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Unit 10 The Science of Custom. Ruth Benedict. The Science of Custom. The Author: Ruth Benedict Anthropology and Culture The Text: Global Questions The Text: Paragraph Analysis. Who is the author Ruth Benedict? What do you know about her?. Ruth Fulton Benedict (1887 – 1948).

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Unit 10 The Science of Custom


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    1. Unit 10The Science of Custom Ruth Benedict

    2. The Science of Custom • The Author: Ruth Benedict • Anthropology and Culture • The Text: Global Questions • The Text: Paragraph Analysis

    3. Who is the author Ruth Benedict? What do you know about her?

    4. Ruth FultonBenedict(1887–1948) • Ruth Benedict is regarded as one of thepioneers of cultural anthropology. • She was also one of the first to apply anthropology to the study of advanced societies. • She is best remembered for her works dealing with the national character of various culture groups, most famously the Japanese circa World War II.

    5. An honor to Ruth Benedict She was one of the first women to achieve recognition as a major social scientist. She was pictured on a stamp issued by the U.S. Postal Service in Virginia Beach, Va., on Oct. 20. 1995.

    6. Important Works 1923 The Concept of the Guardian Spirit in North America 1928 Psychological Types in the Cultures of the Southwest 1932 Configurations of Culture in North America 1934 Patterns of Culture 1935 Zuñi Mythology (2 vol.) 1946 The Chrysanthemum and the Sword

    7. German-American anthropologist, a professor at Columbia University in New York City for 37 years (from 1899 onwards), helped pioneer modern anthropology. He advocated the theories that there is no pure race and that no race is superior to any other. Her tutor and mentor: Franz Boas

    8. Boas’s Major Achievements as an Anthropologist • helped establish anthropology as a well-respected science; • had done highly regarded fieldwork in all areas except archaeology; • helped define the discipline and trained many of the most prominent American anthropologists of the 20th century. • the progenitor of cultural relativism in anthropology; (The notion and theory of cultural relativism: the standards of good and evil vary from culture to culture);

    9. Margaret Mead doing field work honored by the U.S. Postage office Her student: Margaret Mead (1901-1978)

    10. Some quotations -- Ruth Benedict • Life: The trouble with life isn't that there is no answer, it's that there are so many answers. • Perception: No man ever looks at the world with pristine eyes. He sees it edited by a definite set of customs and institutions and ways of thinking. • Racism: Racism is an ism to which everyone in the world today is exposed; for or against, we must take sides. And the history of the future will differ accordingly to the decision which we make. Source: Encarta R Reference Library 2005

    11. Patterns of Culture(1934) • This groundbreaking comparative study describing cultural patterns of 3 different primitive peoples -- the Zuni (New Mexico), the Dobu (Melanesia), and the Kwakiutl (Vancouver Island) -- shows how custom and tradition influence behavior. • Demonstrated the primacy of culture over biology in understanding the differences between people

    12. Cultural configuration(构造,结构,配置): a culture is not simply a collection of traits but a unique patterning or organization of these traits. Patterns of Culture(1934) • Cultural Relativism: all cultures are different but equal • Cross-cultural Comparison: Can help anthropologists better understand their own cultures as well as others’.

    13. Basic Ideas of Patterns of Culture • Through unconscious selection, some cultures select some traits to focus on, while others ignore them. • These traits interweave to form a cohesive pattern, a cultural configuration. • It is the "personality," the particular complex of traits and attitudes, of a culture that defines the individuals within it as successes, misfits, or outcasts.

    14. Chrysanthemum and the Sword • During World War II, she worked for the Office of War Information, applying anthropological methods to the study of contemporary cultures. • 1946 The Chrysanthemum and the Sword: Patterns of Japanese Culture. • This book has been referred to as the single most important book ever written on the Japanese.

    15. Chrysanthemum and the Sword • It is still recommended as introductory reading for students of Japanese culture. • National character studies: the Japanese personality structure to assist in their defeat during the war. • “Anthropology at a distance” , but in fact very ethnocentric, totalizing, reductionist.

    16. Basic concepts: Anthropology & Culture • What is Anthropology? • derives from the Greek words anthropos “human” and logos “the study of.” • the scientific study of the origin, the behavior, and the physical,social, and cultural development of humans.

    17. social anthropology • cultural anthropology • physical anthropology • educational anthropology • Biological Anthropology • Medical Anthropology

    18. Anthropology as a discipline of study • Anthropology is a field-study oriented discipline which makes extensive use of the comparative method in analysis. The emphasis on data gathered first-hand, combined with a cross-cultural perspective brought to the analysis of cultures past and present, makes this study a unique and distinctly important social science. • A branch of intellectual enquiry which seeks to study humans and their endeavors in the same reasoned, orderly, systematic, and dispassioned manner that natural scientists use for the study of natural phenomena.

