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Tuesday 25th of June 2019
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Man Innately Desires to Figure out the Truth about Elevating Culture

It is proven clear to any researcher on culture who has accomplished discoveries about it that without culture, man would not only lose his dignity, self-respect, his valuable “freedom” and the life he merits, but even consider them as harmful hallucinations; as we all know, if such basics of life vanish, the only logic remaining in man's individual or social life would be the passageways to nihilism, power and pleasure. Obviously, if power and pleasure dominate man's life, no necessity or meritorious value could prevail, and even their opposing factors would also be demolished, even though they may be justified.

It is amazing that most academic authorities on the -humanities still continue to attempt to prove the fact that man is heading for true greatness, with such deceiving eloquence that any simple mind believes them. Some put on such a detailed display of complex jargon that even other scholars might be forced to assume it to be unquestionably true. High claim for man's progressive evolution aims to sacrifice all of the cultures and peoples around the world -who basically agree on logical principles -to feed their technological monster. One day, the monster might strangle its own operators to death, and eliminate any chance for them to relive their painfully eventful story which ends in suicide.

A significant point comes to attention here, which can also influence human life evolution: all around the world there are hundreds of seminars, conferences, and vast studies on man and his relationship with technology, and still, there is no indication of a serious attempt to discover a reasonable identity of culture and its relation to mankind. Perhaps the few honest authorities on humanities are totally in despair about the unstoppable demise of humanity.

Therefore, let us uphold our heart-warmingly reviving culture and introduce it to other people, and have community leaders do their best to help the process -before it is too late. Then, they will definitely admit that ruling over one human being who enjoys dignity, logical freedom and the life he/she deserves, is better than ruling over millions devoid of them, who have only been labelled “human” by history after the Cro-Magnons.

3. “As Kroeber and Kluckhohn and also many other currently leading scholars see it, the best definition of culture consists of an abstraction -to be more precise, an abstraction of human behaviour .” If the above sentences refer to a dimension of reality, not only is it generally correct, but in fact Kroeberand Kluckhohn have pointed out an important aspect of culture (the internally innate pole) which is also the abstract aspect of culture. This is an absolutely correct point, for the non-instinctive, calculated movements and accountable behaviours observed in some animals, refers to meritorious values conveying the general concept of culture, which is undoubtedly abstract (as is the general concept of beauty). The regular behaviour seen in honeybees, ants and termites depends on their unconscious instincts, not conscious merits or freedom; therefore, if Kroeber and Kluckhohn believe the abstract definition of culture to be the best one, they are gravely mistaken. It would be like defining beauty as “an abstract concept”, which reveals nothing at all about the qualities or identity of beauty.

In brief, we must note that the general truths about culture -beauty, greatness, etc -consist of two poles:

The first, the innately internal pole, which includes mentally abstract concepts describing general definitions. The other pole is observable, i.e. those behaviours and effects seen physically.

Thus, we may put the theory of culture being an abstract concept in the encyclopaedia in opposition with Kroeber and Kluckhohns's viewpoints. The encyclopedia states that:

The concept of culture as an abstraction poses first the question whether culture is real (for at times. abstraction is considered inconceivable), and then defies it.”

The authors of the encyclopaedia must keep in mind that defying abstract realities such as culture, beauty and greatness could first cast doubt upon all scientific principles -which are definitely derived from generally abstract issues and regular phenomena in the world -and then even question the integrity of mathematical and geometrical laws. Such a presumption could put all of human knowledge and everything man has acquired through mental abstraction in the shadow of serious uncertainty, or even defy them all.

4. The encyclopaedia states that, “Therefore, as the non-biological study of mankind, culture would be consistent both nonexistent and real, and could not remain without actual worldly events.”

Unless interpreted correctly, the statements above could prove unreasonable, for if we judge the reality of objects biologically, we would have to defy all of man's psychological activities, for they are non-biological.

It is scientifically reasonable to accept the existence of internal, psychological and mental facts, even though their external effects would require observable behaviour and imagination in visible phenomena.

5. The statement, “Therefore, Kroeber and Kluckhohn concluded that culture is an abstraction of observable behaviour” flaws in its sense-based deduction is that Kroeber and Kluckhohn have neglected the distinction between the facts that “Observable behaviour provides the basis for abstract mental realities like culture, beauty and justice” and “Observable behaviour leads to the abstraction of culture”.

Scientific observations and analyses on abstract facts have shown that culture, beauty, justice, etc, are bipolar abstract facts (consisting of virtual and observable poles), and the resulting behaviour account for the observable one. It is incorrect to suppose that such realities arise from abstractions of observable behaviour.

6. We may conclude from the above item that Kroeber and Kluckhohn's conditional theory -”If culture is regarded as identical to behaviour, it would naturally become a psychological issue” -calls for some rethinking, for bipolarity should not make culture a domain of psychology, as is the case in beauty consisting of two pokes (internal virtues and external virtues).

However, such issues can be studied in terms of psychological and also scientific matters, but they do not necessarily afflict their abstract reality.

