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 Definition of Culture

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weeping oak

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PostSubject: Definition of Culture   Tue 13 Jul 2010, 3:35 pm

I have always had a personal interest in linguistics and the origination of words.

I find culture to be an exceptionally interesting word.

Culture, generally these days, means, "the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively." Yet, that definition is a newer meaning that has been added in the last few decades.

Culture comes from the root cultura which is latin for cultivate. Here is waht the oxford dictionary defines 'cultivate' as:


Quote :
cultivate

Pronunciation:/ˈkʌltɪveɪt/

verb
[with object]
1 prepare and use (land) for crops or gardening
break up (soil) in preparation for sowing or planting
raise or grow (plants), especially on a large scale for commercial purposes
2 Biology grow or maintain (living cells or tissue) in culture
3 try to acquire or develop (a quality or skill):
he cultivated an air of indifference
try to win the friendship or favour of (someone):
it helps if you go out of your way to cultivate the local people
try to improve or develop (one's mind)

From this definition i believe it is safe to say that cultivate generally means, " to influence, improve, develop, or maintain something or someone for optimal growth.

On a side note, the word cult also comes from cultivate,. Cult is defined as, "a relatively small group of people having religious beliefs or practices regarded by others as strange or as imposing excessive control over members" The correlation between the definition of 'cult' and 'cultivate' can be seen quite easily.

So culture, which is a derivative of cultivate, could really mean (this is my definition), "a means to influence, improve, develop, or maintain the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively." My point is that by looking at where the word culture came from, we see that 'culture' is merely a way to control and from the opinions of a society as a whole. Are we are all living in a giant petri dish????

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Guerrero

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PostSubject: Re: Definition of Culture   Tue 13 Jul 2010, 3:44 pm

i've always thought of the other meaning of this term, in terms of applying to a people from a certain place and their traditions, which tends to include food, clothing, language, music, crafts, religion, etc. How do you think this fits in with your idea/definition?
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weeping oak

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PostSubject: Re: Definition of Culture   Tue 13 Jul 2010, 5:12 pm

oh... good call guerro... I should have elaborated more on the original definition of culture.

Here is the Oxford english dictonary and it's definition of 'culture' :


Quote :

culture

Pronunciation:/ˈkʌltʃə/
noun
[mass noun]
1 the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively:
20th century popular culture
a refined understanding or appreciation of culture:
men of culture
2 the ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular people or society:
Afro-Caribbean culture
[count noun] :
people from many different cultures
[with modifier] the attitudes and behaviour characteristic of a particular social group:
the emerging drug culture
3 Biologythe cultivation of bacteria, tissue cells, etc. in an artificial medium containing nutrients:tthe cells proliferate readily in culture
[count noun] a preparation of cells obtained by culture:
the bacterium was isolated in two blood cultures
4 the cultivation of plants:
this variety of lettuce is popular for its ease of culture

In my original post, I was thinking more explicitly in terms of the first definition. (Video game culture, MTV culture, etc.) Definition 3 and 4 also fit into my theory quite easily.

The type of 'culture' you are referring to, would be number 2.

Now, i think it is quite simple. I believe my theory still applies to this definition as well. Culture is a derivative of cultivate, hence, the definition would be "A means in which a social group, people, or society influenced, improved, developed, or maintained their ideas, customs, and social behaviour."

You bring up an important point that i did not realize . I still believe that 'Culture' by definition,is a means to influence, improve develop, or maintain a certain phenomena, but it does not necessarily mean that there has to be outside forces in control of these means. In the past cultures, often times people had control over the petri dish they created, and even today on a small scale (a local level or say, in a circle of friends), people still have some element of control. Yet, today I believe that most, if not all, major trends in culture, such as fashion and music movies video games etc., the privilege of control has been stripped from the average person.
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Clairvoyant



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PostSubject: Re: Definition of Culture   Tue 13 Jul 2010, 5:34 pm

I would say stripped in some cases but more often being duped into voluntarily handing it over. No one is forcing these unhappy middle aged women into acting like their lunch break is an episode of sex in the city, but they still do it. How much room is left for any influence at all when people watch so much TV?
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weeping oak

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PostSubject: Re: Definition of Culture   Tue 13 Jul 2010, 6:10 pm

good call Kraig.
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Guerrero

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PostSubject: Re: Definition of Culture   Wed 14 Jul 2010, 11:17 am

i see what you all are getting at. it seems like culture used to be something organic - growing from within communities based on adaptation to environment, influenced by that (geography, landscape, language even). But nowdays it appears to have become something being superimposed on everyone everywhere at the sametime via satellites. where culture is becoming homogenized, sterilized, artificialized. no?
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