Social Theory: The Multicultural and Classic Readings

By Charles Lemert | Go to book overview

which the individual will be unable to tolerate. . . . Thus I have not the courage to rise up before my fellow-men as a prophet, and I bow to their reproach that I can offer them no consolation: for at bottom that is what they are all demanding--the wildest revolutionaries no less passionately than the most virtuous believers.

The fateful question for the human species seems to me to be whether and to what extent their cultural development will succeed in mastering the disturbance of their communal life by the human instinct of aggression and self-destruction. It may be that in this respect precisely the present time deserves a special interest. Men have gained control over the forces of nature to such an extent that with their help they would have no difficulty in exterminating one another to the last man. They know this, and hence comes a large part of their current unrest, their unhappiness and their mood of anxiety. And now it is to be expected that the other of the two 'Heavenly Powers,' eternal Eros, will make an effort to assert himself in the struggle with his equally immortal adversary. But who can foresee with what success and with what result❖

Ferdinand de Saussure ( 1857- 1913), a Swiss linguist, was a contemporary of Durkheim and Weber. His writings show signs of direct influence from Durkheim, as well as from Marx. Yet little is known of his direct connections to the other social theorists of his time. Though his theory of linguistics is technical and occasionally esoteric, many readers find in it the outlines of a general social theory. Saussure's theory of language as a silent reservoir of linguistic knowledges on which speakers draw was a major influence on early structuralism and poststructuralism in the two decades following World War II. One could even say that Saussure was discovered in this period in order to serve as a classic source for social theorists interested in remaking the social and human sciences with reference to language. This notion gains some credence from the fact that his best-known book, Course in General Linguistics, was composed by former students from notes they took in his classes in Geneva between 1906 and 1911. There were fewer public demands for Saussure's ideas during his lifetime.

The selections from Course in General Linguistics represent those aspects of Saussure's linguistics most frequently used in current social theory: the theory of signs, the social basis of language, and the theory of linguistic and social values. A careful reading will reveal the influences of Durkheim and Marx, which partly explain Saussure's later popularity among French structuralist social theorists.


Arbitrary Social Values and the Linguistic Sign

Ferdinand de Saussure ( 1906-1911)


Sign, Signified, Signifier

Some people regard language, when reduced to its elements, as a naming-process only--a list of words, each corresponding to the thing that it names. For example:

____________________
Excerpt from Charles Bally and Albert Sechenhaye, eds., and Wade Baskin, trans., Course in General Linguistics ( 1966) pp. 65-69, 71-72, 78-79, 111-117. Reprinted by permission of Philosophical Library, New York.

-148-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Social Theory: The Multicultural and Classic Readings
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 674

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.