What is culture?
Culture describes the cumulative influences on a group of people or society—their collective knowledge, characteristics and learned behaviours. This knowledge is passed on from generation to generation and accounts for the different cultures that we can see around the world, for example Western culture, Eastern culture, Middle Eastern culture, African and Latin culture. Each of these cultures is defined by the values, traditions, social habits and behaviours, language, belief systems, concepts of the universe, dress, food, music and arts that they encompass.
‘Cultural diversity’ is the term that we have traditionally used to refer to differences between cultures. Terms such as ‘ethnic inclusiveness’ or ‘cross culturalism’ also relate to the issue of cultural differences. What is immensely significant about the whole issue of culture is that through the advances made in science we are now, at last, able to have a real discussion about not just ‘what culture is’ but also about why cultures around the world are so different from one another. In truth, the important question needing to be answered is not ‘What is culture?’, but ‘why are there cultural differences?’
The truth is that questions, like ‘what is culture?’, and more importantly, why are there cultural differences, have until now been impossible to answer truthfully. We humans all live under the duress of the human condition, a state of insecurity brought about by our inability to explain why we humans are the way we are—why, when all the ideals are to be loving, cooperative and selfless are we humans seemingly divisive, destructive and selfish? And until we could explain our human condition we could never hope to explain any of the fundamental questions about our nature with any great insight. However, the situation has now greatly changed. We can now easily explain all kinds of previously unanswerable questions, like ‘what is culture?’, and why cultures vary so much, because we can finally explain the human condition.
Yes, most wonderfully, biology is now able to provide the full, compassionate explanation of the human species’ non-ideal, contradictory behaviour. This comprehensive explanation of the origin of humans’ psychologically upset state, is available in this Introductory Video Series and Part 3 of Freedom: Expanded Book 1, by Australian biologist Jeremy Griffith. It is this fundamental explanation that unlocks all of the seemingly unanswerable and off-limits questions about human behaviour.
In Freedom Book 1, Griffith explains that a society’s behaviour and its culture is actually based on how that society has learnt to cope with the human condition. As Griffith explains, ‘On the whole, culture essentially encompassed the various ways people passed on, from one generation to the next, the knowledge they had learnt about living under the duress of the human condition’ (Freedom: Expanded Book 1: The Biology). And differences in cultures really relates to the intensity at which the human condition has impacted the lives of people in that particular society. The longer and more intense the battle that the human condition has given rise to becomes, the more psychological upset and alienation are present in a particular culture, as Griffith writes: ‘Just as an individual person’s lifestyle was inevitably going to largely be a response to that person’s particular level of upset, so too a race’s culture was inevitably going to largely be a response to that race’s particular level of upset’ (Freedom: Expanded Book 1: The Biology).
Griffith also explains that without explanation of the human condition, any deeper acknowledgement and analysis of differences in levels of upset, alienation or innocence amongst individuals, races and cultures has not been possible. This is because it immediately leads to the erroneous view that some individuals, races and cultures are superior to others, or some are ‘good’ and some ‘bad’, and hence direct confrontation with the issue of the human condition, when in fact all humans are equally ‘good’. So, to avoid confrontation with the human condition, any differences in individuals, races and cultures were explained as ‘cultural diversity’ or as adding ‘colour’ to our lives, and we celebrated and lived off the excitement and distraction this colour provided. However as Jeremy Griffith articulates in Freedom Book 1; ‘If we wanted to understand human behaviour, we had to look at how upset we humans have been, specifically how alienated we have been’. And this is exactly what Griffith has done.
With the human condition now solved and the full defence of humans’ psychologically upset state understood we can explain exactly what culture is and safely acknowledge differences in cultures and the real reasons for those differences. But very importantly, as Griffith explains, while humans do vary in their degree of psychological upset, ‘all humans are equally good because upset was a result of an unavoidable and necessary battle humanity has had to wage to find knowledge. The equality of goodness of all people is a first-principle-established, fundamental and universal truth now. Humanity no longer has to rely on dogmatic assertions that ‘all men are created equal’, purely on the basis that it is a ‘self-evident’ truth, as the United States’ Declaration of Independence asserts, because we can now explain, understand and know that the equality of all humans is a fundamental truth. We can now understand why everyone is equally worthy, and that no one is superior or inferior, and that everyone deserves the ‘rights’ of ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ (ibid). Prejudice, the view that some individuals, races, genders, generations, countries, civilisations or cultures are either superior or inferior to others, is eliminated by understanding of the human condition. In fact, with understanding of the human condition the concepts of good and bad, superior and inferior, worthy or unworthy, disappear from our conceptualisation of ourselves’ (Freedom: Expanded Book 1: The Biology). So culture, rather than just being explained as adding some diversity and colour to our lives can be honestly recognised as an expression of these different levels of upset, alienation and innocence, and how humans have variously adapted to life under the duress of the human condition.