History of Structuralism
Volume 2: The Sign Sets, 1967-Present
An Autonomous Subject
From the mid-seventies onward, Barthes, Todorov, and Foucault were all increasingly concerned with the subject. Their individual paths were part of a profound movement that was leading the social sciences far afield from the structure on which they had anchored their scientificity, The grand return of the repressed subject proved to be unavoidable. Individuals, actors, and agents, by different names and from different disciplines, all retained attention at a time when structures were fading from the theoretical horizon.
The most spectacular change occurred in sociology. In France, this was in some measure a reaction against Enlightenment philosophy. For Robert A. Nisbet, sociology did not descend from Rousseau, Montesquieu, or Hobbes, but from Burke, Maistre, and Bonald, who preferred the broadened social structures of a hierarchical village community to the individualistic ideology of the Enlightenment.1
Indeed, Auguste Comte and Durkheim discerned the sociological object by going beyond the notion of the individual, which for them belonged to metaphysics rather than science. For Comte, the positive spirit only infused the scientist when he initially considered social reality moved by endogenous laws. The individual was the most difficult of obstacles for constructing the positivist mind. Durkheim, the founder of the new sociological science in France, considered that it existed only insofar as it was an integral part of the social Being, which belonged to an independent reality that could not be perceived individually.
Methodological individualism defined itself against this holistic orientation that was apparently constitutive of the basic rules of the sociological method. Raymond Boudon in particular developed this approach in France in the mid-seventies. His school, based on a radical critique of two holistic paradigms in rapid decline-Marxism and structuralism-was spectacularly successful; the times favored its success. Boudon exhumed sociology's German ancestors from the turn of the century, and cited Max Weber at the beginning of his Critical Dictionary of Sociology: "Sociology can only move forward by considering the actions of one, some, or many separate individuals. That is why it should adopt strictly 'individualistic' methods."? The term "individualism" had neither an ethical dimension nor even a more general sense of individual autonomy in a society, but was a methodological term contrasting with the alternative, holistic method. "To explain any social phenomenon whatever, . . . the motivations of the concerned individuals must be reconstructed, ... and we must also perceive the phenomenon as the result of a number of individual behaviors dictated by these motivations."3
Boudon more recently introduced Georg Simme!, a second German predecessor of his method whose Sociology and Epistemology he published and whose Problems of the Philosophy of History he translated in 1985. In the lively polemic opposing Simme! and Durkheim, Boudon made Simmel's positions-known until then only through the critique of the French school of sociology, essentially for their psychol-ogism. Simmel had distinguished between the interpretation of historical data that happens when major tendencies are discerned, and the explanations attributing these data to individual causes set within a context that only allows for partial conclusions rather than generalizations, and which must therefore be illusory. Simmel thus suggested considering individual motivations: "Perfect understanding requires that we acknowledge that there is nothing but individuals."4
Methodological individualism, as Simmel invited sociologists to practice it, abandoned any attempt to discover general laws that claimed to be universal. Boudon disagreed with any essentialist perspective that gave more weight to the constraints or determinisms that weigh on the individual. To the contrary, he began by studying individual behavior in order to explain every social phenomenon. But this reversal could not resolve the problem of how to go from the particular to the general, from the individual to the collective.
Methodological individualism adopted Simmel's idea that a social phenomenon can only be conceived as the sum of individual interests and behaviors. The sociologist could not be satisfied with describing, but also had to construct "ideal types" based on modelizing the possible and real sums of individuals. In constructing the object, methodological individualism "is radically opposed to any structural inspi-ration."5 By paying attention to individual behavior and actions, individual choices could be examined and hypotheses made by presupposing a wide range of freedom among social actors/subjects.
This method was particularly popular in the United States in the seventies and eighties, especially for the paradigm of Homo economi-cus. Furthermore, it allowed the sociologist to identify with the economist and, like him, formalize the rational action of social agents based on ideal types. But for Boudon, methodological individualism was not to be assimilated to this orientation; he adopted Pareto's critique and argued that Homo sociologicus should be seen as the overtaking of Homo economicus, although he did not adopt Pareto's distinction between logical and nonlogical actions.
Social practices could be restored by analyzing the system of inter-action.v This method involved a "sociology of the singular"7 that preferred contextual situations in which the sociologist analyzed social logic, and excluded abstract and holistic notions of "society," of "nation," and even of "class." This last notion was not even included among the concepts inventoried in the Critical Dictionary of Sociology. The paradigm's success must be considered in terms of the unprecedented social crisis of holistic points of reference: individuals belonged to no group and were isolated. Moreover, the mounting interest in liberal ideas was also theoretically implicit in a method that hypothesized the "superiority of liberal ideology."8
Ego games replaced structural games. Everywhere, in every discipline, the way an individual belonged to the group or was implied in the object of study became the focus; this was sometimes nothing more than the "I" examining "the I's emotions."? Philippe Lejeune, a structuralist linguist, became interested in enunciation theory as Benveniste had defined it, and defined the autobiographical pact as a promise of honesty and transparency. He therefore moved toward the pleasurable memory of the ego and elected to work on autobiography, of others as well as his own: "You don't escape yourself.Y'v
Lejeune was not the only one to undertake this new exercise of a return to self. Emmanuel Terray, an eminent representative of Althusserian structuralist-Marxist anthropology, had explained his professional and militant commitments as the product of a lifelong struggle, with the figure of the traitor incarnated by his father, who had been an important member of the Vichy government." In 1946, when he was eleven years old, he felt profoundly uneasy in the boarding school where his parents had sent him and where patriotic fervor ran high: "I felt excluded from this enthusiasm; being a part of it would have meant repudiating my father."12 With his scrupulous and ever-present sense of probity, Terray established a necessary link between the way he considered his life, modeled on a rigorous and limpidly meaningful book, and his own existential anxiety, which led him back to a past that he could not renounce, because it would have meant "renouncing self-affirmation in my singularity." 13
Terray never denied what he embraced-Sartre, Levi-Strauss, AI-thusser-even if he was sometimes contradictory. Although he had to confront the figure of the traitor, he was never a traitor to the cause he defended. Ethnology was, for him, the battle his father never fought, and he devoted himself to it energetically, with detailed fieldwork, theoretical debates, and militant anticolonialism. If he is not a key player in the current return to Enlightenment optimism, it is because "this optimism died in the death camps of Auschwitz and beneath the ruins of Hiroshima, and any effort to resuscitate it could be nothing but derision and insult."14 His autobiography reveals a life story woven of threads of a personal and collective history and explains some of the sources of its author's integrity.
The return to the self became a collective phenomenon with which Pierre Nora experimented in the corporation of historians. In 1985, he saw a new genre emerging in a new age of historical consciousness: ego-history. The historian therefore fully assumed his situation as a subject invested in the present and no longer hid behind "scientific" neutrality. "Rather than taking us away from a serene investigation, clarifying or analyzing existential investment becomes the instrument and trigger for understanding. "15 The delights of the ego gave rise to a work for which Nora wrote the preface and which brought together a number of historians who applied to themselves a method that had been largely tested on others, in order to explain, "as historians, the link between the history you make and the history that made you." 16 This concern for the self did not, however, become an "ego-history" but made it possible to consider the important topoi of a particular generation's historical consciousness. These stories were open and articulated around membership in a scholarly community, and to a mode of problematizing time. They made it possible to understand the range of individual answers given in response to similar situations.
The Biographical Idol
Biography, believed to have been definitively buried by the Durkheirn-ian school, also made its return among sociologists in revolt. This looked like "the mechanical effect of a generation of sociologists whose apprenticeship owed as much to militancy as to university training." 17 However, these new recruits had come to sociology from the latter half of the seventies onward; the conversion of the political left to a counterculture left and the disenchantment with ineffectual structural-Marxist models led to other shores of experience, to "true stories" of "people like us." As Libération wrote in the seventies, everyone spilled their guts and there was a proliferation of collections of voices, of individual stories: "Witness," "Personal Accounts," "Bearing Witness," "Themselves," "Live." "I was one of the sociologists working on personal stories, meaning that we listened to ordinary people tell us their life story, in their own words, of course. "18
The biographical idol also made its comeback among historians, although it had not disappeared entirely from certain traditional histories that had been able to retain a large public. But even more surprising was that in the eighties it seduced the historical school-the Annales-that had theorized the death of this genre. It was thus no surprise that one of the eminent Annales historians, Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, the historian of "immobile history," sketched the story of the kings who had built the house of France in Hachette's History of France in 1987. Biographical psychologism won the upper hand and Le Roy Ladurie could plumb "the depths of the heart" of Henry 11,19 and consider that, in sum, these heroes had been generally positive for the nation. Marc Ferro, another member of the editorial board of Annates, published a major biography of Petain in 1987.20 Ferro was a profoundly loyal disciple of Braudel, and dedicated the book to him, even though it bore no traces of the master's teachings. He spared no spicy detail about Marshal Petain's moods as he coursed through the documents around which he wove his history. In so doing, Ferro wrote in the most traditional biographical style, which was not true for all biographies. Georges Duby and Yves Sassier conceived theirs as veritable X rays of the Middle Ages."
This return was spectacular. In 1989, Ferro recalled that only somewhat earlier an important international colloquium on the Revolution of 1905 had taken place during which none of the thirty participants suggested giving a talk on Nicholas 11. The same was true for another colloquium on the Vichy government, which made no mention of Petain. "These two colloquiums had been organized by the Sorbonne and the National Foundation of Political Science."22 Both examples show how thoroughly biography had been banished from historical research, other than for the Annales group, and relegated to the minor role of the pulp novel. The Durkheimian tradition, brandished by the Annales, thus managed to push biography back within the pale of serious and scientific writing. But today, Marc Ferro has become an advocate for the genre. "Ignoring this face of historical analysis would be facile. "23
Subjectivity also made its comeback among ethnologists. Marc Auge set the stage for a new genre with his Crossing Luxembourg.e' an ethnonovel in which the ethnologist is the observed rather than the observer in a tale of daily life.
Along less literary lines, and initially inspired by the interaction-ists influenced by Erving Goffman's work, ethnomethodology appeared in the United States during the sixties, and in the eighties in France. Its founding work had been written in 1967 by Harold Garfinkel, who wanted to analyze how social actors produce a social situation.P Communication between social actors lay at the heart of this paradigm, and the idea of facts took on a certain dynamic in the infinite process of considering how people adopt behaviors. Ethno-sociology would have to completely involve itself in a study of these social practices in order to restore their dynamic. "It was a complete reversal. With ethnomethodology, there are only people, actors who invent their ethnomethods daily. For them, it is total subversion by the invention of daily life, on a permanent basis. "26 At Paris VIII,
Georges Lapassade, among others, was a fervent partisan of this kind of research.F
Even in geography, the return of the subject was palpable in a still marginal branch, which also came from the American West Coast: what the Anglo-Saxons called "humanist geography." This current was represented notably by a few Swiss Francophones such as Claude Raffestin, professor at the University of Geneva, or Jean-Bernard Racine, professor at the University of Lausanne. They held that geography should be particularly concerned with the realm of representa-tion-eonsidered, in fact, the specific object of geographical science, which should free itself from the natural sciences and better define its object, which included affective phenomena and the values that organize human facts.
Geography during the sixties, they claimed, had been wrong to adopt economics as its principal theoretical reference and to base its model on Homo economicus alone: "The space that geography studies does not simply translate every society's vital project of subsistence, self-protection, and survival, but also translates its aspirations, beliefs, and the most profound depths of its culture. "28 Unlike the way in which other disciplines had evolved away from semiological considerations during the structuralist phase, this latecomer discipline turned to semiology and used Barthes to valorize the sphere of representations.
Acknowledging that its objects could be semantized, this kind of geography, which liked to compare itself to a palimpsest, "is also quite clearly a semantide, as Jacques Ruffle put it."29Thus opened up a vast enterprise that looked at a subject in its space, that of the geography of forms, and of representations articulated with a relational geography of experience. Claude Raffestin even tried to define geographical ontology to avoid drifting into a chopped-up and ancillary discipline and proposed a possible theory of "geographicity," which meant changing the paradigm and revisiting space, using geography as a mode of human existence and of its destiny. "But we risk making the same errors if we refuse to spend the energy to define a geographical ontology."3o
The Social Agent
The return of the agent that was taking place absolutely everywhere should not, however, make us forget Alain Touraine, who had been an innovator at a time when geography was hardly in fashion. He had courageously expressed ideas that assigned more importance to the social agent at a time when structuralism reigned in Paris, and when it was considered good taste to disparage this level of analysis as being neither pertinent nor scientific. In the sixties, at structuralism's apogee, Touraine theorized his first case studies, in order to define the sociological object in terms of social action and social movements.t' "The progress that has been made in the last century was directly tied to the discovery of sociology's own object."32
Touraine's paradigm was articulated on the social changes that had forced a shift from an industrial to a postindustrial state, the basis for the transition from an essentially economic paradigm to a socio-cultural paradigm integrating the meaning that social actors gave to their practices. This even specified the object of sociology, which included people, and paid special attention to social dynamics, in contrast to the static aspect of structuralism and the phenomena of reproduction it valorized.
Where the structural approach tended to deny the pertinence of history and became incapable of considering transformational processes, Touraine put historicity-without any element of historical teleology-back at the center of his analysis. He saw historicity as a concept that made it possible to see how a society acted on itself, beginning with its conflictual reality. He saw clearly opposed domina-tors and dominated whose historicity was the issue. But this antagonism could not be reduced simply to the positions of social agents within relations of production in a postindustrial context.
The essential resistance to technocratic domination took place on a cultural level. Here, sociology could help shore up different forms of dispossession and ensuing passivity, and could participate in a renaissance of the social acror.v
Few were receptive to Touraine during the structuralist era; he walked a middle ground between the agent and the system, equally rejecting the absolutization of structures and the absolutization of subjects. He considered the battle between holists and individualists to be artificial since the true task was to set the agent and the system in which he acted and was acted upon in contact with each other. This voice of the middle ground, however, as is too often the case in France, had some trouble making itself heard.
Humanism and Individualism
The structural era had been dominated by a Spinozist approach to texts that obliterated the subject, and established an abstract universal with a subjectless enunciation. It was not the truth of the text that was being examined, but what was in the text, and nothing else. "That Spinozist phase is in the process of drawing to a close."34 The new return to meaning, and the fact that since the seventies the focus was no longer exclusively on the instruments of meaning, meant that the subject once again found a central place. Meaning could no longer be reduced to the sign, nor the author to the scriptor, without returning to the cult of a Supreme Subject reigning in absolute sovereignty. The new trend did not, however, imply a deification of man; but rather a rethinking of the subject in a world affected by the discoveries of the unconscious and of historical and social determination. "No one could suggest any longer a noumenal subject, transcending history, perfectly transparent to itself, and perfectly mastering its thoughts and actions. "35
Derrida's criticism of humanism was based on his conviction that it was an essentialism. In this sense, it resembled Nazism, with its ideology of a human essence incarnated by the Aryan. "However, humanism is not necessarily a reflection on essence. This is a complete misconception. "36
If the humanist philosophers valorized man's humanity, they also asserted, quite to the contrary, that if there was something specific to man, unlike animals or things, it was precisely that he had no essence. We might recall Sartre's famous demonstration in Being and Nothingness when he defined existentialism as a humanism and contrasted the paper cutter with man, with the waiter, thereby demonstrating that existence preceded essence. Sartre thus adopted in his own way the long tradition of humanism: "There is a beautiful remark by Fichte. 'The animal is what he is, only man is nothing.' Similarly, Kant had remarked, 'Man only becomes man through education.'''37
Alain Renaut's humanism valorized autonomy and responsibility, which he contrasted with the individual who valorized independence. Individualism was not, therefore, the goal of modern humanism, but simply one of its historical moments. Whereas these two concepts were generally set on the same level, an individualism that asserts the omnipotence of the ego in fact destroys the foundations of the specifically humanist autonomy. For Renaut, the modern view of individualism was born with Leibniz: "The truly inaugural and decisive moment can be unequivocally established in the Leibnizian monadology,"38 from which a whole philosophy of the individual developed and progressively dissolved the subject and its autonomy. Hegel, and after him Heidegger, took this shift as the basis of modern philosophy.
