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  1. #21
    Senior Member Gunboat Diplomat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Survive & Stay Free View Post
    I was referencing the film Highlander, although there's a series of films dealing with the themes from the first one, in it there are immortals, who fight duels and the winners of each duel absorb the essence of the other, some of the immortals aimed to "live and let live" while others believed that "there could be only one", as in one survivor or "last man standing" outcome.
    Yes, I figured you meant the film (I have seen the original one and at least one more), it just fitted well with the mountainous landscape.

    I'll be honest that while the name Sam Harris is familiar for some reason, I dont recall reading him, the peaks and valleys idea sounds a little like the history is cyclical idea, with degeneration and regeneration, which I'm not 100% sure about as some of that is derivative from different sorts of seasonal and ecological mysticism and as befogging of things as the progressive idea of historicism and inevitable improvement from past to future.
    His analogy was related to morality not cultures, I just adapted it. I think it makes some sense intuitively. It's like with picking a destination for your family holidays. You might have a hard time choosing between Italy and Greece. Not many people would consider Belarus though. I don't think it's like the cyclical history - which doesn't sound convincing to me either.

    Some of it makes sense because I do think that "demography is destiny", as one generation matures, ages, declines and another rises, learning from and integrating the experience and learning of the previous one or doesnt, however, all those ideas, I think they are only any good if they lend themselves to a wider discussion about what is intrinsic, what are the perennial things, the greater approximation of mankind's essence rather than their present existence which is full of vogues, fashions, good intentions, bad intentions etc. etc.

    That's what I think of culture too, instead of arguing about which culture is superior or inferior or ought to prevail, that is the superficial level of discussion and needs to be superseded or transcended, most people dont bother though, for most people it seems the flags, symbols, signs and superficial trappings are what matters the most. Its how populism works and things like brexit and Trump happen.
    I don't think the point is to decide which particular culture is superior, but to acknowledge that there are differences beyond the matter of taste, like cuisine. To be more precise, there are different ideas "travelling" with different cultures, and they are not all equally "healthy" (though some are). Too often bad ideas are given pass because of that association with cultures.

  2. #22
    & Badger, Ratty and Toad Mole's Avatar
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    Morality is not the only way to analyse cultures. For instance, we can ask, is it a spoken culture, or a literate culture, or an electronic culture, or we can ask, is it a culture based on history or is it a culture based on ideology?

    I have studied the comparative histories of the USA and Australia, and just below the surface of popular culture there are surprising and interesting differences, such as sense of humour, and the expression of dominance and deference.

  3. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gunboat Diplomat View Post
    Yes, I figured you meant the film (I have seen the original one and at least one more), it just fitted well with the mountainous landscape.



    His analogy was related to morality not cultures, I just adapted it. I think it makes some sense intuitively. It's like with picking a destination for your family holidays. You might have a hard time choosing between Italy and Greece. Not many people would consider Belarus though. I don't think it's like the cyclical history - which doesn't sound convincing to me either.



    I don't think the point is to decide which particular culture is superior, but to acknowledge that there are differences beyond the matter of taste, like cuisine. To be more precise, there are different ideas "travelling" with different cultures, and they are not all equally "healthy" (though some are). Too often bad ideas are given pass because of that association with cultures.
    The travel analogy is a very good one, I think it makes sense, the cyclical history idea does not convince me entirely but then again there will be times, due to demography, when the majority of the population will be of a particular age and, presumably, maturity, so it should be relatively true, although there are a lot of other factors too, experience, relatively recent history, historical memory too etc.

    Yeah, travel is a very good example, a lot of the people living in those cultures could find them pretty tolerable, even want to preserve them, though outsiders spending time in that culture are going to find them a different experience altogether. The question of difference rather than superior or inferior probably relates to what I said about diversity and disparity as good things or at least things rather than the unconscious or denied pursuit of uniformity.
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  4. #24
    Superwoman Red Herring's Avatar
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    Are we talking about culture as in "Japanese culture = the culture that has been practiced and accumulated in Japan over centuries" or do you mean culture in the sense of "Japanese culture = The current sociopolitical atmosphere in Japan"?

