Can a Signifier Float? Or, Implications: Lévi-Strauss and the Aporia of the Symbolic

Acta Structuralica 5 (2020)
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This essay centers on the notion of the symbolic and its impact as developed by Claude Lévi-Strauss in his Introduction to the Work of Marcel Mauss. I examine Lévi-Strauss’ formulation of the “floating signifier” and its influence in French thought, particularly in the work of Jacques Lacan and Jacques Derrida. In doing so, I argue that Lévi-Strauss’ notion may be a misreading of the structural linguistics of Ferdinand de Saussure that has important implications for contemporary political issues on the left in both theory and practice.

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Ian K. Jensen
Sewanee, The University of the South


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