Nietzsche carried this thinking to its limits, believing that he was breaking with the age of monadologies. But "he was only in fact revealing the true meaning: as the principle of subjectivities and values of autonomy were exhausted, he accompanied the profound shift that had occurred at the heart of modernity."39 Nietzsche amplified this movement of a completely independent individual beyond any social constraint. This search led the individual to smash the idea of universal truth and to consider that the modern reign of reason blocked the affirmation of individual difference or singularity. Alain Renaut, by contrast, considered that the subject should be rethought, starting with the principle of autonomy, which implied "no regression with respect to the major givens of contemporary thought. "40 This humanism, based on an autonomous subject, denied neither alterity nor difference, nor did it exacerbate difference by making it absolute, which would amount to "enclosing people in their culture."41 It sought to consider differences set against the identities from which they revealed themselves. This humanism was linked with the ambitions of early structuralism incarnated by Levi-Srrauss, a search for the general behind the particular, the transparency of human existence derived not from some supposed essence but underlying the diversity of its irreducible modalities.
For Louis Dumont, however, this irreducibility was the basis of the opposition he perceived between holistic Indian and Western individualistic societies, which he saw as polar opposites with mutually exclusive terms. Holism in individual society and individualism in a holistic society could only exist as something like the expression of a death drive. In 1948, Dumont first worked on an anthropological study of Indian civilization, which he defined as Homo hierarchicus.v-A holist ideology subordinating the individual to a social group, it corresponded to the principle of a hierarchical society based on material renunciation and on human interdependence incarnated by the caste system.
In 1977, Dumont drew attention to the dark side of the Indian mirror. Western civilization was an ideology that could be contrasted on a term-for-term basis with Indian values. In Homo aequalistr he described the modern invention of the Western individual freed from the ontological primacy of the social and collective order, as well as its hold on particular individuals. This emancipation was the corollary of the birth of economics as a category distinct from politics and religion. Sacralizing worldly wealth freed up ancestral traditions and allowed the individual to define himself as the subject of his own historicity, free from tradition and rediscovering the social realm through an egalitarian idealistic lens. This emphasis on anthropological, individualistic roots establishing the singularity of Western modernity theoretically complemented what had been happening socially since 1975: a return to the private sphere, an ebb of all collectivist eschatologies, and the triumph of the Era ofEmptiness.v'
In the Indian case, as well as that of the West, society evolved as the result of a strong ideological structure that organized social coherence: in the West, this was an ideology of the individual in the world; in the East, it was that of the individual outside the world. The transition from one to the other was the product of a long genesis, which Louis Dumont developed.s> Stoic detachment gave way to Christian dualism, which exalted the infinite value of the individual and devalued the world, thereby making it possible to relativize the negation of this earthly world and permitting a "remarkable degree of latitude in most of the affairs of the world. "46 Emperor Constantine's conversion to Christianity in the fourth century, and then the Byzantium schism in the eighth century, reinforced the commitment of Christians in the world. This process culminated in the Reformation of the sixteenth century, and Calvinism in particular: individual destiny no longer depended on the church, since the Elect belonged for all eternity in a direct relationship with an all-powerful God unmediated by any institution. "With Calvin, the church encompassing the state disappeared as a holistic institution. "47 The 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man was the consummation of this ideological shift that established a new order on the basis of individual values: the Promethean project of the individual as master of nature.
A Historically Determined Split Subject
Triumphant individualism found its most extreme expression in the
postmodern thinking of the eighties, which delighted in ephemera and emphasized the monadological character of the individual, by considering him as a simple particle tied to networks, as in Baudrillard's work: "There is only one sort of relay. But the individual does not exist. He is a kind of a compensatory hallucinatory resurgence. But that corresponds perhaps really to a functional mechanism: people function like atoms in molecules, like particles. "48 Baudrillard described this victorious individual as the negation of the subject, which had lost all autonomy and responsibility and whose only pertinence derived from the networks that set it in motion. A simple site of synthesis, the individual was no more than a prosthesis self-regulated by a system based on simulacrum. "We can call that culture, but it is no longer a culture of action, it is a culture of operation."49
Alain Renaut's distinction between the subject and the individual made it possible to understand to what degree postmodernism belonged to this tradition of thinking about individualism altogether opposed to a conception of the subject. But the different forms of conditioning to which the subject was subjected could not be ignored. This had been Freud's legacy, revisited by Lacan, implying that the subject could no longer be seen as a seamless and entirely self-knowable whole, but on the contrary, a split, opaque reality. In this, Lacan's contribution was fundamental. "The problem of the subject is already at the core of his dialectic of desire."5o The subject was fundamentally subjected to the Signifier. "Anyone who says 'The Subject? the Subject?' the way de Gaulle used to say 'Europe! Europe!' mocking Lecanuet, seemed ridiculous to me because this is a totally unthinkable remark."51 Francois Wahl disputed anyone who would base his or her return to the subject on the assumption of a full noumenal conception of the subject, which ignored its fundamental division or cleft structure. "The subject's future is not, as some would have us believe (once again), at the Ministry of the Interior. "52
Moreover, the subject could only have been conceived in the historical context that determined it. As Jean-Pierre Vernant recalled, with regard to the Hellenic world, in his polemic with Didier Anzieu.t" the stuff of tragedy was not the dream set outside social reality, but rather an exact and polysemic emanation of social thought in the Greek city-state of the fifth century b.c. Vernant disagreed with Anzieu's rereading of Greek mythology through the oedipal phantasmatic as reflecting the meaning of Greek tragedy. "The Hellenist no longer recognizes the familiar legends. They have lost their shape and pertinent features, their particular character and specific realm of application." 54
Vernant thought that an analytical reading could clarify things, provided that it was correlated with a Hellenist's understanding. "I am simply saying that there is no psychoanalytic reading of tragedy, as 1 say there is no Marxist reading of tragedy. Understanding tragedy can be facilitated or obliterated by intellectual opinions."55
The proximity of Vernant's field of specialization with psychoanalysis could not help but provoke repercussions, despite the momentary lull in the debate. And the discussion has recently been pursued less polemically, between Vernant and Pierre Kahn, a former student of his at the Sorbonne in the sixties. Kahn had become a psychoanalyst, and had put some distance between himself and Ver-nant during the Algerian War, when the PCF treated Vernant like a leper and assigned its young militants-Philippe Robrieux, Jean Schalit, Pierre Kahn-to quarantine him and refuse to let him speak at the Sorbonne. But the days of excommunication were over. Everyone had long since left the paternal house; even Pierre Kahn discovered, upon reading Vernant's With Death in His Eyes,56 that the author had always been quite close to psychoanalysis. He thus decided to write him and ask him to explain why he thought there was still some distance between the historical anthropology approach and the psychoanalytical approach. Vernant answered the questionnaire Kahn sent him.57
Vernant pointed out that the historian cannot build an interpretative model from archetypes, but has to adapt his model to each case, using the various documentary elements he has in order to articulate them "into a meaningful whole."58 An anachronistic conception of the individual is not a starting point for this relativization, but a conception of the civilization being studied is. The subject in ancient Greece was not the modern subject. "Self-experience is not oriented toward the interior, but toward the exterior. The individual seeks himself and finds himself in others." 59 Greek self-awareness was not born through introspection, but from outside the subject: the understanding of a "He" and not yet of an "I." The subject could only be studied by using transhistorical categories, which had to be made relative each time, for meaning changed with the historical context. Vernant's work, like that of the structural period in general, showed the fallacy of simply returning to a noumenal subject that ignored its historical conditioning.
Ludwig Wittgenstein also contributed a notion of the subject that could be reconciled with the givens of the social sciences insofar as he considered that "for having the right to use a notion of the subject, we are not obliged to have a philosophical theory that justifies it. "60 Wittgenstein gave the social sciences no particular status, yet he made it possible to reconcile their positions by arguing that there is no specifically philosophical problem, but only philosophical difficulties that could be solved, particularly by peeling away the layers of misunderstandings and errors of ordinary language.
As of the mid-seventies, history was no longer a wanted criminal, as it had been in the structuralist heyday. Pierre Vilar still remembers Nicos Poulantzas criticizing him for "falling into historicism. I said, 'I don't need to fall, I'm already in it and it's O.K. with me to be here.'''l But Vilar was an exceptional historian at the time for having agreed to dialogue with structuralism, without giving up anything concerning the priority of historical change. Even more spectacular was the return of historicity at the heart of the discipline that had cast aside its pertinence: linguistics and semiotics. It is not insignificant that Vladimir Propp's Morphology of the Folktale, which had been the manual for the ambitious structuralist program in Communications 8 in 1966, was only partially translated and published in France. It took eighteen years, from 1965, when the first half was published, until 1983, when the second half of the original study came out, under the significant title The Historical Roots of Supernatural Tales. Published in the USSR as early as 1946, the second and more historical half of the work had simply been ignored during historicism's exile.
Obliterating the historical dimension of Propp's work was all the more surprising in that it had been central to a number of polemics and an entire generation's model for studying storytelling. Moreover, Propp had imagined his morphology as the prelude to an important work that would examine the temporal dimension of the development of the Russian tale. There was even an evolutionist tinge to Propp's history. "Propp's thesis is above all drenched in evolutionist dogma."2 Whatever the legitimate criticisms that can be levied against his second work, including the inevitable concessions he had to make to the reading grid being used at the time in the Soviet Union, it remains entirely incredible that the French intellectual community could evaluate such an important work on the basis of just one piece of it and had to wait until 1983 in order to make a well-founded judgment.
Not that this historical perspective meant a return to prestruc-turalist history. Just as the subject could no longer resemble the earlier one, so too this new historicity coincided with a crisis of the meaning of history defined as progress. Ever since the structuralist conquests, humanity could no longer be conceived of using the prior schema of progressive stages leading it to higher degrees of realization. Structuralist thinking definitively imposed the notion of an unchanged human race for the duration of its existence. There was no going back on this, but the price for having come to this position was the radical break with any idea of historicity. This was the return that relativized the contribution of synchronic models.
A Thirst for History
Sylvain Auroux reintroduced the diachronic dimension and the search for filiations, along with the definition of a system. When he wrote The Semiotics of Encyclopedia Writers,3 he began by defining what he called historical relativism, which he used to raise the question of knowing how a system moved. Consequently, Auroux became increasingly interested in historical semiotics, historical linguistics, and philosophy.
Claudine Normand organized a colloquium at Nanterre in 1980 on the history of science: "The Social Sciences: Which History?" She was quite aware that the past effervescence needed to be evaluated-a need dating back to the seventies-and that this meant taking a historical approach. "I had prepared a conference in the name of a work group that went back to 1976, with lots of philosophers."4
An interdisciplinary enterprise took off in the eighties thanks to the energies of some EHESS sociologists. Bernard-Pierre Lecuyer and Benjamin Matalon created the French Society for the History of the Sciences of Man, which brought together many representatives from every discipline of this wide area of research in the social sciences around their common concern for history.
Poetics also turned to history. Philippe Hamon, for example, while firmly holding his initial structuralist ambitions, turned to the necessary historicization of the descriptive techniques of storytelling. Hamon demonstrated that description was structurally constrained to create a character observer who could stop the action and observe the world in order to describe it.> Hamon supported his argument by showing that during certain periods, description could not exist because it assumed an individual singularity that did not exist. Hamon rediscovered the discoveries of the history of mentalités which considered the slow evolution of individuation beginning in the modern period and flowering in the nineteenth century, the most prolix century for technical description, incarnated by the realist novel.
Still in the realm of poetics and of literal literature, Cerard Genette also examined the historical dimension of texts by adopting the notion of "transtextuality," defined as everything that puts one text into a relationship with others, whether manifest or secret.f Transtextuality implied the broadest sense of history, even if it was limited to literature. In defining these types of relationships, Genette went further than julia Kristeva had during the sixties when she defined intertextuality as the copresence of many texts in a single text. He proposed several other types of relationships, such as architextuality, the most implicitly mute relationship between an earlier and a later text, which he baptized the hypotext. This relationship need not even be tangible quotations or paratextuality, for example, since it defined that link with all prior texts that might have contributed to the birth of a new text. In this respect, he encompassed all of literary history, which once again became important, resuscitated as it were from its prior banishment. "There is no literary work that, to some degree or other, and depending on the reading, does not evoke some other work. In this respect, all works are hypertextual."?
Gerard Genette created a new field with architextuality, which was both the legacy of structuralism and a shift in its orientation, by recuperating a certain number of categories that, in the sixties, were considered nonpertinent.f Architextuality always expressed the liter-arity of literature, but it also incorporated such ideas as discursive types, modes of enunciation, and literary genres that defined any particular text. With architextuality, therefore, the critic's work shifted from structural description to the quest for models, types of discourse, and argumentation. This modelization was used to examine the historical variation of genres; history was back. This renewed interest in genre meant rediscovering classical rhetoric. On more than one occasion, Genette used Aristotle to define this new field and to set his research in the Western poetic tradition, which, since Plato and Aristotle, had tried to establish a series of categories in a unified system encompassing literary phenomena. "Plato and Aristotle already distinguished the three fundamental genres, according to their 'mode of mimesis.'''9
Tzvetan Todorov was even more radically receptive to history. A companion of Genette, he not only incorporated history into his vision of literature, but also went beyond literature to consider ideologies. Todorov also became the champion of transtextuality, which he adopted from Bakhtin, and which let him go beyond the Russian formalist notion of a purely autotelic poetic language cut off from practical language and from any but an endogenous and completely abstract notion of historical conditioning. Todorov brought back the communication function of literature, and its particular strength for generalizing values and worldviews. "That literature is not the reflection of an external ideology does not disprove its relationship to ideology: it does not reflect ideology, it is an ideology."io
The genetic dimension put forth by those who, like Lucien Goldmann, refused to abandon a historical perspective, finally, and tardily, took hold in the eighties. In 1982, the ITEM (Institute for Modern Texts and Manuscripts) was created, and attracted an increasingly solid team of literary specialists. It concentrated on what was called an internal and external genetic criticism of literary texts.
Louis Hay, a Germanist who had been actively involved in structuralist activities in the sixties in Besancon, in linguistics, was the prime mover. He had come to history rather accidentally. "I was quite simply doing a thesis on the German poet Heinrich Heine when I had the good fortune to discover most of his manuscripts dispersed everywhere throughout the world."!' Hay petitioned the French government and managed to convince General de Gaulle to buy these documents. When they arrived at the National Library, no German conservator was on hand to classify them so Hay was given what became a full-time job. He had to take a sabbatical from the Sorbonne to join the CNRS in 1968.
From then on he created a small team, and a new direction in research took off, the product of a literary historian's fascination with original manuscripts discovered at the National Library. But this historical inflection was also due to the period during which "a certain exhaustion of purely formal structuralism" 12 was apparent. Genetic criticism belonged to and yet diverged from structuralism. Because it considered transformation, variations, and history, it brought a different perspective to the most formal and hermetic structuralism. The continuity lay in its relationship to another major aspect of structuralism, however, which consisted in giving a more objective status to literary studies, particularly by emphasizing the notion of text. "Replacing man and his work by the study of the text, considered as the scientific object of study, was the ambition from whence we came. "13 Louis Hay created a school that attracted those who had infused new life into literary studies in the sixties, including Jean Bellemin-Noel, Jean Levaillant, Henri Mitterand, Raymonde Debray-Genette.
In 1974, two groups were set up to work on Proust and Zola, which became the CAM (Center for Modern Manuscript Analysis). "This was a small event insofar as Germanists and Gallicists joined together in a common project."14 Other groups of specialists came to this new institution, which worked on a half dozen authors including Nerval, Flaubert, Zola, Valery,Proust, joyce, and Sartre, whose works were studied on the basis of their genesis and structure. In 1976, Louis Aragon learned of this work and willed his manuscripts and those of EIsaTriollet to the CAM, which became the ITEM in 1982.
This CNRS institution functioned like a multistage missile. Textual genetics worked on restoring a "third dimension" of the printed text, the process of its development and the specific dynamics of writing, implying the study of completely concrete texts, drafts, and references and classifying them according to certain indices. This "codio-cological" level of analysis meant analyzing the materials and tools of writing. Ink was clinically examined and beta X rays analyzed filigree. Computers made it possible to deal with large bodies of works, and to structure and formalize the deductions. On the top floor of the building, critical editions were prepared in order to make these discoveries available to the public. On the third floor, literary theoretical renewal and theoretical problems of publishing were addressed. In 1979, Louis Hay published a programmatic work, Essays on Genetic Criti-cism,15 in which he brought a whole series of specialists to bear on a manuscript: poets, psychoanalysts, sociocritics. "Meanwhile, things had been slightly inverted since the object began to generate an independent theoretical thinking that had echoes in other disciplines and creative activities."16 Research went beyond the framework oflit-erary studies to include questions about the very fact of writing, which involved neurologists, neuropsychologists, cognitivists, and paleographers. This determination to bring literary criticism out of isolation and have it communicate with other, often unexpected, disciplines was the second aspect between the link of these research groups and the structuralist period. "We had not given a second's thought to neurology when we began to study literature."17 Genetic criticism made possible a renewal of the reading of texts by restoring the processes through which they were written. It was thus part of this major shift that the structuralist rupture had provoked when it tried to disclose nonlinear logics at work in a text.
