I read an excerpt from a book last night (The Silent Language by Edward T. Hall) about culture. Specifically, the text I read argued that all peopole should look closer at their own culture to help them become more self-consious, and to better understand themselves and their world. Interesting.

Culture is such a broad term. What does it mean? When I think of culture, I think of "way of life". Interestingly, I think of other peoples' cultures (i.e. foreign cultures) before I think of my own, when I hear or read the word. I think this is part of Hall's point.

Merriam-Webster defines culture as:

a : the integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon man's capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations b : the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group c : the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes a company or corporation

My thought is that I can belong to different cultures. Cultures can also overlap. For example, I am part of a "United States" culture. I am also part of a "Kansas City" culture. This reminds me somewhat of 'union' concepts in logic. Another interesting thing is that I just defined terms for my understanding of different cultures. Culture nomenclature is ambiguous. Sure, experts can suggest names for certain cultures, and define what those cultures encompass. However, is there ever broad agreement among experts as to what different cultures encompass? When I hear the term "African-American culture", a general idea comes into my mind. Almost certainly, this idea is different than anyone else's idea of "African-American culture". Furthermore, so-called experts probably disagree on exactly what "African-American culture" means.


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