Cultural Systems: Flaws and Virtues
Cultural Manifests, they are like the unifying purpose of a group, the nails, screws, bolts and washers holding a desk together, or the interworking gears of clockwork slowly ticking by. At first glance, a cultural manifest means nothing, it’s background noise; like the Jazz Mr. Jackson uses in philosophy to set the mood for discussion. Trying to examine a cultural manifest is like a fish trying to examine the water through which it swims (as we have oft referred to in class).
The properties of a cultural manifest are what drives its society to progress. If they weren’t hidden, who would follow them? Would you prefer to listen to the underlying message in your favourite song, or the nagging authority of a guardian? We ought to listen to the guardian wishing us well, but we want to listen to our favourite song. A cultural manifest is often like your favourite song; it influences you through nuance and subtlety and can transmit messages so deep and so condensed that it would be nearly impossible to find all the influences and motives behind them.
- That is not to say that we are controlled and limited by cultural manifests, rather it is to say, like music, it can influence us in our decisions.
- To further clarify, cultural manifests are not the only mechanisms that influence decision making.
- Where the cultural manifest influences people with little or no variation, is where one of the many possible central ideals exist.
As for the next few sections, they will be choice based and they will be numbered and listed below so that you may choose what to read.
- Defining a Cultural Manifest, its Origins, and its Function
- Rawls’ Influence (basic summary)
- Kant’s Influence (basic summary)
- Mill’s Influence (basic summary)
- Aristotle and Dale Carnegie, Why The Cultural Manifest is so Effective
- Ethical Issues
- My Own Personal Cultural Manifest
1. Pertaining to the clockwork example mentioned earlier, a cultural manifest is much like a mass of clockwork. The main difference being that all the gears are tiny and may have nearly invisible effects on gears hundreds of meters away from them. The clockwork can be jammed by rocks in which case catastrophic events can occur. Gears can be replaced and the clockwork can continue functioning again, but it will take decades even centuries to undo the damage done by those rocks. Furthermore, someone who has analyzed and studied the mechanisms in the clockwork, knows how to create purpose from it, knows how to alter its varying functions and knows how to manipulate the clockwork to their ideals.
A cultural manifest is much the same, it has no single goal or purpose, rather it is an asymmetric mash of powerful and incentive-based concepts. And whenever the group under this cultural manifest is put through a catastrophic event, the manifest changes, it adapts to the current circumstances and the emotions which are mixed within it. This can distort and alter its previous functionality and cause deficiencies within the system. One who can manipulate cultural manifests can convince almost anyone immersed in that one’s manifest that the ideals which are upheld by that manifest are just and right.
If we are to examine to communisms’ modifications in Russia, we can clearly see that this idea/concept was placed into Russia’s construct/manifest of nationhood. When an idea or concept is placed into a culture/symbol, it influences everyone immersed within that system. Much the same occurred in Germany during the Nazi party’s reign. If you were to ask many of the Germans most deeply immersed into the concept the Adolf Hitler had created, they would have done anything for him. That is not to say that cultural manifests are absolutely terrible; there are of course many misuses of these constructs and there examples were they are extremely functional. For example, Gandhi’s use of civil disobedience to alter the current cultural manifest and therefore causing a revolution in India. The complex clockwork that is a cultural manifest is difficult to influence, but once it has been changed, the spread of the alteration is silent and unexpected and soon the entire system has changed. To conclude a cultural manifest is a construct of concepts/ideas that influences societies and groups.
2. If Rawls were to create a portion of a cultural manifest, he would ensure that several concepts were ticking in its construct. Rawls does not see moral desert in a society, rather he argues that people should use their talents to better society. If the talents in a particular person are not required, then they are simply not needed and therefore that person must harness talents that are needed in order to function in society. Additionally, Rawls would allow income disparity on the condition that those on the lowest economic level are aided equally by the income disparity. Furthermore, the cultural manifest would influence early generations into thinking that their skills are needed for society in order for it to function. Therefore, not discriminating based on genetic traits, working conditions, and other “arbitrary” traits that are randomly assigned, behind the veil of ignorance.
3. In Kant’s cultural manifest we find a world where no human can be used as a means. Any entity capable of rational thought is not to be regarded as a means, rather they are ends. Additionally, anytime an entity is used as means, the action must first be tested as a universal law. This means that if everyone in the sphere of existence were to preform this action, there would be no resulting disparity. In other words, if I were to consider borrowing an excessive amount of money for personal gain, I would first wonder what would happen if everybody were to do the same. I would realize (hopefully) that if everyone borrowed an excessive amount of money then there would be no longer any money left in the bank for better purposes, there would be no more money in the bank, and there would massive amounts of household debt which could result in an economic recession. Therefore this action is refuted by universal law and does not fit the categorical imperative. In this society, there is a fairly dogmatic upbringing, in the sense that, one must always follow the categorical imperative and no other reason as it may mislead them.
4. Mill has interesting world where the ends always justify the means. A place where, as long as the ends results in the greatest amount of happiness, the greatest atrocities and the greatest achievements of mankind can occur. You can justify any action, whether requiring personal sacrifice, or populace sacrifice. The main upbringing would involve the eduction of long-term/short-term utils and the comparison of these utils with others. Through this reasoning a person could construct their own ethical decisions and therefore logically come to a conclusion.
5.Who is Dale Carnegie? He was a prominent and persistent admirer of Abraham Lincoln and studied Lincoln’s history throughout his life. He is the author of the best-selling 70 year old book called “How to win friends and influence people.” An unfortunate title for the book as all of the methods would coincide with the categorical imperative. Additionally the book is light-hearted and humorous despite its philosophical depth into human nature.
As for Aristotle, he is a well known and cited greek philosopher, and in this post he is going to bring a different aspect other than utilitarianism, the categorical imperative, or the difference principle to the table. Aristotle shines upon teleological reasoning. A telos, goal or purpose is what this system is based upon. In order to analyze a situation, one must first identify the telos of the climate. Say perhaps that we were to identify who to give the best construction tools. First we would have to discuss the purpose of this construction tools. In this case (I would assume) that the purpose of those tools is to build, and therefore, those tools should be given to the best builders. However, there is a problem with teleological reasoning; sometimes, everybody cannot agree on the purpose of a particular situation. The purpose is always up for debate and this can cause massive delays in decision making.
What does Carnegie have to do with all of us? Dale Carnegie points out a very important part of human nature, and gives you the tools to control that characteristic. He does not teach you to alter the personalities of others, or how to change the thoughts of others, rather he gives you the tools to change yourself.