Art History Unstuffed. “The Metaphysics of Structuralism”

Art History Unstuffed

“The Metaphysics of Structuralism”

posted on July 11, 2014.

This post focuses on the famous attack launched by Jacques Derrida on Structuralism in 1966. His now famous talk “Structure, Sign and Play in the Discourses of Human Sciences” was a direct challenge to the leading thinker in French philosophy, Claude-Lévi Strauss and ushered in the era of Deconstruction.

Derrida was pointing out a nearly unsolvable problem in Structuralism, the fact of the Structure itself. An integral part of the Structure, the center is a structural matrix that is “kept out of play,” that is, the center is unacknowledged on one hand but on the other hand, the analysis itself is dependent upon the balance and coherence and organization that is deployed around a controlled point, the center.  Therefore, the center is the origin or the fixed subject, the absolute archia, meaning that without the center there would be on foundation (archia) and this archia is what Derrida called, the “essential operation of metaphysics.”

Dr. Jeanne S. M. Willette

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