Lévi-Strauss and Merleau-Ponty: from Nature-Culture Distinction to Savage Spirit and their Intercultural Implications Faculty of Arts
Speaker: Prof. Lau Kwok Ying (Department of Philosophy)
Date: 8 June 2012 (Fri)
Time: 4:00pm
Venue: LT 2, L/G, Lee Shau Kee Building, CUHK
Language: English
Abstract: In post-war France there was a famous debate between Lévi-Strauss (1908-2009) the structural anthropologist and Sartre (1905-1980) the existential Marxist philosopher. While Sartre criticizes the a-historical character of Lévi-Strauss’ structural method, Lévi-Strauss retorts that Sartre’s philosophy of consciousness is unable to account for the unconscious dimension of human and cultural life. Against the background of this debate, this talk proceeded in 3 steps. 1) To consider in what way Lévi-Strauss’ structural approach constitutes a severe challenge to phenomenology as a philosophy of subject. 2) To explore in what sense the late ontology of the French phenomenological philosopher Merleau-Ponty (1908-1961), by returning to the pre-objective order of brute being and savage spirit, shares some important insights of Levi-Strauss' structural anthropology and hence can accommodate the challenge from the latter. 3) To draw the implications for intercultural understanding out of this anthropological-philosophical confrontation from a phenomenological perspective. 


levi strauss and merleau ponty 1  levi strauss and merleau ponty 2


For the powerpoint presentation of the talk, please click here