Strukturální antropologie včera a dnes : sto let Clauda Lévi-Strausse II

Title: Strukturální antropologie včera a dnes : sto let Clauda Lévi-Strausse II
Variant title:
  • Structural anthropology past and present : one hundred years of Claude Lévi-Strauss II
Author: Chlup, Radek
Source document: Religio. 2009, vol. 17, iss. 2, pp. [155]-184
  • ISSN
    1210-3640 (print)
    2336-4475 (online)
Type: Article
License: Not specified license

Notice: These citations are automatically created and might not follow citation rules properly.

The aim of this two-part article is to summarize and critically evaluate the thought of Claude Lévi-Strauss and its importance for the study of religion. While part one proposed a positive presentation of Lévi-Strauss' structuralism, part two points out some of its limits, suggesting three main ways of reforming it. (1) In the first place, Lévi-Strauss' aversion to functionalism is shown as exorbitant. Even if myths do form an autonomous and self-communicating system, it can hardly be doubted that they are also frequently used as charters sanctioning the socio-political order. Accordingly, structural analysis of myth needs to go hand in hand with the study of its ideological and legitimising functions. (2) Also untenable is Lévi-Strauss' sole focus on synchrony, which leads him to ignore the narrative aspect of myth. Mythical stories may certainly seem arbitrary in many cases, yet we cannot help suspecting a deeper logic hidden in their narrative sequence. Its nature was convincingly exposed by Terence Turner, who has shown stories as sophisticated instruments helping to reintegrate the chaotic subjective experience of individuals into the order of normative categories. (3) Last but not least, scholars of religion cannot accept Lévi-Strauss' attempts to reduce myths to their rationally analysable structures only. In myth (as well as in religion in general) a no less important part is played by transgressive antistructure that all ordered structures are dissolved in but that also appears as their ultimate source of power. It is only through the polarity of structure and antistructure that myth can be grasped in all its fullness.