Re: Continuity v. binary categories

Matthew S. Tomaso (Tomaso@MAIL.UTEXAS.EDU)
Sat, 28 Oct 1995 15:48:05 -0500

I generally agree with Pate's recent message. Here is a brief reply:

Carter Pate wrote:

>Did Levi-Strauss describe an iron cage of binary polarities which can not be
>escaped? Or did he have a vocabulary which included as well as hot and cold,

I see L-S's intentions, to be just as he claims they are. L-S believe(d)s
himself to be doing Saussurean structural linguistics to get at deeper
structures because, for him, the concreteness of culture is not just to be
found in language but really IS LANGUAGE!. So, from a Saussurean position,
the answer to your questions would be "absolutely not!" and "absolutely!",
respectively. The degree of difference between cultural categories is not
specified, nor is it fixed or really important to define. Saussure said -
"in language there is only difference" - what I think he meant was that in
Langauge there is only contrast.


Matt Tomaso.
Anthropology. University of Texas at Austin.
Phone/Fax 512-453-6256