Roman Jakobson and the Transition of German Thought to the Structuralist Paradigm

There are of course significant methodological problems with the schematic, “modelising” approach I will pursue here, not least its undeniable vagueness and superficiality. To be sure, my paper will not go further than cursorily mentioning a number of attested personal and conceptual ties between a rather large amount of scholars, without seeking in any serious way to explain and analyse their scope, impact or implications. As such, this paper will also mostly sideline the question of the conceptual relevance of replacing structuralism in the evolutionary context of its origin in 19th Century German thought. These are serious limitations, which I in no way wish to trivialise or brush off. The fact of the matter, however, is that the complexity and richness of the intellectual roots of structuralism in 19th Century German thought, along with the truly astonishing extent to which these roots have been overlooked and neglected (both as historically significant theories in their own right and in specific relation to structuralism), all but preclude a detailed conceptual analysis. As should become obvious in the next paragraphs, there is simply still too much to be investigated, and too many major thinkers, disciplines and intellectual traditions whose impact on structuralism has only just begun to be seriously assessed.

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