Philosophy of Culture
Philosophie der Kultur
Philosophie de la Culture
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
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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RELATED LINKS:Tractatus philosophico-culturalis(a trilogy -- work in progress) :