The Savage Mind  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
cultural universal, structural anthropology

The Savage Mind is a work by French anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss, first published in 1962 in French as La Pensée sauvage, translated into English in 1966.

In this work Levi-Strauss suggests that the processes explored in structural mythology are similar in nature to those in science. He suggests that the foundation of structuralism is based upon an innate understanding of the scientific process, which seeks to break down complex phenomena into its component parts and then analyzing the relations between them. The structuralist approach to myth is precisely the same method, and as a method this can be readily applied to literature.

Bricoleur and engineer

Levi-Strauss developed the comparison of the bricoleur and engineer in The Savage Mind. “Bricoleur” has its origin in the old French verb bricoler which refers to extraneous movements in ball games, billiards, hunting, shooting, and riding. It has come to mean one who works with his hands, usually in devious or "crafty" ways when compared to the true craftsman, whom Levi-Strauss equates with the engineer. The bricoleur is adept at many tasks and at putting preexisting things together in new ways. The Engineer deals with projects in their entirety, taking into account the availability of materials and tools required. The bricoleur approximates the mind of "the savage mind" and the engineer approximates the scientific mind. Levi-Strauss says that the universe of the bricoleur is closed, and he is often forced to make do with whatever is at hand, whereas the universe of the engineer is open in that he is able to create new tools and materials. However, both live within a restrictive reality, and so the engineer is forced to consider the preexisting set of theoretical and practical knowledge, of technical means, in a similar way to the bricoleur.





Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "The Savage Mind" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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