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The Savage Mind, Claude Lévi-Strauss (1962)

The way we think, and why

Liel Leibovitz
September 17, 2013

Untamed, argued Lévi-Strauss in his seminal work, the human mind reverts to simple and clear structures, comprising pairs of opposites engaged in intricate relations. With that was born not only the particular discipline of structural anthropology, but also an entire field of creative and intellectual thought. A rabbi’s grandson, Lévi-Strauss had little explicit to say about his faith, but it’s not hard to see his life’s work—an outsider looking at strange and foreign cultures and weaving them back into the universal whole—as quintessentially Jewish.

Liel Leibovitz is editor-at-large for Tablet Magazine and a host of its weekly culture podcast Unorthodox and daily Talmud podcast Take One. He is the editor of Zionism: The Tablet Guide.