Thanks to everyone who came out for consciousness last week. I heard you all had a great discussion, no thanks to me. I'm happy to hear that things went well without my presence. This Thursday we'll be running rides from Connelly at 7:30, and meeting at Yeats at 8:00.
This week's topic is my own doing.
So first I'm going to give some historical background to frame the word culture with a little help from my friend Raymond Williams, in order to address the difficulty of this topic. Etymologically, culture derives from the Latin word colere, which can mean many things including: to inhabit, cultivate, protect, or honor with worship. According to Williams, culture has a classical agricultural meaning that denotes "intellectual, spiritual, and aesthetic development," (cultivation of the self or humanity in general) a modern meaning which denotes the particular way of life that a group of people that can be contrasted to other groups in a value laden way (civilized vs barbarians), and finally a contemporary meaning as a value neutral umbrella term used to refer to art, music, poetry, etc. It's also worth noting that this does not even cover the various ways in which culture is used within academic disciplines, which have their own specific uses of the term, which may or may not match up with any of the vulgar ones that I just mentioned. Therefore, when discussing culture, we must be aware that the ground is unstable, with its various usages between and within languages blurring, overlapping, and diverging. Tread carefully.
I think all it will take to fuel this discussion is one deceptively simple question:
What is the relationship between culture and human experience?
If we came even close to answering this question, that would be acceptable.
Perhaps I hinge too much on human experience with this formulation. However, I think we can all agree that understanding human experience is of central concern.
If that's not enough, I suppose we could delineate different aspects of all the different definitions of culture that we could come up with. We could talk about the various evaluations of cultures and participations within cultures. We could even talk about ideology if you want, as a sort of motivated culture.
Nevertheless, I think one question is enough. You may differ.
Love and Peace,