Two French theorists, Claude Levi Strauss and Roland Barthes developed the idea of binary opposites as part of a late twentieth century theory of the meaning called ‘Structuralism’. They work on the fact that reality must always remain ‘out there’ e.g. reality can only exist in the form of ideas e.g. we can get no closer to reality than a form of an idea. Our meaning must be ‘culturally created’. This means that the meaning we accept for things is not our meaning as it comes from someone else.
The theorists when even further into the theory. They both realised that meaning can never reside entirely within a thing in itself but only from a complex appreciation of a things opposite- what they called its Binary Opposite. They also said that words and images act as no more than symbols for ideas and make meaning because of the difference between opposing ideas. Barthes suggested, as members of a culture or group, we subconsciously apply a very similar set of binaries when we interpret meaning. These binary pairs work to shape our particular interpretations and responses to a ‘thing’. A system of differences between one idea and an Binary Opposite opposing idea
This man Jacques Derrida ( a French Philosopher) took the idea even further. He notices that one half of a binary pair is somehow ‘culturally marked’ as positive and so is more valued within a group, society or culture, while is unmarked opposite is viewed less positively or even negatively. These ideas can be said to represent reality but such labels can never be more than a version of reality.
Coward/Hero – Ideological Idea- shared meaning by members of the same society or culture. Old/Young Strong/Weak Wealthy/Poor Interesting/Boring Pure/Impure Natural Artfical
From putting together this presentation, it has allowed me to research into Binary Opposition. This has helped me to understand the topic more as this is something that I wasn’t sure on previously. Furthermore this presentation has also refreshed what I did already know. From creating this I will now be able to use this to help me revise this topic.