7. The text reads. “Perhaps Leslie A. White's suggestions presented in his 1959 work, The Concept of Culture, may provide a solution. White reasons that it is important to take into consideration the scientific interpretation of culture, not whether it is a reality or just a mental concept.”

This point also needs to be modified, for in order to fully comprehend the scientific interpretation of culture, it is at least as important as other essential factors defining culture to determine whether culture is a really external fact or just mental- if not the most important, for the qualities of a mental fact highly differ from those of physically observable ones, even if the two share a common abstract concept. It then adds:

“Whenever objects or events are considered in terms of their relation with human organisms, they lead to behaviour Otherwise, i.e. when they are considered only in relation to each other, they would by definition result in culture

The point rising here is, what is meant by “objects and events” in relation to human organisms? If they mean all- external or internal -factors and motives, the point would prove to be true, for human organisms are obviously prone to any external or internal influence, which lead to behaviour, whether being merely a reflex or causing mental or bodily functions. However, if “events and objects” convey externally physical phenomena, they would only account for a certain extent of behavioural factors.

On the other hand, the statement, “If studied independent of human organisms -i.e., only in relation to each other -they would by definition result in culture,” is somewhat unclear, for billions of the components of the universe are constantly affecting each other, but many of such effects may not fit into culture. As we have already seen, the primary basis of culture is the virtually internal pole relating to human life merits such as “What it is like” and “What it should be like”, which lead to man's aims and ideas in such issues.

8. “Thus, culture is a term referring to a class of objects or events depending on conventional symbols considered as part of man's supernatural content.”

Culture as seen by Russian Encyclopaedias “Culture is a series of social achievements consisting of physical or mental advances used by the community, and also those cultural traditions serving man's future progress.

In societies suffering from struggling classes, culture inevitably becomes class-biased. The opposite of culture is barbarity, savagery or cultureless ness. A true understanding of culture is only feasible on the basis of socioeconomic guidelines and sequences of social organizations brought about by defining productive forces, productional processes, social relationships and the qualities of any given society.

Yet, culture cannot replace these concepts, for it includes all achievements of any range -mental or physical -altogether, whose characteristics determine historical periods for various societies, peoples or nations.

Culture consists of man's creative activities, and is the most significant sign of his advance level. Culture derives from the Latin word cultura (agriculture), which means mowing, producing and processing; it originally conveyed man's influence on nature, determining his achievements and the factors playing a role in them. The latter meaning was most used in the bourgeois culture era, and was seen frequently in the works of 19th century historians, anthropologists and archeologists, which led at that time to the term “The History of Culture.”

The concept of culture consists of two parts, physical and mental. The physical aspect shows man's ability against the forces of nature. Physical culture conveys man's progress in understanding nature, the community, and also the scope of his vision and progressive thoughts and knowledge. Tools are the most prominent symbol of physical culture.

Mental culture consists of social achievements in morals, arts, science and philosophy. It also represents man's political and legal relationships and advances. Mental culture is used to determine the extent of progress made in social, political or legal relationships. Language, speech, thought, logic and behavioural principles make up the phenomena of human life.” [25]

 

The following comments may be presented on the above statements:

1. It is true that culture is of high importance in man's progress, and as a principle, the main role of culture is to be progressive.

However, what eventually can be named pioneer culture? The question is left unanswered.

2. The statement, “In societies suffering from class struggles, culture inevitably becomes class-biased” is correct from a certain viewpoint, but on the other hand also calls for reconsideration. What is meant here by “struggling” classes? If the struggle involves positive competition instead of harmful conflicts, culture can definitely serve the development of such a progressive society. Also, if we were to have a systematically organized community, culture would again prove to be dynamically progressive, and aim for the advancement of the whole society.

3. “The opposite of culture can be stated as barbarity, savagery, or cultureless ness”

The important point seen here is how meritorious culture is, despite those who regard it as social customs and traditions. No matter how deserving and elevating social traditions may be, we based the definition of the identity of culture (given at the beginning of this discussion) upon its meritorious ness. Therefore, since the highest human virtues and principles make up culture -and defying them would defy the whole of humanity - “The opposite of culture is barbarity, savagery or cultureless ness.”

4. Further on, we encounter two contradicting statements:

a. “A true understanding of culture is only feasible on the basis of socioeconomic guidelines and sequences of social organizations brought about by defining productive forces, productional processes, social relationships and the qualities of any given society.”

b. “Yet, culture cannot replace such concepts, for it includes all achievements of any range -mental or physical- altogether”, for understanding a true fact means acquiring knowledge of it without the influence of any presumed principles or accepted ideals.

In other words, it is scientifically vital to strongly avoid using our physical senses (laboratory devices, tools enhancing human senses, etc) as much as possible to discover realities as they truly are. By gathering more experience and knowledge, we can free ourselves from the conflicting points in our scientific domains. 


source : Pioneer Culture to the Rescue of Mankind - An Introduction to Islamic Culture by Allamah Muhammad Taqi Ja'fari
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