Book cover depicting four men building some kind of structure with TinkerToys

Structuralism and Poststructuralism for Beginners

by For Beginners and Donald D. Palmer

“What is Structuralism? How is it possible? And once the structures of Structuralism have been discovered, how is Poststructuralism possible?”

Thus begins Don Palmer’s Structuralism and Poststructuralism For Beginners. If Nobel or Pulitzer ever made a prize for making the most difficult philosophers and ideas accessible to the greatest number of people, one of the leading candidates would certainly be Professor Don Palmer. From his Sartre For Beginners and Kierkegaard For Beginners to his Looking at Philosophy, author/illustrator Don Palmer has the magic touch when it comes to translating the most brutally difficult ideas into language and images that non-specialists can understand.

“In its less dramatic versions,” writes Palme, “structuralism is just a method of studying language, society, and the works of artists and novelists. But in its most exuberant form, it is a philosophy, an overall worldview that provides an account of reality and knowledge.” Poststructuralism is a loosely knit intellectual movement, comprised mainly of ex-structuralists, who either became dissatisfied with the theory or felt they could improve it.