Postmodernism

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How do post-modernism and structuralism contribute to the logic of disintegration?

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Structuralism as method of study in fields such as anthropology, biology and sociology relies on relating aspects of a culture or system to a larger, more universal structure. It is most often based on classifying objects in terms oppositions: for example, a life form is either male or female, animal or vegetable, insect or bird, etc. Everything fits neatly into a slot

However, in his anthropological studies of incest taboos across cultures, the anthropologist Levi-Strauss noticed that the fundamental binary opposition of "nature versus culture" collapsed or disintegrated in the case of incest taboos. The incest taboo was natural in that it was universal across cultures, but also cultural, in that the details varied sharply from culture to culture in terms of what relationships were and weren't taboo. But how could this be? How could something be both natural and cultural? From this contradiction, Levi-Strauss concluded that the intellectual structures we establish, such as the binary opposition between nature and culture, are in fact kluges. He called these intellectual structures "bricolage" or temporary constructs that we use so we can think and conceptualize. But they are not universal truths, and they need to be replaced when they stop working. In other words, our larger conceptual structures are functional (there to serve a purpose), not absolute.

Post-modernist thinker Derrida took this idea of bricolage and ran with it, making it one of the centerpieces of his work. Our thinking and understanding are not based on universal or transcendent truths, he argued, but on intellectual constructs or scaffoldings we erect that can be dismantled or deconstructed

The term "logic of disintegration" thus does apply to both structuralist and post-structuralist (post-modernist) thought: both argue that the premises on which we base our thinking can "disintegrate" or become useless to us, at which point we need to discard or re-understand them. 

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While post-modernism can contribute to the logic of disintegration, structuralism cannot. Post-modernism examines and illustrates the ideas of deconstruction. disintegration, and multiculturalism (acceptance of a greater whole based upon the multiple individuals involved). Structuralism, on the other hand, examines and illustrates how the individual acts and reacts based upon the decisions and ideologies of the surrounding culture as a while. Disintegration looks to break down the whole and examine the pieces themselves (apart from the whole). 

Since post-modernism does exactly what disintegration defines itself as, it contributes to the logic of it. Structuralism, since it regards only the whole, fails to adhere to the logic of disintegration. Instead, it goes against it completely. 

Post-modernism, for example, will look at how the language, literary devices, dialogue, or theme says about the text. Structuralism, on the other hand, looks at the language, literary devices, dialogue, and theme as all speaking to the text's message. 

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How do both post-modernism and post-structuralism contribute to the logic of disintegration?

Post-modernism can be seen as a stylistic movement in the arts, often specifically associated with literature. Post-structuralism can be seen as a loosely parallel movement in critical theory of the mid-20th century into the late 20th century emphasizing the notions that meaning is contingent on context, culture and nuance and that language is an ideological vehicle.

Meaning, like language, becomes unstable in such a conception. This idea informs the stylistic devices that are characteristic of post-modernist literature. We can see from the terminology here that both post-modernism and post-structuralism are related to the concept of dissolution. 

In modernism, the idea of subjective reality oriented much of the work of the era, expressed stylistically, for example, in the use of stream-of-consciousness narration. This concept looked at individuals as products of personal history and rendered individual psychology as a unique existence/dynamic. 

Post-modernism took this concept a full step further, proposing that even the individual's consciousness (opinions, attitudes, beliefs, ideology, etc.) is constituted by competing forces derived from language. The individual thinks through language, conceives of the world with words, etc.

Even these words are not stable in the sense that they cannot convey an unalterable message. The consequence of this is that once language is destabilized the resultant knowledge that comes from that language is no longer a stable product. The end result therefore is that there can be no universal truths upon which to base an understanding or a social construct.

The nature of langauge being what post-structuralists suggest it is (not unified by a single structural organizational principal and not dominated by any one over-arching dynamic or value system) then the "truths" derived from such a language will itself be something other than unified, organized, or singular. Truth will instead become relative, contextually defined and subject to challenge. 

This dissolution of the truth is often communicated as the movement from capital "T" truth to lower-case "t" truths (plural). 

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How do deconstruction theories such as Post-modernism and Post-structuralism contribute to the "logics of disintegration"?

Deconstruction theories like Postmodernism and Poststructuralism represent the "logics of disintegration" because they believe that the structural understandings of truth are fundamentally flawed.  For the Poststructuralist thinker, the "structure" against which they argue is a language based one in which binary oppositions are used to determine structure and meaning.  Poststructuralist thinkers seek to critique the supposed establishment of truth and order.  It is this deconstruction that feeds the Postmodern thinker, in general.  The basic "logic of disintegration" is the idea of this critique.  There can be no extenuating order seen as "truth" or "transcendent" for the Postmodern thinker.  The Derrida idea of "Reading is transformational" fits into this context.  This transformational element indicates something that is in flux, in constant definition and redefinition.  It makes order impossible, contributing to the belief in the logics of disintegration.

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