dagens lästips

Jag ligger hemma i soffan och är sjuk och varvar gamla tv-serier (Buffy, Gilmore Girls, the Office) med lite Kenan Malik:

A century ago intellectuals worried about the degeneration of the race. Today we fear cultural decay. Is the notion of cultural decay any more coherent than that of racial degeneration? Cultures certainly change and develop. But what does it mean for a culture to decay? Or for an identity to be lost? Will Kymlicka draws a distinction between the ‘existence of a culture’ and ‘its “character” at any given moment’. The character of culture can change but such changes are only acceptable if the existence of that culture is not threatened. But how can a culture exist if that existence is not embodied in its character? By ‘character’ Kymlicka seems to mean the actuality of a culture: what people do, how they live their lives, the rules and regulations and institutions that frame their existence. So, in making the distinction between character and existence, Kymlicka seems to be suggesting that Jewish, Navajo or French culture is not defined by what Jewish, Navajo or French people are actually doing. For if Jewish culture is simply that which Jewish people do or French culture is simply that which French people do, then cultures could never decay or perish – they would always exist in the activities of people.

So, if a culture is not defined by what its members are doing, what does define it? The only answer can be that it is defined by what its members should be doing. (…) In other words, if we believe that what defines what you should be doing is the fact that your ancestors were doing it. Culture here has become defined by biological descent. And biological descent is a polite way of saying ‘race’.

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One response to “dagens lästips

  1. David

    Argumentet ser lite konstigt ut (jag letade efter den saknade premissen du markerar med ”(…)” i originalet, utan framgång): det verkar rimlig att definiera en kultur i termer av normer, och att dessa normer bör ha något slags oberoende av vad medlemmarna faktiskt gör (som språket t.ex. är ett normsystem som samtidigt definieras av hur folk faktiskt pratar OCH möjliggör misstag). Men varför anta att dessa normer härrör från biologiska anfäder? Dessa är säkerligen en viktigt källa till många kulturella koder, men inte definitions-mässigt så. Och det är en viktig skillnad: man kan alltid skriva in sig i en annan kultur, eller påbörja en själv.

    Favoritfilosofen

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