Impervious horrors of a leeward shore (arpad) wrote,
Impervious horrors of a leeward shore

Clifford Geertz - the meaning of "culture"

Клиффорд Гирц. Человек поколения взрослевшего на войне. Видевший культуру не как экзотический набор вышитых тряпок и черепков размещенный в музее, а как несущую конструкцию человеческого общества.

"Разделяя мнение М. Вебера, что человек есть животное, вплетенное в сеть значений, которую он сам и прядет, я рассматриваю культуру как такую сеть, и потому анализ ее должен представлять собой не экспериментальную науку, отыскивающую закон, а интерпретацию, отыскивающую значение".

"Не обусловленное моделями культуры (системами значимых символов) поведение человека стало бы практически неуправляемым, оно сводилось бы к спонтанным бессмысленным поступкам и безудержным эмоциям, у человека практически не мог бы сформироваться опыт"

"Антропологи не исследуют деревни ... они занимаются исследованиями в деревнях"

Clifford James Geertz (pronounced "Gurts") (b. August 23, 1926, San Francisco - d. October 30, 2006, Philadelphia)

Unlike most other anthropologists of his time, Geertz did not focus on isolated, culturally primitive groups. Instead, he studied complex societies, first in Indonesia and later in Morocco, that had maintained their traditions for centuries.

In his most influential book, "The Interpretation of Cultures" (1973), Geertz described culture as "a system of inherited conceptions expressed in symbolic forms by means of which people communicate, perpetuate and develop their knowledge about and attitudes toward life."


Everyone knows what cultural anthropology is about: it's about culture. The trouble is that no one is quite sure what culture is.


- Why Study Cultural Anthropology?

- There is not much assurance or sense of closure, not even much sense of knowing what it is one precisely is after, in so indefinite a quest, amid such various people, over such a diversity of times. But it is an excellent way, interesting, dismaying, useful, and amusing, to expend a life.


To see ourselves as others see us can be eye-opening. To see others as sharing a nature with ourselves is the merest decency. But it is from the far more difficult achievement of seeing ourselves amongst others, as a local example of the forms human life has locally taken, a case among cases, a world among worlds, that the largeness of mind, without which objectivity is self-congratulation and tolerance a sham, comes.


When I emerged from the U.S. Navy in 1946, having been narrowly saved by The Bomb from being obliged to invade Japan, the great boom in American higher education was just getting underway, and I have ridden the wave all the way through, crest after crest, until today, when it seems at last, like me, to be finally subsiding. I was twenty. I wanted to get away from California, where I had an excess of relatives but no family. I wanted to be a novelist, preferably famous. And, most fatefully, I had the GI Bill.

Or more exactly, we had the GI Bill: millions of us. As has been many times retailed—there was even a television special on the subject a year or so ago, and there is a book about it called, not inappropriately, When Dreams Come True—the flood of determined veterans, nearly two and a half million of them, onto college campuses in the half decade immediately following 1945 altered, suddenly and forever, the whole face of higher education in this country. We were older, we had been through something our classmates and our teachers, for the most part, had not, we were in a hurry, and we were wildly uninterested in the rites and masquerades of undergraduate life. Many of us were married, most of the rest of us, myself included, soon would be. Perhaps most importantly, we transformed the class, the ethnic, the religious, and even to some degree the racial composition of the national student body. And at length, as the wave moved through the graduate schools, we transformed the professoriate too. Between 1950 and 1970, the number of doctorates awarded annually increased five-fold, from about 6,000 a year to about 30,000. (In 1940 it had been 3,000. No wonder the sixties happened!) That was perhaps not what William Randolph Hearst and The American Legion, who mobilized popular support for the Bill, precisely had in mind. But even at the time we knew we were the vanguard of something large and consequential: the degreeing of America.

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