Culture def.

Tue, 6 Aug 1996 08:39:40 -0500

On 6-AUG-1996 03:42 Danny Yee wrote:

>Jesse S. Cook III writes:
>> In my view, culture is everything humans invent.
>This seems like a needlessly (and possibly dangerously) restrictive
>Whether known non-human species have "culture" is debatable, but I
>don't believe ruling it out by definitional fiat is a good idea at
>all. It is by no means unlikely that we will find a completely new
>species somewhere in the universe that builds cities, has written
>language, and argues about definitions of culture... to deny that such
>a species possessed "culture" because they weren't H. sapiens would be
>to do serious damage to the term (and would demand the creation of a
>new one).

My sentiments exactly. It wasn't so long ago when people would oppress others
on the basis that they were only animals and were devoid of culture/
civilization -- what am I saying, it still happens! It is my hope that such
fusty and egocentric views will die away as we come to define our words in
terms of their essential elements and not according to our own biases.

Jesse Cook may well be right in his definition of culture as it stands today,
but that doesn't necessarily mean that we should hold to that defintion anymore
than the definition of "man" that used to exclude native africans.

I tend to support Marvin Harris's definition of culture as stated in his
Intro. to Antrho., textbook which we use here at my college, "Culture, People,
Nature." He defined culture as, "The learned patterns of behavior and thought
characteristic of a societal group."

There is my two and one half cents on the topic. I'll shut up now.

D.Lee Beard