Unit 09 Meaning of Culture……………………………137
Man differs from animal species in many ways. Biologically the difference is minor but in mind there are many differences. Man lives in the world of ideas, and acts and reacts in terms of concepts about objects and organizations. The animals live only in the present, they are not possessed of language, and their knowledge is limited to instinct or what they learn by direct and present observations. Their learning does not accumulate except for what they can presently use. Man on the other hand can simultaneously look into the past, present and future. He possesses the capacity to talk, to respond, to represent, to accumulate knowledge and to learn from the stimulus response relationships(刺激反应关系). These peculiar elements in the make-up of man provide a long history and tradition of wisdom, accumulated in various forms of civilization from which culture grows and continues flowing. The fundamentals of culture developed by past generations serve as the foundation stone to the next generation. The new generation further adds to the past accumulation of civilization and culture and enables man to continually assimilate in the stream of culture. Thus man continues to live as a civilized and cultured member of society.
Scientific inventions and discoveries greatly influence cultural variability(变化性，易变性). They affect tradition, customs, beliefs and faiths. They not only affect the present and future ideology(意识形态) of society but also practically bring about changes in artistic products and cultural environment. They quite often undermine the spiritual aspect of cultural life and provide material patterns. Inventions and discoveries bring about changes in the mode of production, art, morals, customs, laws, literature, etc. the changing mode of production affects the culture. Karl Marx held that the culture of capitalist countries differed from that of socialist countries because of the differences in the modes of production.
What does culture do? The first function of culture is to make man a human being. It is culture that regulates his conduct and prepares him for group life. It teaches him the art of living as per the cultural traits of the group. He takes the food, wears the clothes, goes to school, speaks the language and does so many other little things of day-to-day life which are a part of the conventional norms, mores(风俗), laws, customs and morals of the group. The culture of a group plays a major part in the heightening human qualities of its individuals and save them from avoiding participation in the cultural stream.
The culture of the group must give to its individual the capacity to lead a social life as an effective member of society. With the induction of the individual as an effective participant in the social life of the group, one can greatly gain by the utilization of energy of the individual in different constructive activities, which not only provides satisfaction on to the individual but also benefits the group.
The second important role of culture is to keep social relationship intact so that the group as a whole can maintain and develop the values and ideals of the group through the regulation of behaviors of its members and by satisfying their primary needs and objectives in respect of the necessities and luxuries of life. People learn to behave socially in a group because their behavior is subject to approval or disapproval.
The culture of a group provides a number of controls on the irrational conducts for its members. It organizes many cultural aids like schooling, provision of work, outlet to talent, etc. these outlets go to provide rationality and responsibility to the members and integrate them mentally, morally and sentimentally in the group. A culturally advanced group is also capable of providing a coordinated set-up to take the best out of each member and in return give the necessary comfort for personal development, recreation and emotional living. It must also provide other facilities for broadening the vision of the individual members so as to provide necessary motivations for creation in different fields of social activity including production of pieces of art, handicrafts and scientific implements and equipments which the group may need for the satisfaction of its different cultural and material requirements.
The next important function of culture is to instantly provide new interpretation to different situations arising from the traditional cultural elements transmitted to the group. Provision of interpretation to traditional culture helps the reorientation (重新定位)of present and future cultural trends, putting them on the right track. For instance, in the modern era it is the duty of the school and other institution of a group to tell its members that if a cat crosses his way he needs not consider it unfortunate and give up the new projects, which is needed in the modern norms of society.
However, these interpretations based on tradition may differ from culture to culture. Among some cultures the owl may still be regarded as a symbol of bad luck while in others it may be symbol of wisdom.
The principle of cultural diffusion has been advocated by three German scholars. Cultural diffusion is the process by which the cultural trades of one group of society are spread directly or indirectly to other societies. It is historically established that some societies have served as centers of cultural unification. After the birth of Christ was born a cultural center, from where many cultural trades in the field of art and political organization got diffused to the northwestern Europe and to the east up to India. Subsequently Rome(罗马)became a great cultural center from where Roman law spread in most countries of Europe. In ancient time India was the cultural center from where many cultural trade spread eastward up to Indonesia(印度尼西亚) and passed through the fourteenth century. European culture became the dominant element in Asia and Africa and even America. At present the United States and Russia are exporting their respective cultures to different countries.
Several factors influence the diffusion of culture. The foremost is the capacity of the cultural center to inspire other countries to import the culture. The most important vehicle of cultural diffusion is mass communication, tourism, and exchange of educational and cultural delegations and teams, literature, films, etc. Obstruction to cultural diffusion may sometimes arise from the refusal of a group to borrow or import from the other group. Such a group tends to become an island of local culture untouched by the culturally developed countries. Sometimes a cultural island may exist within a larger cultural island. For example, in India the caste(印度的世袭等级)system that has separated Brahmins(印度的婆罗门阶级)from the other social groups for many generations on supposed biological superiority may reject a foreign cultural form, as they fear its impact on the prevailing moral norms and social values. It is for this reason that cultural centers of new values find it more expeditious to invade foreign cultures through such means as the mass media. This process, although indirect and slow, has in due course a lasting impact as it appeals to the coming generations of the foreign countries which are still not fully socialized to the local cultures. For example, the young age groups in India were subjected to cultural influence of the Beatles(披头士乐队，甲壳虫乐队) for quite a long time.内容来自 听力课堂网：http://www.tingclass.net/show-8583-246971-1.html