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Der Baum und das Raster

Bemerkungen zum Transformationsbegriff in der strukturalen Anthropologie

Back to issue: Zeitschrift für Kulturphilosophie 2019/1: Morphologie
DOI: 10.28937/1000108329
EUR 16.90

Claude Levi-Strauss mentioned several times in his work that the notion of transformation is the keystone of the structural analysis he pratices. By his own admission, this notion stems from his reading of D’Arcy Thomson’s book On Growth and Form during World War II in the United States. But Levi-Strauss makes use of two very different meanings of transformation, relating to two distinct morpho-genetic traditions. On the one hand, he is inspired by Goethe’s Morphology. All forms can be seen as transformation of a Urform, an original form, from which they grow out like a tree. But on the other hand, D’Arcy Thomson’s emphasis lies on the geometric simplicity of a transformation grid that allows the transition from one biological form to the other without considering any original from which other forms would be derivable. Levi-Strauss’ epistemological choice to study myths and masks can be better understood when his concept of transformation is clearly defined in relation to Goethe and D’Arcy Thomson. Thus, the originality of his own interpretation will become clear