The Return of Literary History
The return of a historical perspective was everywhere apparent among literary types. Anne Roche and Gerard Delfau defined the project in their 1974 article "History and Literature: A Project." 18 Equally dissatisfied with classical literary history à la Gustave Lanson and "the myopic focus on the text alone," they suggested that "history be taken as a plumb line." 19 This was not the comeback of reflection theory, which would make history and literature (discourse) little more than a barely misshapen mirror of history (historical reality). Rather, the authors favored constructing a theory of mediations, which Genevieve Idt defined some years later.23 This theory implied taking the linguistic notion of situational context, the material conditions of discursive production and reception, the institutions that conditioned discursive practices, the interlocutors, the public of the literary message-in other words, linking it with social and cultural history by studying the hierarchization of message codes during the period in question, as well as their implicit and explicit references to prior messages. There was no question of rejecting structuralism's achievements, but of articulating them with history to open up reflection to form, materials, and content. "Our basic hypothesis, which always correlated with history, might appear paradoxical since it insists on the importance of forms. Yet tradition demands that historical and formalist approaches be opposed."21
Literary criticism also found historicity by going behind the mirror of writing and bringing reading into its purview. Today we ask more and more questions about the aesthetics of literary reception and are interested in what determines the reader's horizon of expectations or reading hypotheses, in a perspective that remains structuralist and that pursues the lines of research defined by Umberto Eco in 1965 in his Open Book. 22 Historians and literary critics could therefore advance hand in hand, as Roger Chartier did with Philippe Lejeune, for example. Reception aesthetics was to articulate the possible modeliza-tions of reading/writing with the configuration of the mixed field of social history.
Aside from taking chronology into account, the change was above all that referential validity was acknowledged whereas the referent had been obliterated when linguistics had become the science of signs. "The return of the referent must take place. "23 There were two dimensions to this referent: sociological and measurable, and existential and felt. This double dimension, long the object of opprobrium since the triumph of immanence and of textual self-enclosure, returned with the rehistoricization under way in literary criticism.
The most spectacular example of this return of historicity in the approach to literature was the assault against the famous Lagarde and Michard literary manuals published by Bordas. The stakes were considerable because these manuals, used in high schools throughout France, gave a century by century "the best of" French literature in chronological excerpts. Lagarde and Michard conditioned entire generations' approach to literature.
Born in 1948, these guides to French literature had familiarized all young French students somewhat superficially with the "great" literary works and the "great" authors. They had stood the test of time, except for a slight change in 1985; in 1988, they still dominated nearly 60 percent of the rnarket.>' This influence had been somewhat eclipsed, especially at the height of structuralism when they were most often shelved alongside antiquities, since the revolt of the sixties and its scientific program attacked precisely this conception of the man and his work, as well as the principle of studying selected excerpts, everything these manuals embodied.
This old war horse's return to center stage was therefore symptomatic of the wane of the structural paradigm and the return of historicity. Did modernized literature programs fail completely? If we look at the editorial competitors of Lagarde and Michard who attempted to capture the market, traditional literary history had clearly not returned to square one; the version that did return was broadly marked by the structuralism of the sixties.e'
Clearly, those responsible for these new manuals had to jettison many of their highly defined theoretical positions, particularly their war on excerpts and the pertinence of biographical and chronological presentations. Magnard had tried to organize its manual alphabetically in 1983 but gave up, having observed that most students "didn't know where to put Corneille or Racine on a time line. "26 As for the selection, "there are practically all the great texts that the professors expect."27
But the institution represented by Lagarde and Michard could not be felled with a single blow. In this respect, the laurels go to Henri Mitterand for his work at Nathan: five volumes and some 3,200 pages. We recall that Mitterand was one of the structuralists of the sixties and that the work he directed was clearly stamped with this mark. It is true that classicism won the day, but it was a classicism punctuated by structural modernity: witness its constant concern to create a dialogue between the canon and the texts that had remained marginal. "We tried to show that within a given literary period, different registers and stages can be discerned."28 Moreover, each chapter ended with a page offering the viewpoint of new criticism on the question: the texts were flagged throughout with texts by Barthes, Todorov, Greimas, Genette, Starobinski, and Cixous. "Since there are 120 chapters, there are 120 pages of modern criticism and theory."29 The specifically linguistic contribution was made in the didactic texts, where rhetorical problems were quite present. Henri Mitterand also saw the structuralist legacy in the general pyramidal architecture of the work. "It is a pedagogical structuralisrn.t'? This last remark might elicit a certain skepticism, because although the project director for these 3,200 pages doubtless had a general vision, it was probably less obvious to high-school students opening up the encyclopedia even if it was conceived as a magnificent functional machine.
Alain Boissinot, a member of the very modernist French Association of Teachers of French (AFEF), which grew out of the rejection of traditional manuals following May '68, contributed to the last volume of Xavier Darcos's manuals at Hachette on the twentieth century. This also revealed the desire to keep what structuralism had contributed theoretically while at the same time responding to the need for classical works. Here again, modernity and tradition were used, each in its turn, in an essentially methodological perspective that adopted structuralist thinking in order to better differentiate literary genres. The structural concern with objectifying the act of writing could be seen here. "The goal of democratic teaching is not to play with cultural complicity, but to objectify a field of knowledge and its dissemination." 31
In addition to linguistics and the approach to literature, all of the social sciences also rediscovered historicity, the importance of events, and the underlying disorder of these years. The natural sciences, which had served as the model for the structural paradigm, once again played a major role in inflecting the paradigm of the social sciences through their discoveries.
Communications issue i 8 was devoted to events. Edgar Morin noticed that they were making a comeback. There was, for example, the hypothesis of the big bang in astronomy, which changed the view of the history of the universe by hypothesizing an original explosion occurring fifteen billion years ago and producing a constantly evolving and expanding universe. "The cosmos seems to be both universe and event."32 History had been repressed as ascientific but returned, paradoxically, via the hard sciences, around notions of irreversibility, of the possible rationality of disorder, and of unforeseeability. Similarly, during the seventies, genetics, information theory, artificial intelligence techniques, and certain mathematical theories such as that of Rene Thorn all evolved. Thorn's major work, Structural Stability and Morphogenesis,33 initially went unnoticed in France when it came out in 1972, but its ideas began to be known and to influence the human science paradigm when Mathematical Models ofMorphogenesis came out in paperback in 1974.34
In their concern for scientific modeling, the social sciences had eliminated disorder as a disturbance; with the advent of the evolution of mathematical theory worked out by Rene Thorn and known as catastrophe theory, the Comtian postulate had to be entirely revisited. Thorn's work in differential topology had led to working out a mathematics of critical phenomena and a qualitative method for interpreting natural forms, which he called catastrophe theory and which
made it possible to gather a wide range of observed phenomena in optics, thermodynamics, and hydrodynamics within the same theoretical framework. A descriptive tool for unforeseen phenomena, catastrophe theory was quickly adapted in the social sciences. This theory defined an accident in the evolution of a system as the most pertinent level since it invalidated the current description of the system and forced its rethinking.
In 1979, Ilya Prigogine and Isabelle Stengers published The New Alliance,35 which was even more successful among nonspecialists. Their definition of thermodynamics as irreversible processes helped to rehabilitate movement, discontinuity, and historicity. Since the most modern sciences recognized the fundamental contribution of events, the social sciences could no longer ignore them. These discoveries eventually made the structuralist paradigm, with its priorities of synchrony, permanence, and the elimination of events, defunct. Historicity would thus reinvest the field of the social sciences the way the regulation school did for a certain sector of economists.
In 1978, Marc Guillaume, a polytechnician economist, published In Praise ofDisorder.v: In reaction against what he saw as the orderly imagination in Levi-Strauss, he constructed a model inspired by Georges Bataille's view that the destiny of the world is subjected to the principle of an excessive production of energy. Bataille considered that traditional societies must dissipate this excess in small quantities in order to preserve their order. Modern society, however, shifts and no longer dissipates its excess energy but accumulates and crystallizes it, thereby creating increasingly violent crises in a tragic destiny punctuated by wars, and increasingly devastating destruction. "Using this apocalyptic vision, I said to myself, while working on bureaucracy, that we could see disorder as a formidable means of dissipating and slowing down certain inevitable events.... Disorder thus understood can be seen as a positive transition."37
The return to historical discourse brought with it a stylistic choice of literary readability. Elisabeth Roudinesco, well known for her particularly hermetic Lacano-Althusserian style, underwent a spectacular conversion. When her The Hundred Year Battle: The History of Psychoanalysis in Prance'» came out, it was doubly eventful. Roudinesco broke with her master Lacan's ahistoricism. "This history was written against Lacan, in order to show that a history was possible and that at the same time it was possible to restore Lacan's history, whereas
he had spent his life dehistoricizing himself. That was the wager."39 This history did not of course forget the past, but made Lacan into a veritable hero. She borrowed a good bit from Canguilhem and Foucault. "The first volume is the history of sciences in the style of Canguilhem. "40 Moreover, her style had considerably changed, and she wrote a classical narration with colorful and quasi-romanesque characters. "I made portraits of characters, and there I borrowed from literature. "41 Borrowing from the history of science and from literature demonstrated the constant tension of the social sciences between these two poles. But most significant was, once again, the pleasure of writing, the pleasure of the text, and Roudinesco's concern for histori-cizing an area that had, until then, avoided this type of intellectual construction.
In another register, but still on psychoanalytical turf, Gerard Mendel revisited Freud, examining his theoretical proposals in their specific historical context. This was how Mendel demonstrated that Freud had based his theory on two biological tenets-the theory of inherited psychic characters and that of a sexual chemistry that is manifest from birth. Today, these are looked upon as aberrations belonging to an outmoded historical conception. "Freudian biology thus combines two anachronisms: a psychic neo-Lamarckisrn and a sexual neovitalism. "42 Revisiting Freud did not mean diminishing the importance of his discovery, but it opened up an infinite refoundation, constantly correlating the man with society and with science.
This return to historicity and of thinking about different temporalities and discontinuities also ensured the golden age of the Annales school's historians, as we have seen. But at the same time, the return of the event led to a crisis in the structuralist-Durkheimian paradigm of this historical school, and even went so far as to cast doubt on its founding principles.O Recognizing that the history-social science relationship was at a "critical turning point,"44 the editorial in the Annales issue devoted to this theme tolled the bell for the past, indicating a serious identity crisis, despite a spectacular richness. Immobilizing time and searching for invariables no longer corresponded to contemporary sensibilities. As Georges Duby observed in 1987, "We are at the
end of something____I have the feeling of having run out of breath. "45
The times were for dispersing Braudel's heirs. Some, like Pierre Chaunu, elected an apocalyptic vision, while others, like Francois Furet, considered the conceptual and political perspectives of history.
Pierre Nora wrote The Sites ofMemory46 on historical representation. Others rediscovered the delights of a History of France, the return of the house of France, a posthumous victory of the old master, Lavisse, the historical vision of Lagarde and Michard. Because of this fragmentation, the Annales, nourished by the structuralist paradigm, remarked: "Today, the attention brought to events and the return of a certain historicism implies that the initial intuition is about to exhaust its effects. "47 The heirs of the longue durée recognized that processes producing newness could be forgotten. A waning structuralist paradigm led to a serious crisis in the historical discourse nourished by its progress, tolling the bell for historians who had relayed anthropologists onto the structural track. It was a paradoxical moment, for history in its turn had enriched the discourse of the other social sciences. This tango tempted historians and those in literature alike with the easy solution of redonning traditional garb.
The Master Thinkers Die
The early eighties also tolled the bell for the master thinkers of the sixties. Adulated, they were often at the height of their glory when several of them died. Their work and messages went unfinished. An orphaned generation that had already had to bind the wounds of its lost illusions now had to undertake the necessary mourning work for those who had incarnated the most demanding, rigorous thinking. A funeral procession accompanying yesterday's heroes to their final repose replaced the ambitious program that was to have moved mountains.
It was not, however, these deaths coming one after the other that extinguished the paradigm. The decline had already begun in 1975 and from that date on, the structuralist heroes were moving further and further away from the original ambitions of the program of the sixties. Their deaths sped up this process.
On October 25, 1977, Roland Barthes lost his mother, the event he had so feared. Henriette had been his veritable lifelong companion and he had never really left her. His friend Greimas was in New York at the time. Reading of her death, he wrote Barthes, "Roland, what is going to become of you now?"l Her death was a real catastrophe, which brutally sapped Barthes's desire to write, and to live: "What I lost was not a Figure (the Mother), but a being. And not a being, but a quality, a soul, not something that was indispensable, but irreplaceable. I could live without the Mother (we all do, sooner or later), but what life I had left would certainly be, from then until its end, unquali-fiable (without any character)."2
Barthes suffered a profound existential crisis of desire at a time when, after the public success of his A Lover's Discourse, he was at the pinnacle of his fame. This was a less propitious context than the one during which he had engaged in a polemic with Picard, and he had to withstand another assault by Sorbonne professor René Pommier, who published a particularly violent Enough Decoding.3 At the same time, Barthes was the central figure in a funnier and less nasty pastiche, Roland Barthes Made Easy,* whose authors proposed to decrypt Barthes-speak in the form of a foreign-language manual.
A range of conversational examples, summaries, exercises, and rules, as well as a textual gymnastics for thinking directly in R. B. and "translating" him into French, were provided: "1. How do you enunciate yourself? French: What's your name? ... 3. What 'stipulation' screws shut, closes, organizes, articulates the economy of your pragmatics as the occultation and/or the exploitation of your ek-sistence? French: What do you do in life? 4. (I) expulse little bits of code. French: I am a typist."5 We can laugh now, and many laughed at the time, sympathetically, but Barthes was deeply affected. Not that he had lost his sense of humor, but this came at a bad time. With little inclination to laugh, he saw these publications as the sign of an unfinished battle that had to be fought at a time when he no longer had the heart.
Yet, he did find the wherewithal to visit Jean Daniel, the editor of Le Nouvel Observateur, and ask him for a column. He was warmly received, and wrote a column from December 1978 to March 1979. But the column disappointed a loyal public; the acid edge of his Mythologiques was gone and the times had changed. The critical paradigm was ebbing more and more with every passing year. In this crisis of desire, no true wellspring inspired his writing, which he described in an interview with Le Nouvel Observateur four days before his fatal accident. In answer to the question of what pushed him to write, Barthes replied, "It is simply a means of struggling, of dominating the feeling of death and of complete annihilation."6
After dining with François Mitterrand, Jack Lang, Jacques Berque, Danièle Delorme, Pierre Henry, and Rolf Liberman, Barthes was crossing the rue des Écoles when he was run down by a laundry truck. He was immediately hospitalized at the Salpêtrière; an Agence France-
Presse story was rather reassuring and indicated that the writer's condition was stable. Yet Barthes seemed to have lost his vital energy, or any will to win this final battle against death. "He wasn't too badly hurt, just a slight head trauma, but he let himself die at the hospital."? The examining doctor who certified his death on March 26, 1980, concluded that although the accident had not been the direct cause of his death, it had provoked pulmonary complications in an already weakened organism. Medical reasons? Psychological causes? No one really knows, but these reasons did not help fill the loss of the best-loved hero of the structuralist period.
He left many disciples, but no real school. The "Barthes system," as his biographer Louis-jean Calvet called it, belonged more to looking than to theory. Structuralism was more a vehicle for Barthes to defend his literary intuitions than something lived as a scientific finality. It was above all the man, his emotions, and his particular way of looking at the world that were irreplaceable. "An original voice is now silenced, one that could best bring something I have never heard elsewhere, and the world seems definitively flat. There will be no more Barthes remarks on any subject whatsoever."8
The year 1980 also saw the passing of another great guru of the period, Jacques Lacan. But in his case, psychoanalysis, and a school based on the master, also died a certain death, for both were to become extremely turbulent. Having based his return to Freud on Saussure an linguistics in the fifties, Lacan himself had moved away from linguistics and increasingly toward topology, knots, and tores as structuralism ebbed.
In December 1972, in a seminar on Jakobson, Lacan distinguished between what belonged to linguistics, the special reserve of linguists, and "linguistery," a neologism that no longer sought to establish the scientificity of analytic discourse, as had been the case of his Rome speech. "My remark, that the unconscious is structured like a language, does not belong to linguistics."?
This move toward topology confused a good number of intellectuals who had been fascinated until then by Lacan and his ability to put psychoanalysis at the center of the humanities and the great theoretical debates, by challenging philosophy on its own terrain, reflection on the Subject. As of the mid-seventies, numerous radical protests had also helped shake Lacan's well-built edifice. In 1972, Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari published Anti-Oedipus,lo and in 1976 Foucault published The History ofSexuality: An Introduction; both challenged Lacan's theoretical foundations. The growing chasm with philosophers was clear.
