Welcome to Scribd, the world's digital library. Read, publish, and share books and documents. See more
Download
Standard view
Full view
of .
Save to My Library
Look up keyword
Like this
4Activity
0 of .
Results for:
No results containing your search query
P. 1
David Bidney

David Bidney

Ratings: (0)|Views: 60 |Likes:
Published by Salvador Dida Leyso

More info:

Published by: Salvador Dida Leyso on Nov 15, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

Availability:

Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less

03/19/2013

pdf

text

original

 
American
Anthropologist
NEW SERIES
VOl.
49
JULY-SEPTEMBER,
1947
No.
3
HUMAN NATURE AND THE CULTURAL PROCESS
By
DAVID BIDNEY
HE basic concept of contemporary social science is undoubtedly that of
T
ulture. We are indebted to anthropologists in particular for having dis-tinguished explicitly the category of culture from that of society, and for hav-ing drawn attention to the role of the cultural process and the “cultural herit-age” in molding the life of the individual within society. There is, moreover,general agreement among social scientists that culture is historically acquired,discovered or created by man as a member of society, and that it
is
communi-cated largely by language or symbolic forms and through participation insocial institutions. There is, however, considerable disagreement regarding theontological status of culture, that is to say, regarding the sense in which culturemay be understood as real, and the conception of human nature in relation tothe cultural process. These problems we shall endeavor to investigate.
THE GENESIS
OF
THE CULTURAL PROCESS
The notion of culture is best understood from
a
genetic and functionalpoint of view.
To
cultivate an object is to develop the potentialities of its na-ture in a specific manner with a view to a definite end or result. Thus, forexample,
agriculture
is the process whereby the potentialities of the earth andof seeds are cultivated and brought into relation with one another with
a
viewto the growing of edible plants. In like manner,
anthropoczcZture,2
as it may becalled, “comprises the various ways in which man has tended his nature
SO
asto make it grow.”3 But human culture differs from agriculture in that everystage of the anthropocultural process is supervised and directed with
a
view to
l
This paper is part
of
a
larger project on the philosophy
of
culture conducted by the writerunder the liberal auspices of the Viking Fund, Inc., of New York City. An earlier and brieferversion of this paper was prepared for the Seventh Conference on Science, Philosophy and Re-ligion held in Chicago in September,
1946.
The writer is especially indebted to Dr.
A.
L. Kroeber for the stimulus he provided duringhis recent visit in New York City.The term “anthropoculture” was introduced by the writer in
a
previous publication.
See
Bidney,
1942.
3
Marett,
1927, 1928.
375
 
376
AMERICAN
ANTHROPOLOGIST
[N.
.,
49, 1947
producing a type of man and society which is adjusted to its geographical andsocial environment biologically as well as intellectually. Anthropoculture
so
conceived refers to the dynamic process of human self-cultivation and is iden-tical with education. From a historical point of view it is easy to understandwhy, as men came to attach greater importance to the cultivation of theirmental nature or “soul,” the term “culture” came to refer specifically to thelatter, and culture became identified with
cultura animi. But genetically,
in-
tegral culture refers to fhe educafion or cultivation of the whole man considered asan organism and not merely to the mental aspect of his nature or behavior.
Man is by nature a cultural animal since he
is
a self-cultivating, self-reflective, “self-conditioning” animal and attains to the full development ofhis natural potentialities, and exercises his distinctively human functions onlyinsofar as he lives a cultural life.
As
contrasted with other animals whose rangeof development is biologically limited or circumscribed, man
is
largely
a
self-formed animal capable of the most diverse forms of activity. Man compensatesfor his biological deficiencies, as compared with other animals, by his inventiveability, and particularly by his technical ingenuity and his ability to inventsocial symbols for the purpose of communication. All animals which are capa-ble of learning and teaching one another are capable of acquiring culture.Hence
not culture
in
general,
but
human culture,
as manifested in systems ofartifacts, social institutions and symbolic forms of expression,
is peculiar toman.
By a logical transition of thought, the term culture has come to refer
to
thedirect product
of
the process
of
self-cultivation, Hence
functionally and second-arily, cullure refers
to
the acquired forms of technique, behavior, eeling and though/
of
individuals within society and to the social institutions
in
which they cooperatefor the attainment of common ends.
Since different societies have acquired di-verse forms
of
cultural behavior and thought, anthropologists have designatedeach system
or
configuration
of
actual forms
as
constituting a culture. Thus byculture in general or human culture we refer to the abstract, morphologicalcharacter of the culture of man considered as a species of animal; by a culturewe refer to the specific modes of behavior and thought, of theory and practice,of social ideals and institutions, together with the products or instruments ofthese cultural activities, which are actually common to, or professed by, themembers of a given society.
THE NOTION
OF
CULTURE AS
A
“LOGICAL CONSTRUCT”
Some contemporary anthropologists, notably Clyde Kluckhohn and JohnGillin (among others), find difficulty with the above notion of culture. Theywould rather differentiate actual behavior from the patterns or forms
of
be-havior, reserving the term “culture” for the latter. Thus Gillin ~tates:~Cul-
Gillin,
1944.
 
