Re: Klein & Levi-Strauss sources/H.Urbano

Sheldon Klein (sklein@CS.WISC.EDU)
Fri, 8 Dec 1995 21:18:32 -0600

>Not sure that your advice about Levi-Strauss is a very good thing for the
>understanding...and intellectual evolution on anthropological perception of
>the mythological thought. Now, we have many critical publications about
>Levi-Strauss and others french sociologists and anthropologists. Can I
>suggest to you a couple of titles? Urban

Please do suggest the titles...

Let me pose a few questions:

Do you think that Levi-Strauss' methodology is primarily
derivative from Chomsky as some recent contributors to this
list have suggested?

Do you recommend that one not read Almeida's Mathematical Metaphors in the
Work of Levi-Strauss. CA 31 + commentaries ?

What of the influence of Roman Jakobson?
Are you familiar with

Turner, Terence S. 1977. Narrative Structure and Mythopoesis:
A Critique and Reformulation of Structuralist Concepts of Myth,
Narrative and Poetics. ARETHUSA 10:103-163

(and his comment on the Almeida CA artilce that appeared in a later issue)?

What influence do you believe the book, Primitive Classification, by
Durkheim & Mauss has had on the work of Levi-Strauss?

If you believe the contribution of Chomsky is major, then perhaps
a debt is also owed to the work of Chomsky's teacher, Zellig Harris,
whose own work on Transfer Grammar is applicable cross-culturally,
and which has been the theoretical motivation behind a very
successful English-to-French machine translation program that
has been used to translate the acts of the Canadian Parliament
into French.

Ultimately, I think Levi-Strauss' approach has antecedents in an older mystical
tradition-- I once had occasion to describe the work of Levi-Strauss
to a Hassidic Rabbi in Paris (who had known nothing of Levi-Strauss before).
His response was, "Er macht a kabbalah fur die Indiens",
--"He makes a Kabbalah for the Indians."

Sheldon Klein
Comp. Sci & Linguistics, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison; Clare Hall, U. Cambridge.