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Thread: What is culture?

  1. #1
    Scala Mountains Resonance's Avatar
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    What is culture?

    What does it mean? Is culture beneficial or is it just yet another meaningless division between people? What culture(s) do you identify with and why? Are you possessive or protective about it? What are some cultural activities that you enjoy, if any?

    Feel free to answer for you personally or give your impersonal views on the subject or both or whatever you like, of course.
    Last edited by Resonance; 09-18-2015 at 01:48 AM.
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    Formerly PiccoloNamek Lunar Delta's Avatar
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    I identify with no culture whatsoever, and I fail to see how anyone can. I view it as a kind of unfortunate dependency, a throwback to early human tribalism and group separation that we would all be much better off throwing away. That doesn't mean we can't be creative or cultured, but this intense need to adhere to specific practices or traditions or social mores (even to the point of starting wars over it) just because you were born in a specific place or have a specific genetic linage has just got to stop, seriously.
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    schlemiel Faust's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lunar Delta
    I identify with no culture whatsoever, and I fail to see how anyone can.
    I don't think there's such a thing as entirely belonging to "no culture", though being uncultured is reassuringly very attainable.

    We adopt mannerisms, customs and niceties, and most importantly, ideas, from place - over time and unconsciously. Without knowing your first language someone from China could probably identify you as a Western thinker after conversing and glossing over ideas of philosophy, politics, etc.

    That doesn't mean we can't be creative or cultured, but this intense need to adhere to specific practices or traditions or social mores (even to the point of starting wars over it) just because you were born in a specific place or have a specific genetic linage has just got to stop, seriously.
    On that we agree, but what does cultured mean in this sense being removed from practices and tradition?
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    Faster. Than. Ever. Sloth's Avatar
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    ^ culture


  5. #5
    Senior Member Spartan26's Avatar
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    I try to attend some cultural event each quarter. I've never tried to come up with a definition but I suppose I would describe culture as something fundamental to a certain subsection of society. Well, even that's not right. I guess it represents an interpretation. I just like alternative ways of expressing oneself or capturing a flavor of a group. There's generally something intellectually stimulating...in theory. Some of it's boring or just plain drek.

    Anyway, I'll go to a museum, live music performance, like opera or maybe recital. It could be photograph exhibit. I'll go to where authors will read excerpts of their book. I stay away from poetry for the most part. I'll see a live play. Sometimes my rules vary. Like just going to a documentary I wouldn't consider a cultural event but I went a couple of months ago to see one at the Simon Wiesenthal center where there was a q@a after with the director, it felt more like an event.

    Performance art can be but it like modern art is generally too self indulgent for my tastes.

    A food tasting can be but usually there's something more going on like a discussion or explanation. Not just some random beer tasting or crawfish festival.

    I think these things help me creatively and can be quite informative. If I'm lucky I'll get talk to some people who are experts in something I know nothing about but love to examine and the decomposition of their field.

  6. #6
    Your Huckleberry lethe's Avatar
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    Actual culture isn't what people like to refer to as "cultured" things like museums and operas.

    It's all around you! Being aware of your own culture and the impact it has on you is like a fish being aware of the water he swims in. To name a few examples: Culture is in the language you speak, the clothes that you think are appropriate to wear (and where you wear them), standard family sizes and relationship models, the responsibilities of friends, body language, what types of jobs you consider respectable, how fat is fat, manners, job interviews, the size and timing of your meals (why is breakfast food breakfast food?) valuing individuality or community, communication styles (direct or indirect?) holidays, haggling for cars but not for groceries, it's even in the toothpaste you use and hygiene standards!

    You are ingrained with your culture, whether you choose to "identify" with it or not. You can buck some of it, but most of it? It's just what you think of as "normal". But these things are not normal for everyone throughout time, and it does impact how you see the world and move through it, so it's important to understand and observe differences.
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    Persona Oblongata OrionzRevenge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lethe View Post
    ...

    You are ingrained with your culture, whether you choose to "identify" with it or not. You can buck some of it, but most of it? It's just what you think of as "normal". But these things are not normal for everyone throughout time, and it does impact how you see the world and move through it, so it's important to understand and observe differences.
    Agreed.

    It is an inescapable consequence of being a large-brained social animal.
    It has and will always be, along with human spirituality, a readily accessible tool to congeal group identity,
    and a source of conflict in any attempt at assimilation of several groups. Because our self-identity is unavoidably long-steeped in our root tea.
    Creativity is the residue of time wasted. ~ Albert Einstein

  8. #8
    Your Huckleberry lethe's Avatar
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    Oh... To answer more questions...

    No, culture is not a meaningless division. Wake up in another country in another time period and try to pretend culture isn't significant. Could you even survive? How about communicate? Relate? Thrive?


    Even interacting with another person today from another culture, it matters! It matters what they expect of you, what they can eat, what is rude, what they value... Culture colors everything.

    Yes, it is useful. For all the reasons that we have difficulty when we don't understand an outside culture, they are benefits when living within our own. (Awkwardly explained, sorry)
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  9. #9
    Amen P-O's Avatar
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    Well the obvious answer is that "culture" describes a set of behaviors and appropriate responses.

    Culture is another grouping that's arbitrary in one sense. All kinds of groupings have practical value to humans. They also have some drawbacks.

    A collective has the advantage of having more power. Strength in numbers is a real thing. The disadvantage to strongly identifying yourself as part of a group is that you give up your freedom and individuality. This means your decision making and rationality are hampered by the value you associate with "fitting in".

    I think everybody finds some level of comfort in the safety that these groupings promote, however for me there is also a level of disgust that comes with it. I have a strong compulsion to be an individual before anything else. Culture is something I have to take seriously only because other people take it seriously. It's a losing strategy to reject these things, so I begrudgingly accept them.


    Regarding the discussion above:
    There's a difference between understanding a culture and identifying with it. It's the self identification that I find distasteful.
    Of course we all need to speak a language, and our culture encapsulates that.
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  10. #10
    Culture is your operating system, which carries the rules and functions for interfacing with society. It is necessary, but there may be compatibility issues, those of which are still better than no operating system at all. You shouldn’t fall in love with it, because it’s malleable and interchangeable, and overall not what’s important. My favorite cultural activity is ordering pizza.

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