Thomas SHALVEY : Claude Levi-Strauss : Social Psychotherapy and the Collective Unconscious

Publication Information : Book Title : Claude Levi-Strauss : Social Psychotherapy and the Collective Unconscious. Contributors : Thomas Shalvey – author. Publisher : University of Massachusetts Press. Place of Publication : Amherst, MA. Publication Year : 1979.

Introduction by the author

Claude Lévi-Strauss is not a philosopher, but a social anthropologist. Although prepared academically for a philosophical vocation, he has committed himself to anthropology. His view toward philosophy, subsequently, is somewhat ambiguous. In describing one of his most philosophically oriented books (The Savage Mind), he states that, despite the possibility of formulating in it an indigenous philosophy, he was determined not to set out upon this route. He seems quite convinced in his determination not to enter philosophical realms ; yet, since LéviStraussian structuralism, at its core, is an epistemology and has already produced an ethic, it is doubtful that he can be considered to have successfully extricated himself from this philosophical perspective.

One overall problem forms the core of this observation. In LéviStrauss, the basic opposition out of which all primitive logic is structured is that between nature and culture. The bridge that logic forms between these binary terms is the priority of the collective over the individual. The question that Lévi-Strauss constantly sets before himself is how the collective is ontologically prior to the individual.

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