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Philosophy Research Archives

Volume 1, 1975

John B. Fisher
Pages 88-108
DOI: 10.5840/pra197516

The Concept of Structure in Freud, Levi Strauss, and Chomsky

In this paper I attempt to help clarify the nature of structuralism as a philosophical approach by examining the way in which Freud, Lévi-Strauss and Chomsky use the concept of structure. I argue that in each of these thinkers there is an important tension between their attempts to develop, on the one hand, a theory within the framework of determinism and, on the other, to emphasize the meaningfulness of certain aspects of human behavior. I suggest that the ability of the term "structure" to refer either to a universal or a particular helps the two sides of their thinking from coming into conflict with one another, and that this is a magor reason why these figures were attracted to a structural approach.