A Culture for the Open System

Chinese Studies in Philosophy 22 (3):45 (1991)
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We often give culture a narrow definition, confining it to the sum of works of art or of science, and to institutions such as universities, middle schools, primary schools, and museums, and to language, civilized behavior, and the social superstructure. Under the influence of cultural anthropology, we have already come to accept a broader concept of culture, and that is that culture is the sum of the activity of humankind in accordance with a certain intention to transform nature or the things of nature. In this sense, agriculture, dance, physical drills , education, the processes of economic activity, and ancient traditions all would belong to the category of culture. In life, even activities such as eating and sleeping are no longer considered purely natural behavior because they are different from the eating or sleeping of animals; rather, they have been transformed by culture, their shapes and states have been changed. For example, the way in which the Chinese people eat is different from the way that Europeans, or Americans, eat. The emphasis of this new and broader definition of culture is no longer on things; culture is no longer defined in reference to objects such as the products of a museum or a scientific product, but to an activity, such as a dance performance, or some form of cultural heritage in an ancient or a modern society. We can therefore draw a conclusion that the term "culture" is no longer a noun, referring to some kind of substance, but is a verb, and points to a process



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