Post-Structuralism the Evolution Essay

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The Evolution of Post-Structuralism into Postmodernism

Critical theory, poststructuralism, and postmodernism are intellectual traditions most familiar to people who work in philosophy, aesthetic theory, literary criticism, and women's studies. These approaches are all considered to be responses to positivism and a break from the period that is now generally accepted as the modern period by most academics. While post-structuralism developed in the late twentieth century by the work of primarily Derrida, postmodernism can before and definitely worked to set the stage. Many academics find the break between postructuralism and postmodernism to be more of a superficial construct that basically represents author's alliances rather than their actual work and their theories. This analysis will provide a background on both schools of beliefs as well as look at some of the points of intersection in their independent and dependent evolutions.


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Post-structuralism developed primarily through the works of American academics to denote the works that were produced by French philosophers during the mid-twentieth century. Much of this work was directed at the instability within the human sciences to reach conclusions that were static. Rather, because the human and their relationships are so complex, that the human science take on more of a dynamic role and are something other than "structured." In a structured approach, such as the materialism perspective, it assumes that there is only one correct answer that can be identified through deduction and the scientific process.

Essay on Post-Structuralism the Evolution of Post-Structuralism Assignment

However, what researchers were finding when such a structured approach was applied to the human sciences that the structures identified did not explain humanism at the level that it needed to provide consistent results. Different cultures and different studies identified a broad range of perspectives that could be applied to attempt to understand human behavior. Therefore, poststructuralism was a break from the structure approach that considered behavior from something of a materialistic perspective and represented a response to the theory that human culture can be accurately modeled in a structural way.

Like modernism, structuralism rejects traditional modes of thought, attempts to reconstruct academic disciplines on the basis of a few fundamental principles and strives to work with reconstructed terminologies and axioms; like post-modernism, post-structuralism is characterized by the necessity of finding ways to continue research based on the fragmentary results left by structuralist projects (Posner). Structuralism itself had addressed the concepts of materialism, atomism, historicism, and naturalism by introducing its own methodology built around the dichotomies of signified and signifier, paradigm and syntagm, synchrony and diachrony, langue and parole (Posner).

Post-structuralism has had, and continues to have, a fruitful and formative influence on performance studies and under the aegis of post- structuralism, new ways of studying performance have been introduced into performance studies; Post-structuralism has helped expand the range of what is considered "performance," including but far surpassing the "performing arts" and performance, and its sister, the performative, now are seen to inhabit just about all aspects of human thought, expression, and behavior (Schechner). The Cartesian approach to post-structuralism argues that all that humans ever will know-because all that humans ever can know is founded on "thinking," the operations of human consciousness (Schechner). Therefore, thinking is not only a complex phenomena that is virtually impossible to model, but it also based solely in that very realm and cannot be understood through any other means.

This belief system does not hold any room for anything transcendental to be signified in the world. Although signs do exist, there existence is never fully knowable because of the dynamic and complex system in which they exist. Therefore it is difficult, most likely impossible, to ever be able to apply a structured approach to understanding the world; especially within the realm of the social sciences. Humans are so complex in fact that this could prohibit the use of any of the most complex attempts at a reductionist approach. Derrida insists that every text is undecidable in the sense that it conceals conflicts within it between different authorial voices -- sometimes termed the text and subtext(s); every text is a contested terrain in the sense that what it appears to "say" on the surface cannot be understood without reference to the concealments and contextualizations of meaning going on simultaneously to mark the text's sign) ficance (e.g. The use of specialized jargon) (Agger).


The cultural history of the Western world presents itself as a sequence of approaches to the arts and sciences, where each approach called itself "modern" at the time; which can be illustrated in Carolingian illustrated script, Gothic architecture, Renaissance painting, classical French literature, German music of the Romantic period, as well as such movement as Realism, Naturalism, and Impressionism -- all considered themselves "modern" (Posner). Even though each period and each school of thought considers themselves to be the modern period, obviously this cannot be the case when history is considered However, most contemporary scholars have agreed that only one period of history deserves to be called "modern" was the onset of the Modern Age in this sense is usually posited toward the end of the nineteenth century, while its full expression is said to have been reached in Bauhaus architecture, twelve-tone music, and in the literature of Proust and Gide, Kafka and Musil, Joyce and Eliot (Posner).

As far as the sciences are concerned, the Modern Age is characterized by the extension of their field of investigation into all areas of Post-modernism, post-structuralism, post-semiotics life, the rationalization of methods, the specialization of researchers, the autonomy sought by the various disciples, and project-oriented interdisciplinary cooperation in large-scale research programs which occurred as the economy of the Modern Age developed an increasingly radical division of labor and, whenever possible, mass production carried out on conveyor belts (Posner). The terms originated in architecture however where the buildings of the modern age were being replaced with something other than the high rise block buildings.

Philosophers such as Foucualt have insisted that all knowledge must be traced to different discourses and practices. These philosophers seem to have a general disregard for social sciences in general and their relevance must only be considered within a narrowly defined spectrum of a discourse. Although examining discourse may provide many insights, it is never as complex enough to paint a full picture of what is actually happening. That is there is always some kind of framing biasness that always leads the course of investigation and this biasness's can never be overcome. It can only be accepted as a limitation to the full understanding of the event.

However, other social sciences picked up this concept and further developed it. Postmodernism has a way in which it breaks down the structural boundaries that preceded it and instead offers a new approach that tries to integrate cultures and ideas from a range of different sources. Instead of stead of narrowly defining concepts, the postmodernism movement is composed of many different components and directions. Some argue that postmodernism can be recognized by two key assumptions. The first is that there is no common denominator - in 'nature' or 'truth' or 'God' or 'the future' - that guarantees either the One-ness of the world or the possibility of neutral or objective thought; and the second is, the assumption that all human systems operate like language, being self-reflexive rather than referential systems - systems of differential function which are powerful but finite, and which construct and maintain meaning and value (Hjorland and Nicolaisen).

Evolution of Post-structuralism into Postmodernism

Although many believe that post-structuralism and postmodernism are two entirely different concepts, they are heavily intertwined. Although most agree that Derrida is a post-structuralist, Foucault, Barthes, and Lyotard can be claimed by either camp and often are (Agger). The two concepts are so deeply related that it is often difficult to distinguish them on any other basis other than what the scholars… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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