    19. Basic Concepts: Culture • A broad sense: civilization of a particular time in history; all the knowledge and values shared by a society; • A narrow sense: e.g.: the drug/FBI/cooperate culture; • Anthropologists use "culture" in a purely descriptive fashion to describe the habits and customs of a particular population, cultural achievements that can't be judged across different societies.

    20. Basic Concepts: Custom • accepted or habitual practice; a specific practice of long standing How is custom related to culture? • Sir Edward Tylor defined culture as “... that complex whole which includes belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society.”

    21. Definitions of Custom • 1. (uncountable)– usual and generally accepted behavior among members of a social group, e.g., the custom of giving presents and visiting friends and relatives at the Spring Festival • 2. (countable)– a particular way of behaving which, because it has long been established, is observed by individuals and social group, e.g., It is the old man’s custom to take a walk every morning.

    22. Do different societies have different customs? What causes the differences, if any? The causes are many and varied, e.g., people’s religion, belief, the physical environment, superstitions, etc.

    23. The Science of Custom What does it mean by the word “custom” here in this passage? • It denotes an established practice or the body of established practice of a community or of a people that has the force of unwritten law. Consequently, custom when used as a collective or abstract noun commonly implies a force as strong, as binding, and as difficult to escape as that exerted by those who enforce the law of the land.

    24. Distinguish the following words • Custom, habit, behavior, institution, culture • Custom (see above) • Habit refers more often to the way of an individual than to the way of a community. It applies to a way of behaving (as in acting or thinking) unconsciously or without premeditation. • Behavior refers to a person’s action in general or on a particular occasion. • Institution refers to a habit, custom, etc., which has been in existence for a long time, e.g., “the institution of slavery” • Culture, in anthropology, refers to the way of life of a society. The customs, ideas and attitudes shared by a group, which make up its culture, are transmitted from generation to generation by learning process rather than by biological inheritance. Basically, each human group has its own distinctive culture.

    25. The text: Global Questions What type of writing is this extract from Patterns of Culture? • An Exposition; • An Explanation of an idea logically; • By appealing to our emotion, or more likely, our reason, an expository writer informs, clarifies, defines, explains or analyze an idea by reference to evidence and logic.

    26. The text: Global Questions Which of the following is the main idea of this passage? • Custom is a more interesting and more significant subject than the way our brains work, and thus is worthy of more serious study. • To understand the way custom shapes our beliefs and behavior, it is only necessary to study Western civilization because institutions of various civilizations are based on the same premises. • Custom plays an important role in determining people’s beliefs and behavior, and all manifestations of human custom should be studied without discrimination.

    27. The text: Global Questions How does Benedict explain her view point? • Her explanations are mostly based on her own assumption or analysis rather than on evidence that is acceptable to the general public. • By employing different methods, such as definition, examples, quotation, illustrations, analogy, comparison and contrast, etc., she seems to expect her readers simply to understand her personal view on this issue.

    28. The Science of Custom What Benedict is trying to call her readers’ attention to is that the study of anthropology in general and the study of custom in particular should not be biased. Presumably she was arguing against the prevalent view held by some anthropologists at the time of her writing that their own culture is the culture of humanity and thus is the only variety deserving serious scientific study. Such an attitude is what we now call Eurocentrism. • The 6 paragraphs in this passage seem to deal with two related notions, what are they? Can you identify the paragraphs that are devoted respectively to each notion? • An obvious relation between anthropology and custom is that the study of the latter is part of that of the former. But this is not the main thing Benedict wants to tell her readers. Can you tell what is the main point Benedict wants to make in these paragraphs? Para. 1, 2, & 6 are devoted to the notion of anthropology. Para. 3, 4, & 5 are devoted to the notion of custom.

    29. William Graham Sumner 1840-1910 Ethnocentrism • “Ethnocentrism is the technical name for this view of things in which one’s own group is the center of everything, and all others are scaled and rated with reference to it. . . Each group nourishes its own pride and vanity, boasts itself superior, exalts its own divinities, and looks with contempt on outsiders. Each group thinks its own folkways the only right ones, and if it observes that other groups have other folkways, these excite its scorn. • -- Sumner, Folkways: A Study of the Sociological Importance of Usages, • Manners, Customs, Mores, and Morals (Ginn and Company, 1906), p.13.

