TOPIC: ISSUE63 - "To truly understand your own culture-no matter how you define it-requires personal knowledge of at least one other culture, one that is distinctly different from your own."
WORDS: 747 TIME: 30:00:00 DATE: 8.27.2006
How should we understand our own culture completely? The speaker thinks understanding one other culture as a necessary method. I admit that, in certain respects, it is a good recommendation, insofar as deep understanding our own culture by comparison with other ones. However, it should be considered case-by-case that whether or not the knowledge of other cultures is necessary. What is more, the speaker emphasizes further that the other culture must be absolutely differ from ours is groundless and unconvincing, since various culture should be consulted, both the similar ones and the different ones included, during our study on our own culture.
Primarily, to get the core of culture, we should define the concept of culture first. Culture is defined, according to the America Traditional Dictionary, as "the totality of socially transmitted behavior patterns, arts, beliefs, institutions, and all other products of human work and thought." In this sense, during studying any culture, the society upon which the culture depends must be enough considered. In fact, the society is an open environment not a close system, so cross-cultural understanding is advocated by most anthropologists who call this culture relativism. And the cross-cultural will result in what is another important anthropological concept acculturation, when the members of a culture adopt the features of other culture. To illustrate the acculturation, we analyze the Japanese culture as example. Japanese cultural history is marked by periods of extensive borrowing from other civilizations, primarily from China and Korea in premodern times and from the West in modern ages. As we know, the way of tea, a major factor of Japanese culture, is introduced from China in early 9th Century, and is reintroduced by Japanese monk Eisai in the 12th century. If we were Japanese, to understand our own culture of tea, we have to understand, of cause, the tea culture in China and India first.
However, it is not necessary to study some respects of our own culture to understand another culture which is very different from ours. Any nation, country and society must have the independent and particular factors of its culture. Thus we need not comparison our own with others, when we study such factors. It is the case, for example, when we try to understand Chinese cooking culture. As we know, the cooking culture, which has developed for a long time since even 300 BC in China, attracts the people for both its delicious food and colorful skills. If we want to understand its history, we should study the Chinese culture. If we want to understand its status in modern, we should get the information of the Chinese nowadays nation. And if we want to prospect the future of the Chinese cooking, we should understand the direction of Chinese development. All in all, the other factors the Chinese culture is the significant information for us to understand the cooking culture also belong to China, although little in other culture might be consulted. That is to say, other culture is useful but not necessary in the understanding of our own culture.
In addition, the argument made by the speaker is extreme idealization since some absolute words such as 'distinctly' are used. Admittedly, the different culture is used to, according our analysis in the second paragraph, being consulted when we try to truly understand our own culture. However, since the more and more interaction among all the cultures in the world, the similarity between any two cultures became more and more, especially in the area of technologies. The television, computer, cell phone and internet are the common factors of all the cultures. It is difficult to fine two societies use distinctly different technologies in their people's daily life. What is more general, as anthropologists' claim, some fundamental behaviors remain unchanged from a culture to any other. Such behaviors include dividing different gender, respecting the older and so on. Consequently, any conclusion relied on the trend to divide any two culture completely is irrational.
To sum up, in this essay, we begin with admit the advantage of knowledge of other culture in the study on our own culture. Next, we point the difference between the necessary and use of understanding other culture. Additionally, we correct the absolutely using 'distinctly' in speaker's claim. Finally, we conclude that it may be a more reasonable conclusion than the speaker's that to truly understand our own culture, the knowledge of other culture, some factors of which is different from ours, is useful from time to time.
May the issue about culture, arts, science, literature You make sure that you always make an anology with other fields or culture within the same issue! I completely agree with you. We ourselves compare with our friends, parents, collegues and so on. We always try to find out similarities when comparing ourselves with a good-hearted person & we always isolate ourselves when we have to compare with a bad-mannered person. We unconsciously make comparisms and similarities but we are once in a blue moon conscious about this. Those who deny it are wet behind the ears and they must have kept an eye out for in order to enlighten them. If we were conscious about our every day deeds we would we the KING! Practise is the only path to reach the trueth.