Ma Pensée Sauvage – an Explanation

Hey everyone!

My name is Alexander Spalding, and I’m currently interning as a strategy and innovation consultant here in Helsinki.

I recently graduated from a BSc in Social Anthropology from the London School of Economics and Political Science. During this time I was immersed in the world of the qualitative social sciences, interdisciplinary debates about universalised human alterity, and the need for the formulation of actionable solutions that will serve the best interests of mankind. Although I’ve only been out of university for a couple of weeks, I’m already reminiscing of the days when spending protracted amounts of time writing about the world and critically analysing its developments was seen as a legitimate and constructive use of one’s time, and so, in the interest of satisfying my cravings, I thought that it would be a great idea to start this blog.

For those of you who don’t know, the title of this blog stems from the work of acclaimed French structural anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss, who argued that all humans possess the intrinsic ability to partake in what he termed as ‘la Pensée sauvage’ or ‘untamed thought’. Lévi-Strauss saw this kind of cognitive reasoning as being grounded in the use of natural metaphors in explaining how humans interact with each other as well as their surrounding world. For Lévi-Strauss, therefore, the ability to use the surrounding environment as inspiration for communication and social behaviour was something that he believed ran through the lived experience of human beings across the world, which therefore led him to champion his famous theories of societies as being underpinned by semi-rigid structures that perpetually compromise the degree to which individuals can behave with complete autonomy and agency.

‘Just as the individual is not alone in the group, nor anyone in society alone among others, so man is not alone in the universe’ – Claude Lévi-Strauss

Whilst I was at university, I took a course where we had to use a blog very similar to this so as to keep a track of our reading. I originally settled on using this title for that blog because the spirit of Lévi-Strauss’ work heavily resonates with my own philosophy of the world. Although we as humans are embodiments of complex alterity and experiential intersectionality, we all maintain certain kinds of commonalities that allow for us to communicate and understand one another on levels that can sometimes seem rather perplexing and indescribable. Although the topics to be addressed here are multifaceted, and may at times seem frustratingly disjointed, they are all written as part of my deep fascination with what I would call ‘social diagnostics’. The untethered, untamed thoughts constituted herein should therefore be thought of as my way of trying to engage critically with the humanistic alterity that seemingly divides us, with the hope that I can do my part to produce sustainable and actionable resolutions to the evermore-pressing issues that we as a globally-interconnected collective face.