Re: Definitions of culture

Jesse S. Cook III (jcook@AWOD.COM)
Wed, 7 Aug 1996 08:43:07 -0400

On 6 August 1996, Ronald Kephart replied:

>In message <> Jesse S. Cook III writes:
>> What human invention was invented before us by any nonhuman animal?
>How about society?

That's an invention?

>> If culture is what humans have invented, then that "rules out" all other
>> animals, does it not?
>Yes. But I have never seen a definition of culture (and BTW as a descriptive
>linguist I am wary of "definitions") as simplistic as "what humans have
>invented." How many folks out there share this concept of culture? Most
>definitions of culture (see textbooks by Harris, Haviland, Scupin, etc.)
>notions such as
>(1) patterns of behavior and belief

Nonhuman animals have beliefs?

>(2) acquired in a social context, rather than genetically transmitted
>(3) shared by the members of a social group

Nonhuman animals rarely, if ever, share anything, strictly speaking.

>(4) adaptive, i.e. capable of change to match new circumstances

Nonhuman animal adaptation is strictly genetic.

>(5) based on a symbolic system (language)
>We humans share items (1) - (4) with (at least) other primates; we seem to
>(5) to some extent with our fellow hominoids.

Hominoids include the lesser apes as well as the greater apes and the
hominids. To my knowledge, none of these, excepting our species, has
anything "based" on language.

>Therefore, I think it is a
>mistake to think of human culture as something entirely apart from what these
>other animals are capable of.
>Ronald Kephart
>University of North Florida

But Ron, on or about 22 July 1996, when Robert Snower asked: "Do animals
have societies? But not culture?", you answered "Yes."

Then, on 28 July 1996, to Robert Snower's "Is this culture? I think not",
you responded: "Right."

And, on 5 August 1996, when I said "I agree with Ronald Kephart", you
responded with "Jesse, thanks for the support."

Wha hoppen? It seems to me that you are arguing against yourself, not
against me.

Jesse S. Cook III E-Mail:
Post Office Box 40984 or
Charleston, SC 29485 USA

"Our attitude toward others is not determined by who *they* are;
it is determined by who *we* are."