On Philosophy of Culture- Part 1

Ali-Akbar Rashad 1  

Note: Afterproving the need forphilosophical studies on culture,the author has tried to answer ten major questions on the Philosophy of Culture, adopting an establishmentarian approach. From the viewpoint of the esteemed author, the Philosophy of Culture is “A systematic insight that has roots in rational study of the general cultural norms and overviews them”. The article ends with a detailed structure on the main axes of the philosophy of culture – which is abundant in innovative discussions. Appreciating the esteemed researcher, Raahbord-e Farhang welcomes the comments by esteemed readers on this article.

An Islamic “cultural theory” can be achieved through philosophical research work based on Islamic logic in cultural fields; contemplation on cultural theories does not have a rich background among the Muslim philosophers; keeping in mind the importance of culture, and the significance of cultural issues in our times, philosophical study of culture is a matter of double importance today; in this brief article we intend to focus briefly on some major points on the Philosophy of Culture, whose detailed and complete version can be called “the Philosophy of Philosophy of Culture”; such discussion as “the meaning and index in assuming that Philosophy of Culture is authentically a philosophy”, “definition of the Philosophy of Culture”, “the status of Philosophy of Culture in geography of philosophical literature”, “ratio and relations of Philosophy of Culture with other parallel and homogenous sciences”, “topics in the Philosophy of Culture”, “methodology in Philosophy of Culture”, “scientific identity of Philosophy of Culture”, “ultimate objectives and benefits of the Philosophy of Culture”, “source books on Philosophy of Culture”, and “major issue in Philosophy of Culture”, are discussed for the time being in this brief article, and other issues such as “logic and nomenclature of discussions in Philosophy of Culture”, “scientific geography of Philosophy of Culture”, “recognition of territories in Philosophy of Culture” and…, too, can be discussed under the same topic, but not within the limited boundaries of this brief article, which would be focused on in another opportunity. Since this short text is an establishmentarian prelude to the “Philosophy of Islamic Culture”, the axis chapters of the Philosophy of Culture are included in it as far as the scientific might of this author permits and enough to saturate the tastes of our distinguished readers, while under any chapter, too, samples of the sub-discussions are presented.

We hereby humbly and enthusiastically request the learned individuals who have brilliant ideas in the field and esteemed scholars with ideas in this field to view this brief work kindheartedly, and not to deprive this least scholar of their benevolent critical viewpoints.(1)

To make a long story short, we present the aforementioned points and orientations without any additions and adornments, each in the framework of a few paragraphs to our highly learned readers:

One: Philosophy is responsible for “discovery”, “analysis”, and finding rational “causes and effects” for reaching the general conclusions on its subject matter; any systematic science in need of elaboration, analysis, and finding its causes and effects is considered a philosophical science. A culture is a macro-scale subject which can well be studied philosophically; since the Philosophy of Culture is responsible for rational study of culture, it can be regarded as a philosophical science.

The Philosophy of Culture can be defined as: “A systematic science derived from a rational overview study on general norms of a culture”, or “A science in charge of elaborating, analyzing and finding the general causes and effects of the cultural norms”.

Two: Philosophy can be categorized from various points of the view. Some indexes for categorizing philosophy are related to the “essence” of the philosophical matters and some to their “facades”. Those indexes which are related to the essence of the matters deal with such factors and variable as the “subject”, the “method” and… which are involved in the “evolution of the essence of the sciences”; indexes such as the “civilizational and cultural cradle for initiation and blossoming”, “the historical era of evolution and continuity”, “the establishers and compilers”, and…, which clarify the “essence of the sciences” are called the appearance indexes.

Three: The subject and focus of attention in philosophical sciences is either “the essence of existence”, or the “limited existences”. The limited existences which are studied in philosophy are either in the category of “sciences”, such as the “philosophy of science of physics”, the “philosophy of judiciary science”, and the “philosophy of theology science”, or in the category of “unscientific issues”, such as the “philosophy of physics” (on natural phenomena), the “philosophy of judiciary”, and the “philosophy of arts”. The philosophies of the sciences are entirely annexed philosophies to those sciences. By the word science here, we mean a collection of systematically compiled theories in a vast field, which have created a cognitive apparatus. Thus, the philosophy of culture is among the annexed philosophies to a non-scientific matter, and among the first grade cognitive issues.

