S-Space College of Humanities (인문대학) Religious Studies (종교학과) 종교학연구(Journal of Religious Studies) 종교학연구(Journal of Religious Studies) 31집(2013)
레비-스트로스의 "지성(l`intellect)" 중심적 경향과 종교학 방법론: 「오늘날의 토테미즘(Le Totemisme Aujourd`hui)」을 중심으로
Claude Lévi-Strauss’ Emphasis on L’intellect in Le Totémisme Aujourd’hui and Its Influence on Religious Studies Methodology
- Issue Date
- 종교학연구, Vol.31, pp. 51-97
- Claude Levi-Strauss; Totemism; social anthropology; Structuralism; Hans Penner; Jonathan Z. Smith; translation; l`intellect
- In this paper, I explored Le Totémisme Aujourd'hui by Claude Lévi-Strauss and his intellectual orientation, which strongly underscore the role of intellect (l'intellect) as a basis of human cognition. Influenced by Immanuel Kant, Lévi-Strauss argues that the human intellect or understanding is universal as an a priori element of their mind and molds human behavior, making every cultural artifact intelligible and decipherable.
Therefore, by re-assessing previous theories and materials on concept Totemism, Lévi-Strauss refutes evolutionary view that saw Totemism as primitive worship, Functionalist view of Malinowski in that he explained Totemism as performing specific practical role in a society and Emotionalist view by Elkin.
With the legacy of structural linguistics, Lévi-Strauss makes a deduction that Totemism is not a form of primitive religion or had a specific function in human society but a result of human intellect. In making this conclusion, Lévi-Strauss develops and revises the works of E. E. Evans-Pritchard, Alfred Redcliff-Brown, and Emile Durkheim. As a result, Lévi-Strauss concludes that certain natural species are chosen as totems not because they are good to eat (bonnes à manger) as common functionalist view argues, but because they are good to think (bonnes à pensée). From here, Lévi-Strauss shows his Kantian perspective on the human intellect. For him, the human intellect clearly precedes the society, being a source of the very society and man-made structures including Totemism. Hence, Lévi-Strauss criticizes the enterprise of Sociology of Knowledge in Durkheim's Les Formes Elementaires de la Vie Religieuse as having ambiguous view since it argues the society is the root of human knowledge and intellectual activity. For Lévi-Strauss, therefore, Totemism is not an external substance but only a product that is molded by human intellect, which exist universally in the minds of both modern men and so-called "primitive" men.
Built on above premise, the Structuralism of Lévi-Strauss does not indicate the structure of empirical reality. His structure is more like a pattern-making human intellect and its structure, which webs human experience. In this respect, comprehending artificial symbols and constructions calls for the need for understanding the source of the artifacts: the human intellect.
This perspective influenced 20th century Religious Studies academics. For example, Hans Penner saw the intellectualist view of Lévi-Strauss as providing methodological alternative to History of Religions and Phenomenology of Religion. Robert Wuthnow also categorized methodological orientations in Religious Studies as a binary of natural science and human science conceived by Wilhelm Dilthey. However, Jonathan Z.
Smith later criticized this dichotomy as partial and outdated one. Sharing Kantian and Structuralist view with Lévi-Strauss, Smith proposes a comprehensive concept, "translation." His translation makes a strange symbol system into a familiar one and thus making the astonishing cultures into intelligible structures. Therefore, the legacy of Lévi-Strauss in Religious Studies methodology is largely rooted in its Kantian and Intellectualist orientation which relies on the concept of universal human intellect and attempt to make use of it in interpreting diverse cultures.