    And what does "equal" mean? Identical? Of equal dignity? Of equal utilitarian worth? It seems like a highly problematic question if it is phrased like this.

    I think this important discussion won't get very far until we can agree on some terminology. It would be unfair to equate the current situation in Russia with "Russian culture" in general and that also applies to many, many other places. Different nations and people have varying degress of technological developments, that is true. But by what standard does technological development equate worth? You could use collective happiness as a utilitarian measure. In that case security and social cohesion would play an important role. We could use artistic output as a measure. In that case I refer you to the famous quote from The Third Man:

    Like the fella says, in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love - they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.
    Moral relativism can be problematic and I do think the question of the universality of e.g. human right is a very important issue of our time. But I get wary when I hear questions like this because so often they are used by certain people to feel better about themselves and rationalize ingroup thinking and an emotional aversion towards the "other".
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  5. #25
    Wei 18 - Sie 39 agentwashington's Avatar
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  6. #26
    Wei 18 - Sie 39 agentwashington's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Herring View Post
    Are we talking about culture as in "Japanese culture = the culture that has been practiced and accumulated in Japan over centuries" or do you mean culture in the sense of "Japanese culture = The current sociopolitical atmosphere in Japan"?

    And what does "equal" mean? Identical? Of equal dignity? Of equal utilitarian worth? It seems like a highly problematic question if it is phrased like this.

    I think this important discussion won't get very far until we can agree on some terminology. It would be unfair to equate the current situation in Russia with "Russian culture" in general and that also applies to many, many other places. Different nations and people have varying degress of technological developments, that is true. But by what standard does technological development equate worth? You could use collective happiness as a utilitarian measure. In that case security and social cohesion would play an important role. We could use artistic output as a measure. In that case I refer you to the famous quote from The Third Man:



    Moral relativism can be problematic and I do think the question of the universality of e.g. human right is a very important issue of our time. But I get wary when I hear questions like this because so often they are used by certain people to feel better about themselves and rationalize ingroup thinking and an emotional aversion towards the "other".
    I do believe in the universality of e.g. human rights, BUT I also view with cynicism the attack of postcolonial regimes.

    The first parts are all very good questions, 10/10, will think about, b/c i dont believe in judging cultures based on one or two aspects, and the definition of culture itself is highly problematic. Certain practises may only be actually done in one region but not others, yet can become generalised from a western perspective as representative of the whole, esp. insofar as there are natives who also campaign against it, those are usually not brought up in these arguments.

    I think you are right to be wary; both arguments have become ideological weapons, and when boiled down to the essence of it, the argument itself is complicated, but add on all these additional... conflict of interests and human psychology... and you get something profane.
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  7. #27
    Painting a Utopia Cat Brainz's Avatar
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    This is a question that one in order to get a good answer would have to look at many different frames of reference and from a purely advancement point of view I will have to say no as some cultures are just more prone to advance due to different cultural practices leading to a more rapid and fast advance of pace but this isn't always static such as the Middle East being far ahead of Europe in the Middle ages so in some ways its like a race in that people can adapt differently and ether fall ahead or fall behind. On a moral level judging by typical measures of pain vs pleasure of the customs of said nation I would say a firm yes as it cant be seen as equal "niceness" not taking other factors into account to have one culture where everyone is equal or near equal vs a culture that practices opression of marglizanlzed groups and kills those who oppose the status quo.
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  8. #28

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    There's a job of definition in terms of culture too, what its limited to and what its not limited to, some people think of culture as being music and the arts, others norms, values, religion, others the opposite of those things, its also, in my experience, possible to talk about culture of individuals, households, neighbourhoods, communities etc.
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  9. #29
    & Badger, Ratty and Toad Mole's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Herring View Post
    Are we talking about culture as in "Japanese culture = the culture that has been practiced and accumulated in Japan over centuries" or do you mean culture in the sense of "Japanese culture = The current sociopolitical atmosphere in Japan"?