But a more disquieting event unfolded within Lacan's own school, the École Freudienne de Paris (EFP). When Francois Roustang published Such a Tragic Destiny, he radically condemned psychoanalysis for "threatening to become a religion, the only religion possible today in the West."l1 As a scientific construction, the Symbolic-Imaginary-Real trilogy, according to Roustang, referred to the trinitary theology, from the Name of the Father to Christ, and the use of Scripture in Christian tradition. Roustang saw this religiosity in action in the trans-ferential relationship, one of the important moments of an analysis. If, in Freud, the analytic relationship was clearly based on transference, Freud's goal was to free himself of it, whereas Lacan toyed with prolonging transference. He kept his disciples completely dependent-a relationship evoked by the theorization of the work on transference and the practices of his review Scilicet, in which only the master could sign his articles. "Such a Tragic Destiny created a real stir on the stage at the EFP, via Confrontation, while its author enjoyed a real triumph. Of course, we have to say that it embodied a nascent crisis that had already been prepared by the matheme."12
In Ornicar?, the review of the Ecole Freudienne de Paris, Charles Melman counterattacked in the name of the master against what he considered to be a "dishonest festival." 13 He criticized Roustang for having confused design and destiny by basing himself on a typo in the Ecrits. Derrida answered by calling Melman a mailman: "In English, facteur is mailman. "14
Somewhat later, the culmination of a didactic analysis leading to the consecration of an able analyst, one of the basic practices at the EFP, became the eye of an internal storm in the school. In January 1978 at Deauville, several days were devoted to this practice. Lacan was there, and silent for the most part, but he concluded by acknowledging that la passe, as the rite of passage was called, had failed totally. "I took a critical position on la passe, but certainly not as much as Lacan did when he himself said at Deauville that la passe was a complete failure."15 La passe had been created to evaluate a didactic analysis, but in fact, the purely decorative jury was relieved of its responsibilities since the candidates generally explained their pedagogy rather than summed up their problems. Thus everything that was said was completely biased and missed the point. "They dethroned neither analyst nor jury, of course. That made it a rather artificial exercise." 16 This crisis of practice that got tangled up in knots allowed jacques-Alain Miller, who was well connected and anchored at Vincennes, to replace the Lacanian old guard. "The road to power was opened up to another generation of Lacanians and the most well established member of the stable-Jacques-Alain Miller." 17
In the late seventies, the Lacanian school was in the throes of internal struggles and theoretical disorder. Mathemes provided an escape route. A battle for a successor ensued in the master's shadow, and with disastrous results. This was the climate in which the young philosopher Francois George published his pamphlet L'Effet 'yau de poele deriding Lacanianism as one of the great mystifications of the century.l" Like Ro/andBarthes Made Easy, this book parodied Lacan-ian language, which had become the most generally accepted expression of snobism, as hermetic and self-referential as a certain Marxism had been. George lambasted the guru's manipulations ("Lacan, in fact, presents himself as an illusionist'Tt? and returned the master's words to the sender, in reverse, in a horsehair glove, respecting the rules of the word game so dear to the Lacanian school.
The book did not analyze doctrine. George took Lacan at his word, as, for example, when he presented an elephant to his stupefied seminar audience by simply saying, elephant. "Show an elephant in its absence, that is what rather well defines his art, it is true, about which we might say, so as to remain true to the style, that it is the art of trumpetry. "20 George echoed Roustang's sarcasm by emphasizing Lacan's elimination of humanity for a religious essence removed from the body and its humors. Affectivity, for Lacan, was vulgar, and the body was nothing more than "a residue."21 As for the barred subject, it evoked the dollar and the earthworm halved by the gardner's spade for the patient, a gesture that was repeated by the sujet suppose sauoirt? when he practiced scansion, and invited his client to end the session by enjoining him to "split. "23 Lacan's famous objet petit a was, according to Francois George, no more mysterious than a little pile of excrement, a banal empirical shit. "This objet petit a or this big package came to include everything linked to the body."24 Eliminating the body and adoring the Signifier that never answered since no one was home at that number of the absolute Other, Lacan tried to create a new religion by "replacing the myth of the Cross with the myth of the Bar."25 George gave Lacan a heavy lambasting, and his book's success equaled the humorist's punning talent, a familiar Lacanian trope. This book was to Lacanian thinking what the comic is to politics-it ignored the real contributions, but that was not its point. Its popularity exemplified the crisis and the discredit that were beginning to bring down the house of Lacan.
Roland Jaccard lauded Francois George's book in Le Monde: "Lacan, whose seminar has long attracted snobs, gulls, and easy
marks____Hoping to preserve French psychoanalysis from the
medicalization stalking it and from the mediocrity in which it was stagnating, he managed in the space of a few years a real tour de force of lowering its prestige clinically-with the suicidal practice of sessions reduced to a few minutes-as well as intellectually. "26 This viewpoint was not, however, universally shared and many indignant letters and reactions were sent to Le Monde, better known for its reserve than for polemical passion. Excerpts from some of these were printed. Serge Leclaire was given an entire page for his "The Movement Led by Jacques Lacan," a good part of his talk at the October 1979 Col: loquium on the Unconscious in Tbilisi.F Leclaire recalled Lacan's renewal of psychoanalysis. But the explosive character of Francois George's essay was not quelled and, at the end of October 1979,Jean-Paul Enthoven praised his book in a provocatively entitled article in Le Nouvel Observateur: "For a Final Homage to Comrade Lacan. "28 Enthoven considered this satire only fair; Lacan's predilection for tropes and his disdain for guts ridiculed the institution and paved the way for a master who had every right to fill the lack that he had put in the driver's seat of his discourse. "He became, in a certain way, the exchange value of the 'lack,' which circulated like paper money among the Lacanians. "29
Unfortunately, some well-targeted criticisms encouraged a general rejection of psychoanalysis and ignored Lacan's specific contributions. The baby should not be thrown out with the bathwater, as they say, but this was the risk that led Serge Leclaire to severely judge the enterprise. "There's a whiff of fascism in the fresh air he claims to bring."30 Not that Leclaire claimed to be the temple's keeper, and his Lacan-ianism was quite independent. He acknowledged the obstacles along the path laid out by Lacan and found the topological evolution of the school increasingly objectionable, which he openly criticized in 1977 in a text that stuck in jacques-Alain Miller's craw, titled The Empire of Dead Words: "It would be preferable if the matheme, having lost its measured dignity, were to give free rein to its graffiti value."31 Leclaire worked on a plan for a seminar with Antoinette Fouque in the context of the École Freudienne de Paris, and sent it to Lacan for approval. The response was censorship. "There is no question of your giving the seminar, which Simatos told me about, at EFP. "32
So Leclaire decided to coauthor a satiric response with Antoinette Fouque on the occasion of a birthday party for the École Freudienne held in Lille. The satire took the form of a theatrical sketch of characters from The School for Women entitled Pas de deux, staged at the beginning of the celebration. It ended with, "Here, truth, I forbid."33 Leclaire agreed with Lacan's emphasis on the signifier, and the symbolic, but he rejected the changes taking place (which would continue after the death of the master), in which the hegemony of the signifier relegated the imaginary to a demonic dimension. "That led to a totalitarianism by the signifier's hegemony, which controlled everything. There is something I cannot agree with and that paves the way for the return of religion."34 However, eliminating the imaginary raised a serious problem for the analyst because, although the signifier helped him see how his patient hid or avoided reality, the patient's imaginary is the basis for the analyst's own working hypotheses. On the other hand, in addition to spoken language, the analyst's job was to make coherent what never comes through language. From the beginning, however, Lacan had considered this dimension to be essential, particularly in the Mirror Stage, but he increasingly moved toward a formalizable, scientific analytic discourse, and consequently minimized it.
When Lacan made his theory of knots, I think that it was largely in reaction against his students, who tended to consider that the imaginary and affects were a sort of epiphenomenon of the structure of language, an epiphenomenon of no interest. Setting the imaginary in a special knot was a way of marking the specific autonomy of imaginary structures."
The Talking Cure
Contradictory currents shook the EFP in 1979, during a period of crisis and spectacular defections, like that of Francoise Dolto. Lacan had cancer, and was more and more a shadow of his former self, prey to factional battles he no longer mastered. This was the context in which he announced the dissolution of the EFP on January 5,1980.
Just as de Gaulle withdrew from his political party (the Rassemblement du Peuple Francais), Lacan gave up his "thing," an authoritative if not authoritarian gesture that set the seal on jacques-Alain Miller's victory. According to Solange Falade, it was in fact Miller who wrote the famous letter announcing the talking cure. "Lacan couldn't write any longer. It had been decided that Miller would write the letter and Lacan would correct it." 36
In it, Lacan recalled his school's failure in order to justify its dissolution.
I no longer have a school. I raised it from its resting point (always Archimedes), which I took from the grain of sand of my enunciation. Now I have a pile, a pile of people who want me to take them. I'm not going to make them a whole. Not at all.... Therefore, I have to innovate since I blew this school.37
His decision violated all the rules of the institution. Moreover, this ukase required a new act of fealty to the master; the disciples were to demonstrate their desire to continue under his authority by writing individual letters.
Using the French 1901 law on the creation of associations, the ukase was immediately called into question by EFP members, twenty-eight of whom wanted Lacan judged in a summary procedure .P But the legal battle was lost before it ever began, given an institution that never really established its legal legitimacy but was based on its leader's charisma. Jacques-Alain Miller, a former Maoist and well versed in the practice of denouncing the formal character of democratic principles, had already answered the protesters of November 10, 1970: "The École Freudienne was created by Lacan and Lacan alone, solely
on the basis of his teaching.... Lacan's position does not emanate
from our group and its votes; it is, rather, our practice that emanates from his." 39 Miller had essentially remained loyal to the teachings of proletarian democracy, whose legitimacy did not emanate from Stalin.
So Lacan and Lacan alone was responsible for the fate of the dispersed troops of his school. Approximately one thousand letters were written by candidates ready to embark on the adventure with him, and of these, three hundred came from the EFP. Reinforced and legitimated by this referendum, which exceeded his hopes, Lacan created the Cause freudienne in February. "The letter to the thousand was soon called 'Thousands err,' by those who disagreed, who were branded by their enemies as 'referendards,' 'enlightened gutter sweepers,' and hangers-on who didn't want to let go. "40 What had begun with apparently the most serious aspirations to scientificity finished in derision, and led inexorably toward a collective shipwreck.
This derision reached its paroxysm when Louis Althusser, the great leader of the Marxist structural renewal and responsible for interesting PCF members in Lacan, came to a meeting of the EFP called by those wanting to dissolve it, on March 15, 198o. Thirty-eight members duly armed with invitations were there when Althusser introduced himself to the door guards at the Onyx Room of the Hotel PLM Saint-jacques, who did not know who he was. "When we asked him for his invitation, he spontaneously replied: "I was summoned, yes, in fact, by the libido and the Holy Ghost. And everyone has known for some time that the Holy Ghost is the libido. So, I will tell you the truth, the Holy Ghost does not give a shit about it."41 Lacan greeted his partisans by announcing the Big News: he had finally reached the realm of the Signifier, the "Lacan Label," but he reminded those in the audience that "Lady Lacan" can only give what she has to give. Once the speech was over, Althusser got up. "He described the master as a magnificent and pitiful harlequin, reciting his single-note speech. He emphasized that analysts were mired in a confused discourse like a woman sorting lentils while the war is raging around her."42
Althusser was also in crisis in 1980, having destroyed what he adored. In the middle of a period of dissolution, he scrapped yesterday's words, and his rejection of Lacan seemed to belong to this self-negation, along with the denial of what he represented for others. This movement had been set in motion in 1980, the tragic year of his self-criticism.
To Hell in a Handbasket
The shipwreck became a disaster when the master thinkers were borne away. Lacan died on September 9, 1981, from the complications of an abdominal tumor, at the age of eighty. Everyone considered his death to be a major event, announced in a front-page article in Le Monde. Christian Delacampagne wrote that few thinkers of the century had enjoyed such celebrity and that the lesson to be learned from Lacan's message had to do with the essential teaching, that a theory-less practice is blind but that a theory removed from practice was nothing more than "an empty discourse and swollen jargon. Lacan himself, we might recall, never knew how to separate one from the other. And that's what will make his work enduringly interesting. "43 Lacan's death, which resulted in the death of the sole One, carried off another part of the structuralist program and left disoriented disciples who were soon to experience a veritable diaspora.
The master had designated his son-in-law, jacques-Alain Miller, as his heir. Thus empowered, Miller became the executor of the will and the only person allowed to publish Lacan's lectures. As Charles Mel-man, who knew Miller well from having been his analyst, sarcastically put it, "That's a nice word, executor of the will. He executed. "44
Fervently faithful to Lacan's thinking, which he considered to be the most explosive and liberating work of the period, Charles Melman despaired "to see it transformed into a gristmill to oppress a certain number of people, to make them subjected disciples who go around in circles and repeat, kneeling before the great priest who is supposed to reincarnate the master; ... and it works!"45 The seminar could henceforth say to itself "The That's Miller," after the death of the man of words.
On the one hand, the Lacanians were tremendously dispersed and most of the barons reconquered their own independence. On the other hand, Jacques-Alain Miller recruited for the Ecole de la Cause Freudienne (ECF) and threw himself into actively promoting Lacan. This avant-garde proselytism sought massive recruitment, and benefited from the savoir faire of the days of the Proletarian Left.
Psychoanalytic colonization progressed apace, along the Maoist model of conquering the countryside in order to encircle the center. Latin America was a special, but not exclusive, target since the strategy was global. "They spoke about jet professors, and now there are jet analysts who go to the four corners of France and everywhere in the world to spread their good word. They are veritable traveling salesmen of psychoanalysis. "46 They left behind them city heads and local representatives quickly pressed into the ranks in hotel corridors of the counters of the Empire. Institutional structures had to respect the laws of the market if they were to endure, with video clips and a quick rotation of men, merchandise, and ideas.
As for the barons of Lacanian thinking, they had for the most part elected to make their way beyond this institution in which they no longer recognized Lacan's teaching. In the mid-eighties, Elisabeth Roudinesco counted no fewer than thirteen different groups born of the general crisis of 1980-81, without counting the personalities that had come out of it but were unaffiliated with any group, such as Francoise Dolto, Jenny Aubry, Michele Montrelay, Serge Leclaire, and Pierre Legendre. "I cannot subscribe to the type of institution that the Cause is, but its creation, historically, makes it my natural habitat. "47 Another of the Lacanian barons, Moustafa Safouan continued his work alongside Jacques-Alain Miller in Delenda, but ran into differences with him rather quickly and decided to break. "I did not appreciate the powerful destruction created by the loss of the head; I had hoped that there would be another path; but it was not taken."48 Jean Clavreul, another lieutenant who had never broken with Lacan and who, in the fall of 1979, still dined weekly with him, was overtly hostile to jacques-Alain Miller since the dissolution of January 1981. Claude Dumezil and Claude Conte also left the institution, which, in their eyes, no longer represented the teaching of their master.
A thousand intellectual and affective reasons led to these breaks, and they provoked a serious crisis of collective identity. And behind the fractures of the most dynamic psychoanalytic institution, psychoanalytic discourse withdrew from the intellectual horizon, whereas in the sixties it had been at the heart of all work in the social sciences.
Althusser Dies a Double Death
Even before the shaman Lacan died, tragedy struck Louis Althusser, another great master of the period and the shaper of an entire generation of philosophers, and who had played a pivotal role in structuralism by shifting the epicenter from linguistics to philosophy, set up as judge of the degree of scientificity of the social sciences.
On November 16, 1980, in the apartment of the École Normale where they had lived since the war, Althusser's wife Helene was found strangled to death. Althusser confessed to having strangled her and the autopsy confirmed this. He was immediately transferred to Saint-Anne, a psychiatric hospital in central Paris, in a state such that not even the judge, Guy Joly, could bring a verdict of voluntary homicide. The psychiatric evaluation produced a no-cause order on January 12, 1981, given the state of madness that led to the judgment that Louis Althusser could not be held responsible for his own act.
