Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Quote Examination.

I ended my last blog with a quote of mine:

Cut the restraint from an empty stomach and full mind, and you'll soon see the true nature of an individual.

I believe that this is an important quote in reference to many cultures, mainly because there is an underlying sinister truth that can be found. As a species we have the potential to do harm, to do good, or stand somewhere in the middle.  However the individual action doesn’t mean a lot when taking the broader sense into account.

Like I’ve discussed in other posts the nature of an individual typically is a splinter off of the nature of the individual’s culture. This is how a society functions so well, the collective opinions tend to gather into groups. Even if these groups oppose each other, as long as they are mainstream enough that their existence is accepted the functionality of a society continues normally.

I’ll make a note now that I’m not a Social Darwinist, I feel that Social Darwinism is very flawed and assumes that all societies function as human universals without variation. Academics in my field have sufficiently smacked the idea around enough that I know better not to fall into fallacy over ideas which are seemingly correct. Remember, the cultural perspective you’re looking an idea with matters….a lot.

My quote offers itself to many cultures, and ideas which are heavily ingrained into a society. There is much anecdotal evidence to suggest this is a human universal, and perhaps it is in a way. In all societies there will be people who will so absolutely anything to get a head, and those who will do what they need to survive.

I originally planed to discuss how we humans are secretly barbarians who are naturally narcissistic. The deeper I thought about it the more and more I started to sound Freudian… scary right? However I hit a wall. I noticed that the feast or famine mentality typically comes from societies which place a huge emphasis on the individual. In my context I can use the United States and Canada as my primary examples where the individual is overly stressed upon.

 It is in these sorts of societies and those like it where one can see disastrous outcomes from this very mentality. This aside, it is the very type of ideology which keeps Capitalism going. I’m very pro capitalist, I’m also very pro individual but only to a point. I suppose this can be said about all ideas, extremes are dangerous.

The contrast I found when thinking about my quote is that there are distinct cultures which focus on group mentality. I’m not talking about communist cultures, because there is no true form of functioning communism. I’m talking about smaller factions of humanity, such as tribes and bushmen across the globe. Typically, but not always, these sort of societies are dependent on the group. This sort of dependence is goal orientated, and the goal being longevity of the group. The cultural influence promotes ideas which reflect the wellness of the group rather than the individual, no matter what the situation. It’s an effective mentality which as existed for far longer than the individual perspective. It is also points out a fundamental flaw in what I quoted… seemingly human universals are only universal in the cultural context they are presented in.

1 comment:

Kelly said...

I believe society certainly does influence us in ways most of us haven't thought about and for those who have thought about that concept- even they do not fully know how complex the influence is and how deeply it affects our choices and prejudices.

Well written post and you make valid points- not to mention you introduce ideas that should be taken seriously and thought about.

Are you trying to influence me?*

*little joke :)