Tylor's "Culture"

Rafael Candido Alvarado (rca2t@FARADAY.CLAS.VIRGINIA.EDU)
Fri, 28 Jan 1994 17:07:11 -0500

SS51000 has written:
>R.C. Alvarado takes the essence of Tylor's definition of culture to be
>its dependence on language, hence its restriction to humankind. I, on
>the other hand, take its essences to be its (1) breadth to include
>artifacts, behaviors, and beliefs, and (2) reliance on *social
>acquisition* as ultimate delimiter. Here is the classical definition;
>readers can decide what they think: "Culture...is that complex whole
>which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any
>other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society."

It is not that I "take the essence of Tylor's definition of culture to
be it's dependence on language." Rather, my point is that the things
Tylor includes in his defintion of culture could not exist without
language. If Graber wants to define the "essence" (distinctive
features?) of culture to be what he lists above, then he may do so; but
he loses the ability to account for human culture. If he wants to define
the term so broadly as that, fine. But then he must still account for
the existence of banks and churches among humans and their absence among
baboons. As usually happens each semester, Graber argues for ownership
over the word "culture," a signifier of identity in an increasingly
restricted social field known as academic anthropology, and misses the
real issue, which is to account for what is so far as we know uniquely

R.C. Alvarado rca2t@Virginia.EDU
Department of Anthropology rca2t@Virginia.BITNET
University of Virginia uunet!virginia!rca2t