Althusser's mental health had always been fragile. A manic-depressive, he had regularly missed classes at the ENS. He had undergone electroshock and had been in analysis and on psychotropic drugs for twelve years. When he killed his wife, the limits of this type of psychiatric treatment-rather than, as some would have it, the result of the epistemological break-became tragically clear. His friend K. S. Karol recalls that, at the beginning of July 1980, Althusser had once again, but more seriously than before, gone into a depression. The departure of the Althussers for central France in October did not bring about a recovery. "He saw no one, read nothing, spoke little, and considered going back to the clinic. His situation had worsened just before the last weekend, so much so that Helene decided to cancel the appointments she had made for him."49In November 1980, Althusser died to the living for the next ten years. He became a living zombie from then on, quarantined, and condemned to survive, removed from the world, with a small group of faithful friends.
Although this tragedy and the fate of Althusserian thinking were not necessarily linked, we cannot help but acknowledge that beyond the personal destinies, the Althusserians were in a state of confusion. Some elected extreme solutions, including suicide. "It's surprising that there were not more deaths,"50 remarked Pierre Macherey, who blamed these tragedies on the violent anti-Marxism that swept through the Parisian intellectual milieu with the same speed that this milieu had greeted the Althusserian effort to modernize Marxism in the sixties. Yesterday's heroes and their companions were branded with what was, for some of them, an unbearable stamp of infamy. This rejection and suspicion were not, however, the only causes; there was also the profound identity crisis of those who had lost the reference points that established their intellectual identities. These tragedies affected such well-known Althusserians as Nicos Poulantzas, a sociologist and professor at Vincennes, who defenestrated himself in 1981. "That was the moment when anti-Marxism began to take hold. He had found it unbearable, and was undermined by it."51 Alain Touraine's explanations are of another order. According to him, Poulantzas, whom he often saw during this period, could no longer stand Vincennes. "He had asked me to invite him to the EHESS. He transformed his bad conscience into self-destruction, which was also somewhat true for Althusser." 52
Michel Pecheux, an Althusserian linguist, killed himself in 1982. Claudine Normand, who knew and liked Pecheux, observed that, "among other reasons, there was certainly the awareness of atheoreti-cal impasse and an immense political disappointment. These were people who had believed so completely in the omnipotence of theory that they could not recover. "53
On October 22, 1990, ten years after the tragedy that had reduced Althusser to silence, he died a second time of heart failure at the geriatric center of La Verriere, at the age of seventy-two. A last homage was paid him by the crowd of his former students. In Le Monde, Andre Comte-Sponville saluted "The Broken Master" ("It is too early to judge. The Master has left too great a mark on US"),54 whereas Christian Delacampagne placed Althusser's work in the line of Marx and Spinoza. Etienne Balibar paid his last respects at Althusser's funeral on October 25, 1990, paying homage to his unique ability to be heard and to involve others in his work. "That's why, along with a whole generation who has learned, if not from him, then thanks to him, I find the word Master inappropriate."55 Marxism was therefore comatose, and while the homages of the man, the teacher, and the friend proliferated, the failure of his renewal remained patent. But how could it have been otherwise? The enterprise had been carried on with the greatest rigor and honesty, but, along with Robert Maggiori, we can ask if "in trying to make Marxism into a science, and to kill humanism by ignoring ethical exigencies, he did not help but kill off Marxism while attempting to save it."56 Another ruse of reason, the posthumous revenge of dialectics against the notion of epistemological break.
The Disappearance of Foucault
The eighties were a cruel decade for the structuralist heroes. Michel Foucault died on June 25, 1984, at fifty-seven, struck down brutally by AIDS while writing The History of Sexuality. The news came as a shock.
When Foucault died, so did the incarnation of the political hopes and theoretical ambitions of an entire generation. He was neither the head of a school nor the guardian of any disciplinary boundaries, but he was far more, the brilliant embodiment of his period: a structuralist in the sixties, an individualist in the eighties. Foucault's exceptionally piercing power of observation slipped from the intellectual landscape. He had always been at the very heart of current problems, able to adapt to a new mode of problematization that attempted to get beyond the shortcomings of the structuralist program, in which he remained, despite his protestations, a central figure. A peerless critic of prejudice and cliches, he also left behind a crowd of followers without a voice, all the more in that they belonged to no brotherhood.
The news of Foucault's death was an event up to the scale of the man, even before the press knew what had killed him. Le Monde gave him a big front-page headline and two full pages. Pierre Bourdieu paid homage to him for having been able to share "the pleasure of knowing.'^ Roger-Pol Droit expressed his emotions at the death of an absolute relativist à la Nietzsche, who played with classifications, and whose paradoxical work escaped all classification thanks to the constant rebounds that made it burst out where it was least expected, and that ended by seeing its face effaced from its discursive detours. Bertrand Poirot-Delpech saw "an asceticism of wandering." Paul Veyne, Roland Jaccard, Philippe Boucher, and Georges Kiejman recalled the trajectory of Foucault's militancy and civic commitment, the symbol of all resistance against machines of internment.
Liberation published a front-page photo of Foucault with the neutral title one found everywhere, but that best expressed the contained emotion: "Foucault is dead." An irreplaceable companion had died. The paper's editor, Serge July, paid homage to "this defuser of tomorrows"58 and saluted the man who had known how to perceive changes in modes of thought and how to prepare the future. Robert Maggiori commented on the macabre irony that made Foucault's death coincide with his last books, in which he argued for a new use of pleasure and invited others to make their lives into works of art. Liberation, for which Foucault had written many articles, devoted a special series of articles to him shortly after his death. 59 In these, Francois Ewald, Andre Glucksmann, Robert Maggiori, Roger Chartier, Gerard Fromanger, and Francoise-Edmonde Morin paid their last respects by recalling the richness and diversity of Foucault's activities.
Jean Daniel, the editor of Le Nouvel Observateur, devoted his editorial to "M. Foucault's Passion.Y? and Georges Dumezil wrote that this "happy man" left him bereft "not only of the ornaments of life, hut of its very suhstance."61 Roger Chartier recalled Foucault's work in history, and Pierre Nora, his editor, wrote of "Our Foucault Years." "Foucault is dead: every intellectual in this country feels touched by these words, in his mind and in his soul. ...This death is also ours a little bit, and like the bell that tolls for what we lived through with him."62
Pierre Nora saw the mark of closure in Foucault's death. Indeed, it was an important moment in the history of thought that ended one morning in June 1984 in the courtyard of the Pitie-Salpetriere Hospital, where a small crowd listened religiously to Gilles Deleuze as he read from the preface of The Use of Pleasure. Deleuze, the prodigal friend, thus gave the last homage to Foucault.
The Crisis of Universalist Models and Disciplinary Retrenchment
Universalism especially was discredited in the mid-seventies, and this led to the collapse of both structuralism and Marxism. "I can say with a certain derision that I am the last Marxist."! Each discipline tended to retrench, and to regain balance by rediscovering its traditions and the fundamentals of its theoretical and institutional identity. With the renunciation of universalism came a disciplinary explosion and a waning of multidisciplinarity that had characterized the structural era. Disciplinary boundaries became heavily guarded. Experiments with extreme limits, the ne plus ultra of modernity in the sixties, became increasingly proscribed for they ran counter to the self-containment that was taking hold.
A double conjuncture-one historical: the reality of lost illusions; the other sociological: the lack of jobs and reduced university bud-gets-also contributed significantly to this general wane. "What disappeared was our generation's historical illusion, the idea that tools of thought could also be weapons of criticism. Thinking about reality and transforming it came together in the same historical movement. The idea fell apart, the cultivated narcissistic illusions were over; it was painful because some had devoted their lives to it."? Some new questions made it possible to restore the levels of pertinence and to measure the limits of a scientific perspective purged of the absolutes and myths that had flourished in the sixties. But it also led to an eclecticism or a simple juxtaposition of viewpoints, paradigms, and objects, with no attempt to establish a significant correlation among them.
The Waning of Marxism and Structuralism In 1976, a book by Claude Meillassoux provoked a lively polemic between structuralists and Marxists, even though neither camp realized that the two paradigms were both slipping into decline." Meillassoux saw a fundamental social entity that perpetuated itself in different modes of production. He called it "domestic community." He argued that this domestic community ensured various forms of reproduction, from which it derived kinship relationships in traditional African societies. "The production and reproduction of relationships appeared as the substratum of legal-ideological kinship relationships."4 Making the incest taboo and elementary kinship structures, which Levi-Strauss had studied, relative rather than central, provoked a particularly virulent reaction from Alfred Adler, who published an article titled "Ethno-Marxism: Toward a New Obscurantism?" in Levi-Strauss's L'Homme. Another article, equally radical, by Pierre Bonte, a structural-Marxist anthropologist, aligned itself with Godelier's positions.>
Adler reacted strongly to questioning the universality of the incest taboo. He claimed that Meillassoux saw it as a moral notion emanating from an ideology linked with mastering the mechanisms of reproduction in domestic societies. He distinguished between hunter-gatherer societies and agricultural economies. "After having invented an eco-politico-fiction, he spends most of his time making kinship, customs, beliefs, religion, magic, and I don't know what else depend on it, in the most confused and chaotic manner."6
The polemic intensified in the next issue of L'Homme, in which Meillassoux answered his critics in an article provocatively entitled, "Fahrenheit 450.5" and mused about what would happen to books that questioned the established dogmas when right thinkers brandished torches instead of pens for a final critique. Adler responded: "I can reassure him that no incendiary torch threatened his book, which would warrant, at best, a brisk sweep of the broom. With time, his historical materialism will gather a bit of dust, perhaps."?
This confrontation in fact raised the question of the commensura-bility of the Marxist and structuralist paradigms. Both were totalizing, but they used different models and hypotheses. Beyond this polemic, the issue was the possibility of any universal method, which was slowly being removed from the theoretical horizon.
In 1986, L'Homme drew up a balance sheet of anthropology." As Jean Pouillon showed, the issue was not to do an inventory of the kind generally done following a bankruptcy, since anthropology was still alive and productive even if it was no longer the melting pot for the social sciences. The discipline was exploding, as much because many more anthropologists were being trained as because anthropological methods were proliferating. Many of the contributors-Nicole Sin-dzingre, Carmen Bernard, and jean-Pierre Digard-observed that the field was splitting up and that this dispersion was linked with the range of problems belonging to each of the fields of investigation. Although still vital, anthropology no longer had pretensions to be the model for all the other disciplines. It was no longer optimistic about a rapid scientific trimming around its modeling system, and the theoretical diversity offered a lesson in modesty, implying the return to specific ethnographic field description without having abandoned the theoretical dimension. As Pouillon reminded his readers, "The general is to be found in the specific,"? Anthropology withdrew into itself in order to take stock of its paradigms and objects, which meant reexamining its disciplinary history, the central concern of Gradhiva, a review begun in 1986 that focused on anthropological history and archives!?
Philosophy Freed from the Social Sciences Philosophy was even more clearly involved in discipline-specific issues. Francine Le Bret, a philosophy teacher at jacques Prevert High School in Boulogne-Billancourt, a working-class suburb of southwestern Paris, considered the changes regressive, and observed with some concern the return to tradition: "It's clearly a disengagement. By being concerned about eternity, we stop ourselves from taking care of what's going on today. To want to cut philosophy off from the social sciences and from the sciences in general is yet another withdrawal. Philosophy is tending to become what it was during the Third Republic."!' Therefore, philosophy accompanied the retreat of the social sciences into their regional-ization as they abandoned their triumphant challenge of the sixties by withdrawing behind their disciplinary boundaries.
Threatened by the Haby reform of the school curriculum and baccalauréat examination, philosophers banded together under Jacques Derrida and in 1975 created the GREPH, or Research Group on the
Teaching of Philosophy. In high schools, teaching philosophy depended largely on the type of questions students would have to answer on the baccalauréat exams. One could observe a palpable shift in the choice of exam subjects, and a new narrowness. The Nietzsche-Marx-Freud triad was in retreat; few subjects required students to be familiar with psychoanalysis. A philosophy of consciousness, however, was gaining ground. The social sciences in general were cavalierly eliminated as nonphilosophical. Instructions for the general exam that selects the subjects to be dealt with encouraged reading Bergson rather than Freud, Hobbes rather than Marx, Alain rather than Bachelard. The school manuals for the final year of high school were eclectic and tipped their hats to modernity by including texts by Foucault and Levi-Strauss, but what counted in these vast encyclopedias was what would be used as exam subjects. In this respect, the situation had clearly reversed itself.
From 1972 to 1980, the baccalauréat questions dealing with science went from 19.8 percent of the exam to 12.6 percent; and at the same time, the authors dealing with epistemology and natural sciences went from 10.6 percent to 1.1 percent of the exam, and those who belonged to the sciences of man went from 7.4 percent to 2.2 percent. Last but not least, twentieth-century authors went from 32.9 percent to 18.1 percent of those covered by the exam.l?
Pushing the social sciences and epistemological considerations to the rear guard was a clear departure from structuralist priorities. Levi-Strauss's work, from which four texts had been used on the 1972 exam, disappeared entirely. The Marx-Freud-Levi-Strauss trio, which accounted for 6.6 percent on the 1972 exam and 9 percent of the texts on the 1975 exam, dropped to 3 .7 percent in 1978 and to 1.2 percent in 1987. By contrast, the classical authors got more coverage: Plato-Descartes-Kant went from 12 .3 percent of the texts on the 1972 exam to 17.1 percent in 1975, 17.3 percent in 1985, and reached 25.3 percent in 1987.13
Francine Le Bret, who in the mid-eighties had attended the PAF (the academic training plan) meetings about using the social sciences in teaching philosophy, bore witness to these reconfigurations: "I observed a discussion at one of these meetings where someone said that a course on the unconscious could be easily taught without having to speak about Freud, or even without reading anything by him." 14 Teachers were advised to ignore Freud and to read French neo-Kantians such as Pierre Janet in giving courses on the unconscious.
This disciplinary retraction therefore implied serious risks of regression once teachers were convinced that philosophy could be reduced to a limited number of questions drawn from perennial philosophy, and to a reduced corpus of canonized authors. This was even truer in that many high-school teachers confessed their mea culpa, believing that they had gotten lost in nonphilosophical problems and had sinned through positivism. Whence the heightened risk of a pure and simple return to tradition, circumventing any renewal, as if nothing had happened. "Today, the major tendency is to eliminate the social sciences from philosophy classes. People have been persuaded that this is not philosophy."15 Philosophy seemed to rediscover its original purity over the presumed dead bodies of Marx and Freud, beyond all external parasites; a new plan was proclaimed for doing the house-cleaning that was necessary to complete this renaissance among the humanities.
Sylvain Auroux, who had launched an immense, encyclopedic work on philosophical notions and on the history of linguistic ideas, reacted against this tendency.l'' He saw this limited philosophy as a mutilation and preferred new philosophical givens that tried to preserve the unity of the field while allowing the philosopher to reflect upon the foundations of the scientific discoveries of the modernity to which he belonged.
Auroux, as we have already seen, left classical philosophy in order to become a professional epistemologist of the sciences of language. He came to this field as a philosopher, at the intersection of a philosophical problematization and technical know-how, and warned against the idea of a break between a philosophy that would return to its roots and the field of science in general conceived as external to philosophy. "It would be senseless to want to reconsider the philosophical enterprise at its roots. Rivers never flow to their headwaters. Still, they can include stagnant waters. Wisdom bids us dry these."l?
The return to a philosophical philosophy thus represented a certain number of dangers of occultations and risks of regression. But it was in other respects the manifestation of the artificiality of the proclamations made during the structural years about the proximate end of philosophy, which would soon give way to questions beyond philosophy. In this respect, the problem demonstrated not only that a program with universal ambitions had failed, but also that its ambitions had been overblown. "What strikes me is that poststructuralism is characterized by a return to philosophy, a return to what can be practiced in the philosophical approach after or beyond the approach of the deconstructors. "18
The Risk of Disciplinary Isolation
During the eighties, other disciplines joined philosophy in its retrenchment and renunciation of transversal approaches. Pierre Ansart, sociology professor at Paris VII, lamented these disciplinary islands and the absence of questions about the legitimacy of the prevailing divisions. Where, in the sixties, students had tried to discover something through interdisciplinarity, which they experienced as productive, "Now, these little clans appear like security zones. As president of the National University Committee for sociology, I can easily see how hiring decisions reflect this." 19
Parcelization, the absence of a totalizing ambition and of a concern to universalize, had another perverse effect for students: languages were so compartmentalized that students studying them could not communicate with each other. After three years of courses, they had acquired different vocabularies but no language. "Some students have a certain technical know-how, but as for interpretation, that's another thing. They have a completely mixed baggage."20 Pierre Ansart, who had criticized the structuralist paradigm, regretted the strict empiricism of current work, denuded of all epistemological reflection. He considered it tragic that young students were completely unfamiliar with the work of Levi-Strauss. "They know absolutely nothing about Levi-Strauss, I speak about him with my fourth-year students and I have to start from scratch. It's painful. "21
We have already seen that those in literature withdrew into their own field after having concentrated on textuality involving all forms of writing. Historians rediscovered the discrete charms of Lavissian history, the purely event-studded tale that made no effort to connect with any causal system or structure.
