What is culture?

Wordweb dictionary defines culture as the “attitudes and behaviours that are characteristic of a particular social group.” I think this is a very straightforward definition but are the said attitudes and behaviours acquired or genetic? Also, is culture based on reason? Is it dictated by nature, since every culture evolved differently depending on the geographic location of a people? Is “deity” also a product of culture?

Since abnormal behaviour is behaviour that does not conform to the culture of one’s society, we would be correct to label one as “normal” if one woke up tomorrow morning and saw every neighbour walking backwards, and also immediately starts walking backward. That’s probably the new “normal.”

So in a society what is right is what is done by the majority not necessarily what is “good,” reasonable or sound. I think the advancement of a culture directly reflects how accommodating its actors are of reason. Now my last question to the reader: Do humans have a definite, eternal or unchanging nature? If so, what is this nature? I want to be enlightened.

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17 thoughts on “What is culture?

  1. From life experiences, I believe humans do not have one eternal nature. I believe each human action is conditioned or affected by their environment, caused by or, motivated by some kind of reasoning; an example could be a major past experience conditioning, that human may have. One can argue that in some human actions, there is no cause nor reasoning (like unresolved multiple school shoot-outs in USA), so your topic is really wide open for discussions. In Papua New Guinea where I come from, my tribal group had a certain structure and way of or chain of command. Since we have a lot of land, and it is under the men, my male cousins are individually seeking money for their pieces of land once customarily controlled and shared equally amongst all family members. The land is not supposed to be sold off as in the western way of exchange. The land is to be used, shared and passed on to future generations. Due to this ‘motivation’ to get money, the controlling structure is lost and each said male person/s now squabble, hate, fight and family members cannot resolve any issues because they do not speak to each other. Specific elder cousins who should assume leadership role, and I used to love and respect, have now become insecure, deceitful thieves within our own families.
    I think as a human, I’d like to wish that there is a definite nature so I can trust it. 🙂 You just have to trust in the good and see what happens.
    I could go on, but I hope I’ve made sense.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts. You made a lot of sense. Land ownership, even by one family can often lead to serious disputes among siblings after the death of their father. I think this is caused by greed and it gets worse if the land is not legally registered at the courts and shared equally among members. Sometimes good elders within the tribe may seek “perpetual injunction” from a court against the sale of any part of the land as a whole. This may solve the problem of stealing but it also speaks of human nature. How will one know that the good elders will not also change since human nature is not definite? Money is tempting to many. This is probably why my father, despite being a chief for 42 years, died without leaving any land for his children. He sold all. Some of us have had to buy our own.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s as you say, normal is only relative to the majority definition of normal.
    As for an eternal Human nature, there surely is one, it’s just buried in our variation and differing forms. This nature is up to interpretation, but essentially entails highly cognitive, social bipeds that are curious, conform to each other, strive to cooperate and communicate with each other, and ultimately engage in the world together, often for a perceived greater purpose.

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