Philosophy of culture

Philosophy of culture is a branch of philosophy that examines the essence and meaning of culture.

Early modern discourses

German Romanticism

Johann gottfried herder
Johann Herder called attention to national cultures.

The German philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724–1804) has formulated an individualist definition of "enlightenment" similar to the concept of bildung: "Enlightenment is man's emergence from his self-incurred immaturity."[1] He argued that this immaturity comes not from a lack of understanding, but from a lack of courage to think independently. Against this intellectual cowardice, Kant urged: Sapere aude, "Dare to be wise!" In reaction to Kant, German scholars such as Johann Gottfried Herder (1744–1803) argued that human creativity, which necessarily takes unpredictable and highly diverse forms, is as important as human rationality. Moreover, Herder proposed a collective form of bildung: "For Herder, Bildung was the totality of experiences that provide a coherent identity, and sense of common destiny, to a people."[2]

Adolf Bastian
Adolf Bastian developed a universal model of culture.

In 1795, the great linguist and philosopher Wilhelm von Humboldt (1767–1835) called for an anthropology that would synthesize Kant's and Herder's interests. During the Romantic era, scholars in Germany, especially those concerned with nationalist movements—such as the nationalist struggle to create a "Germany" out of diverse principalities, and the nationalist struggles by ethnic minorities against the Austro-Hungarian Empire—developed a more inclusive notion of culture as "worldview"(Weltanschauung). According to this school of thought, each ethnic group has a distinct worldview that is incommensurable with the worldviews of other groups. Although more inclusive than earlier views, this approach to culture still allowed for distinctions between "civilized" and "primitive" or "tribal" cultures.

In 1860, Adolf Bastian (1826–1905) argued for "the psychic unity of mankind". He proposed that a scientific comparison of all human societies would reveal that distinct worldviews consisted of the same basic elements. According to Bastian, all human societies share a set of "elementary ideas" (Elementargedanken); different cultures, or different "folk ideas" (Völkergedanken), are local modifications of the elementary ideas.[3] This view paved the way for the modern understanding of culture. Franz Boas (1858–1942) was trained in this tradition, and he brought it with him when he left Germany for the United States.

English Romanticism

Matthew Arnold - Project Gutenberg eText 16745
British poet and critic Matthew Arnold viewed "culture" as the cultivation of the humanist ideal.

In the 19th century, humanists such as English poet and essayist Matthew Arnold (1822–1888) used the word "culture" to refer to an ideal of individual human refinement, of "the best that has been thought and said in the world."[4] This concept of culture is comparable to the German concept of bildung: "...culture being a pursuit of our total perfection by means of getting to know, on all the matters which most concern us, the best which has been thought and said in the world."[4]

In practice, culture referred to an élite ideal and was associated with such activities as art, classical music, and haute cuisine.[5] As these forms were associated with urban life, "culture" was identified with "civilization" (from lat. civitas, city). Another facet of the Romantic movement was an interest in folklore, which led to identifying a "culture" among non-elites. This distinction is often characterized as that between high culture, namely that of the ruling social group, and low culture. In other words, the idea of "culture" that developed in Europe during the 18th and early 19th centuries reflected inequalities within European societies.[6]

Edward Burnett Tylor
British anthropologist Edward Tylor was one of the first English-speaking scholars to use the term culture in an inclusive and universal sense.

Matthew Arnold contrasted "culture" with anarchy; other Europeans, following philosophers Thomas Hobbes and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, contrasted "culture" with "the state of nature". According to Hobbes and Rousseau, the Native Americans who were being conquered by Europeans from the 16th centuries on were living in a state of nature; this opposition was expressed through the contrast between "civilized" and "uncivilized." According to this way of thinking, one could classify some countries and nations as more civilized than others and some people as more cultured than others. This contrast led to Herbert Spencer's theory of Social Darwinism and Lewis Henry Morgan's theory of cultural evolution. Just as some critics have argued that the distinction between high and low cultures is really an expression of the conflict between European elites and non-elites, some critics have argued that the distinction between civilized and uncivilized people is really an expression of the conflict between European colonial powers and their colonial subjects.

