underthetree wrote:Belief systems rest almost exclusively on their accretions of culture.
From an anthropological standpoint, you can account for all belief systems, the customs that go from what is 'normal' to what is 'good' or 'bad' to what foods are appropriate, etc etc. Culture is and isn't a catchall - we can
discuss very specific aspects of it, because without humans, it wouldn't exist. Perhaps the most dangerous part of discussing culture is like discussing any abstract concept in that we all have slightly different connotations.
My two cents were mostly based on the dictionary definition, that which can encompass the entire set of accretions of a societal group from an ethnographic standpoint. So we can talk about specific cultures, individual and group cultures, plant cultures and bacteria cultures...
There are many modern practices across all sorts of cultures performed in the name of "god" or the "good of the people" that are not crimes. The things Kirt is describing are crimes, not cultural norms. A people's art and the output of its culture cannot be the only part we look at, it's just the dead-record fossil of what was its living creature. Culture as a whole is a living breathing organic matrix that moves as its people do and it does change with time as people evolve or new elements are introduced into the culture. Agriculture changed the cultures of hunter-gathering completely.
The following example was just something I watched last night and was like... high culture huh? A cultural "custom" that remains (in many people's eyes - brutal) believed to be 'the way' to have women enter womanhood: female circumcision. Male circumcision is also an example, far less brutal with far less devastating consequences to the child/adult male body. Nonetheless, it is a custom that denotes an early rite of passage that yes, emerges out of compounded cultural accretions with a (senseless) basis steeped in blind belief that is in turn rooted in a system of beliefs that places values on the acceptability of the human body part being excised because of xyz reasons (superstitions around the cleanliness of the body). Like all customs tied into religious systems, they are accumulated and handed down within a an entire ethnic group that at some point in some remote past agreed that this was the way the body should look. JUST one example of thousands, but a stark one that shows a cultural custom from said accretions.
6000 girls are circumcised (mutilated) every day, and in horrific conditions with no anesthetics, just a rusty blade used to remove their entire sex (clitoris, inner and outer labia), then sown up so nothing remains but scarification of what was once their genitalia with a matchstick sized hole for her menstrual cycle to trickle through (also causing great pain throughout her life and reproductive illness/complications including death). Add to it the absence of medical care after the child's been cut up, you just have a little girl of about 3-6 years old screaming for days in agony, some bleeding to death, others getting sick and dying from infection, complications... Yet, the mothers believe (out of their cultural accretions) that this is love for their little girls, because this is what it means to be a woman, without it, she cannot marry, have the honor of being a second class citizen in her society, she will be expelled from her home and people outcast like a whore - a non-entity. In the societies where the practice remains, THIS is a form of human high culture elevating women to their correct status.
It ensures virginity, and the woman as undamaged property for marriage. It is also accepted in the culture that the woman is physically and mentally ill for the rest of her life after the removal pf her sex.
Does this mean that its value should be preserved? Let's hope not. Would you want to be born in that as a little girl? Yet, while the practice has been abolished in many countries, it is still not a crime
- it is still actively sought by the women raised to believe what is between their legs is unclean to do the same to their young daughters. Yet the daughters, not all of them thought this was so great... There is a counter-cultural movement that is looking to eliminate the practice, educate the women that the Koran does NOT teach this practice, there is no reason for it, it is simply barbaric... but with culture, we come down to a set of 'points of view.' And that is the clash between 'right and wrong'... who's setting the aesthetic for the accretions? Can they simply be removed? Can they be changed just like that? History shows, no.
Thought I'd share.