Re[2]: "Culture" AGAIN!!!

Mon, 7 Feb 1994 12:28:00 PST

Graber writes:

"By requiring dependence on symbolizing, White's definition entailed that the
socially acquired ways of life observed among monkeys and apes, which depend
not on language but on imitation (like much of human culture too!), are not
"culture." Setting up a qualitative gap between humanity and the rest of
nature certainly was an odd position for the otherwise rather
thoroughgoing materialist to take."

Careful. Was the definition created in order to bolster an already assumed
qualitative differenece between humanity and everything else, or did it have
that as a CONSEQUENCE? If (a) culture is properly theorized about as a
symbol system and (b) if the conseuqnce is that only (relatively recent) Homo
sapiens have culture under (a), so be it. The issue is not whether it leads
to a qualitative difference (for which we don't have independent data to
evaluate that claim), but whether viewing culture in symbolic terms leads to
an effective and useful theory.

D. Read