    And what does "equal" mean? Identical? Of equal dignity? Of equal utilitarian worth? It seems like a highly problematic question if it is phrased like this.

    I think this important discussion won't get very far until we can agree on some terminology. It would be unfair to equate the current situation in Russia with "Russian culture" in general and that also applies to many, many other places. Different nations and people have varying degress of technological developments, that is true. But by what standard does technological development equate worth? You could use collective happiness as a utilitarian measure. In that case security and social cohesion would play an important role. We could use artistic output as a measure. In that case I refer you to the famous quote from The Third Man:

    Moral relativism can be problematic and I do think the question of the universality of e.g. human right is a very important issue of our time. But I get wary when I hear questions like this because so often they are used by certain people to feel better about themselves and rationalize ingroup thinking and an emotional aversion towards the "other".
    Yes, perhaps maturity is learning to transcend one's own culture. And it seems you are more than well on the way with your exquisite grasp of a number of different languages.
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  10. #30
    Senior Member Gunboat Diplomat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Herring View Post
    Are we talking about culture as in "Japanese culture = the culture that has been practiced and accumulated in Japan over centuries" or do you mean culture in the sense of "Japanese culture = The current sociopolitical atmosphere in Japan"?
    More the second sense - the historical part only insofar as it informs current practices and views. As a side note, I don't even think that there is that much in common between, say, the currently prevailing liberal culture in Western Europe and the historical "European culture" of the eighteenth or nineteenth century.

    And what does "equal" mean? Identical? Of equal dignity? Of equal utilitarian worth? It seems like a highly problematic question if it is phrased like this.
    Certainly not "identical", as we would be talking about a culture - singular. I don't even know what dignity could mean with respect to culture. The utilitarian take is closer to what I meant.

    I think this important discussion won't get very far until we can agree on some terminology. It would be unfair to equate the current situation in Russia with "Russian culture" in general and that also applies to many, many other places.
    Why would it be unfair? OK, obviously it would be unfair to equate the situation with "Russian culture", but how do you know that it's not a significant factor? Putin has been democratically elected several times. The Russians have hardly experienced anything other than absolutism in one form or another for centuries. Yes, this might be a coincidence, but how confident are you that it is?

    Different nations and people have varying degress of technological developments, that is true. But by what standard does technological development equate worth? You could use collective happiness as a utilitarian measure. In that case security and social cohesion would play an important role.
    I don't think technical development matters much nowadays. Saudi Arabia has access to all the same technical developments as Germany. I wouldn't use happiness as such criterion, as this would make a society of LSD users a great culture. More like ability to achieve your full potential, both as an individual and as a society.

    We could use artistic output as a measure. In that case I refer you to the famous quote from The Third Man:
    Like the fella says, in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love - they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.
    This is a bit unfair to the Swiss. Comparing them to a country ten times bigger at the pinnacle of its achievement. Yet even several Renaissance architects in Italy were born in Switzerland. And if you expand the definition of creativity beyond paintings and sculptures, you will find quite a bit: Calvin, Parcelsus, Bernoullis, Euler, Rousseau, Durrenmatt, Jung, Le Corbusier and more Nobel Prize winners than the Italians (remember, country ten times bigger). I would say that the cuckoo clock is a bit of an understatement. Even the brotherly love is not true - the Swiss were fighting in all those Italian wars as prized mercenaries.


    Moral relativism can be problematic and I do think the question of the universality of e.g. human right is a very important issue of our time. But I get wary when I hear questions like this because so often they are used by certain people to feel better about themselves and rationalize ingroup thinking and an emotional aversion towards the "other".
    Moral relativism is a problem. And if the liberals are not going to defend liberal values, who will? I understand weariness, but it's not like these questions are not being asked. Or should not be asked, for that matter.

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