Philosophy of Culture

Philosophie der Kultur

Philosophie de la Culture

Filosofia de la Cultura

Nythamar de Oliveira


What on earth is culture? What is the relevance of culture to philosophy and thinking overall? How are cross-cultural and intercultural approaches to a philosophy of culture opposed to multiculturalism, cosmopolitanism, and different traditional appropriations and responses to the ongoing phenomena of diversity, pluralism, and globalization? How can we carry on an intercultural critique of reductionist and essentialist conceptions of culture and identities, so as to take into account the hybrid, polyvocal, and transcultural features of cultures and societies? Is it possible (and desirable) to stick to a cultural relativism without subscribing to an ethical relativism? What is the fate of democracy and of deliberative, participatory, and intercultural models of democracy in a fast-changing, globalized world? Is there any such thing as a "global culture" that avoids cultural imperialism? By asking and addressing such questions, this intermediate/upper-level course offers an interdiciplinary, cross-cultural approach to a philosophy of culture. Even though anthropology, sociology, psychology, and history have enriching, consistent definitions and insights into the meaning and scope of culture, as Mukerji and Schudson remarked, "no single discipline has a monopoly on the word 'culture'." What Jay Newman dubbed "inauthentic culture," on the other hand, means that no one can ultimately confine it to cultural products and its subtle processes of reification, as opposed to the positivist shortcomings and failed attempts to come up with a value-free, scientific definition of culture, independently unmasked by representatives of phenomenology, hermeneutics, cultural anthropology, critical theory, literary criticism, and poststructuralism.

Because of the Enlightenment's divide between nature (Natur) and freedom (Freiheit), culture (Kultur) –also formulated as Geist or civilization (Zivilisation) in post-Kantian thinkers such as Fichte, Hegel, Schelling, Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud— has often been conceived in social terms as reflecting shared values, beliefs, and judgments, closer to the arts (esp. music, literature, and aesthetics) rather than science, allowing for the emergence of romanticism, popular culture, mass media, the opposition between high art and low art, the avant-garde, modernism, and post-modernism. The European encounter with its Other contributed thus to recasting the cultural thrust of myth, language, religion, crafts, techniques and technology, society, state and government, race, class, gender, and sexuality. Eurocentric and imperialist approaches to the Western heritage have also been deconstructed, both from within and without, just as facile oppositions between culture and barbarism, or subtle nuances between Kultur and Zivilisation –say, of a German spiritual, sittliche culture (and its correlate Kulturphilosophie, Kulturkampf, and Kulturkritik) supposedly superior to the utilitarian, commercial civilizations of the British, French, and Americans.

Both analytic and continental authors (esp. Foucault, Rawls, and the Frankfurt School) have contributed to a contemporary critique of racism, antisemitism, sexism, and "purism" as real threats to the very idea of culture. Thus subtle, contrasting views of interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary, and transdisciplinary approaches to culture ultimately attest to the relevant contributions that intercultural, transcultural, and multiculturalist projects have made to ongoing research in the philosophy of culture.



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Appiah, Kwame Anthony. Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers. New York: W.W. Norton, 2006.

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Benhabib, Seyla. The claims of culture: Equality and Diversity in the Global Era. Princeton University Press, 2002.

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Dietz, Gunther. Multiculturalismo, interculturalidad y educación, Granada 2003.

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Newman, Jay. Inauthentic Culture and Its Philosophical Critics. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger Publishers, 1997. 

______. Religion and Technology: A study in the philosophy of culture. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger Publishers, 1997. 

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Tractatus philosophico-culturalis(a trilogy -- work in progress) :

Tractatus practico-theoreticus: A phenomenology of justice

Tractatus ethico-politicus: A genealogy of the modern ethos / <Google Books>

Tractatus politico-theologicus: A cultural philosophy of religion

Kwasi Wiredu, Philosophy and Authenticity (Shibboleths)

Ramón Grosfoguel, "Cultural Racism" and Colonial Caribbean Migrants in Core Zones of the Capitalist World-Economy

Wiki on Culture

Hervé Varenne, The Culture of Culture

Terry Eagleton, "Culture conundrum" (Guardian)

AnthroBase: Culture

Defining Culture (Sociology)

UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity

Global Culture

Axel Honneth Seminar Website

The Frankfurt School and Critical Theory

Seyla Benhabib Yale Page

Seyla Benhabib: Conversation with Harry Kreisler / Conversations with history

The Philosophical Foundations of Human Rights (CNPq, 2006-09)

Projetos de Filosofia 2010 (video streaming of talk)

Formal-Pragmatic Perspectivism : Research in Phenomenology of Culture

World, Subjectivity, and Meaning in Husserl & Heidegger

Soziale Gerechtigkeit zwischen Säkularisierung und Demokratisierung

Research in Criticism and Semantics

Humboldt Foundation Post-Doctoral Research Paper, Published in Deutsche Zeitschrift für Philosophie 54/6 (2006): 829-840

Justice globale et démocratisation selon John Rawls, in Civilisation et Barbarie. Paris: PUF, 2002.

Research in Moral Epistemology, CNPq (2003-05)


Existentialism - PHIL 3240 - Fall 2007

Philosophy of Religion - PHIL 35700

Intro to Philosophy - PHIL 2200

Liberation, Theology, and Philosophy (2008)

Filosofia Judaica

Ethica applicata (Spring 2010)

Der Wille zur Macht: Nietzsche, Heidegger, Foucault (Spring 2010)

Contemporary Moral Problems - PHIL 2400 (U Toledo DL)

Latin American Philosophy

Latin American Indigenous Philosophy

Justice, Alterity, Recognition (Fall 2009)

Ethics (2009)

Applied Ethical Reasoning (Felician DL)

Phenomenology Seminar - PHIL 4250 / 5250 - Spring 2008

Summer 2008: PHIL 3750 Social and Political Philosophy

Contemporary French Philosophy

African-American Liberation Philosophy (U Toledo)

Eastern Philosophy: Buddhism - PHIL 3500


Summer 2008: PHIL 2200-021 Introduction to Philosophy

Rawls's Normative Conception of the Person: A Kantian Reinterpretation

"Ich bin ein Weltbürger"

Immanuel KANT: Weltphilosoph und Weltbürger

Deconstructing Liberation



PostModernity for Dummies

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