Lesson 2: Definitions

what is true?I think I got ahead of myself. Responses to the first lesson indicate I should define what I mean by culture and technology.

In the past, a community was associated with a culture. That culture was not something consciously built but an understanding that developed naturally from living together. That is not to say everyone agreed on everything, but that the culture provided a basis for what was considered normal. Shared memories, stories, beliefs, experiences, customs, holidays, and other observances contributed to what the community regarded as true, good, and beautiful. This was reinforced as people met with one another regularly.

We often assume there is universal agreement on these three virtues. They seem intuitive because we have been taught and sense our culture from birth. Then we remember Asian nations have quite different understandings. It is readily discernible in their art, music, and health care. But it goes much deeper than these. And, of course, other areas of the world have traditions reflecting their peculiar histories.

Our Western culture originates from Greek, Roman, Christian, and various European perspectives. And, of course, there are many divisions. For instance, I am Pennsylvania Dutch. Even though we may not consult these traditions consciously, they guide us as we make everyday decisions.

Recently there has been a cultural crisis leaving us asking us what happened to our common story. We can no longer assume our neighbors even agree with us on common courtesy. People mock others, openly express prejudice, make false accusations, and adopt strange conspiracy theories. They disagree on what is factual, what is ethical, and what is aesthetically pleasing.

Some of us think much of the change has come from the far-reaching power of modern technology. Technology is the way we apply our knowledge to practical matters. We associate this with tools such as shovels and industrial machines that overcome our human limitations.

In the past, there was little conflict with culture. That is no longer the case as technology now also involves complex global systems. Electric girds, interstate highway systems, and especially the worldwide transportation system that delivers food and other goods from around the world to our homes each day demand uniformity. Differences in cultures cannot be allowed to interfere with the efficient operation of these systems.

Beyond that, local cultural values such as compassion for others and concern for the environment are often considered irrelevant and even obstructive. Modern technology  reduces relevancy to scientific knowledge, economic effect, and political decision.

And this does not begin to look at how artificial intelligence affects cultural values. It defines intelligence as tremendous quantities of information in contrast to culture that sees it as the quality of wisdom.

This is just a starter at defining the two. Future lessons will bring out all sorts of contrasts and conflicts.

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  1. paul wildman says:

    Re Agreed: Recently there has been a cultural crisis leaving us asking us what happened, due to technology, to our common story. Agreed Fritz. I posit a second cause the denial of climate crisis inc. over population and use of resources. ciao paul


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