Other 19th-century critics, following Rousseau have accepted this differentiation between higher and lower culture, but have seen the refinement and sophistication of high culture as corrupting and unnatural developments that obscure and distort people's essential nature. These critics considered folk music (as produced by "the folk", i.e., rural, illiterate, peasants) to honestly express a natural way of life, while classical music seemed superficial and decadent. Equally, this view often portrayed indigenous peoples as "noble savages" living authentic and unblemished lives, uncomplicated and uncorrupted by the highly stratified capitalist systems of the West.

In 1870 the anthropologist Edward Tylor (1832–1917) applied these ideas of higher versus lower culture to propose a theory of the evolution of religion. According to this theory, religion evolves from more polytheistic to more monotheistic forms.[7] In the process, he redefined culture as a diverse set of activities characteristic of all human societies. This view paved the way for the modern understanding of culture.

References

  1. ^ Immanuel Kant 1784 "Answering the Question: What is Enlightenment?" (German: "Beantwortung der Frage: Was ist Aufklärung?") Berlinische Monatsschrift, December (Berlin Monthly)
  2. ^ Michael Eldridge, "The German Bildung Tradition" UNC Charlotte
  3. ^ "Adolf Bastian", Today in Science History; "Adolf Bastian", Encyclopædia Britannica
  4. ^ a b Arnold, Matthew. 1869. Culture and Anarchy.
  5. ^ Williams (1983), p.90. Cited in Shuker, Roy (1994). Understanding Popular Music, p.5. ISBN 0-415-10723-7. argues that contemporary definitions of culture fall into three possibilities or mixture of the following three:
    • "a general process of intellectual, spiritual, and aesthetic development"
    • "a particular way of life, whether of a people, period, or a group"
    • "the works and practices of intellectual and especially artistic activity".
  6. ^ Bakhtin 1981, p.4
  7. ^ McClenon, pp.528-529

Sources

Antanas Maceina

Antanas Maceina (27 January 1908 – 27 January 1987) was a Lithuanian philosopher, existentialist, educator, theologian, and poet.

Developed philosophy of culture of Stasys Šalkauskis, adjusted Christian philosophy and existentialism, accented an importance of native language to education.

Arran Gare

Arran Emrys Gare (; born 1948) is an Australian philosopher known mainly for his work in environmental philosophy, philosophy of science, philosophy of culture and the metaphysics of process philosophy. He currently holds the position of Associate Professor in the Faculty of Life and Social Sciences at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia.

Axiology

Axiology (from Greek ἀξία, axia, "value, worth"; and -λογία, -logia) is the philosophical study of value. It is either the collective term for ethics and aesthetics, philosophical fields that depend crucially on notions of worth, or the foundation for these fields, and thus similar to value theory and meta-ethics. The term was first used by Paul Lapie, in 1902, and Eduard von Hartmann, in 1908.Axiology studies mainly two kinds of values: ethics and aesthetics. Ethics investigates the concepts of "right" and "good" in individual and social conduct. Aesthetics studies the concepts of "beauty" and "harmony." Formal axiology, the attempt to lay out principles regarding value with mathematical rigor, is exemplified by Robert S. Hartman's science of value.

Cultura (journal)

Cultura: International Journal of Philosophy of Culture and Axiology is a biannual peer-reviewed academic journal that was established in 2004 and covers philosophical work exploring different values and cultural phenomena. The journal is published in print format by Peter Lang. Online access to all issues of Cultura from 2005 to the present is provided by the Philosophy Documentation Center.

Cultural astronomy

Cultural astronomy is the set of interdisciplinary fields studying the astronomical systems of current or ancient societies and cultures. Such areas include archaeoastronomy (the study of the use of astronomy and its role in ancient cultures and civilizations), ethnoastronomy (the study of the use of astronomy and its role in contemporary cultures), historical astronomy (analyzing historical astronomical data), history of astronomy (understanding and study and evolution of the discipline of astronomy over the course of human knowledge) and history of astrology (understanding the astrological roots of astronomy and understanding the differences between astrology and astronomy).

Cultural baggage

The term cultural baggage refers to the tendency for one's culture to pervade thinking, speech, and behavior without one being aware of this pervasion. Cultural baggage becomes a factor when a person from one culture encounters a person from another, and subconscious assumptions or behaviors can interfere with interaction.

The "baggage" imagery implies that cultural baggage is something that one carries at all times and that it can be burdensome, hindering freedom of movement (i.e. hinders intercultural dialog). Darret B. Rutman has used the term to describe early European settlers of North America (A Place in Time: Middlesex County, Virginia 1650-1750 by Darret B. Rutman, Anita H. Rutman, ISBN 0-393-30318-7).

