Re[2]: Definition of Culture

Thu, 5 Oct 1995 10:00:02 CST

G. Laden asks what it is about human culture that makes it different
from primate behavior more generally. Many of us would answer
"Nothing," provided only that the behavior is patterned, and appears to
be acquired socially rather than biologically. When a patterned
behavior varies between the societies within a species, as does, e.g.,
Japanese macaque feeding behavior or chimp tool-using behavior, we
appear to have full-fledged culture, not just "protoculture." The only
way around this conclusion, I think, is the rear-guard action of
defining culture as necessarily dependent on symbolizing. This is
important for those who for some reason wish to maintain the impression
of a qualitative gulf separating humans from the rest of nature. --Bob