A note on Levi-Strauss's distinction between concept and sign from The Savage Mind (1962).

"One way indeed in which signs can be opposed to concepts is that whereas concepts aim to be wholly transparent with respect to reality, signs allow and even require the interposing and incorporation of a certain amount of human culture into reality" (20).

"Concepts thus appear like operators opening up the set being worked with and signification like the operator of its reorganization, which neiher extends nor renews it and limits itself to obtaining the group of its transformations" (20).

Since Levi-Strauss draws the parallel between scientific thought and savage thought to that of ones that operate on concepts and signs, respectively, then a good intellectual excersize for us would be to think about the various layers of society and reality that are implicated in conceptualization and signification. Conceptualization, afterall, is also a sign. How is Levi-Strauss trying to distinguish or differentiate science from savage thought in this case?

One way to think about this problem, I propose, is to try and figure out what ideal social arrangment is needed to satisfy an opening up of language and reality for Levi-Strauss. If all thought is mediated by langauge, which is inescapably social, then might it be that savage thought is mediated by a specific social and cultural structure which is distinct from scientific thought? My question is then to what extend are the social arragements and configurations different in signification and conceptualization as discussed by Levi-Strauss. (Also, here, note the connection of this problem to Kuhn who, as Mike brought up in class today, 1/31/06, published The Structure of Scientific Revolutions in 1962.)