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21. Identity beyond Notions of Culture

Interesting Curiosities

Culture embraces the full range of learned human behavioural patterns like knowledge, language, art, beliefs, morals, norms, laws, customs, and all other capabilities and habits acquired by a member of a particular society.

schoolgirls

Culture embraces the full range of learned human behavioural patterns

 

 

. In Shelter and Shadows Raymond Keogh points out that the outward or visual differences amongst humans are largely phenotypic and often cultural, and … are one of grade rather than essence. Using our external appearances to create dividing lines between groups of humans is suspect because [phenotype] fails to acknowledge the essential commonality of our genetic makeup. Our cultural divisions are also questioned by the same argument.[1]

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The outward or visual differences amongst humans are largely phenotypic and often cultural

Furthermore … Our cultural traits, like language, are no more than interesting curiosities, outgrowths or appendages of expression that have arisen within the human family. They are novelties derived through varied environmental influences, experiences and cognitive processes over a protracted period of time. These characteristics are non-essential barriers that can be overcome and therefore it follows that any particular culture is potentially accessible to any other. Comparing one culture against another with the objective of determining separate identities is, therefore, flawed: the exercise is equivalent to examining two aspects of the same essence in order to discover a fundamental difference.[1]

Our Essential Nature

Cultures are … merely the collective and temporary expression of particular groups of people derived from similar urges and mechanisms within a similar object: the human brain. The processes that give rise to our cultural differences are, therefore, identical.[1]

As such … it is more revealing to contemplate our essential nature, like our ability to think, to speak, to share conscious thoughts and so forth than expend energy trying to rigidly classify the results emanating from these processes, which are transient. Focusing on the essence of our nature does not imply that we should put aside or ignore all our differences, our histories, our inward and outward cultural trappings and plunge to the deeper meaning of “humanness” to create an amorphous world culture. However, it does necessitate the discarding, within our understanding of identity, of anything that is construed to be external to the “persisting core” that makes us human.[1]

One Human Culture

The conclusion is hereby reached that only one human culture actually exists. The varieties of cultural expressions we find within the human species are appendages or outgrowths of that one culture. However, sub-cultures can be studied and compared in terms of their normative characteristics while acknowledging, at all times, that we are dealing with convenient rather than fundamental divisions.

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Human culture … a path of continual change

Raymond goes on to say: … interconnectedness between cultures has, possibly, the greatest power to change us. Within the conceptual freedom of our Common Identity no one is threatened by the prospect of cultural change. This universal perspective is a key factor that will help to ensure that modern and future cultural developments will be based on sound foundations. New and exciting cultural expressions can develop of their own accord through openness.[1]

Acknowledging ourselves as part of one overarching human family does not demean the cultural richness of any region or locality, but … allows natural intermixing to take place that enhances the core of human cultural expression. Such mental liberation permits exciting possibilities to evolve as human cultures freely mix and weave together along a path of continual change, which is—and always has been—part of the nature of culture itself.[1]

Refs

[1] Keogh, R. M. Shelter and Shadows. An Awakening to Our Common Identity. Our Own Identity here.

Coming Next

Identity and Resolution of Conflict here

Photos: Wikimedia Commons

Schoolgirls:  Author Capt. John Severns, U.S. Air Force

Hair colours: Author User:Jujutacular. Source image authors: User:RamaUser:JastrowUser:Mattbuck

Breakdance: Author E. Başak Turkey