Thursday, January 26, 2012

Please post using a single thread per discussion

Hi guys,

No one is in trouble, but the conversation is MUCH easier for everyone to follow if the moderators begin the thread with their initial post and then everyone else leaves their comments in the "comments" section of that initial post. Can you guys do that from now on?


  1. My Reaction:

    On Page 8, Long says that people used to able to "literally point to a ‘culture’ by pointing to a strawberry patch or a field of corn and say ‘this is what culture means; it is the process that results in that". What I like about this is that it makes me think of all of the organization, specialization of labor, technology, language, and planning that went into creating that patch of strawberries, all of which strike me as aspects of a culture. However, he then goes on to say that "culture" has since turned in to a metaphor once it became a term to describe something that happens TO people. Overall, I didn't agree with his idea that culture is a metaphor simply because it's not something you can point to or hold in your hands. Besides, I think it's perfectly valid to point to myself and say "culture is the process that shaped me" just as it did that strawberry patch.

    Personally, I would think of culture as external forces specific to a society that literally shape how someone thinks/processes information (such as the dehydration example from the text). I understand that the literal definition of the word culture has changed over time, but that often happens to words, and it doesn’t make them metaphors. I liked Niebuhr’s idea that culture "comprises language, habits, ideas, beliefs, customs, social organizations, inherited artifacts, technical process and values,” (Pg. 13). I would like to point out, that none of the things on that list strike me as metaphors. I suppose that I generally felt throughout the reading that although culture is such a difficult thing to define and observe, it seems like a cop-out to put it in the metaphor category. I would probably say that "culture" is an umbrella term to describe numerous other events coming together, but not a metaphor.

  2. My Reaction:

    I really like his example of how he demonstrates we learn a language. We can not define a culture simply by looking at the each element of the of the culture from an outsider's perspective. In order to fully understand the culture, we must immerse ourselves in and only then will we be able to properly define and analyze the multiple components of the culture. However, I disagree with his notions of how we define nature. He references Immanuel Kant by saying that "the advance of science works on the premise less that our mind conforms to nature and more that nature conforms to our mind" (pg. 18). I believe that nature's existence is more authoritative than what we perceive its existence to be. When Mendel formulated his theory on genetic inheritance, nature didn't conform to this theory, he simply observed nature. When we launched the Hubble telescope into space, the galaxies that the telescope observed didn't suddenly get into place because we were finally available to properly observe them.

  3. I tend to agree with Luke's initial statement about Long's definition of culture [“Our cultivation of language, actions, habits, gestures, thoughts, etc. for specific purposes is what we mean when we use the term culture” (pg. 3)] as inadequately explanatory of the separation of religion and culture. Religion's presence and diversity is, in fact, a significant player in the evolution of a given culture, however culture can and does change without the direct influence of religion. In the modern era, I would tend to posit that culture is more often and more drastically changed by changes in technology or media, especially fields like automobiles, consumer technology, and revolutionary scientific discoveries. Another contributing factor in cultural change is large-scale events and the cultural response that follows, such as the attacks of September 11th, Hurricane Katrina, and the global economic slump.

  4. I like Long's explanation of language with his hammer example. Because language, especially slang, is a very hard concept for someone outside of the country to understand. You cannot just simply explain to them what it means, because it's hard to come up with a definition. Instead, they need to listen to our conversations in order to get an idea of what the word means and in what context to use it in.
    And although I do not entirely agree that nature has become culture, I can somewhat understand where Kant is coming from. Because the human race has become so advanced, we must make it a culture to preserve earth. In Asian countries, they have been recycling separating their trash for more than ten years now. They throw food away in a different bin, they throw plastic in different bins and so on. For years the customers have been charged about 25 cents for a bag, and they give paper bags so that they can be recycled. Recycling and reusing has become a culture, because the countries are so small that they cannot afford to make trash in the country. While Americans usually remind themselves to recycle and separate their trash, it is second nature for Asians to recycle.

  5. Prior reading the passage I held somewhat of a conviction that culture could only be experienced then is it rightfully understood. Take myself for example, who lived in Nigeria for 10 years and then moved to the States; I am able to easily relate the differences and similarities between the two cultures if I'm questioned about it. Like kevi's statement said above, we can not define a culture simply by looking at the each element of the of the culture from an outsider's perspective. In order to fully understand the culture, we must immerse ourselves in [the culture]. Long and I share this understanding and it's something I feel several individuals around the world understand, which is why we take tours and travel the see and properly understand the other cultures in this world.

  6. I do agree with Raymond’s opinion that culture is a metaphor of human development. And “Culture is a metaphor for a kind of cultivation that occurs to people through their practices, language, communities and doctrines. But I don’t agree that it is a significant concept in “distinct and incompatible systems of thought”. Why is thought incompatible? Just as science and religion could have “dialogue” relationship which is rational and compatible, people and their thoughts could do the same.

    Last year, I came to America from China to start a new college life. Many things became different. After I helped my friend deal with a strict and tough roommate agreement with her Indian roommate, I came to feel the culture shock. And it drives me to think of why it happens and what leads to different lifestyles and habits. What is culture on earth and why can it be a shock?

    Luckily, I got some answer in Kuh and White‘s article Invisible Tapestry: Culture in America’s Colleges and Universities, and Larry’s article American culture: Myth and Reality of a Culture of Diversity. Kuh and White explain the definition of cultures in higher education and culture’s effects on the behavior and interpretation of that for a group of people and show that the culture is context-related thus it is complex. Larry also demonstrates the diversity and complexity of culture.

    We all know that this is a multi-culture world. So we need to study culture and find the difference between cultures with a curious and tolerant heart so as not to beat by culture shock easily. Culture comes from different contexts and it is complex and changing. Even people in the same stable culture can have different opinions towards values or assumptions and beliefs. Thus conflicts are sometimes unavoidable. However that does not mean people cannot study culture which differs from their own. We can still learn culture by making caparison of them and studying those observable and perceivable habits and language, standing on others’ shoes. It is important to realize that although we have a different culture, we can still get on well with each other because understanding and improving our life as human-beings are our common goals. That is why we are learning other language and try to study other cultures. That is why more and more people study abroad and want to feel the different life. That is why America universities accept students from all over the world as a big melting pot. We need to know more about culture and find the difference between cultures with a curious and tolerant heart so as not to beat by culture shock easily.

    Now I got on well with my roommate, friends and classmates. I hope more and more people could be tolerant and nice to others. I appreciate what I learned and what I am learning very much.