39. Theories Lecture: Post Structuralism Explained
In that sense, they are very similar. They both reject the empiricist view of language as a transparent medium between our mind and the world, and they both claim that language is rather to be seen as a system of signs existing independently from both the mind and physical reality. In fact, they go as far as to argue that language precedes the world in that it makes it intelligible though differentiation. Similarly, both structuralist and post-structuralist thinkers who often are the same ones, shifting their view will agree with Jacques Lacan that the subject is only possible through language. From there, it follows that language supersedes the human being as the source of meaning, action and history. In other words, our mind can no longer be regarded as an independent agent interpreting the world through language and acquiring knowledge through experience, for it is a construction of discourse itself. Simply put, we do not create language, but are created by it.
Post-structuralism is either a continuation or a rejection of the intellectual project that preceded it— structuralism. Structuralism was an intellectual movement in France in the s and s that studied the underlying structures in cultural products such as texts and used analytical concepts from linguistics , psychology , anthropology, and other fields to interpret those structures.
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