Philosophy of Culture

Philosophy of Culture


(in German, Kulturphilosophie), a branch of philosophy that studies the essence and meaning of culture. The term was first used in the early 19th century by the German romanticist A. Müller. Philosophy of culture must be distinguished both from philosophy of history—inasmuch as the process by which mankind creates culture does not match the pace of historical evolution—and from sociology of culture, which is the study of culture within a given system of social relations.

Philosophy of culture was first recognized as a field of inquiry by the Sophists, who formulated the antinomy of the natural and the moral (the latter to be identified with culture): thus, according to Hippias, such human institutions as customs and laws “often force us to go against nature” (as quoted by T. Gomperz in Grecheskie mysliteli, vol. 1, St. Petersburg, 1913, p. 346). The opposition between the natural and the moral was further developed by the Cynics (for example, Diogenes of Sinope and Antisthenes), who reached the conclusion that what was needed was a return to nature—that is, to the simplicity of primitive human existence. The Cynics can thus be seen as among the earliest critics of culture. Their criticism, directed against the artificial and depraved state of society, was adopted in a modified form by the Stoics; it subsequently became an integral element of the spiritual atmosphere of early Christian social thought and its “theology of culture.”

In modern times, questions of philosophy of culture and cultural criticism have been explored in particular by G. Vico, J.-J. Rousseau, F. Schiller (with his concept of “naive” and “sentimental” poetry as the two phases of cultural development), J. G. Herder, and the romanticists of Jena (with their idea of the uniqueness of individual national cultures and their concept of distinct historical stages of cultural development). Philosophy of culture—narrowly defined as a philosophical conception of the various stages of evolving human culture—can be said to date back to F. Nietzsche and in part to the Russian Slavophiles. The central issue was now the opposition between culture as an organic whole and civilization, regarded as the manifestation of a mechanical and utilitarian relationship to life. This view was shared by G. Simmel, O. Spengler, L. Klages, H. Keyserling, J. Ortega y Gasset, and other followers of the school of Lebensphilosophie (philosophy of life), as well as by the Russians K. N. Leon’tev, N. Ia. Danilevskii, and N. A. Berdiaev. Dani-levskii and Spengler furthermore conceived of individual cultures, whether national or historical, as being absolutely locked into themselves and mutually impermeable; a corollary of this view was the denial of the unity of human culture. A. Toynbee, who sought to rise above relativism and skepticism in his interpretation of culture, brought about a revival of Augustine’s religious and philosophical ideas. Finally, S. L. Frank represented culture and civilization as two distinct, contemporaneous, and necessary levels in the development of culture.

From the Marxist point of view, historical materialism provides the frame of reference for all questions pertaining to culture, such as the relationship between society and nature, the successive development of various forms of social consciousness, and the correlation between nonmaterial and material production. According to Marxism, culture is the historically determined level of social and human development. Being common to all mankind, on the one hand, culture is a class phenomenon; on the other hand, socioeconomic changes result in the formation of new types of cultures. At the same time, each new culture assimilates and elaborates the achievements of the preceding one.


References in periodicals archive ?
1992) "Old Gods, New Worlds," In My Father's House: African Philosophy in the Philosophy of Culture, Appiah, K.
10) Publications specifically relating Blaga and dialogue include a chapter on his philosophy of culture as a doorway to interreligious understanding published in a multi-author volume devoted to Blaga's philosophy (11) and an article in the Journal of Ecumenical Studies on implications of Blaga's philosophy for interreligious understanding.
Al Thiqqaf fil azminah Al 'Ojaf: Falsafat Al Thaqafa fil Gharb wa'ind Al Arab' (The Intellect in the Age of Scarcity: The Philosophy of Culture in the West and the Arab World) by Dr Mohammad Shawqi Zain from Algeria (published by Dar Al Ikhtilaf, 2013)
Among the topics are the indefeasible relationship between philosophy and culture, a subjective interpretation of religious experience in the proposal of Martin Buber, the liturgy as a source of modern culture, whether Comte-Sponville's spirituality without God can be a new foundation of modern culture, and Ralf Konersmann's conception of the philosophy of culture.
Incarnational Humanism: A Philosophy of Culture for the Church in the World.
By bringing Husserl's mature approach into cooperation with the systematic concerns of German idealism, the Marburg school's philosophy of culture, and twentieth-century hermeneutics, Luft's work, at his most ambitious, outlines a prolegomenon to a future transcend-dental philosophy.
Abdrasulov is an expert in the field of ontology, the history of philosophy, the philosophy of culture and legal philosophy.
Skidelsky's book, which opens with this momentous event, is both an intellectual biography of Cassirer (1874-1945) and a reflection on the limits and weaknesses of the philosophy of culture elaborated in Germany by Goethe, Humboldt and Kant, which was adopted by a sector of Germany's middle class and was particularly popular in the German-Jewish community.
I believe Newbigin may have responded to this proposal in a way similar to the remark he made upon hearing that a Dutch philosopher had written a paper entitled "Newbigin's Philosophy of Culture": "I became rather alarmed because I didn't know I had a philosophy of culture.
Between the time of his emigration and the present there are five or six Incisive books and a hundred or more scattered essays, interviews, radio broadcasts, and lectures at galleries, museums, and universities concerning the foundations and phenomena of contemporary art - a body of work that, considered as a whole, offers nothing short of a new take on the philosophy of culture and art.
The author traces the patterns of the Japanese philosophy of culture from its intellectual regeneration in the late nineteenth century to the 1930s.
Sandra Adell's Double Consciousness/Double Bind: Theoretical Issues in Twentieth Century Black Literature, David Levering Lewis's biography of Du Bois, and Anthony Appiah's In My Father's House: Africa in the Philosophy of Culture focus on various issues centered in the entanglement of Du Bois's thought with nineteenth-century German idealist philosophy.

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