Author Topic: Claude Levi-Strauss and our slaughter custom  (Read 22970 times)

hope rainbow

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Claude Levi-Strauss and our slaughter custom
« on: February 02, 2013, 04:17:32 PM »
"One day will come when the idea that, in order to sustain itself, the men of the past grew and slaughtered living beings and then candidly exposed their flesh chopped into pieces in window displays will inspire, without a doubt, the same repulsion that the early travelers of the XVIth and XVIIth century experienced while witnessing the cannibalistic customs of primitive American, Oceanic or African civilizations."

Claude Levi-Strauss

Claude Lévi-Strauss (1908–2009) was a French anthropologist and ethnologist, and has been called, along with James George Frazer and Franz Boas, the "father of modern anthropology".

He argued that the "savage" mind had the same structures as the "civilized" mind and that human characteristics are the same everywhere. These observations culminated in his famous book "Tristes Tropiques", which positioned him as one of the central figures in the structuralist school of thought, where his ideas reached into fields including the humanities, sociology and philosophy.

Lévi-Strauss's theories are set forth in "Structural Anthropology" or "Structuralism" (1958).
Briefly, he considers culture a system of symbolic communication that is to be investigated with methods.

"Structuralism" has been defined as "the search for the underlying patterns of thought in all forms of human activity."
The basis of the structural anthropology of Lévi-Strauss is the idea that the human brain systematically processes organised, that is to say structured, units of information that combine and recombine to create models that sometimes explain the world we live in, sometimes suggest imaginary alternatives, and sometimes give tools with which to operate in it.

The task of the anthropologist, for Lévi-Strauss, is not to account for why a culture takes a particular form, but to understand and illustrate the principles of organisation that underlie the onward process of transformation that occurs as carriers of the culture solve problems that are either practical or purely intellectual.

He was honored by universities throughout the world and held the chair of Social Anthropology at the "Collège de France" (1959–1982); he was elected a member of the "Académie Française" in 1973.

Claude Levi-Strauss was famous for strong and straight-forward statements, sometimes apppearing rather judgmental, such as: "The first thing we see as we travel round the world is our own filth, thrown into the face of mankind."

hope rainbow

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Re: Claude Levi-Strauss and our slaughter custom
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2013, 04:48:54 AM »

ENCOUNTERS - by Prof Wimal Dissanayake

"I found the passages dealing with Buddhist art and Buddhist world views in 'Tristes Tropiques' fascinating. At one point, he says:

'Between the Marxist critique, which frees man from his initial bondage - by teaching him that the apparent meaning of his condition evaporates as soon as he agrees to see things in a wider context - and the Buddhist critique which completes his liberation, there is neither opposition nor contradiction'

clearly, he was influenced by Marx, Freud, Durkheim, Saussure and Jakobson. However, as the Nobel Prize -winning Mexican poet and critic Octavio Paz has, in a book on Levi-Strauss has asserted, there is an affinity of interest between Buddhist thinking and that of Levi-Strauss. As Paz remarks:

'The similarity between Buddhism and Levi-Strauss thought is not accidental; it is one more proof that the west, by its own means, and by the very logic of its history, is now arriving at conclusions fundamentally identical to those Buddha and his disciples had arrived at.'


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Re: Claude Levi-Strauss and our slaughter custom
« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2013, 07:54:59 AM »
Hope Rainbow,

Thank you for bringing up the topic of Claude Levi-Strauss. For me, he is one of the great thinkers of our time and had contributed much to the fields of ethnology and social anthropology. Like Einstein, he was one of the scientists who took pains to understand religious practices and shared his sincere opinions and findings with the world.

In Tristes Tropiques, published in the early 1970s, Claude Levi-Strauss presented the principles of his ethnological approach and referred to it as structuralism. The theory of structuralism has influenced many fields including that of language and linguistics. For decades, this was the method used in scientific studies.

I read a critical analysis of Tristes Tropiques by an eminent linguist Louis Porcher in 1979, and was impressed by Claude Levi-Strauss' remarks on the place of man in nature. Man has become an object that one can study like any other object and using the same methods.

It is interesting to note that in the book, Claude Levi-Strauss compared the major religions of the world. According to him, in the history of mankind, there has been three fundamental attempts to solve the problems of the relationship between the living and the dead on the spiritual level. They arose, one after the other, about 500 years apart. He was referring to Buddhism, Christianity and Islam. For him, Buddhism was the most radical of the three religions.

After his return from the "tristes tropiques", Claude Levi-Strauss declared his preference for Buddhism, saying that his readings, his journeys, his scientific activities, and his visits to scholars, had not brought him anything better than what the Buddha taught while meditating under the Bodhi tree.