HUMAN COMPUTERS – Maybe because I read Hofstede (et al) before Scollon (et al) the analogy of patterns of thinking/feeling/acting as mental programs or “software of the mind” always stuck me with during our first month of class. While the analogy is quite imperfect, it does give me a grasp of the authors’ definition of culture (and related terms) that is almost intuitive given our online class and computer-wedded culture.
HUMAN CULTURE – “There is no evidence that the values of present-day generations from different countries are converging.” – I remember this sentence striking me because in our broad euro-centric conversations in class and on the discussion board we tend to speak as if there is an ur-culture that exists in the background of all cultures and discourse systems (large and small) that we reference: so that behind the culture of the United States and LGBT discourse and Islamic culture and gendered discourse (for instance) lurks a general discourse system that overlaps with human culture as it has evolved in tandem with genetic evolution. This sentence struck me because such a lurking ur-culture is also part of my phenomenological-intellectual worldview: it’s the way that world culture and human history “feels” in my mental “vision” when I talk about culture and all the values that attend it; as if I’m a small part of something inevitable, like a Fate of Nations, hostile to the invention of nations as “political units into which the entire world is divided and to one of which every human being is supposed to belong—as manifested by his or her passport…a recent phenomenon in human history.”
CULTURAL RELATIVISM – The working definition of a cultural relativism that “does not imply a lack of norms for oneself, nor for one’s society” and that “does call for suspending judgment when dealing with groups or societies different from one’s own,” while useful, does not really get to the problematic nature of a cultural relativism that is accessible in a structuralist approach, that still dominating in social sciences praxis. I suppose that if we assume an ur-culture (always outside the individual purview) in relation to which all cultures are relative, then suspending judgment of/by one’s culture makes some sense. And allows us in this class to work with a cultural relativism without being fully invested in such morally.
DOING SCIENCE – It’s hard not to warm up to authors who are quick to reference Thomas Kuhn. If “intercultural comparative studies often belong to a new normal science in the Kuhn sense,” then the paradigm introduced by Geert that the authors use and advocate that discourages collecting one’s own culture scores and making use of prior research (about interpreting data, not necessarily about collecting data) fits in with the new emphasis on making use of small and big data already afloat.