Re: "Culture" AGAIN!!!

Daniel P. Walsh (dpw7@COLUMBIA.EDU)
Fri, 4 Feb 1994 13:16:20 -0500

concept and pushed it to an ultimately more efficacious rendering.
However, I feel compelled to add a few ideas of my own. All this thrashing
around has attracted a shark!!

First of all, I notice very little mention of any authorities
(i.e. "the literature"). Raymond Firth pointed out some years ago
(Elements of Social Organization, London: Watts, 1951, pg.29) that "any
science must have a budget of terms of general application, not too
closely defined": a semantic surplus as it were. Thus, concepts such as
"culture" are vague, or rather generally defined to enable one to
challenge and reformulate or perhaps discard and thus PRODUCE NEW
KNOWLEDGE. Anthropologists, in my experience have been particularly
sensitive to this approach, confirming my interpretation of what has
transpired on this net.

Secondly, doesn't anyone read Leslie White anymore? There is a
splendid passage in his (Concept of Cultural Systems, New York: Columbia
University Press, 1975), using the automobile as an example of the public
manifestation of culturally constructed ideas of a particular social
segment, giving rise to a "cultural vector" (he uses Durkheim,
particularly his "social facts as things" notion from "Rules", defined as
a variety of structures - organizations or groups each having a magnitude
and an objective, vectors are often composed of subvectors, can exert
force or power to influence other vectors and thus their individual
constituents, see pgs. 59-78) which then "takes on a life of its own",
displacing and eliminating an earlier vector "horse based cultural vector"
with its attendent institutions and manifestations, blacksmiths, harness
makers, hay, feed and grain sellers, etc.

I hope this adds to the discussion. My 18 month-old-son is
asserting himself must sign off, (just as well). This is my first message
to general Antho-l certainly won't be the last.

Daniel Peter Walsh