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Benedict - Patterns of Culture__the Individual and the Pattern of Culture

Benedict - Patterns of Culture__the Individual and the Pattern of Culture

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Published by Salvador Dida Leyso

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Published by: Salvador Dida Leyso on Nov 15, 2011
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03/05/2014

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VIII
TheIndividualandthePatternofCulture
THElargecorporatebehaviourwehavediscussedisneverthelessthebehaviourofindividuals.
It
istheworldwithwhicheachpersonisseverallypresented,theworldfromwhichhemustmakehisindividuallife.Accountsof
anycivilizationcondensedintoafewdozenpagesmust
necessarilythrowintoreliefthegroupstandardsandde-
scribeindividualbehaviouras
it
exemplifiesthemotiva
tionsofthatculture.Theexigenciesofthesituationaremisleadingonlywhenthisnecessityisreadoffasimplyingthatheissubmergedinanoverpoweringocean.Thereisnoproperantagonismbetweenther(Heofsocietyandthatoftheindividual.Oneofthemostmis-
leadingmisconceptionsduetothisnineteenth-century
dualismwastheideathatwhatwassubtractedfromsocietywasaddedtotheindividualandwhatwassub-tractedfromtheindividualwasaddedtosociety.Philoso-phiesoffreedom,politicalcreedsof
laissez[aire,
revolutionsthathaveunseateddynasties,havebeenbuiltonthisdualism.Thequarrelinanthropologicaltheorybe-tweentheimportanceoftheculturepatternandoftheindividualisonlyasmallripplefromthisfundamentalconceptionofthenatureofsociety.
In
reality,societyandtheindividualarenotantagonists.
His
cultureprovidestherawmaterialofwhichtheindi-vidualmakeshislife.
If
itismeagre,theindividualsuffers;ifitisrich,theindividualhasthechancetorisetohisopportunity.Everyprivateinterestofeverymanand
womanisservedbytheenrichmentofthetraditionalstoresofhiscivilization.Therichestmusicalsensitivitycan
operateonlywithintheequipmentandstandardsofitstradition.
It
willadd,perhapsimportantly,tothattradi-
tion.butitsachievementremainsinproportiontothe
instrumentsandmusicaltheorywhichtheculturehas
provided.InthesamefashionatalentforobservationexpendsitselfinsomeMelanesiantribeuponthenegligible
218
 
I
,
I
I
TIlEINDIVIDUALANDTHEPATTERNOPCULTURE
219
bordersofthemagico-religiousfield.Forarealizationofitspotentialitiesit
is
dependentuponthedevelopmentofscientificmethodology,andithasnofruitionunlesstheculturehaselaboratedthenecessaryconceptsand
tools.
The
maninthestreet.still.thinksintermsofaneeessaIYantagonismbetween
s o c i ~l L ! ! P
4 . . J I ! e
i l t i l l v
i
l l
~
easurethisisbecauseinourcfViIzatloniheregulativeactivitiesofsocieryaresingledout,andwetendtoiden
tify
societywiththerestrictionsthelawimposesupon
us.
Thelawlaysdownthenumberofmilesperhourthat
I
maydriveanautomobile.
If
ittakesthisrestrictionaway, I
am
bythatmuchthefreer.
This
basisforafundamentalantagonismbetweensocietyandtheindividual
is
naiveindeedwhenitisextendedasabasicphilosophicaland politicalnotion.Societyisonlyincidentallyandincertainsituationsregulative,andlawisnotequivalent
to
thesocialorder.InthesimplerhomogeneousculturescoUectivehabitorcustommayquitesupersedethenecessityforanydevelopmentofformallegalauthority.AmericanIndianssometimessay:
'In
theolddays,there
were
nofightsabouthunting
grounds
orfishingterritories.Therewasnolawthen,soeverybodydidwhatwasright.'Thephrasingmakesitclearthatintheiroldlifetheydidnot
think
ofthemselvesassubmittingtoasocialcontrol
im-
poseduponthemfromwithout.Eveninourcivilizationthelawisnevermorethanacrudeimplementof
society,
andoneitisoftenenoughnecessarytocheckinits
arr0-
gant
career.
Itisnevertobereadoffas
if
itweretheequivalentofthesocialorder.Societyinitsfullsense
as
wehavediscusseditin
this
volumeisneveranentityseparablefromtheindividualswhocomposeit.Noindividualcanarriveevenatthethresholdofhispotentialitieswithoutacultureinwhich heparticipates.Conversely,nocivilizationhasinitanyelementwhichinthelastanalysisisnotthecontributionofanindividual.Whereelsecouldanytraitcomefromexceptfromthebehaviourofamanorawomanor
a
child?
It
islargelybecauseofthetraditionalacceptance
of
acon1lictbetweensocietyandtheindividual,thatemphasisuponculturalbehaviourissoofteninterpretedasadenial
 
220
PATTERNSOPCULTURE:
oftheautonomyoftheindividual.ThereadingofSum
ner's
Folkways
usuallyrousesaprotestatthelimitations
suchaninterpretationplacesuponthescopeandinitiative oftheindividual.Anthropologyisoftenbelievedtobea counselofdespairwhichmakesuntenableabeneficent humanillusion.Butnoanthropologistwithabackground
ofexperienceofothercultureshaseverbelievedthat individualswereautomatons,mechanicallycarryingout
thedecreesoftheircivilization.Nocultureyetobserved hasbeenabletoeradicatethedifferencesinthetempera
mentsofthepersonswhocompose
it.
It
isalwaysagive-
and-take.Theproblemoftheindividualisnotclarifiedhy
stressingthe
-antagonism
betweencultureandtheindi- vidual.but
by
stressingtheirmutualreinforcement.This
rapportissoclosethatitisnotpossible
10
discusspatterns ofculturewithoutconsideringspecificallytheirrelation
to
individualpsychology.Wehaveseenthatanysocietyselectssomesegmentof
thearcofpossiblehumanbehaviour,andinsofaras
it
achievesintegration
its
institutionstendtofurtherthe
expressionofitsselectedsegmentandtoinhibitopposite
expressions.Buttheseoppositeexpressionsarethecon- genialresponses,nevertheless,ofacertainproportionof
thecarriersoftheculture.Wehavealreadydiscussed
thereasonsforbelievingthatthisselectionisprimarily
culturalandnotbiological.Wecannot.therefore,even ontheoreticalgroundsimaginethatallthecongenial responsesofallitspeoplewillbeequallyservedbythe institutionsofanyculture.Tounderstandthebehaviour
oftheindividual.itisnotmerelynecessarytorelatehis
personallife-history
10
hisendowments,andtomeasure
theseagainstanarbitrarilyselectednormality.
It
isneces-
saryalsotorelatehiscongenialresponsestothebehaviour
thatissingledoutintheinstitutionsofhisculture. Thevastproportionof
all
individualswhoareborninto anysocietyalwaysandwhatevertheidiosyncrasiesofits institutions.assume,aswehaveseen,thebehaviourdic-
tatedbythatsociety.Thisfactisalwaysinterpretedby thecarriersofthatcultureasbeingduetothefactthat
theirparticularinstitutionsreflectanultimateanduni- versalsanity.Theactualreasonisquitedifferent.Most
peopleareshapedtotheformoftheirculturebecauseof
I
i
I
I
·1

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