Fall 2013 Lecture Series

Transformation and Truth: Goethe, Lévi-Strauss, and the Science of the Concrete

Michael Saman
Princeton University
December 3, 2013
3:30 – 5:00 pm
205 East Pyne
Lévi Strauss map

map of village by Claude Lévi-Strauss

In a 1971 interview, Claude Lévi-Strauss makes the compelling and perhaps unexpected statement that the guiding “epistemological attitude” of structuralism was in fact not so new; rather, he asserts, “it probably goes back to Goethe.” The question then is: Why Goethe? And what does a hypothetical connection between him and Lévi-Strauss bring to light for our understanding of their respective modes of thought? This talk will explore the contours of the “epistemological attitude” in question, with a focus on its ramifications for anthropological analysis in the work of both Goethe and Lévi-Strauss.