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The Attributes of Cultural Identity

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The attributes related with an implied application of an empirical idea of flat global space for cultural encounter and its relationship to the dominant Universalist view of cultural supremacy as a kind of pre-ordained right in multiculturalism. Resulting suffering egoism of this notion through recent developments of cultural ideological wars must thus, be shifted towards an acceptance of the rationality with an initial assumption of this flat global space of cultural encounter as a kind of tabular rasa devoid of any prejudicial conceptions about cultural identity of the other. The former view posits on historical cultural relations and the subsequent subjective evaluation of superiority based on cultural norms, science and technology in inter-cultural dilemma. However, with shifting cultural fault lines, this unnecessary judgment on the notion of sub standard cultural identity has become implausible in inter-dialogue along the new divisive demarcations.

Multicultural reality resulting from globalization cannot be undone, which means at the world wide level a constant interaction between civilizations culminated from different cultural communities. The flat global space owing to modern technologies and intensified legalities sanctioned as the structure of mutual co-existence between different cultures has also made people from different cultural orientations much more aware of the other. To emphasis technology in this flat global space is to harness the best attributes of digitization towards a multilateral appreciation of equivalent diversity in the initial cultural encounter, as accessibility of cultural information of different states is not only possible but eminently prevalent.

For example, “Digital media has profoundly changed society in diverse cultural environments – in terms of Communication between individuals and collectives, but also as regards decision-making in the domestic and international framework. Its use has further accelerated the process of globalization, bringing different life-worlds and value systems in direct, almost constant contact. It has empowered individuals, enabling them to circumvent “officialdom,” access alternative information, and propagate their own views and positions in an interactive way.” (Prof. Köchler)

Thus, in discussing the magnification of culture under the new lenses of digitization as constituting our new reality, the calculus of negative cultural identity view burdened on a group’s culture, only limits the domain of interaction and comprehensive understanding from a horizon perspective(extension of understanding is achieved by geographical reach or extensive search for knowledge).

Indeed the perceived imperative for mutual survival in this era of global interconnectedness must accommodate the restructuring of the others cultural identity if necessary, hinged on an honest understanding of diversity and a shift from exerting conventional historical colonial attitudes as the basis for cultural inter-relationships. The rather myopic attributes of cultural assessment closely linked with the parochial economic and social ambitions of the Cultural Supremacist is now clearly evident in the flat global space as already mentioned.

The questions therefore asked imply:

  • Are pre-conceived cultural identity assessments plausible in the new global space?
  • What underlines the notion of a cultural identity appraisal in relation to others?
  • To what extent is the burden of identity subordination weighing on the creative instincts of marginalized cultures?
  • What constitutes the burden of the artificial limitations of scope of credible cultural analysis and the consequential effect thereof?
  • What is the role of cultural diplomacy in diffusing the rifts of cultural identity in global multiculturalism?

The next section compares some cultural identity categorizations and examines the tendency of describing a group’s cultural identity by a dominant culture (Cultural Supremacist) as opposed to the group’s innate apprehension of its environment and the discussion of its right or wrong in global cultural integration. It hints on the feasibility of such conventional methods of description in inter-cultural relationships and touches on issues arising out of a perceived rationality of a Superiors cultural identity as a yardstick that must be imposed as an ultimate agenda of collective survival. The relating conclusion in this regard according to this article however, undermines cultural diversity and its practicality in the constellation of cultural groupings in globalism.

The theoretical assumption of a distinct cultural identity advocating terrorism or say rape as a global cultural trend depicts a scary, if not totally savage image about aggressive cultural assimilation and a counter-productive agenda for the normative cultural relativist, any imagination of this kind makes the practicality of the theory improbable. The arguments of Cultural supremacist are advanced through the logic of morality and the impossibility of challenging entrenched values of a distinct cultural group left alone with liberty in difference as witnessed through the ascension of ISIL; in other words, in the face of diversity, culture thus cannot be used to equip war.

The state of nature did not guarantee human well-being because it was “brutish, nasty and short” (Hobbes 1969, 37). Though the state of nature is a state of liberty, the liberty is not guaranteed (Hobbes 1969, 37). Similarly, human well-being is one of the primary goals of Locke’s contractarianism. The moral need to confront “certain inconveniences” to human well-being necessitates human exit from Locke’s state of nature (Locke 1989, 28).

Suffice to say, the Supremacist view of a global moral conduct implies the lack of trust for a lesser known culture. “Normative cultural relativism is basically about the moral status of various standards of evaluation, not about the influential power of the values” (Famakinwa). Every human being inalienable from a primary culture is conditioned fundamentally by the values of that culture, which forms its cultural identity. This pre-supposes contact with an influential culture intertwines itself in the basic intrinsic values of the primary culture and also highlights the changing characteristics of identity per influences of historical orientations.