BIDNEY]
HUMAN NATURE
AND
THE CULTURAL PROCESS
377
ture is to be regarded as the patterning of activity, not activity itself.Simi-larly Kluckhohn writes:6 “Culture
is
not behavior-it is an abstraction frombehavior.” And again:6 “Behavior is never culture. Rather, concrete behavioror habits are part of the raw data from which we infer and abstract culture.Behavioral products (artifacts) comprise our other class of raw data. Culture,thus, is not something which
is
seen but an inferential construct
.
. .
Culture,it must be repeated, is a logical construct. It may be manifested either in men’sacts or in the products of those acts.” From the above quotations it appearsthat Kluckhohn and Gillin agree that culture in general is to be defined con-notatively by pattern, structure or form conceived as a logical abstraction orconstruct, but that it must not be identified with actual behavior or with theinstrumental products of the cultural process.The aforementioned writers, in common with many other anthropologistsand sociologists, fail to differentiate, it seems to me, between the notion ofculture
as
an
essence
conceived by the investigator, and culture as a
mode
oj
existence
of a given society. The field anthropologist, reporting on his findings,or telling others about his observations, is interested in the distinctive “pat-terns” or forms of activity, and may construct for their mutual benefit a typicalor average pattern of activity in terms of which the diverse individual activitiesmay be imagined and classified. The anthropologist’s concept
of
a given cul-ture
so
understood is indeed an abstraction or construct, since he has ab-stracted the form from the actually formed behavior. But the anthropologist’sconstruct of a culture, and the same culture as a mode of living or existing, aretwo entirely distinct objects and are not to be c~nfused.~
t
is
interesting to notein this connection that Kluckhohn while maintaining that culture
is
a logicalconstruct, also describes* it as “historically created, selective processes whichchannel men’s reactions both to internal and to external stimuli.” He fails
to
realize that, logically, the notion of culture
as
a dynamic process
is
a realistic
Kluckhohn,
1941.
Id.,
1946.
See
Linton,
1945.
Linton clearly distinguishes the
culture constrwt
from the
real culture,
“the actual behavior.” Real culture is further distinguished from “ideal patterns”
(see
pp.
43-52).
It is significant to note in this connection that Linton’s position as discussed in his
CulturalBackground
of
Personality
marks a radical departure from the concept
of
culture as found in his
Study
of
Man
as well as in his paper
Culture, Society and the Individual
(Journal
of
Abnormal andSocial Psychology
33: 425-436).
For a critical analysis
of
this earlier view in which he shared theopinion
of
Kluckhohn, Dollard and Gillin,
see
Bidney,
1944.
Finally,
I
wish to note that the distinction between the realistic and idealistic aspects
of
culture was originally made by the writer in his paper of
1942.
In the paper
On
the Philosophy
of
Culture in the Social Sciences
the explicit statement occurs: “An adequate conception
of
culturerequires the union
of
both the
realistic
and
idealistic
theses.
A culture consists
of
the acquired
or
cultivated behavior and thought
of
individuals within a society as well as
of
the intellectual, artistic,and social ideals which the members ojthe society profess and to which they strive to conform.
In otherwords, a culture must he understood in
its
practical and theoretical aspects.”Kluckhohn,
1944.

You're Reading a Free Preview

Download
/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->