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Claude Lévi-Strauss died last week at 100. I first heard of him when I read Structural Anthropology in college. He identified myth as a type of speech through which a language could be discovered. His theory attempted to explain how myths are similar across cultures. He posited fundamental units of myth, mythemes.
Lévi-Strauss’s goal was to simplify empirical data into generalized relations among mythemes that allowed for predictive laws. For him, a myth consists of binary oppositions. Influenced by Hegel, he believed in binary oppositions and their unification in the thesis, antithesis, and synthesis triad.
“The world began without the human race and will certainly end without it.”
— Claude Lévi-Strauss, 1955