared "cold" societies to clocks, they can work for long periods of time using only a small charge that started them off at the beginning. It was associated closely with the word "circle", while on the other hand "hot" societies were associated with "linear continuum." These descriptions of the "hot" and "cold" societies demonstrate his idea of polarities.

Jacques Derrida is another philosopher who was known for his idea of deconstruction. This was the opposite of Levi-Strauss's concept of polarities. He believed that the only way to understand anything about the world was to look at it in its simplest form. He says there are two key points to look at when it comes to deconstruction. The first point was that it is still aimed at structures and systems and the second point is that all systems and structures are created by oppositions. He says that...