Culture and Change

α: What exactly does one mean by culture?

β: By culture, one is referring to the form of a people. Just like a jug is a specific form of glass, so is culture a specific arrangement of people. Therefore this is clearly a very wide-ranging term and covers everything from language to specificities. An example of the latter extreme would be the fact that such a town in Wales has a wonky signpost near it’s oldest train station. Of course, when one refers to culture, one is generally referring more to the former type of culture (language and customs) but for the sake of coherence and clarity, it seems to make more sense to define culture more widely.

α: It would seem that culturess are all equally meritorious, since any evidence to the contrary would, by definition come from a person who had grown up in one culture, and is therefore tainted by that lens. Even a person who grew up between two cultures would really be the product of his own pidgin culture, and would therefore not be able to see beyond that.

β: The assertion that a person cannot truly abstract one’s-self from what one is accustomed goes against the very meaning of being human. Whether or not any particular abstract generalisation can be contested, but there is no reason why any given person cannot take an objectively valid position by abstracting one’s own experience.
Further, I would argue that all cultures are not equally meritorious, but rather that some cultures are, in fact, better than other cultures.

α: Are you asserting that some cultures have moral superiority over other cultures?

β: No, definitely not! Morality is really another matter entirely. The goodness of badness of a person isn’t so much dependant on how one’s prosperity or natural talent, but rather what they do with it, and the free choices they make with the cup they have been given.

α: So is culture then measured by prosperity?

β: Well, yes, but I would prefer to expand on that, as I think the answer is more subtle.
Culture is, like a good jug, best measured by how it fulfils it’s purpose. Now a jug’s primary purpose is to hold water and pour it without issue. It also has secondary aims like looking beautiful and clearly showing how much water remains, but these should be satisfied with the fullness of the first aim.
However, Culture’s final purpose is to spiritually enrich it’s people. This means to draw them to the transcendentals of Truth, Goodness and Beauty; consequently: God. And in the same way as the jug, culture has secondary objectives like Economic and Social goals, but also in the same way, these should flow from the fullness of the first aim.

α: How can a culture tend towards, or gain such value?

β: If a culture was truly perfect, I think it would be quite clear. However, one possible indicator would be how long the culture has existed without major change. A truly old culture would have been touched by all the wise hands that perfected her over the ages.

α: So then what makes a culture bad?

β: Well, a culture that has experienced great change would have the detailed perfection that time brings it. Of course, this observation does not bode well on our modern world, where culture seems to be changing at a much faster (and possibly more destructive) rate than it ever was before. So whether or not these great changes are good, this of course means that it cannot have been enriched by the process I have been describing.

α: Ah, but what does the reader reckon?


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