A Panoramic View of Chinese Culture (1)
Unit 1 The Origin of Chinese Culture
Unit 2 Chinese Language
Unit 3 Chinese Cuisine
Unit 4 Ancient Capitals and Heritages
Unit 5 Crafts and Skills
Unit 6 Festivals and Customs
Unit 7 Operas and Music
Unit 8 Classical Literature
What is Culture?
—Culture (Latin: cultura, lit. ―cultivation‖)
12In 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions of
―culture‖ in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions.2 However, the word
―culture‖ is most commonly used in three basic senses:
—Excellence of taste in the fine arts and humanities, also known as high culture
—An integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon
the capacity for symbolic thought and social learning
—The set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an
institution, organization, or group
18th century: When the concept first emerged Europe, it connoted a process of cultivation or improvement, as in agriculture or horticulture (the activity of growing and studying garden plants).
19th century: It came to refer first to the betterment or refinement of the individual, especially through education, and then to the fulfillment of national aspirations or ideals.
1 Alfred Louis Kroeber (June 11, 1876 – October 5, 1960) was an American anthropologist. He was the first professor appointed to the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley. The Nature of Culture (1952).
Chicago, Anthropology: Culture Patterns & Processes (1963). New York: Harcourt, Brace & World. 2 Clyde Kluckhohn (January 11, 1905, - July 28, 1960), was an American anthropologist and social theorist, best known for his long-term ethnographic work among the Navajo and his contributions to the development of theory of culture within American anthropology.
Mid-19th century: Some scientists used the term ―culture‖ to refer to a universal human capacity.
20th century: ―Culture‖ emerged as a concept central to anthropology, encompassing all human phenomena that are not purely results of human genetics. Specifically, the term ―culture‖ in American anthropology had two meanings:
(1) the evolved human capacity to classify and represent experiences with symbols, and to act imaginatively and creatively;
(2) the distinct ways that people living in different parts of the world classified and represented their experiences, and acted creatively.
Following World War II: The term became important, even though with different meanings, in other disciplines such as cultural studies, organizational psychology and management studies.
Etymology (the study of the history of words)
The etymology of the modern term ―culture‖ has a classical origin. In English, the
34word ―culture‖ is based on a term used by Cicero, in his Tusculan Disputations, wrote of a
cultivation of the soul or ―cultura animi‖, thereby using an agricultural metaphor to describe
the development of a philosophical soul, which was understood as the one natural highest
5possible ideal for human development. Samuel Pufendorf took over this metaphor in a
modern context, meaning something similar, but no longer assuming that philosophy is man’s natural perfection. His use, and that of many writers after him ―refers to all the ways
in which human beings overcome their original barbarism, and through artifice (tricky behavior), become fully human‖.
Language and culture
The connection between culture and language has been noted as far back as the classical period and probably long before. The ancient Greeks, for example, distinguished between civilized peoples and bárbaros ―those who babble‖, i.e. those who speak
unintelligible languages. The fact that different groups speak different, unintelligible languages is often considered more tangible evidence for cultural differences than other less
3 Marcus Tullius Cicero: January 3, 106 BC – December 7, 43 BC; sometimes anglicized as Tully), was a Roman
philosopher, statesman, lawyer, political theorist, and Roman constitutionalist. He came from a wealthy municipal family of the equestrian order, and is widely considered one of Rome's greatest orators and prose stylists. 4 Tusculan Disputations, a series of books written by Cicero, around 45 BC, attempting to popularise Stoic philosophy in Ancient Rome, consists of five books: On the Contempt of Death, On Bearing Pain, On Grief of Mind, On Other
Perturbations of the Mind, Whether Virtue Alone Be Sufficient for a Happy Life. 5 Samuel von Pufendorf (January 8, 1632 – October 13, 1694) was a German jurist, political philosopher, economist,
statesman, and historian. His name was just Samuel Pufendorf until he was ennobled in 1684; he was made a baron (男爵)
a few months before his death in 1694. Among his achievements are his commentaries and revisions of the natural law theories of Thomas Hobbes and Hugo Grotius.
obvious cultural traits.
Influence of culture
The value reflected in one particular culture can certainly influence other cultures. One
6particular example is six words: I want I do I get.
First comes wanting something––a better life for yourself, your family, more money, a
better job, whatever it is you dream about and long for. You desire it, you dream about it, you daydream about it, you yearn for it. But that’s not enough.
Next, and this is the part too many people forget about––comes the doing. All of the
wanting in the world is not going to move you one inch closer to what you want: you have to do. You have to find a better job, change jobs, take risks, write software, try new things, stop doing old things, go to college, work, act, do. The doing is the absolutely indispensable connection between what you want and what you get.
Finally, if you keep doing what needs to be done, if you keep adjusting what you do to move you closer to what you want, you get. Maybe not easily, maybe not as quickly as movies and television portray, but it will come.
Though this is the western culture, but it is quite prevailing in China.
Do you still remember these sayings?
Be diligent and inquisitive.
Respect teachers and value education.
Respect the elders and care the young.
Interests of the group go before those of one’s own.
Value one’s face above everything else.
The birds that head a flock will be shot first.
Fluent reading of 300 Tang poems will make you half a poet.
“十里不同风，百里不同俗”，literally ―the wind varies within ten li, customs vary within a hundred
6 I want I do I get: It’s a great song by Jimmy Cliff, one of reggae’s top artists, that in six words summarizes just how you
succeed in life: I want I do I get. These six words are a very powerful way of connecting what you want with what you will achieve.