Methodology, Philosophy, and Culture in General
In philosophy culture refers to what is different, that is, what is in the order of the acquired and not the innate. Culture has long been regarded as a characteristic feature of humanity, which distinguished it from animals. However, recent work in ethology and primatology has shown the existence of animal cultures as well. So as a species we are not unique simply because we have a culture.
Culture is the social behavior and norms that form societies regardless of the species.
In sociology, culture is narrowly defined as "what is common to a group of individuals" and as "what welds it," that is, what is learned, transmitted, produced and created. Thus, for an international institution such as UNESCO: "In its broadest sense, culture can today be regarded as the set of distinctive, spiritual, material, intellectual and emotional features that characterize a society or a social group. It encompasses, in addition to the arts, letters and sciences, lifestyles, laws, value systems, traditions and beliefs. 1 This "common reservoir" evolves over time through and in the forms of trade. It is formed in many distinct ways of being, thinking, acting and communicating in society.
Petroglyphs of the Gobustan State Reserve, Azerbaijan date back to 10,000 BC and indicate a flourishing culture. It has been regarded as a outstanding universal value for humanity and thus has been marked a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2007.
Because of the abuse of language, the word "culture" is often used to refer almost exclusively to the provision of cultural practices and services in modern societies (pop culture), particularly in the arts and literature.
It is true however to assume that culture is inseparable from artistic heritage, in the sense that it is an attachment to traditional values. This aspect of culture is much more pronounced in Europe and Asia, than in America and especially in the United States, for obvious historical reasons.
Nevertheless, the United States admires European cultural heritage, because it is the source of our cultural roots: we see this in the acquisitions of works of art, in their presence in artistic capacities, in American patronage for the restoration of some symbolic elements of European heritage (Palace of Versailles, etc.), in musical exchanges (conductors, etc.), etc.
When we talk about heritage, we often think of built heritage, architecture, but it is also sculpture, painting, stained glass, music, literature, folklore, language.
What is impressive is that it is hard to pinpoint all of the aspects that make up a cultural heritage. For several years, UNESCO developed a treaty towards intangible heritage (2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage with 3 key actions:
- the list of intangible heritage requiring preservation Urgent;
- the representative list of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity (Giants and processional dragons from France and Belgium or Italy, the Canto a tenore which is a Sardinian pastoral song);
- The Register of Good Safeguarding Practices.
In Asia and North Africa, there is an extraordinarily rich heritage, in Chinese, Indian, Arab and Berber civilizations for example. The heritage of black Africa has also been rediscovered, primarily through the arts.
As I stated earlier – culture is not always tangible.
Language is probably the most important aspect of human culture (though new studies have begun to disprove this assumption as well), in human societies, what best allows us to convey a culture, both oral and written is our language.
Today, the English language has become a vehicular language, carrying a large amount of information in fields such as the science, military, finance, and also above all computer science, most computer languages being historically formed around English-language words. Standards, particularly accounting (computer science being the origin of general accounting), tend to impose a certain cultural model which influences an entire sector.
But this influence is not always seamless or desired.
In France, after the Second World War, there was a tendency to react against this form of linguistic imperialism by establishing cultural links with French-speaking countries in the world: the Francophonie. Because of this the protection of the French language is incorporated into French law: Article 2 of the 1958 Constitution, Toubon Act, etc.
There are also cultural links between Spanish, such as Between Spain and South America which always a cultural bridges to be effortlessly built through a trade of information.
Arabic is also a good example of the cultural ties established around language, which is most often spoken in the Muslim world, and which enabled a thriving civilization to be built between the 8th and 15th centuries.
However, as an individual we are not limited to a single language. That means that we are able to acquire aspects from different cultures. Multilingualism is officially recognized in the European Union's language policy as having a value of cultural diversity. And a number of EU members have multiple official languages.
Language is one of the most important (but not the only) modes of communication, and new linguistic models of communication based on the functions of language are appearing. In Roman Jakobson's functions of language, for example, we see these cultural concepts related to the message itself, contained in particular in the communication code which is divided into six pieces:
- Addresser – The subject that sends the message;
- Addressee is the subject receiving the message;
- Message – Information sent to the recipient
- Context in question. The addressee should clearly perceive this context. Context must either be verbal from the outset or allow verbalization;
- Code. The code should be clear to both the addressee and the recipient, so it should be absolutely general or at least partially common to the coding and decoding;
- Contact is a channel of physical communication or the presence of a psychological connection between the addressee and the recipient. Contact makes it possible to establish and maintain communication between the parties.
In our modern world these functions of language have become seamlessly integrated into our lives.
There are written cultures and oral cultures throughout the world but the function is the same; Addresser, Addressee, Message, Context, Code, and Contact.
Science and technology are in constant interaction, since techniques are the applications of science in society the language barrier is less daunting. To talk about the technical manifestations of culture is therefore to approach one's relations with science.
For more than three centuries, there has been a misunderstanding between science (specifically "exact" science) and culture, or even, in some cases open conflict.
Language, written or oral, thus plays an essential role in the development of a form of social knowledge, which is the thought of common sense, socially developed and shared by members of the same social or cultural ensemble. This common knowledge is sometimes called a social representation.
In the field of archaeology and anthropology, culture is defined as the set of knowledge and behaviors that characterize a human society, or more generally a human group within a society, a society itself can have multiple cultures that are either isolated (cast systems) or coexistent.
Many people today often identify culture or "civilization" with an evolved state of humanity, which they say is opposed to "nature" which is a wild state according to them. Many of the projects carried out from the 18th century to the beginning of the 20th century, which took place as part of the industrial revolution, were directed toward the advancement of civilization through the mastery of nature.
This was not the case for many philosophers, such as John Locke, who founded political philosophy on the law of nature, Robert Boyle, author of books on the experimental method, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Samuel von Pufendorf (who inspired the constitution of the United States through his "On The Duty Of Man And Citizen" from 1692), or many currents of painting in the 19th century (Barbizon school, Impressionism, etc.).
In recent decades, many philosophers have questioned our relationship with nature.
Recent discoveries tend to show that nature, organic, influences culture.
This leads us to you, the individual.
An individual's culture, also known as general culture, corresponds to all the knowledge he has about the world.
It is partly built by education and teaching, but also includes an active part of the individual's construction. It also includes a dimension of structuring the mind and all knowledge that it acquires: Culture is what remains when everything has been forgotten, a theory that is usually attributed to Édouard Herriot. This structuring gives the cultivated subject the ability to easily relate any field of study to his knowledge.
It's the general culture. History shows that areas of contact between civilizations can be sources of conflict, or extremely fruitful in terms of cultural exchanges, both of effect the scope of general culture.
Thus, general culture can include knowledge as diverse as history, music, art, literature, science, astronomy, geography, philosophy, film, sport (physical culture is becoming a progressively larger part of our society), etc. from various cultures.
We see, however, that this conception of culture, which may seem elitist, actually corresponds to the definition of individual culture. Cultures of different social groups (e.g. popular culture) may include more varied particular forms of knowledge. Have you ever stopped and acknowledged where yoga, samba, or reggae come from? Have you ever questioned where other aspects of your daily life originated?
Compared to these forms of culture, general culture is the minimum cultural background that an individual should have in order to integrate into society.