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Saturday, October 01, 2011

Philosophy and literature notes- 29th sept 2011.

The class discussed the third chapter of Peter Zima’s Literature and Philosophy. The chapter mainly discusses about Czech Structuralism and their structuralist thinkers Jakobson, Mukorovscky and that of Vodicka.

Czech structuralism is mostly known as Prague structuralism. Prague criticism mainly emerged in Europe and that the New criticism from that of United States of America. Saussure the Swiss Linguist not only talks about sign but also talks about language having two levels that of langue and parole. Langue is nothing but what we hear in parole. It’s said that the manifestation of langue are endless that is idea is possible but not language. Langue is a basic structure and that Prague structuralists were not interested in content but structure. For them the whole work of art, novel per say depends upon the structure and not the content. Saussure died on 22 February 1913.

The Russian formalist showed hardly any interest in the idea that the literary text is a sign which permits communication between author and reader. The Prague structuralists on the contrary were particularly interested in that notion. They conceived of literature as a communication process as a continuation process, as a dialogue between author and public. Mukarovsky’s way of thinking is that of a semiotician. The textual sign maintains its independence with respect to the communication process. The text is neither a direct expression of the authors psyche nor can it be identified with its reflections in the readers psyche. Moreover in spite of its central and independent position in the communication process, the text loses its absolute character of a formal construction fixed for ever.   

In Linguistics and Poetics, a well-known article by Jakobson, he distinguishes six functions of language:

Ø   The emotive function which is linked to the sender or author of a message.

Ø  The connotative function that is the connotation which is related to the receiver or listener.

Ø  The metalingual function that discusses about the language is geared towards the code in question.

Ø  The phatic function which is oriented towards the contact medium.

Ø  The referential function which designates the context of communication

Ø  The poetic function which becomes an end in itself.

According to Mukarovsky and Jakobson, a verbal message, produced, transmitted and perceived in the process of communication, and embedded in its socio-cultural context, always carries a dominating function and that the other functions may be present as  accessory. The dynamic aspect of function, pointing to the historicity, or socio historical embededness of verbal messages, implies that one and the same text may acquire different, especially the dominant functions at different times and in different cultures.

The conception of semantic gesture expressed at once both the dynamic semantic unity and inner differentiation and the human significance of the concrete work of art. 

Philosophical angst is different from that of normal day to day life “angst” (acute but nonspecific sense of anxiety or remorse) that we discuss because philosophically this means the dread caused by man’s awareness that his future is not determined but must be freely chosen.

The class also discussed and was enlightened about:

·        Knowledge system always links to the political power. In 44 BCE that is Before Common Era, Romans became powerful and continued to be powerful for several years. It was during this period that they made roads to make trade easier. After this the scholarships from Rome goes to Prussia and Prussia becomes the knowledge keeper but with the emergence Renaissance this status of Prussia was moved to Europe.

·        Turkey, the then Istanbul (Constantinople) was known as the first Islamic centre which was later moved to Italy, this continued till the First World War. Islamic renaissance ends in the 9th century and that the in first university was established in Paris in the 12th century followed by the second one in Belgium which was known as the University of Nouvelle and finally it was in the 13th century that University of Oxford and University of Cambridge was established.

·        First World War was mainly fought by the kings; this was mainly the culmination point. It was in the year 1912 that the people from different countries started getting passports which made trade and travel easier, due to this the ideas and knowledge started moving from country to country.
Prepared by
Dhanya G Nair

Works Cited:

Pinto, Anil. “Class on Anglo-American New Criticism and Russian Formalism.” Christ

          University. Bangalore. 26 Oct. 2011. Lecture.

Zima, Peter V. The Philosophy of Modern Literary Theory. New Jersey: The Athlone 

           Press, 1999. Print.

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