International Studies in Phenomenology and Philosophy

Journal | Volume | Article


Roman Jakobson and the transition of German thought to the structuralist paradigm

Patrick Flack(Fribourg University)

pp. 1-15


This short paper, rather than providing a thorough analysis of the very broad theme entailed by its title, aims only to programmatically outline the contours of a general framework for future research on structuralism and its genealogy. In essence, I wish to argue that mainstream approaches to structuralism’s history need to be significantly broadened, not only to better account for the contributions of Eastern and Central European thinkers, but also to take into full consideration structuralism’s deep, complex and rich roots in 19th Century German thought. To make this point, I will succinctly compare three distinct historiographical models of structuralism (“French”, “East-West”, “Jakobsonian”), each of which provides a very rough and selective, yet highly contrastive map of the intellectual and personal networks that underpinned structuralism's development up to World War II. Thanks to this basic comparative exercise, I hope to highlight the reductionistic, limiting nature of the first two models with regards to the more complete (if not exhaustive or definitive) third one and to cast further light on Jakobson’s crucial function as a communicator, synthesiser and passer of ideas between scholars, disciplines and intellectual traditions.


Albrecht Jörn (1994) „Hermann Paul, ein Strukturalist ante litteram?“, In: R. Baum (Hrsg.), Lingua et traditio: Geschichte der Sprachwissenschaft und der neueren Philologien, Tübingen, Narr, 393–408.

Ambros Veronika (2009) Structuralism(s) today: Paris, Prague, Tartu. New York, Legas.

Culler Jonathan (1975) Structuralist poetics: Structuralism, linguistics and the study of literature. Ithaca, Cornell University Press.

Dmitriev Aleksander (2002) „Le contexte européen (français et allemand) du formalisme russe“. Cahiers du monde russe 43 (2-3), 423–440.

Dmitrieva Nina (2007) Russkoe neokantianstvo: "Marburg" v Rossii: istoriko-filosofskie očerki. Moskva, Rosspėn.

Dosse François (1991) Histoire du structuralisme: I. Le champ du signe, 1945-1966. Paris, La Découverte.

Dosse François (1992) Histoire du structuralisme: II. Le chant du cygne, 1967 à nos jours. Paris, la Découverte.

Flack Patrick (2013) „Hendrik Pos: une philosophie entre idée et vécu“, In: H. Pos, Ecrits sur le langage, Genève-Lausanne, sdvig press, 9–26.

Flack Patrick (2017) „Roman Jakobson i fenomenologičeskij moment strukturnoj lingvistiki“, In: N.S. Avtonomova (ed.), Роман Осипович Якобсон, Moskva, Rosspėn, 152–167.

Hoskovec Tomáš (2011) „Synchronie et diachronie au centre et à la périphérie: Du foyer pragois de structuralisme fonctionnel“. Cahiers Ferdinand de Saussure 64, 49–72.

Köhnke Klaus Christian (1991) The rise of Neo-kantianism. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Maigné Carole (2013) Formalisme esthétique: Prague et Vienne au XIXe siècle. Paris, Vrin.

Mulligan Kevin, Cometti Jean-Pierre (2001) La Philosophie autrichienne de Bolzano à Musil: Histoire et Actualité. Paris, Vrin.

Raynaud Savina (1990) Il Circolo Linguistico di Praga: Radici storiche e apporti teorici. Milano, Vita e pensiero.

Rivkin Julie, Ryan Michael (1998) Literary theory: An anthology. Oxford, Blackwell.

Robins Robert H (1967) A short history of linguistics. London, Longmans.

Rollinger Robin (2008) Austrian phenomenology: Brentano, Husserl, Meinong, and others on mind and object. Heusenstamm, Ontos.

Scholes Robert (1974) Structuralism in literature: An introduction. New Haven, Yale University Press.

Seifrid Thomas (2005) The word made self: Russian writings on language, 1860 - 1930. Ithaca, Cornell University Press.

Selden Raman (2005) From formalism to poststructuralism. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Sériot Patrick (1999) Structure et totalité: Les origines intellectuelles du structuralisme en Europe centrale et orientale. Paris, Presses universitaires de France.

Seuren Pieter (1998) Western linguistics: An historical introduction. Oxford, Blackwell.

Sladek Ondrej (2006) Český strukturalismus po poststrukturalismu: sbornik z kolokvia pořádaného Ústavem pro českou literaturu AV ČR k připomenutí třicátého výročí úmrtí literárního vědce a estetika Jana Mukařovského. Brno, Host.

Publication details

Published in:

Aurora Simone (2016) Acta Structuralica 1.

Pages: 1-15

DOI: 10.19079/actas.2016.1.1

Full citation:

Flack Patrick (2016) „Roman Jakobson and the transition of German thought to the structuralist paradigm“. Acta Structuralica 1, 1–15.