Short essay on the definition of culture

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While defining culture, Kroeber has called it, “The mass of learned and transmitted motor reactions, habits, techniques, ideas and values and the behaviour they induce.” Kroeber says that culture is super individual and super organic. Kroeber has made it clear that it does not mean that it excludes inorganic things.

It cannot be said that sensate principles of life do not apply on culture or that it is quite free from organic development. In the words of Kroeber, “Super organic means simply that when we consider culture, we are dealing with something that is organic but which must also be viewed as something more than organic it is fully intelligible to us.” If culture was only organic, it was not possible for it to be intelligible, and, because culture is intelligible, it should therefore be accepted that it is not only organic but is something more than that. In other words, it is super organic. In the same way, vegetables and animals, etc., even when they are organic, are super organic because some common principles are applicable to them. Culture develops in organic structure, but it possesses some such .qualities of being transferable, its very great changeability, collectivity, value, pattern and its ability to impress people.

In this words of Kroeber, “These properties or qualities of culture evidently attach not to the organic individual man as such, but to the actions and behaviour products of societies of man that is, to culture.” The above qualities of culture are not the qualities of individuals or animals only; they are the products of social behaviour.

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Therefore, to understand culture, one should rise above organic individual. Kroeber has therefore called culture as super individual. In the words of Kroeber, “In short, culture is super organic and super individual in that, although carried, participated in and produced by organic individuals, it is acquired by learning.

What is learnt is the existent culture.” It is thus clear that culture is called super individual because it is not a product of one individual only. To define culture, principles are needed more than organism or individual. Kroeber has explained through many examples that one has to rise above organism and individual in order to understand culture.

By giving an example of religion, he has said that religion is an important part of culture. Suppose the people of one place accept Roman Catholic religion, it casts an impression of this religion on the whole society and all social regulations impress the actions of the individuals. In this way, culture impresses human activities.

One more example can be given to show that culture is super individual. English language is a part of culture. This language is not the creation of a single man. An individual adopts English language from tradition and learns it.

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His power of speaking undoubtedly depends on organic principles but the words and symbols which he uses in speaking are not his own making but are learnt. In this way, English language is super individual and because it is a part of culture it also is super individual, Kroeber has written. “And English is super organic in that its words and meanings are not direct outflows or consequences of men are being human organisms as all men would spontaneously talk as much alike as they walk alike.

Instead how they talk depends overwhelmingly upon how the societies in which they were raised talked before.” Along with being super organic, English language is also super individual. No single individual has a complete control over language.

He gets it from tradition. In the words of Kroeber, “English is super- individual in the sense that it is something enormously bigger and more significant than the speech of any individual man, and in that it influences his speaking infinitely more than his speaking can hope to contribute to or influence the English language.”

English language exerts far greater an influence upon an individual than what an individual exerts upon the English language. It is true that many literary persons, one after the other, gradually developed the English language but the creation of English language is not the work of any one of them alone, however great might be his contribution to it. English language can therefore be called super individual.

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It is the result of historic reaction and events. In other words, it is a historical fact just as culture is a historical fact. In the words of Kroeber, “In short, a cultural fact is always a historical fact and its most immediate understanding, and usually the fullest understanding of it to which we can attain, is a historical one.

To a large degree calling culture super organic or super individual means that it yields more readily to historical interpretation than the organic or psychosomatic explanations.” In this way, Kroeber has called culture super organic and super individual in the sense that it can be historically defined, and that such a definition will be far more appropriate and extensive than the organic or psychosomatic explanations.” In this way, Kroeber has called culture super organic and super individual in the sense that it can be historically defined, and that such a definition will be far more appropriate and extensive than the organic or psychological definition of culture.

It is clear from what Kroeber has said that although human beings build culture yet culture is not the creation of one single human being. The same thing has been written by Majumdar and Madan in other words like this, “Human beings, it m us be realized, are perhaps equally the creators of culture as they are its creatures and carriers.”

In this way, culture is man’s guide. Where it grants him freedom for many reasons there it also enslaves him in guiding him. Majumdar and Madan also have therefore called culture super psychic and super social.

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The aforesaid opinion of Kroeber about culture decides about individual actions and does not depend on individuals. As a matter of fact, cultural determinism is as partial as biological or geographical determinism, etc. Kroeber’s statement that culture determines all human actions is inadequate.

In explaining cultural is super organic and super individual can be accepted as correct to the extent that culture, instead of being the creation of an individual, is created by society, but his statement, that culture determines all human actions, is inadequate. In explaining cultural determinism, Kroeber has classified culture into Eidos and Ethos. Special culture of the group is called Ethos. Different ethos is found in Indian, Chinese and Japanese culture.

It is ethos that decides the direction in which special culture will motivate. It is the soul of special culture. It includes the organization of values of special culture. It is ethos which creates difference between different cultures. Kroeber’s view about ethos gives significant definition of culture.

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