Cultural environmentalism

Cultural environmentalism is the movement that seeks to protect the public domain. The term was coined by James Boyle, professor at Duke University and contributor to the Financial Times.The term stems from Boyle's argument that those who seek to protect the public domain are working towards a similar ends as environmentalists. Boyle's contention is that whereas the environmentalist movement illuminated the effects that social decisions can have upon ecology, cultural environmentalists seek to illuminate the effects that intellectual property laws can have upon culture.

Cultural institution

A cultural institution or cultural organization is an organization within a culture/subculture that works for the preservation or promotion of culture. The term is especially used of public and charitable organizations, but its range of meaning can be very broad. Examples of cultural institutions in modern society are museums, libraries and archives, churches, art galleries.

Cultural property

Cultural property are physical items that are part of the cultural heritage of a group or society. They include such items as historic buildings, works of art, archaeological sites, libraries. and museums.

Cultural retention

Cultural retention is the act of retaining the culture of a specific ethnic group of people, especially when there is reason to believe that the culture, through inaction, may be lost. Many African-American, European and Asian organizations have cultural retention programs in place.

Culture speculation

Culture speculation is the practice of engaging in or promoting an area or region through either direct investment or relocation in order to attract a pool of culture or cultured individuals. For example, the return of a jazz club owner to New Orleans with the intent of kindling a "jazz renaissance" from the recently displaced musicians would be an example of culture speculation.

Culturology

Culturology or science of culture is a branch of social sciences concerned with the scientific understanding, description, analysis, and prediction of cultures as a whole. While different cultural practices were studied by ethnology and anthropology, these studies included diverse aspects: sociological, psychological, etc. and the need was recognized in a discipline focused exclusively on cultural aspects.

Ernst Cassirer

Ernst Alfred Cassirer (; German: [ˈʔɛɐ̯nst kaˈsiːʁɐ]; July 28, 1874 – April 13, 1945) was a German philosopher. Trained within the Neo-Kantian Marburg School, he initially followed his mentor Hermann Cohen in attempting to supply an idealistic philosophy of science.

After Cohen's death, Cassirer developed a theory of symbolism and used it to expand phenomenology of knowledge into a more general philosophy of culture. Cassirer was one of the leading 20th-century advocates of philosophical idealism. His most famous work is the Philosophy of Symbolic Forms (1923–1929).

Intraculturalism

Intraculturalism is the study of behavior within one cultural group. For example, value variations among Palestinians are intracultural. This is often part of Subaltern Studies, development studies and sociology.

List of philosophy journals

This is a list of academic journals pertaining to the field of philosophy.

Panopticism

Panopticism is a social theory named after the Panopticon, originally developed by French philosopher Michel Foucault in his 1975 book Discipline and Punish. The "panopticon" refers to an experimental laboratory of power in which behaviour could be modified, and Foucault viewed the panopticon as a symbol of the disciplinary society of surveillance.

Progress

Progress is the movement towards a refined, improved, or otherwise desired state or, in the context of progressivism, the idea that advancements in technology, science, and social organization can result in an improved human condition; the latter may happen as a result of direct human action, as in social enterprise or through activism, or as a natural part of sociocultural evolution.

The concept of progress was introduced in the early 19th-century social theories, especially social evolution as described by Auguste Comte and Herbert Spencer. It was present in the Enlightenment's philosophies of history. As a goal, social progress has been advocated by varying realms of political ideologies with different theories on how it is to be achieved.

Stasys Šalkauskis

Stasys Šalkauskis (May 16, 1886 in Ariogala, Lithuania – December 4, 1941 in Šiauliai, Soviet Union) was a Lithuanian philosopher, educator, rector of Vytautas Magnus University. His philosophy of culture was developed by Antanas Maceina and other philosophers.

Theology of culture

Theology of culture is a branch of theology that studies culture and cultural phenomenas. It lies close to philosophy of culture, but has focus more on existentialism and spiritualism.

Paul Tillich was the first theologian who wrote about the theology of culture. He discussed about making difference between the sacred and the secular. Nowadays, the theology of culture also deals with cultural differences between religions and thus shares many features with the theology of religions.

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