Modernity and Postmodernism: Structuralism and Deconstruction
The Enlightennment (or the Age of Reason in the 18th century) is synonymous with modernity. At the center of this view, the reason is humankind’s best guide to life and that science could lead humanity to a new promised land. René Descartes asserts the only thing one cannot doubt is one’s own existence. Thanksto Francis Bacon (1561-1626), the scientific method has become part of everyone’s elementary and high school education. And thanks to Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727), the physical world is a mechanism that operates according to a system of laws that can be understood by any thinking, rational human being who is willing to apply the principles of scientific method to the physical universe. BenjaminFranklin (1706-1790) may best exemplify the characteristics of modernity. By using the scientific method, he believed he could obtain and know the necessary truths for guiding him through life. For him truth is to be discovered scientifically. In addition, Franklin proclaims that human progress in inevitable and will usher in a new golden age.
Poststructuralism or Postmodernism
Postmodernismmeaning “after modernity” or “just after now.” For Jacques Derrida and other postmodernists there is no such thing as objective reality. For all these thinkers, all definitions and depictions of truth are subjective, simply creations of human minds. For them truth itself is relative. They declare that modernity’s concept of one objective reality must be disavowed and replaced by many differentconcepts, each a valid and reliable interpretation and construction of reality. According to postmodernists, each person shapes his or her own concepts of reality. Reality, then, becomes a human construct that is shaped by each individual’s dominant social group. For them, no one has a claim to absolute truth, therefore, tolerance of each other’s point of view becomes the postmodern maxim. Whenthose principles are applied to literary interpretation, the postmodernist realize that not such as the meaning, or the correct meaning of an aesthetic text exist. Meaning develops as the reader interacts with the text, for meaning does not reside within the text itself. For each text there exists as many interpretations as there are readers.
Modernity to Modernism
Structuralism (a term coinedin1929 by Russian Formalist Roman Jakobson) asserts an overall unity and significance to every form of communication and social behavior. Structuralism uses techniques ,methodologies, and vocabulary of linguistics, offering scientific view of how we achieve meaning not only in literary works but also in every cultural act.
Historical Development of Structuralism
Pre-Saussurean LinguisticKnown as the mimetic theory of language, words (either spoken or written) are symbols for things in the world,each word having its own referent, the object, concept, or idea that is represented or symbolized by that word. The symbol (a word)equals a thing.
Saussure’s Linguistic Revolution
Ferdinand Saussure (1857-1913) introduced the synchronic approach, a method that proceeds by focusing on alanguage at one particular time, a single moment, and that emphasized the whole the whole state of a particular language at that time. Saussure rejected the mimetic theory of language structure. He asserted that language is primarily determined by its own internally structured and highly systematized rules.
The Structure of Language
Phoneme is the smallest meaningful (significant) sound in alanguage. A phoneme in writing by enclosing the grapheme, the written symbol that represents the phoneme’s sound, in virgules or diagonal lines. The study of rules governing the meaningful units of sound in a linguistic system called phonology, and the study of the production of these sounds is known as phonetics. In additions, morpheme is the smallest part of a word that has lexical or grammatical...