These returns characterized the identity crisis plaguing the social sciences as they abandoned their ambition of establishing their universality on scientific discourse and theory, which the structuralist program had embodied. All of these disciplines were profoundly affected by structuralism; it would be a shame to forget the jewels underneath the artifice.
Although the potential of the structural paradigm declined as a potentially universal semiology, it nonetheless found the means to perpetuate itself by forging a new alliance. Levi-Srrauss's ambition during the fifties to belong to the natural sciences became a program during structuralism's second phase; biology replaced linguistics. The internal tension in the social sciences caught between the humanities and the so-called hard sciences expressed itself as a rigorous method that, in the grid applied to reality, claimed to be structural.
During this second period, there seemed to be a clear shift. Structure was no longer just a methodical approach for restoring meaning but also belonged to nature. The hope was to reach beyond the nature/ culture dyad by penetrating to the heart of mental structures in order to discover a natural reality. A method of the same name would simply be its cultural extension.
This evolution was particularly clear in the work of the father of structuralism in its most scientific ambitions in France: Levi-Strauss, Today, some of his ambitions, such as discovering how the human mind works via a structural social anthropology, have been abandoned. Although he believes that anthropology's contribution was partial and important, he willingly recognizes that anthropologists "are not the only ones and certainly not the ones who hold a key to the problem. It's the neurologist who holds the key,"! Biology and genetics would disclose the basic answers to the questions he raised in The Elementary Structures of Kinship and make it possible to erase the boundary between the human and natural sciences, beyond which Levi-Strauss had tried to move from the outset. Since anthropology functioned by importing paradigms from other disciplines, Levi-Strauss imported the phonological model into anthropological analysis. Henceforth, however, the advances made in cognitivism and by Rene Thom's catastrophe theory became more attractive because they offered conceptual leaps that would help him reorient his structuralism toward a naturalist philosophy for which "the model is already inscribed in the body, meaning in the genetic code."?
In his late work, Levi-Strauss drew closer to Goethe's theories of scientific observation of natural phenomena. Goethe had perfected a theory of colors and a theory of plant structure, postulating an underlying model that conditioned the diversity of perceptions found everywhere but that existed nowhere in reality. In his research on the nature of color, Goethe refuted Newton's interpretation. "Contrary to Newton's experiment, Goethe claimed that every perception of color is the product of an interaction between physical phenomena and the eye."?
At the time, Levi-Strauss's structuralism tended to become onto-logical, a complete structural realism. It was using this framework that he defined his inventory of American mythology in 1983: "Myths are reflected in each other, and we could make the list of these axes. To account for this, we must suppose mental operations that obey laws like those we speak about concerning the laws of the physical world."4 He also addressed the traditional metaphysical ideal/real, abstractl concrete dualism and proposed setting the givens of consciousness half-way between these poles, "already coded by the sense organs and by the brain."5 He supposed an isomorphy between chemical-physical processes on which the operations of coding are based, and the decoding procedures the mind follows.
As Levi-Strauss saw it, structuralism, in its most extreme advances toward formalization, did no more than rediscover profound natural laws. It allowed reason to reconstitute the original mechanisms of the body by renewing ties to a radical materialism that alone could be reconciled with scientific knowledge. In his later work, Levi-Strauss made reality and structure completely consonant since structure expressed reality and was homological to it. This naturalist thrust was present as early as The Elementary Structures of Kinship, but here Levi-Strauss emphasized the methodological and epistemological aspects of his structuralism. This naturalism was more apparent in the influence of Rene Thorn and his disciples. "This 'second' structuralism-the 'first' no longer seemed instrumental-turns out to be basically comparable, given its wager that a hidden reality exists (structures, homologies of the mind, of the body, and of things), with the troubling 'semiophysics' of Rene Thorn or another Thomian, Jean Petitot-Cocorda, ... and refers to the identity of their logo-substratum."6
Jean Petitot-Cocorda showed that all the major structuralists were realists who saw structure as an integral part of reality, and who claimed an identity between knower and knowable." Petitot-Cocorda was a disciple of Thorn, but he reiterated Levi-Strauss's goal of "hardening" the "soft" science of anthropology; Petitot-Cocorda wanted to "soften" the "hard" sciences. Both hoped to create a synergy that would make it possible to go beyond the dualism that persists even today between social sciences and hard sciences.
Structural Naturalism/Cultural Differentialism Levi-Strauss's emphasis on naturalized structuralism was accompanied by something that seemed to be its opposite-an embrace of cultural differentialism. This was evident as early as 1971 when Levi-Strauss gave a new lecture on the topic "Race and Culture,"8 an elaboration of his 1952, Race and History, but from a different perspective. Initially, he had considered that only culture was pertinent, but to the great surprise of UNESCO directors who criticized him for letting the fox into the chicken coop, Levi-Strauss took into account "the arrival of population genetics on the anthropological stage"9 as something that could fundamentally reverse many theoretical implications. By naturalizing cultural attitudes, he acknowledged that one society could consider itself superior to another and could lock itself within its own value system. "This incommensurability ... can even be the price to pay for preserving value systems for each spiritual family or community."10
Thus, cultural differentialism was not to be combated, since it could form the basis for potential cultural development. Moreover, cultural arms could not win antiracist battles because genetics was the basic key. It was in this sense that Levi-Strauss called for "a positive collaboration between geneticists and ethnologists."!! He did not deny the necessity of intercultural communication and claimed to have maintained his earlier stance. "In fact, in Race and History, I said both these things, but only half of what I said was retained. I felt the need to draw attention to the dark side of the moon. In Race and History I speak about this optimal diversity that is so necessary for human soci-eties."12 But we cannot ignore the slippage between the two texts, which led to naturalizing the structural paradigm. As Pierre-Andre Taguieff remarked, we have every right to fear the possible effects of this position of considering ethnocentric attitudes to be consubstantial with the human race, as universal entities and veritable a prioris of the human condition. "By 'naturalizing' collective attitudes and inclinations such as hermeticism, self-preference, and opposition to others, the ethnologist basically legimates ethnocentrism and xenophobia."13 The essential continuity between the early and the late Levi-Strauss lay essentially in his loyalty to a theoretical antihumanism, a basic tenet of the structural paradigm, which denounced the inability of Western humanism to establish humanity. Levi-Strauss proposed a naturalist approach, "that of man as a living being,"14by contrast to man as a moral, ethical being. In this, Levi-Strauss remained loyal to the ethnological tradition, preferring difference to universality, root-edness to uprootedness. "There are traces of two types of different universalisms in Levi-Strauss, He willingly accepts one-the bio-
psychological identity of the species____On the other hand, the bad,
or rather the false, universalism resists recognizing difference and amounts to a determined-and, unavoidably, a unifying-project."15 His choice came from considering naturalism to be the only scientific level able to claim universality: it existed, but only biologically and genetically. It was already clear in Levi-Strauss's early work that his structural aim was to rediscover the bases of human culture on the basis of its physical-chemical substratum. Cognitive material was more appropriate than the phonological model for realizing this goal.
Cognitivism: A Radical Naturalism
Dan Sperber's work went beyond Levi-Strauss in naturalizing the structural paradigm. In 1968, he had already considered only part of Levi-Strauss's work to be scientific, the part that targeted the mental structures of the human mind; he thus rejoined Chomskyan generativism in a rereading of Levi-Strauss. For Sperber, Chomsky's work meant that structuralist models were relegated to a prior stage of research, too simplistic to be workable and overblown in their ambition to be adopted in every discipline. "No one is going to argue for structuralist models in linguistics anymore. As a theory, it's definitively over."16
Sperber favored radically dissociating the empirical or literary aspect of the anthropologist's work from his scientific work. "Two very different disciplines cohabitate in the term 'anthropology,' and they were in no way predisposed to a monogamous union!"? On the one hand, Sperber wanted to see ethnography recover its independence as an interpretative genre and an idiographic discipline like history, as an approach to the specific; on the other hand, he wanted to see anthropology become a true science with human nature as its real object.
For anthropology's scientific character to be girded, according to Sperber, generativism and cognitivism had to come together. Fundamentally naturalist, Sperber believed that the issue was not one of shifting the social sciences to the core of the natural sciences such as they were, but rather broadening the realm of the natural sciences and changing their character. "When biology joined physics, the natural sciences were no longer quite the same."18
Sperber was sensitive to the development of the cognitive sciences, considered to be "the great postwar intellectual movement. "19 He hoped that a renewal springing from psychology, neurology, and robot theory would allow the social sciences to acquire the status of scientificity. But this assumed a radically materialist stance that rejected all but natural causes.
Analysis begins with the One, which is material reality. "There is structure in the brain, and much more than Levi-Strauss believes, in my opinion. This structure is fundamental, and imposes a very real constraint on the content of cultures."20 The other-Popperian-hypothesis was to consider that any scientific theory had to be as explicit as possible, and thus must be able to test its hypotheses. Here, in order to avoid all forms of mechanical reductionism, Sperber added: "Mental constraints do not engender cultures, but the populations of millions of brains in a complex environment do. "21 Seen this way, Levi-Strauss had taken a step toward rational materialism by considering that the structure of symbolic systems was determined by uni-versai human aptitudes and that the study of myths led to a more profound understanding of the human mind. But Sperber criticized him for not crossing the Rubicon since he remained attached to the idea that myths carried meaning with them. "Paradoxically, we can argue that one of his great merits is to have freed the study of myths from the concern for establishing their meaning. "22 Sperber thus applauded one particular aspect of Levi-Strauss's structuralism-the ontological, naturalist dimension-but criticized its methodological, semiological aspect, which, as he saw it, belonged to literature.
Like generativism, cognitivism came from the other side of the Atlantic, and Sperber hoped to harden anthropological science with this new paradigm. "All the true scientific acquisitions are located within the framework of a materialist ontology."23 This paradigm arose not from an empirical discovery, but from a purely logical one. In 1936, Alan Turing had made it possible to understand how matter could think and with this, the boundaries between the sciences of man and the natural sciences would finally be destroyed. Naturalizing the social science paradigm meant redefining the notion of representation on the basis of cognitivism. At the time, anthropology was essentially psychology, and Dan Sperber advocated "desemiologizing Levi-Strauss's approach,"24 by breaking it down into two parts. The first would use neuroscientific discoveries that allowed one to gain access to mental phenomena, and the second would analyze socio-cultural facts using the model of "an epidemiology of representations, "25 whose object would be not the representations themselves, which belonged to the first level, but their distribution. Explaining the processes of links and transformations would depend on both psychological and ecological factors.
However, we might wonder, as Lucien Scubla did, if social reality could really be accounted for on the basis of this exclusive recourse to mental structures, since many significations, representations, and rules escaped this level of explanation. Scubla saw at least two reasons for refusing to identify cultural anthropology with the study of mental structures and cognitive processes." First, symbolization was autonomous and could not be based on mental representations. Second, this analysis did not work for the technical dimension of cultural phenomena.
The cognitivist paradigm, which regrouped a constellation of various disciplines (including artificial intelligence, the psychology that developed in the United States in the sixties as a reaction against behaviorism, the neurosciences), also grew out of the changes in linguistics. Noam Chomsky had a direct and important influence on the emergence and development of the cognitive sciences, in his search for deep structure, and the dissociation of the model of competence and the model of performance. Generativist linguists like Dan Sperber also looked to cognitivism for their scientific status, and rejected description as unscientific, concentrating instead on the ontological question of human nature. "Marxism and structuralism managed by arming themselves with a program of simple description. "27
According to the Chomskyans, the new scientific imperative disqualified Saussure's distinctions: "Saussure's ideas are not worth much anymore."28 Thus the signifier/signified duo and the fact of considering metaphor paradigmatically, or even the syntagm/paradigm pair, played only a very limited, if not completely meaningless, role in contemporary linguistics, as Nicolas Ruwet saw it. By contrast, what did help shed light on a metaphor was putting it into relation with a chain of complex operations. Since comparative grammar, already considered most proximate to the natural sciences because of its rigor, linguistics was particularly well positioned among the cognitive sciences.
The CREA (Center for Research on Applied Epistemology) at the École Polytechnique was one of the major research centers for the cognitive sciences in France. Its director, Jean-Pierre Dupuy, favored an interdisciplinary approach and offered a new system as a common framework of modelization to the various pioneering fronts of modern science." He directed the work of an entire team of researchers, including Dan Sperber, Daniel Andler, Francois Recanati, and Pierre jacob, Dupuy rejected reductionism, and proposed irreducible complexity and the priority of narrow relationships between reality and disorder, rather than invariability. "One of the most important chapters of contemporary physics is the study of disordered systems." 30 According to Dupuy, a completely new dynamic allowed physicists of complex systems to get involved in biology, neurobiology, and artificial intelligence. This investigation lent value to the idea of autonomy, which seemed antiscientific until then, but which was not to be confused with the notion of mastery. "This autonomy is in synergy with what can always destroy it, and which has traditionally been called heteronomy."31 For CREA researchers, structuralism led to a dead end; the social sciences had to be naturalized on the basis of cognitivism, which represented more than a third of the CREA researchers (twelve out of the thirty). "My idea was that we had to get the social sciences going again by using the advances of the natural and liv-ing sciences, and Edgar Morin saw this before I did. "32 It was thus work in quantum mechanics, thermodynamics beyond the equilibrium thresholds, cybernetics, and the information sciences that generated fresh thinking on the subject, rather than a simple return to traditional or behaviorist psychology. "We can no longer affirm man, but we can look for his trace. "33
This center had been founded in early 1981 by Jean-Marie Dome-nach under the name of Center for Research on Epistemology and Autonomy. Autonomy meant that social science research was conceived of as research on the human capacity for self-determination, without denying some form of determinism. But the risk of confusing the term with political autonomy at a time when "autonomous" anarchists were smashing windows and cars during street demonstrations led to renaming the center.
Domenach saw structuralism as an end point of the nineteenth-century intuition that all sciences should be reduced to a single science, the ambition that linked August Comte, Durkheim, and Levi-Strauss. "In my view, structuralism marked the end point, and therefore the end of this utopia."34 Yet cognitivism basically assumed this goal by adopting and importing natural science concepts into the social sciences. In this sense, the determination to bridge the natural and social worlds persisted. But, unlike structuralism, which eliminated the break between nature and culture, Domenach placed himself within a self-referential dialectic. "Culture starts things going by permeating man with nature and nature with man. But one question continues to haunt me: how is it that the world increasingly resembles our preferred concepts? A world that is diasporizing, lebanonizing, and balkanizing corresponds in fact to these themes of complexity."35 Seen this way, the binary model and structural duality were being routed. Paradoxical thinking took up where binary thinking stopped and better accounted for increasing complexity, "because it can sustain opposites at different levels."36
Cognitivism's success also carried along a whole philosophical current-an essentially Anglo-Saxon, analytical philosophy that had long been interested in mental grammars-which could rub shoulders with scientists in common research projects. This was something radically new in France. The CREA thus became a propitious context for this type of research-which was still rare in France. The philosopher joelle Proust worked there and considered it a "sanctuary of analyti-cal philosophy in France."3? She complained that French philosophy was primarily concerned with the history of philosophy and marginalized this activity, which also meant that "we are missing the development of living philosophy."38
The CNRS had undertaken a survey of the new cognitive disciplines. In July 1989, Jean-Pierre Changeux handed in his report to the Ministry of Research, which agreed to make a major effort to help develop cognitive sciences. But France still lagged significantly behind the Anglo-Saxon world.
Analytical philosophy resurrected the subject, which had been repressed by the structural paradigm. This was not the subject of traditional psychology, a stronghold of non science and freedom in which meaning flourished protected from systems of objectivization. To the contrary, this subject was naturalized, with the initial materialist hypotheses conceived of as the site of rules to be clarified. "Today, passionate work is being done on vision, language, the concept, and reasoning, which provides tremendous amounts of information about the computational aspect of mental activity."39
The connection between work on artificial intelligence and philosophy even looked for its predecessors. Hubert Dreyfus suggested that Kant's philosophy paved the way for artificial intelligence.i? joelle Proust also recognized that the work on the conditions making symbolic activity possible was a remake of Kant's project: "Kant's transcendental quest gave us the first example of this. "41 Paul Ricoeur had already said of Levi-Strauss in the sixties that he represented Kantianism without a transcendental subject. Although using manifestly different materials, an equally manifest continuity existed between the ambitions of the structural and cognitive projects.