Four: Elaborating on the relations between the Philosophy of Culture and such other sciences of the same weight and in the same family, as the “science of culture”, the “sciences annexed to culture” (such as the cultural sociology), “anthropology”, the “philosophy of the science of culture”, and the “philosophy of human sciences”, are among the important issues which must be discussed under the topic “On Philosophy of Culture”.

In comparison, and distinguishing the contrasting fields among these scientific fields, too, we need to view their shared and incongruous aspects from such angels as the cognitive approach, phenomenology, perfectionism, pragmatism, subjectivism, and…, but we suffice in surveying some of the differences between the Philosophy of Culture and the science of culture (scientific study of cultures).(2)

The research method in Philosophy of Culture is rational, the study approach is extrovert and judicial, the issues and general verdicts in it are existentialist, cognitive, and phenomenologist, and…; culture (from its cultural aspect of the view) and its consisting factors (considering that they are annexed to the culture), the practical usage of the Philosophy of Culture, proving the hypotheses in the science of culture and the peripheral sciences of culture, and elaborating the general rules in this sensitive soft human science is a tough task; but in the science of culture in addition to applying the rational approach, the empirical approach too, is used in abundance; it trivializes and focuses on minute matters and is introspective; in addition to all these attributes, it is descriptive, prescriptive, and suggestive, too, which means this science, like the other sciences, (contrasted with philosophies) in addition to elaboration, is after creating changes, as well (like the other sciences it is simultaneously inclusive of ‘suggestions’, ‘descriptions’, and ‘prescriptions’) including the practical usages of scientific study of culture, and enables the human beings to “engineer the cultures” and to become “cultural engineers”.

Five: The word culture is inclusive of such diversified aspects as: science, literature, wisdom, training and nurturing, greatness and sagaciousness, just to name a few. It is also inclusive of a live branch of a tree which is partly buried to have roots of its own, and then transferred elsewhere as a sapling, as well as a generating water fountain. (Dehkhoda Persian to Persian dictionary, under the entry فرهنگ = culture) The subject matter of the Philosophy of Culture is defining it idiomatically.

In order to define the culture idiomatically, we have various definitions; we consider the culture as “An intertwined and correlated combination of sustainable viewpoints, approaches, and functions in the cradle of a certain field and within the span of a certain period of time, which has taken shape as the collective identity and the secondary nature of a group of human beings.”

In other words, culture is “The non-physical collective ecosystem of the human beings in a certain geographical and chronological span”, and therefore, the human beings minus cultures and the cultures minus the human beings are both meaningless. Studying the culture is in fact an “annexed anthropology”, which means the human being, annexed to the “peripheral circumstances”, the “time span” and the “geographical whereabouts” as well as his other existential vessels, which are the subject matters of study, and thus the culture itself is studied.

Six: Issues in the Philosophy of Culture are the general rules (issues on existentialism, typology, scientology, study of value systems, phenomenology, study of rules, and…) of culture.

Note: The issues in philosophy can be classified in two levels:

One) General rules in “culture” in real sense of the word culture; and

Two) The general rules on philosophy’s comprising factors (sustainable and systematic insight, behavioral patterns); of course when they are regarded on condition of existence and with and annexed approach.

In the remaining parts of the article we will present a detailed list of the discussions on Philosophy of Culture.

Seven: The ultimate objective in Philosophy of Culture is achieving the general rules on culture; among its most important usages, too, there is setting the foundations for culture-based sciences and providing for the suitable theoretical cradle for “engineering the culture” and “cultural engineering”.

Engineering the culture can be defined in these words:

“Engineering the culture is the conscious process of scientific purification, classification, improvement and upgrading, and making competent the national culture based on pathology and scientific evaluation, and the accepted aboriginal and international cultural foundations and roots.”

Cultural engineering, too, from our point of the view is:

“Cultural engineering is the conscious process of redesigning the apparatuses and relations in a society’s educational, scientific, judiciary, economic, commercial, political, administrative, security, familial and…, in accordance with appropriate and practical scientific pathology, with full control over the comprising factors of the culture in question.”

Going through the abovementioned dual processes would be practically impossible without defining the general rules of the culture (in the real sense of the word) and its comprising factors.

Eight: Regarding the “scientific identity” of the Philosophy of Culture we can refer to the following points:

Philosophy of Culture is a pure and rational science; it is among the annexed philosophies to other scientific fields; it is categorized as a main scientific branch, and not a sub-branch; proving its hypotheses is possible through contemplation in religious texts, pure philosophy, rational thinking, and innate nature of the human beings.