“In fact history does not belong to us but rather us to it. Long before we understand ourselves through the process of self-examination, we understand ourselves in a self-evident way in the family, society, and state in which we live. The focus of subjectivity is a distorting mirror. The self awareness of the Individual is only a flickering in the closed circuit of historical life. That is why the prejudices of an individual are — much more than that individual’s judgments — the historical reality of his being.” (Gadamer)

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“Normative cultural relativism however maintains that the root of the influence is never universal but cultural.” (MacIntyre and Gowans) In my view, the claim of aesthetic composition of a Supremacist culture as a universal good suffers the identifiable characters distinct to itself, thus on the front lines of the cultural fault lines, a recognizable clear distinction of cultures undermines the Supremacist agenda of its culture universality. “Normative cultural relativists are of the view that value judgments are influenced by the manual the judge holds. The cultural root of the manual itself need not be that of the judge’s immediate cultural community.” (Famakinwa)

Judging a culture therefore, in relation to one’s own in effect limits the dynamism with which collective understanding can be sourced towards global good. The extension of cultural habitation suggests continual progression of value systems relevant to the group which at the time of judgment maybe in form different from that of the judge. “It is sheer arrogance for us to try to judge the conduct of other peoples. We should adopt an attitude of tolerance toward the practices of other cultures.” (Rachels)

For the cultural Supremacist, The point is well argued in G.E Moore’s Principia Ethica: whatever is said to be good, it is still an open question to ask if the thing is really good. (Moore) Any human observation is theory laden. The evaluation of human actions or omissions depends on the theory the assessor endorses. (Harman) It is when the level of the assessor seems to denounce the authenticity or even the rationality of the assessed, based on its cultural convictions issues arises. At the fault lines, this will generally generate conflicts since cultural identity to a large degree is in separable from basic humanity in the context of its immediate environs.

“The process of Westernization as an endorsement of universal moral conduct is deemed a historical and political imposition of the colonial powers on the traditional political structures of the non-western civilization basins. The process of Modernization, on the other hand, is seen as a natural and necessary process for the “traditional world” to adopt Western structures and values.” (DallMayr, Kayapinar and Yaylaci)

This in effect places the cultural identity of the traditional world below that of the westerners, since their own sense of curiosity and invention germane to their distinct nature becomes paralyzed. Modernization understood in the terms of conversion into a western approval model invalidates progressive imagination; which is the needed science to enhance and validate cultural differences; this invariably leads to commensurability in cultural assessment.

Of the earliest and perhaps the most famous proponents of the incommensurability thesis is the eighteenth century German philosopher and poet Johann G. Herder, who ‘insisted upon and celebrated the uniqueness of national cultures, above all their incommensurability.’2 According to Sir Isaiah Berlin, Herder held that, ‘There are no immutable, universal, eternal rules or criteria of judgment in terms of which different cultures and nations can be graded in some single order of excellence. . . . Our culture is our own; cultures are incommensurable; each is as it is, each of infinite value, as souls are in the sight of God.’3 In Herder’s view there is no single overarching standard of value—no single measuring rod—in terms of which cultures or civilizations can be evaluated. The position of Herder may be taken as representing the quintessence of the incommensurability claim.

The differing perspectives, (1) of viewing a cultural identity as unequal in measure and worth and (2) A culture resigning itself to a limited domain of importance in global relevance as a result of external standardization methods, yields the collateral damage of humanity aspiring to meet the future with a unilateral cultural front-an endeavor in futility especially in the era of inter-dependency and the economics of diverse resources. The theoretical framework within which cultural identities are labeled and expressed in mutual co-existence highlights the phenomena of ‘disengaged science and technology’ relative to traditional cultures.

Francis Fukuyama’s claim about the end of the history is a typical formulation of this point, which connects the process of modernization and globalization to the unidirectional flow of civilization. He declared, ‘the ultimate victory of western liberal democracy and argued that it “may constitute the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the final form of human government and as such constituted the end of history.” (Fred DallMayr)

Hitherto, this flat global space reality, the perceived credibility of another cultural identity pivoted on an opaque notion of advanced sciences as a basis of subsistence which quelled the natural propensity towards creativity to solve distinct problems elsewhere. More so, the aesthetic prognosis for all living predicaments towards a Western Superior value engineers a condition of acceptability to the description of substandard cultural identity.

One can say however, there appears to be a shift from the conventional value system used as lenses under which traditional scientific cultural norms was subdued especially in the modern cultural encounters. “Under the impact of undirected scientific and technological development, resulting in environmental pollution, ecological misbalance, drying up of natural resources, as a result of their wasteful utilization and scientific and technological misbalance between countries, Scientist, Sociologists, as well as humanists have begun to look at the situation differently.” (Rahman)

“One thing is becoming increasingly clear as the situation is developing and that is, in preference to the individual considerations, social considerations, and in place of narrow national considerations, global considerations are being given greater weight.” (Rahman) Which leads to a collective reassessment on how different cultural identities must be engaged in mutual problem solving, distinct sciences must be left to flourish, and leveling cultural appropriation methods encouraged in an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect.

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The Attributes of Cultural Identity. (2022, Jun 29). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 9, 2022, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-attributes-of-cultural-identity/
“The Attributes of Cultural Identity.” Edubirdie, 29 Jun. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/the-attributes-of-cultural-identity/
The Attributes of Cultural Identity. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-attributes-of-cultural-identity/> [Accessed 9 Dec. 2022].
The Attributes of Cultural Identity [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Jun 29 [cited 2022 Dec 9]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-attributes-of-cultural-identity/
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