The lectures that Ferdinand de Saussure gave at the University of Geneva (1907-1913) constituted a breakthrough in how we perceive the relationship between language and thought. Whereas, up until this point, thought was generally considered to precede language, Saussure argued that language and thought constituted each other, and could not be separated. Indeed, in a famous metaphor, he likened language and thought to the recto and verso of a piece of paper: one cannot cut what is on one side without cutting what is on the other. Saussure’s linguistic theories would later constitute a major influence on Western thought, and particularly on the anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss, the phenomenological philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and the psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan. They would also…

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Citation: Mevel, Pierre-Alexis. "Ferdinand de Saussure". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 12 May 2008 [, accessed 03 December 2023.]

3943 Ferdinand de Saussure 1 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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