During the first structural phase, this naturalization of thought had tried to use essentially cultural material and language rules as ballast. Now, it relied on important, recent progress in the neurosciences, represented at the College de France and at the molecular neurobiology laboratory at the Institut Pasteur by its director, jean-Pierre Changeux, one of France's best-known scientists thanks to his 1983 Neuronal Man.42 Changeux was a neurobiologist who saw all mental activities, reflexive as well as emotional, as the simple product of nervous impulses. In order to understand mental activity, a major epistemological reversal had to occur whereby nature would no longer be conceived of as transformed by the human mind, a prisoner of its perceptual grids, but rather the human mind would be considered as nothing more than the simple expression of natural laws. "The cerebral machine is a mass of neurons and our problem amounts to looking for the cellular mechanisms that allow it to go from one level to another. "43 Complicated psychical activities could therefore be reduced and explained through the brain's neuronal architecture. Each of the ten billion neurons is connected with a hundred thousand others; a whole network circulates and provokes dendritic ecstasy, axonal orgasms, cortical explosions, bionic accelerations, and biochemical quakes. Of course this outline is both complicated and infinite in its possible associations, but Changeux nonetheless hoped to associate a singular mental object with each network of neuronal connections. He saw himself as the bearer of a science that had the potential to resolve the enigma of consciousness and of thought in general and which would be no more, as he said to the mathematician Alain Connes who contradicted him, than "the expression of a particular state of matter. "44
We can understand the importance of this challenge for the social sciences, which were constructed at the interface between nature and culture in a refusal of all biological reductionism. These, like the many currents of psychology and psychoanalysis more than the other social sciences, were directly challenged by Changeux's conclusions that "man has nothing to do at all with the mind; it's enough to be a neu-ronal man. "45 Reinterpreting mental activities through their physical basis presented a challenge to materialist ontology, and psychoanalysts were particularly hostile to this physicalist and reductionist vision. The psychoanalyst Andre Green, for example, absolutely rejected Changeux's ideas as "completely unacceptable."46 He did not deny the importance of neuronal activity, but preferred the ideas developed by Jean-Didier Vincent, a neuroendocrinologist who argued that endocrine glands secreted hormones that affect individual growth and basic needs.f? Vincent considered that these hormones determined or affected even human passions and humors. Yet, "he never claimed that love was a hormonal product alone. "48
Andre Green argued that with Changeux, "it was a way of staying in structuralism. "49 There were the familiar ambitions of reducing complex reality to a simple system with a limited number of variables that only needed to be hooked together and assembled, with the advantage in the case of the neurosciences of manipulating tangible and demonstrable entities from which human homogeneity could be deduced, "whereas the question of complexity and of heterogeneity required that we consider several communication and diffusion systems. There are systems that operate by neuronal contiguity, and others that work on the basis of hormonal diffusion. It's not the same thing. In addition, there is the complication of chemical mediators through synapses."50 Green continued to believe in the construction of an au-tomonous psychoanalysis resistant to all reductionism, whether it be Lacan's elimination of affects in reducing the unconscious to the games of language or this attempt to naturalize the unconscious by reducing it to a neuronal game.
The social sciences certainly encountered obstacles in defending their specificity and independence as they were periodically caught in the reductive vise of scientistic enterprises. Structural naturalism claimed to finally dissolve man in matter, and in this respect gave no definitive answer to the complexity of psychic activity that can only come from considering the" heterogeneity of the signifier."5i
Assimilating the Program
Structuralism had been fading from theoretical perspectives since 1975. But even if it cast a duller media glow, it was not comatose. The structural paradigm continued to evolve and undergo profound changes. Unrealistic ambitions were no longer the order of the day, but modesty was. Necessary new alliances were forged to react to a new historical context.
But certain essentials remained unshakable. In order to appreciate them, we have to differentiate circumstantial responses from the substantial changes made thanks to the theoretical energies of the structuralist period. Like the history of any individual, the history of a triumphant paradigm hugs the contours of the period, propelling it to heights before it enters a new era of diminishing returns, and ultimately embarks on the calmer course of silent, slow history. The energies had not been vainly spent, the fireworks had simply glittered before the gorgeous artifice sputtered.
An Enduring State of Mind
This immensely rich, productive period left an enduring legacy in our changed vision of the world and our reading grid. Not simply sensationalism, this legacy has to do with the "digestive" functions of the growth of the social sciences. Seen this way, the return to structuralism should avoid what Althusser, faithful to Lenin's advice, counseled: think at the edges. Indeed, alternating only between structures alone, and the individual alone, unfortunately missed the essential issue of the interaction between the two. An imprecise and unclear period unfolded; the earlier progress was deliberately forgotten to allow for a new beginning but in a different direction accompanied by the same intellectual terrorism.
This is why we must hope, along with Marc Guillaume, for a return "to the geological era of the social sciences, to which the hard sciences are accustomed." 1 According to this point of view, the social sciences would have known, with structuralism, the first stratum since Auguste Comte, which would not be so bad! Probing beyond the media effects of the structuralism of the eighties, we can in fact see that it continued to inspire much work in many disciplines and was, as Marcel Gauchet put it, a "multilevel phenomenon."2
One must differentiate in the phenomenon between the fascination for a program that promised to unify the social sciences and the specific methodologies that transmitted this hope to each of the disciplines with their specific objects of study and their particular situation with regard to the university and research, and given disciplinary competition, battles for a leadership role, ephemeral hegemonies, pilot positions, and tactical alliances that set fire to the university as the humanities and social sciences, modernity and tradition, waged their battles. Structuralism embodied a battle that identified it with all of French intellectual life in the latter half of the twentieth century. "There is a structuralist spirit that I believe is an enduring acquisition, and that, for me, is mixed with the century's advances. It has nothing to do with the local defeat or exhaustion of structuralist models as they operated in specific disciplines."3
In a diffuse yet profound way, all contemporary intellectual work became concerned with rigor and the determination to perceive meaningful wholes, and this was the tangible proof of the undeniable assimilation of structuralism's demands, even for those who needed to reject this period and proclaim its definitive death. This was also true for a new generation that, although it did not know the meaning of the term "structuralism," like the Bourgeois Gentilhomme, did structuralism without knowing it. Although Marcel Gauchet strongly criticized what structuralism represented, he did agree that "no one today reads any kind of text in the same way as before because a new kind of structural exigency has been introduced. Work has been done in every area on signifying ensembles with the idea of reconstituting coherence."4
Edgar Morin had also disputed structuralism's success from the beginning, and argued that its unreasonable pretensions of dissolving man in ostensibly scientific categories were misguided. But he admitted the merit of the structural-epistemic paradigm at certain levels, and credited it with three contributions: an emphasis on the idea of structure, a radical critique of the Western logos, and establishing the priority of symbolic.: This was how styles changed, but structuralism long remained, for many, a major theoretical perspective.
The psychoanalyst Jean Allouch saw a continuity where many believed structuralism to be dead and buried: "I don't see how we could be anything other than structuralists. 1 remain absolutely a structuralist because we can only conceive of the subject from a psychoanalytic point of view. If the subject has no structure, there is no possible treatment."6
Structuralism's practical dimension also explains why linguistics plays such an important role today in the growth of the "language industries"-information science and expert systems. Here, the transition from traditional humanistic university training to training engineers who work at IBM gives some insight into the real sense of the battles of the sixties under the banner of structural modernity.
Literature students could become operational scientists in the most advanced of modern technologies; structuralism had met the challenge. Sylvain Auroux even thought that more mathematical formalization was needed and that the mathematics and human sciences track (MAS) created at the university was appropriate, even if it has not yet met expectations. After the period of reversing traditional humanities, characterized by a determination to destroy old methods and an insatiable appetite for theory, came the pragmatic period of using new methods and operational systems. "Real problems are being raised now, such as 'Create a dictionary with a spell check for a secretary.' You wonder how you should structure the words."? There was a generational divide; the new generation felt that the battles of the sixties were over to the extent that it perceived tradition as having been abolished once and for all. Research was possible, armed with goals that were both new and integrated within modern technologies.
Some structuralist aspirations were abandoned, however. The most scientistic of the structuralisms-Greimassian semiotics, which wanted to discover the truth of meaning in every language on the basis of the semiotic square alone-is today a marginal branch of linguistic activity at the edges of the semiotics of religious discourse. The science that semiotics wanted to become cohabits well with religious exegesis. "No pastor in France is unfamiliar with semiotics since these people still have some faith and accept the rules of the game of not speaking about the referent."8 In Quebec, for example, the only group to survive the wane of semiotic thinking analyzes evangelical texts.
Paul Valadier, the former director of the Jesuit journal Etudes, recognizes that one of structuralism's great merits was to have introduced "a new interpretation of biblical texts."? Deconstructing Scripture was fully integrated into the structural vogue of 1960-65. Valadier recalls attending a convention of moralist and exegetical theologians on the semiotic approach to Scripture during this period. As in other disciplinary research, the historical model seemed to have flagged in its systematic search for setting the text in a specific cultural milieu defined in time and space. This tended to mechanistically reduce a text to its origins. "Structuralism helped us consider the fact of having a tale that was worth something as SUCh."lO This attention to storytelling made it possible to restore creativity, along with the multiple variations of similar episodes in the life of Christ as told by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. But Valadier observed that the model was slightly worn, and tended to be repetitive. Structural semiotics in biblical matters continues, nonetheless, in a work group led by Louis Panier at the Catholic University of Lyons.'!
Francoise Heritier-Auge: Beyond Levi-Strauss "A must read, henceforth," was the way Le Monde entitled the article announcing the publication of Levi-Strauss's View from Afar when it came out in 1983.12 Indeed, the waning of the structuralist model did not carry away with it the master and initiator of this current of thought. Levi-Strauss's method continued to inspire a good number of anthropologists, and a good part of the discipline. The Laboratory of Social Anthropology continued its scientific work in Levi-Strauss's tracks. Young anthropologists adopted his procedures, methods, and inspiration, even if theirs was a modernized version closer to cognitive anthropology, a tendency clearly corresponding to Levi-Strauss's own evolution toward naturalist structuralism.
Francoise Heritier-Auge, an extremely talented successor to Levi-Strauss, took over at the Laboratory of Social Anthropology in 1982. In 1984, she was named to the chair of comparative study of African societies at the College de France. Her work on kinship rules, marriage, and filiation in the Omaha systems descends directly from Levi-Strauss's structuralism.P
Her inaugural lesson at the College de France did, however, show that she wanted to do more than simply manage the legacy, and work to enrich it by going in new directions and taking on new problems that reemphasized the scientific interest of the work. This was why she disregarded the opposition between structural immobility and the contingency of historical changes. "Every system, however articulated, manages openings, equivocal fringes, and weaknesses that let innovation take hold as a result of historical shocks.">' In addition, she saw society as a whole and not only as an ensemble of cultural entities, all the more so since African societies inextricably link three orders-meteorological, biological, and social-forged into a single signifying whole.
Heritier-Auge remained loyal to the spirit of Levi-Strauss when she contrasted two opposing modes of anthropological thinking. The first refers the incommunicable diversity of human cultures back to universals in which this diversity dissolves. The second mode, to which she subscribed, "associates the variable phenomenological given of societies to a few invariable, underlying mechanisms that order and assign meaning to this given."15
The most important departure from Levi-Strauss had to do with the body. For Francoise Heritier-Auge, the body and its humors played a central role in the study of symbolic representation. She was neither a culturalist nor a relativist, but set her research within a structural perspective in order to highlight the invariants that characterized the human mind and could restore a universal grammar. Not that she favored neuronal ideas, but she wanted to find out how the mind worked, beyond social and cultural differences, using the ancient the-mata inscribed in the body, and sexual difference. "I think that there is a unity in the human mind, that there are limited possibilities, and that the human mind is part of observation."16 The grammar she planned to restore had claims to universality. This was part of her desire to surpass the Levi-Straussian framework, which, especially in Mythologiques, essentially focused on the Amerindian cultural zone.
The second difference was to start with the specific human body, and to derive all representational systems from it. Yet, "the most elementary thing of all, and against which human intelligence bangs its head, is the difference between the sexes."1? This opposition lets us understand that not all kinship possibilities have been realized, since certain systems that exist nowhere would introduce the superiority of women over men in the basic brother/sister couple. "Thus there is a constant in all human societies everywhere, which is masculine domination."^ This is what Francoise Heritier-Auge called the differential valence of the sexes, which helps explain the choice of certain kinship systems and their rootedness in the body, in the articulation of the biological and the social.
Heritier-Auge encountered an incongruous kinship system in her work on the Samo in Burkina Faso. "I began by looking at this the way a hen looks at a knife,"19 before realizing that she was in fact observing classical rules of semicomplex marriage systems. She carefully studied a series of Samo villages in which she collected genealogies by cross-referencing many sources of information. In addition, her informers helped her construct a kinship system and its conceivable marriages, by imagining all possible solutions to kinship. This participatory fieldwork was complicated since "the most experienced person in the world cannot immediately answer the question, 'What do you call the daughter of the daughter of the sister of the father of your mother, and can you marry her?' First, you have to represent this in a diagram. "20 So she invented some simple ways to symbolize and went on to construct diagrams of from eight to ten generations, using little shells for women, stones or bits of glass for men, matches for the relationships and filiations. She could define the possibilities as well as the limits and transitions between the different zones.
In the second stage of the analysis, the information was entered into a database, which made it possible to characterize these practices as similar to the Omaha system, which declares that two individuals of the same sex born of the same couple are identical, but that if they are of different sexes, their difference is absolute. The differential valence between the sexes played a major role, and if the child born of a couple considered that the brother of his father was also his father and the sister of his mother was also his mother, by contrast, a sister is always considered-whether she is older or younger-to be the daughter of her brother. "She belongs to the next generation; so that the first travelers to discover the Indians in America and who saw ninety-year-old men calling a five-year-old girl their mother thought that they really were dealing with savages who could not distinguish between their mothers and these children. "21
Starting with this kinship area, Francoise Heritier-Auge began to examine all the bodily humors in their relationship with the social realm, and see some general structural coherence among the thought systems, irrespective of particularities of any given society. She looked for a universal grammar applicable to anthropology, starting with the body and the questions about the fertility-sterility opposition. Since the human mind worked by association, Heritier-Auge borrowed a biological metaphor of self-structured chains. "If you think about fertility, you automatically think about sterility. If you contrast fertility with sterility, you think about sexuality, which leads you to think about the body's humors: milk, sperm, blood. The idea is that these concepts function in self-structuring chains."22 In general, all of the links in the chain are present, even if some are missing or certain ones function as a hub leading in many potential directions or to particular conclusions. "This lets us describe anamorphoses as well as tomographies, which is to say clean cuts, and allows us to consider a conceptual field as the whole of potential choices. "23
Levi-Straussian structural fertility thus continued to bear fruit, as it were, despite different themes expressing what had been initially repressed-s-Francoise Heritier-Auge's corporeal referent, and the natural referent in Philippe Descola's work. In the thesis he defended in 1983 and later published, Descola explored the symbolism and practice in Ashuar ecology, a jivaro group living in Equatorial Amazonia whose different forms of socializing nature he examined.>'
Like Levi-Strauss, he wanted to go beyond the nature/culture, real/symbolic, mythological/technological dyads, His comparisons of the forms of socializing nature and systems of natural representation shifted Levi-Strauss's viewpoint "by questioning the extremely heuris-tically fruitful idea in Mythologiques of an absolute nature/culture distinction."25 Analyzing a specific jivaro society showed that the distinctions varied and were not systematically organized around a man/nature opposition.
Nature returned to the fore, where for Levi-Strauss it had been an accessory in the lexicon of natural objects from which human groups select a limited number of signifying elements. Nature was a receptacle, a passive referent held at bay. "In this case, nature plays a very secondary role, whereas human nature, the structure of language and of the mind, and therefore the structure of the brain is the hose directed toward nature. "26 Domesticated nature and the body returned, clearly demonstrating how much ground had been covered since the initial postulates paring away the referential context, and relegating it to a zone beyond the sign.
New Semiological Vitality
The semiological program today is certainly less ambitious than it was in 1966, but it perseveres and even gains ground that seemed to resist it in the past. Philippe Hamon's work focused on description, ignored and undefined until then, leading it out of its "methodological degree zero."27 Hamon appropriated different descriptive forms (chronogra-phy, topography, prosopography, ethopeia, prosopopoeia) in order to analyze their historical evolution. Until the Middle Ages, description "generally belonged to the epideictic genre, which demanded systematic description, especially in the form of praise, of certain people, places, moments in the year, monuments, or socially privileged objects. "28 Literature was to avoid description, which threatened the homogeneity of the literary work, and keep to its strictly social function of expressing an activity with a specific goal.
