Levi-Strauss, Anthropology, and Aesthetics

In a wide-ranging and original study of Claude Lévi-Strauss’s aesthetic thought, Boris Wiseman demonstrates not only its centrality within his oeuvre but also the importance of Levi-Strauss for contemporary aesthetic enquiry. Reconstructing the internal logic of Lévi-Strauss\'s thinking on aesthetics, and showing how anthropological and aesthetic ideas intertwine at the most elemental levels in the elaboration of his system of thought, Wiseman demonstrates that Lévi-Strauss\'s aesthetic theory forms an integral part of his approach to Amerindian masks, body decoration and mythology. He reveals the significance of Lévi-Strauss\'s anthropological analysis of an \'untamed\' mode of thinking (pensée sauvage) at work in totemism, classification and myth-making for his conception of art and aesthetic experience. In this way, structural anthropology is shown to lead to ethnoaesthetics. Lévi-Strauss, Anthropology and Aesthetics adopts a broad-ranging approach that combines the different perspectives of anthropology, philosophy, aesthetic theory and literary criticism into an unusual and imaginative whole.

• Applies Lévi-Strauss’s ideas to an understanding of both ethnographic and Western art • Includes succinct explanations of many of Lévi-Strauss’s key ideas and theories • Features an extensive bibliography of Lévi-Strauss’s works in English and in French


Introduction: Ethnoaesthetics; 1. The reconciliation; 2. Art and the logic of sensible qualities; 3. The work of art as a system of signs; 4. Structuralism, symbolist poetics and abstract art; 5. The anthropologist as art critic; 6. Nature, culture, chance; 7. From myth to music; 8. Lévi-Strauss’ mytho-poem; Conclusion: between concept and metaphor.