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The Spell of Language

Poststructuralism and Speculation

Originally published as Le Mirage linguistique, this book remains the definitive study of the role of linguistics in structuralism and poststructuralism. Thomas Pavel examines recent French thought through the work of luminaries such as Lévi-Strauss, Lacan, Foucault, and Derrida. The "spell of language" for Pavel consists of three things: the promise that linguistics seemed to represent for the humanities and social sciences; the distortions, misunderstandings, and willful neglect incumbent upon the "linguistic turn"; and, above all, the break with traditional humanism. He isolates three modes of thought-moderate structuralism, scientific structuralism, and speculative structuralism-and shows how even as they diverge from each other, they all advocate an antihumanist point of view.

In this spirited book, Pavel shows that structuralism’s flawed use of linguistic theory has rendered hollow the philosophical core of a whole generation of work in the human sciences.

184 pages | 6 x 9 | © 1989

Literature and Literary Criticism: General Criticism and Critical Theory

Philosophy: General Philosophy

Table of Contents

1. The Order of Language
2. Technology and Regression
3. The Transcendental Ties of Linguistics
4. Games of Dispersion and the Correspondence Fallacy
5. On Conventionalism in Poetics
6. On Discretionary Intellectual Behaviour
Post-Scriptum: The Heidegger Affair

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