Re: Racism and ancient history

Gerold Firl (
3 Jan 1997 21:09:02 GMT

In article <5af2ps$>, Ron Kephart <> writes:

|> I would counter that "culture of individualism" is a contradiction
|> in terms, because culture is acquired in a social group and is shared
|> by the members of that group. Also, becuase humans are social animals
|> a "culture of individualism" is inherently anti-human.

Wow. What an interesting viewpoint.

By global standards, western culture is a "culture of individualism".
Our children are taught to question authority to a greater degree than
any culture I know of. When you say that such a culture is inherantly
"anti-human", just what do you have in mind? Can you cite particular
aspects of anti-humanity?

I would say that any cultural orientation will result in cost-benefit
tradeoffs which enhance quality of life in some areas, and detract
from it in others. Our individualistic orientation provides some
benefits to go along with the costs, wouldn't you say? I'm a little
surprised to see an anthropologist making such statements; you're
painting with a pretty broad brush.

Have you read turnbull's _the human cycle_? His orientation is similar
to yours, though he avoids the generalized condemnation.

You also nnote that a culture of individualism is a "contradiction in
terms", since culture is socially acquired; I see no contradiction
there. Part of western social conditioning is the idea that we can
change our culture; if we see a better way of living, we are free to
adopt whatever makes sense. William McNeill, in _rise of the west_,
cites that openness as a primary causative factor in western success
over the last several centuries. In the 1960's, large numbers of young
people in the west argued forcefully that our culture needed to
change; their ability and willingness to adopt suchg a position was
the direct result of their individualistic enculturation.

Disclaimer claims dat de claims claimed in dis are de claims of meself,
me, and me alone, so sue us god. I won't tell Bill & Dave if you won't.
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=---- Gerold Firl @ ..hplabs!hp-sdd!geroldf