Lucien Goldmann: A Humanist Socialist & Genetic Structuralist

Lucien Goldmann, born in Bucharest, Romania, pursued studies in law, political economy, literature, and philosophy at various universities, including those in Bucharest, Vienna, and Zurich. He is renowned as a humanist socialist, describing his work as both dialectical and humanist. In the 1960s, Goldmann developed the theory of "genetic structuralism," earning recognition as its founder.

A Shift in Marxist Thought

Goldmann, along with thinkers like Louis Althusser and Pierre Macherey, diverged from the Hegelian line of thought and embraced the structuralist movement. This movement rejected the emphasis on individual agency in favor of understanding broader systems or structures that shape individual agency.

Unlike traditional Marxist views that favored humanist and historicist interpretations of Marx and emphasized authorial intention in literary texts, Althusser's structuralist Marxism rejected the idea of individual creativity. Instead, he saw texts as products of larger mental structures, acknowledging that mental structures are socially constructed. To explain the interplay of larger social forces and principles in literary texts, Goldmann introduced the concept of "homology," which identified parallels between artistic and social forms.

The Theory of Genetic Structuralism

In his book "The Hidden God: A Study of Tragic Vision in the Pensees of Pascal and the Tragedies of Racine," Goldmann attempted to combine Piaget's genetic epistemology with Lukacs' Marxist perspective, giving rise to the theory of genetic structuralism. The book's objective was twofold: to develop a scientific method for studying literary and philosophical works and to establish links between a set of texts with their differences.

Goldmann believed that facts concerning humanity form significant global structures with practical, theoretical, and emotive aspects. He emphasized the scientific study of these structures to comprehend them within a practical perspective guided by a set of values.

Exploring the "tragic vision," Goldmann analyzed the essence of theology, philosophy, and literature, uncovering their unnoticed relationships. His concept of tragic thought focused on the coherent unity of Pensees, studying it through a general method while leaving fragments for readers to evaluate their fit within the general pattern.

Through his innovative approach, Lucien Goldmann left a lasting impact on literary and philosophical studies, enriching the understanding of cultural and social phenomena.

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