Study Guide

Ferdinand de Saussure - Swiss Smarty Pants for World Domination

Swiss Smarty Pants for World Domination

This group had a bit of a chip on its collective shoulders. Why should French intellectuals get all the credit? Members worked to quash all of the cheese-and-chocolate stereotypes that tended to eclipse the importance of Swiss thinkers on the world stage.

Although actual membership was relatively small (just two people), participants fought against the idea that the Swiss were always neutral by arguing that they actually always had an opinion about something—and that it usually involved the Swiss being better and smarter than everyone else.

Ferdinand de Saussure
President, Administrator in Charge of Membership

Ferdy got tired of correcting people who just assumed that he was French, as if Paris had a monopoly on intellectual insight. He worked at the University of Geneva for a good part of his life and always credited the French breezes off of Lake Geneva as the source of inspiration for his ideas.

Because binaries were one of his pet ideas, he tended to condense things down to France versus Switzerland, which—okay—was a bit reductive.

Jean Piaget
Educator, Epistemologist, Babysitter

Jean was like the Matterhorn of educational thinking. Although he and Ferdinand (the group's other long-term member) didn't have a whole lot of disciplinary overlap, they could always talk about a child's speech acts and how, before acquiring language, babies just saw the world as a mass of churning shapes and colors. Jean was way more into evolution than Ferdinand, but discourse about the words "Mommy" and "Daddy" held endless conversational possibilities.