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Product Details

  • Series: For Beginners
  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: For Beginners; Reprint edition (August 21, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1934389102
  • ISBN-13: 978-1934389102
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #45,196 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Donald Palmer is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the College of Marin in Kentfield, California. Currently he is Visiting Assistant Professor of Philosophy at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina. He is also author of Sartre For Beginners, Looking at Philosophy, and Does the Center Hold?.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 27, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book undoubtedly represents the basics for any inquiry into the major ideas of structuralism and poststructuralism. Palmer's exquisite, synthetic introduction into these socio-political and discursive phenomena is enlightening. He travels with us from the Swiss Ferdinand de Saussure's semiological system and the structuralist mythical order of the French/Belgian Claude Lévi-Strauss, to the post/structuralist Roland Barthes and Michel Foucault, Lacanian psychoanalysis, and, finally, to the master-poststructuralist, Jacques Derrida himself. Palmer's approach represents perhaps the easiest, albeit comprehensively explanatory, work into concepts otherwise unfairly considered esoteric postmodern artifacts. Nothing will give you a better first acquaintance to the "sign", "signifier", "signified", "la langue", "la parôle", "intertextuality", "indeterminacy of meaning", "writerly" and "readerly" texts, "deconstruction", "dissemination", "epistème", and "logocentrism" among others, than this pleasant, joyful (inter)text, filled with highly inspired sketches. The glossary at the end of the book is itself a treasure. Read this book in the bus, airplane, or train and (post) structuralism will become your friend. Don't let the detractors of postmodernism intimidate you. Palmer's book provides you with the best tool for fighting back, this time with knowledge.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Yaumo Gaucho on July 9, 2000
Format: Paperback
I came to this book having read Derrida, Foucault, Saussure, etc, but not knowing about Structuralism as an -ism; just about the individual authors and their works.
This book helped me think of them as a unified movement, and aided me in finding commonalities in their works.
I imagine that this book would be even more useful for someone who hasn't read these authors; that way, you could get the general map before setting off into detailed inquiry (I did it in reverse!).
The explanations and illustrations are genuinely humorous, and the book is a lot of fun. Of course, as with any book of this type, many things are drastically oversimplified, and many things presented as facts are actually the author's opinions -- but that comes with the territory of attempting to sum up a whole philosophical movement in a short little text.
Overall, excellent in all regards, and a very worthwhile read, before or even after getting familiar with the original texts.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Kenaz Filan on April 7, 2003
Format: Paperback
"Structuralism" and "Poststructuralism" have become buzzwords, bandied about frequently but only rarely understood. The concepts are difficult, especially for someone who doesn't have a background in philosophy, linguistics, or social sciences. To make matters worse, many of the most famous and influential of the Poststructuralist thinkers revel in obscurity, deliberately making their writing as abtruse and convoluted as possible.
This is an excellent introduction to the concepts of Structuralism and Poststructuralism. Palmer studies a few of the most important scholars on the topic -- beginning with Saussure, the father of Structuralism and of modern linguistics and going on to Lacan, Foucault, Barthes, and Levi-Strauss. He touches upon their major contributions to the subject, giving explanations which can be grasped by any bright and interested layman.
If you are interested in studying these thinkers, I would definitely recommend checking out this book first. It will provide you with a good grounding and keep you from feeling utterly mystified as you plumb the murky and obscure depths of modern philosophy.
My only complaints are relatively minor. First, he makes a passing statement that Plato was "hardly bourgeois" ... when in fact Plato was quite clearly a bourgeois, even a reactionary, thinker. Second, the drawings are regrettable: Palmer is much better as a philosopher and writer than as an illustrator. Still, this is one of the best introductory texts available on the subject. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Stryc9 on July 2, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am by no means a scholar or student, just some that wanted to learn a little more about these words I kept hearing. The book turned out to be pretty informative and as far as I can tell pretty accurate. That being said, my complaint with the book was that it appears to have been aimed at about a high school reading level. I found it to be a little too simplistic for my tastes. I'm sure there are folks that this book would be perfect for, unfortunately, it was not what I was looking for. I was hoping for a little more depth.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Kristine on March 28, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This text was used in my undergraduate anthropological theory course as a way to learn about the structural and post-structural movements in a fun and relaxed way. However, it did not work.

The text is largely based on comic-style pictures. A cursory glance might lead one to think, "Wow, this sure looks like fun! What an easy way to learn about these complicated theories!" However, I did not finish this book with a firm understanding of any of the concepts presented. I did learn some new vocabulary, but I did not leave with a solid understanding of any of it, nor would I be able to explain it to another person.

The book quickly became irritating. It was not enjoyable or fun. The other books used in my course, which were much more clear and to-the-point, were far more helpful in explaining these concepts. This was a waste of two hours of my life.

Most of the other students in my course agreed with my view. However, there were a couple who enjoyed this text as a break from the other books we were using, but these students were also not able to adequately explain structuralism/post-structuralism after the reading.

If you are a professor who insists on using this book in a course (which I do not recommend), I would highly recommend assigning a different reading on structuralist and post-structuralist thought BEFORE having your students read this book. Perhaps starting this book with some understanding might make it easier to grasp the points made by the silly comics and pictures.
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