Re: Durkheim redux

From: Kate Distin (
Date: Thu 14 Apr 2005 - 10:00:56 GMT

  • Next message: Bill Spight: "Re: Durkheim redux"

    Chris Taylor wrote:
    > ish...
    > What I'm driving at is that the 'culture' we grow in isn't just the
    > actions people perform in front of us. All that is in our heads
    > (ignoring some basic pattern recognition wired up to our midbrains
    > (faces seems to be one) comes either from copying (explicitly or through
    > some internal model generation) or is 'inspired' by the environment in
    > the widest sense. Therefore without stimuli we are literally nothing
    > (except the experience of existing will create some stuff).
    > Culture is not meaningless, it is key (in the wider sense as I have
    > tried to define it above). What is meaningless is to draw a ring around
    > some portion of that which we experience in the world and say that
    > _that_ 'is' culture (i.e. to stop at culture as usually defined).
    > I admit I'm stretching what most people would understand by the term, by
    > making it synonmous with the environment in full. I'm not tremendously
    > bothered what camp this puts me in tbh.
    > (Nearly) all that is in me came in from outside, through my senses.
    > Cheers, Chris.

    Yes - I like your boundary-pushing here. It raised a couple of questions for me. First, when you say that "nearly all" that's in you came from the outside, would you also say that nevertheless *you* have responded in an individual way to that input - in a different way, say, from how another individual in that same environment might have done? This is a bit of a tangle, of course, because from the moment of conception you have had environmental input, all of which has cascaded forwards to influence your responses to future environmental input - but is there, for you, an essential "you" that also has its input into your responses?

    Secondly, I think you're right about the unacknowledged haze over the culture/environment boundary. Again, is this perhaps the result of man's history - I mean that the English countryside, for instance, is the product of generations of farmers, builders, etc, whose influence cascades over us even when we don't know it. So when we react even to a rural idyll we are really being influenced by the products of human culture as well as by nature. But are we nonetheless carving reality at its joints if we distinguish the natural from the man-made - even if we can't always see clearly where the line should be drawn?


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