It was only at the end of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth that the descriptive genre became independent of other textual practices. A new aesthetics was born around the character/decor/reader triad "description becoming this sort of tonal operator orienting the reader's consumption of the text at the heart of a general aesthetics of homogeneity."29 Hamon looked at the formal range of literary possibilities of expression not only for its internal structure, but as part of a particular episteme that needed to be his-toricized. Assimilating the structuralist program also meant readdressing the referential framework, which clearly pointed to a historical ethic bearing an aesthetics undergoing change.
For many, Saussure's distinctions, the phonological work of the Prague Circle, of Jakobson, and of Trubetzkoy were the sine qua non for producing scientific linguistic work. Even if Bernard Laks considered Chomsky's work to be the veritable expression of science in the discipline, he still believed that the structuralist paradigm needed to persevere and that its legacy had to have its place within the most powerfully scientific paradigm. He and others assimilated the foundations of structuralism; they concurred that the ancestors and initiators had played a major role, even if they were convinced that certain of the positions of the period were no longer valid.
Remarking on the prematurity of the hopes of a collaboration between linguists and literature types, Nicolas Ruwet argued that Roman jakobson's ambitions incarnated the most unbounded hopes and were therefore somewhat responsible for the disappointment. Ruwet found the program that jakobson defined in Linguistics and Poetics to be reasonable, but "the way in which Jakobson formulated it probably led to some confusion,"3o for four reasons. First, jakob-son's style did not distinguish between hypotheses that were in fact affirmations, and arguments serving as demonstrations. Second, he defined the linguistic aspects of poetics, considered the "goal ... of the message as such, and emphasizing the message for its own sake,"31 which gave rise to every possible confusion around the nature of the message: was it content or was it form? And this led to the absurd idea that poetic language was its own referent. Ruwet thought that jakobson wrongly used tropes to reduce poetry to a binary opposition wherein "he assimilated metaphor to the principle of equivalence and metonymy to contiguity. "32 Third, jakobson had underestimated the role of syntax, the spinal column of poetic language, and the Chom-skyan realm of predilection. Finally, Ruwet saw a certain lag between jakobson's theoretical propositions and their practical applications. "Practice is often one jump ahead of theory, and concrete descriptions are richer than explicit theoretical propositions.... If I were to exaggerate slightly, I'd say that for jakobson, the reverse is true, at least in poetics. "33
In cinema, Christian Metz's work opened up whole new realms of cinematic semiology. To be sure, it attracted less attention than the critics' weekly film reviews, and no longer harbored the same hope as it had in the sixties. But it was nonetheless important for analyzing cinematic production. There was also a clear evolution in this area, particularly since the assimilation of the structural grid. Marc Vernet, for example, could claim that signification was structurally organized, but also that the stories told in films had an ideological dimension that had to be considered in order for the structure to function for the film spectator. "The pathos, the hook, comes essentially from conflicts in values, much more than from sentimentality."34
Whereas traditional criticism tended to see cinema reinvent itself with every new filmmaker and express specific and active historical situations, Vernet looked more to the permanent aspects. For him, American cinema was an enduring myth, consumed by Americans who invested it with an ideology deeply rooted in the religion that produced their enduring value system. A similar tension ran through American film narratives of different genres, underscoring the contrast between the concern for homogeneity and the reality of a young federal nation of immigrants. Cinema operated as a "founding myth for the American nation," to use Élise Marienstras's term.c> It made the differences between eras relative and brought to the screen the concern for successful social cohesion in a territory the size of a continent. It thus made it possible to integrate a population that sensed its exclusion or eccentricity from the active poles of American culture-New York, Chicago, San Francisco. "That's why I do not see any difference between westerns and detective films."36
In both cases, the same kind of tension and different divisions of power between local and federal levels were played out. Westerns dramatized the conflict between a general system organized around the railroads and the logic of the coherence of local groups. Detective films contrasted the private eye with the FBI and raised the problem of the necessary articulation between these two protective logics: protecting the neighborhood, and defending and maintaining law and order on a national scale. "I am blown away by the permanence of forms, the permanence of structures. When Americans say that Hollywood did not change a bit between 1917 and 1960, I agree completely."37
Such an approach kept to structuralist givens, and ignored the connection between the work and the filmmaker. That is why such analyses ran counter to the biographical approach of contemporary cinematic discourse. In fact it appeared easier to understand a filmmaker's entire oeuvre; "there is this very fetishistic feeling among cinephiles of possessing the object as a book, whereas he generally feels that he is losing it, that it is inaccessible, which in fact is part of its charm."38
Even if it made less of a splash, cinematic semiology continued, albeit less visibly and with less of a concern for power. It no longer hoped to cover all ground or believed that it was a superb machine that could deal with everything like a superrobot that could produce the ultimate meaning given all the right ingredients. This semiology had to introduce the referent, whether in the form of ideology, as in Marc Vernet's work, or of psychoanalysis, in Christian Metz's later work, which went from studying cinematic narrative structures to the metapsychology of the spectator. "I went from the message to the receiver." 39 Removed from styles, semiological research enriched cinematographic readings and made it possible to diffuse a certain number of analytical tools, which were then assimilated by criticism. Today, everyone agrees that films are coded, even if there is no systematic study of each individual film, whereas "ten years ago, this idea was much less accepted, and in fact, was barely accepted at all. "40
Francois Ewald and Foucault's Legacy
Foucault left no school or orthodoxy behind him, but he so marked an entire generation that many felt inspired by his work without having any hagiographic relationship with it. This was the spirit in which, on May 31, 1986, thirty academics who had worked with Michel Foucault created an association that eventually produced the Michel Foucault Center. Its president was Francois Ewald. This center aspired to be a meeting place for work on or inspired by Foucault, and to bring together the most complete collection possible of available archives.f! An international colloquium was organized January 9-II, 1988, at the Rond-Point Theater, where talks were given by more than thirty international researchers (later published by Seuil).42 The colloquium demonstrated how many ways there were to elucidate Fou-cault's work, and made it possible to set these into the context of the history of philosophy, with praise or criticism for their ethical and political consequences.
Foucauldian insights continued to affect dynamic thinking and they found an heir in Francois Ewald, whose work on law was quite clearly inspired by Foucault's deconstruction. Author of The Providence State,43 Ewald targeted the philosophy of law and its evidence just as Foucault had attacked psychiatric discourse.
Ewald contrasted the philosophy of law with the idea that law exists only through legal practices. Current concepts merely reflected these practices, whose genealogy remained unwritten. Applying Fou-cauldian historicization to law, he demystified the myth of legal unity, which he saw operating as a plurality within the space of dispersion. "Reducing or generalizing something is always false. Philosophies of law always work by assimilation."44
As Ewald saw it, law, which is essentially civil law, was not really based on the fact of punishing, but on the fact of dividing sums of money. This was to be understood concretely rather than through its repressive nature. "Another completely Foucauldian problem is the way in which objectivity is established, whether as a science or knowledge that passes for being true. "45
In law, Ewald encountered the dialectization between power and knowlege that ran throughout Foucault's work and that had immense heuristic value here. What characterizes a legal judgment is that its validity stems from its objectivity, not arbitrary decisions. This objectivity evolves and needed to be historicized, as Foucault had done. "Law is a very Foucauldian object since it is also simultaneously an entirely historical object. "46
Law evolves continuously. The Civil Code is generally thought to have gone unchanged since 1804, but barely a single article has remained the same as when it was written. The researcher must painstakingly correlate the multitude of legal practices, by historicizing them. Once again, we hear overtones of Foucault, for whom "law is a technique. "47 Instead of viewing law as starting with a basic axiom from which legal practices derive, the reverse approach was to be taken, revealing the diversity of these practices and the partitions that confine each legal expert to a particular area. "Legal practitioners never have anything to do with the law in their practices. "48 Insurance lawyers generally know their area and no other, whereas the constitutional expert knows nothing about civil law. As much by his object of investigation as by his methodology, Francois Ewald demonstrated the ongoing productivity of Foucault's insights.
The Epistemological Line
Foucault's nomination at the College de France to the chair of comparative epistemology, which was shepherded by Gilles Gaston-Granger, as we saw in volume 1, also bore witness to the continuity of the concern for epistemology that dominated the period of triumphant structuralism. Gaston-Granger saw his work going from his master, Gueroult, to Foucault, via Hyppolite. And yet he did not go as far as Hyppolite had in terms of historicizing knowlege. His choice of the name of the chair reveals this: the term "history" is absent. "The philosophy of science, as I have already tried to practice it for many years, does not emphasize history. "49 He took a less relativistic view than Foucault had, and, like Kuhn, distinguished between two kinds of evolution of knowledge: socialization, in which different paradigms compete with each other (the protoscience stage, still strongly influenced by ideology), and a second mode involving a rupture based on which knowledge becomes truly scientific. In keeping with Bachelard and Foucault, Gaston-Granger gave priority to discontinuities ("The essential epistemological fact is rupture"),50 but this observation did not imply that there was no cumulative scientific progress or the use of knowledge prior to the new scientific language. "These successive explosions of theoretical systems make true progress possible." 51
There were continuities, therefore, rather than enigmatic reversals of weightless epistemic bases that might obscure the underlying progress. For Gaston-Granger, the epistemologist must distinguish two kinds of relationships between knowledge and its external factors: the first protoscientific stage during which the context plays a major role, and established scientific knowledge, after the epistemological break, in the course of which "exogenous determinations stop playing the role of setting its internal development into motion."52
Gaston-Granger rejected the false alternatives of continuity and discontinuity; the epistemologist's work was to spot dynamic imbalances that alone can help reconcile the creative invention of science and the framework of prior activity in which it is set.
The Liberal Filiation
The liberal branch, essentially represented by Jean-Marie Benoist, author of The Structural Revolution,53 was another aspect of structuralism's assimilation. Benoist essentially took his inspiration from structuralism, and his work evolved in many directions. The nature of the collection he directed at PUF until his death in July 1990 was expressed by its title, "Crossroads,"54 which already suggested its inter-disciplinarity and fundamentally epistemological concerns. Gerald Holton's The Scientific Inuention.i» which Benoist published in 1982, also belonged to the new thinking opened up by Bachelard and structuralism. A physicist and historian of science, Holton emphasized the fundamental role of themata-theoretical images that underlie a scientific activity that is not reducible to empirical observation-in scientific creativity. In another register and in the same collection, John Rajchman's Faucault or the Freedom to Knour» demonstrated how fruitful the structuralist transition was, and its ongoing polemic against all forms of positivism. "It's a search for the fundamental imaginary structures and epistemes, of what is rich in epistemological configura-tions before they have been rationalized or purified by a positivist superego. That's what I owe to structural intelligence." 57
Benoist did not limit himself to epistemology. He also saw structuralism as a very productive heuristic tool in political philosophy. In The Tools ofFreedom,58 he proposed to base the free city and civil society on the social contract and the separation of powers in order to establish a "guarantor state" that holds a managerial state at bay. His primary inspiration for working out what he presented as a critique of liberal reason was Kantianism minus its transcendental subject. The issue was to consider the multipolar whole of civil society in which the libertarian and the liberal dialogue with one other. "Structuralism helped us better think about the questions of the political unconscious, of overdetermination of a certain number of schemas, of entities to be 'deideologized' and 'deontologized."'59
At the end of his life, jean-Marie Benoist extended structural intelligibility to studies on polemology, defense, and strategy, by making the notion of front relative using essentially symbolic procedures called indirect strategies. Since the supreme art of warfare consisted in making the enemy give up without fighting, it was important to see the theory of dissuasion as a set of inter dependencies and to place this theory "in its structural richness.t'<"
The Marxist Filiation
Marxism also continued to draw inspiration from the structural method. Maurice Godelier's effort to reconcile the two offers a good example. Proximate yet distant from Althusserian ideas, Godelier never argued for a mechanistic Marxism but saw an increasingly muted boundary between material and ideal. "Some piece of the ideal is at the heart of man's material relationship with nature. "61
He broke with the simple causality characteristic of Marxist thinking at the time, and made anthropology receptive to economics and to social relations of production, something that Levi-Straussian structuralism had not done. Godelier rediscovered Marx in the idea of social totality, the dynamics of reproduction, and the concern to discover "a hierarchy of constraints and functions that allow this reproduction.'^ Environment, for him, was not a simple repertory of constraints and techniques but was also defined by its imaginary dimensions. His idea of productive forces included the structural perspective on the mind and language, which he considered essential.
Levi-Strauss's work on kinship structures and the symbolic thus led Marxist anthropology, as Godelier conceived it, to look at the importance of the ideal in reality, its fundamental role in behavior norms, in value judgments that no longer simply reflected reality, but were active interpretations in its reproduction.
Even if the revolution was basically over, the diverse uses of the structural method in very different disciplines by researchers totally opposed to each other ideologically show that despite the highly proclaimed burial of structuralism, it continued to infuse new disciplines with new thinking.
The Systemic Extension
The many rapprochements taking place around the idea of system and of a science of systems using theories of self-organization have something to do with the structuralism of the sixties, despite the perceptible shifts in the new paradigm. First, like structuralism, systemism was defined above all by its project rather than its object. We find the same articulation around the most modern scientific progress, the same concern for multidimensionality and pluridisciplinary that redrew disciplinary boundaries. The troika of structuralism-linguistics/ anthropology/psychoanalysis-which wanted to dissolve man, was replaced by a whole constellation of communication sciences: information science, computation science, cognitive science, and organizational science. In both cases, the cybernetics model-with its notion of systemic self-regulation and then the connection between natural and artificial systems and concepts of functional black boxes, behaviors, and finalized subsystems-played a major role. Defined in 1948 by the mathematician Norbert Wiener, cybernetics could invest and modelize biology, electronics, economics, and psychology. From structuralism to systemism, one found the same globalist postulate according to which the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and the same concern for universals. The science of systems could be seen partly as the offspring of two founding paradigms: cybernetics and structuralism.O
And yet, because of a certain number of fundamental shifts, the science of systems could not be reduced to a simple adoption of the structuralist legacy. During the structuralist period, order, its reproduction, and invariability took precedence, but these slowly yielded to theories about the emergence and order born of noise and disorder. These neither objectified man nor reduced him to a dead body about to be autopsied, but rather made it possible to conceive of such essential notions as independence, interaction, and dialogics among the different levels-biological, anthropological, and social. joel de Rosnay saw the systemic revolution as the advent of a new cultures" that included a new concept: after the microscope for the infinitely small, and the telescope for the infinitely large, there was the macroscope for the infinitely complex. This macroscope could filter details and amplify different instances of reality. "There is a common approach that allows us to better understand and describe organized complexity."65 Scholarly work in fact plunged us into a hot universe of events, irreversibility, and smoke, a far cry from the crystalline ambitions of structuralism and its immobile temporality.
Comte, Durkheim, and then structuralism all posited a reified observer, a negated subjectivity, a local closure of analysis using variables belonging to the model, the use of laws as the products of its constants, and nothing else. Today, all of this has been seriously shaken by discoveries that emphasize unforeseeable and irreversible processes of emergence of structured apparatuses. llya Prigogine, Nobel Prize winner in chemistry, worked out a theory of "dissipative structures" that let us understand the creation of order based on disorder. "One of the fundamental discoveries of the last decades is precisely that of the instability of elementary particles. "66 Classical physics gains in levels, and the aleatory plays an increasingly important role.
In this new approach to matter, temporality, which had been perceived as disruptive to the scientific spirit, reclaimed its place at the center of the dialogic process between science, culture, and society. "Yesterday, science spoke to us of eternal laws. Today, it speaks to us about the history of the universe or of matter, whence a clear rapprochement with the social sciences."67 The first theory of self-organizing systems had been worked out in the fifties around Heinz von Foerster and was adopted and applied to living systems in 1972 and largely disseminated by Henri Atlan, a biologist and philoso-pher.s" Atlan popularized the idea of chance as an organizing principle in the form of order through noise.
The other big departure from structuralism was the return of the Subject in this systemic constellation. The observer was completely integrated and invested in his observation. For Edgar Morin, this was essential but did not mean abandoning all forms of objectivity. It did mean abandoning the various scientist illusions. The scholar was firmly rooted in the field he modeled, and the science he favored was indissociable from consciousness.s" Bernard d'Espagnat, a physicist, went farthest in this reintroduction of the Subject. He considered, in fact, that no universe could be conceived independently of the person studying it, given the most recent discoveries. "As I see it, there is a true objectivity, but it is weak. That is what I call intersubjectivity. "70 The return of the Subject, of historicity, of meaning? The so-called hard sciences were softening and offering very new and different directions for the social sciences than those of the grand structural era. These same hard sciences had been heuristically used to sweep those elements from the social sciences. Today, they are the basis for its rehabilitation with an eye to constructing an all-embracing science of man.