thought and culture

Understanding the world around us, its balances and mechanisms, the thread of time and the fabric of history, is a great endeavor. In order to understand epochs, historical movements, growing technologies and to look into the future, we must delineate concepts, create categories and structure reality – our mind craves this structure in order for us to process what we see. So we break down, we evaluate and deconstruct and create definitions. We impose structure or “discover” it in nature and in the passage of time. The Turkish philosopher and professor of political science Seyla Benhabib says in the book “The Claims of Culture”: “Any view of cultures as clearly delineable wholes is a view from the outside that generates coherence for the purposes of understanding and control.” In “The Journal of American Folklore” Brian Stross writes in the “The Hybrid Metaphor” : “When it is difficult fitting things into specific categories we become aware of the constructed (as opposed to discovered) nature of what we are doing and ultimately of all classifications.” Outside the realm of critical theory the Indian thinker J. Krishnamurti says that becoming aware of our conditioning – we start to observe the workings of our mind and the tricks it plays on us. We can never predict the future because all that is known to us is the past. So we are constantly re-structuring our world in relation to the events that have passed before us. In a talk titled “Can We Create a New Culture” J. Krishnamurti says: “Very few of us listen directly to what is being said, we always translate or interpret it according to a particular point of view (…) we have formulations, opinions, judgments, beliefs through which we listen, so we are actually never listening at all; we are only listening in terms of our own particular prejudices, conclusions and experiences.” In order to understand we must begin to look at the world without conclusions. So the questions of what is hybridization? What is globalization? Culture-clashes? Postmodernity? These questions, if one is aware of one’s own thinking and the prison of our conditioning, become very interesting. Are we forever destined to repeat our history? The task of discovering comes from within and without; from a reading and studying of the various points of view that structure our world and also from the foundation of our self-knowledge and a peeling back of the many layers and patterns of our thoughts.


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