    30. Ethnocentrism Ethnocentrism ordinarily involves a strong negative evaluation of cultural beliefs, values, attitudes, and practices other than one’s own. Since the evaluative judgments are based on one’s own standards, there is a tendency to view other cultures - not only as wrong-headed - but also as bizarre; as something that either indicates the inferiority of the culture under examination or that defies(公然藐视,反对) explanation and understanding altogether.

    31. Cultural Relativity • An antidote to the poison of ethnocentrism. • Cultural relativity – which is a methodological stance – involves the temporary suspension of evaluative judgments when seeking to understand a culture other than your own. • To ensure adequate understanding, all aspects of culture – beliefs, values, attitudes, norms, customs, traditions, and the resulting behaviors – should be examined with reference to the cultural setting in which they exist. How are these cultural items related to, or reflect, the way of life of the people embedded in the culture?

    32. Para. One • What is the topic sentence?

    33. Para. 2 • What is the topic sentence? • What, according to Benedict, should be the anthropologist’s attitude toward different civilizations? What are his interests? What is his object?

    34. Para. 3 What is the topic sentence? • Custom plays a predominant role in our experience and our belief, and it manifests itself in a great variety of ways. • Please explain how this point is developed in the rest of the passage. • “The role custom plays” is developed in para. 4; and “the great varieties of custom” is developed in paras 5 and 6, though not adequately.

    35. Conflicting Views on Custom Traditional view The author’s view Playing a predominant role in experience and in belief • Not a subject of any great significance; • Behavior at its most commonplace

    36. Syntactic deviationSVOC OSVC • The inner workings of our own brains (O) we (S)feel (V)to be uniquely worthy of investigation (C) • We(S) feel (V)the inner workings of our own brains (O)to be uniquely worthy of investigation(C)

    37. This syntactic deviation is a rhetorical device used to create a parallel structure linked by “but”, showing a contrast with the following part of the sentence: • …but custom, we have a way of thinking, is behavior at its most commonplace

    38. The inner workings…(O)we feel (SV) to be uniquely worthy of investigation (C), butcustom (O), we have a way… (SV), is behavior at its most commonplace (C). paralleled structure:

    39. 4. Traditional custom, taken the world over,… • Traditional custom, which is accepted the world over • Traditional custom, if observed from a global perspective

    40. Definition • Traditional custom, taken the world over, is a mass of detailed behavior more astonishing than what any one person can ever evolve in individual actions, no matter how aberrant.

    41. …more astonishing than what any one person … • …more powerful than any individual behavior, no matter how unusual(/odd/strange) the individual behavior is. • The sentence can be simplified as: • Traditional custom is more powerful than individual behavior.

    42. Para. 4 • “No man ever looks at the world with pristine eyes.” • What does this statement imply? • It implies that no man looks at the world in an absolutely objective way • Everyone observes the world with some measure of prejudice or bias.

    43. John Dewey • Famous US educator, Pragmatist philosopher, & psychologist; • Major publications: • "The School and Society" 1899, • "How We Think" 1909, • "Experience and Nature" 1925, • "Experience and Education" 1938

    44. Analyze the following sentence: • John Dewey has said in all seriousness that the part played by custom in shaping the behavior of the individual as over against any way in which he can affect traditional custom, is as the proportion of the total vocabulary of his mother tongue over against those words of his own baby talk that are taken up into the vernacular of his family. • What rhetorical device is employed in the statement?

    45. An analogy: • What does the author intend to illustrate by quoting John Dewey (lines 29-33)? • Try to explain what she quotes of Dewey. Compared with the role custom plays in shaping the behavior of the individual, the influence of the individual on custom is insignificant. influence of custom on the individual the total number of words in his mother tongue the number of words of his baby talk admitted into the family language influence of the individual on custom

    46. Which has greater weight? The way in which the individual behavior can affect custom The part played by custom in shaping the behavior of the individual

    47. Para. 4 cont. • What kind of social orders are those that “have had the opportunities to develop autonomously”? (l. 33-34) • What does the word “figure” on l. 34 mean? What does it refer to? They are the social orders that have developed independently of any outside influence, with little cultural exchange with the outside world. Figure of speech. It refers to the analogy Dewey used.

    48. Para. 4 cont. “The life-history of the individual is first and foremost an accommodation to the patterns and standards traditionally handed down in his community. From the moment of his birth the customs into which he is born shape his experience and behavior. By the time he can talk, he is the little creature of his culture, and by the time he is grown and able to take part in its activities, its habits are his habits, its beliefs his beliefs, its impossibilities his impossibilities.” (L. 35-40)

    49. Para. 5 • What is the topic sentence? • Is it possible for a scholar to maintain no preferential weighing of one or another of the items? Think about the statement in Para. 4 that we have just discussed.

    50. A contrast: • In all the less controversial fields like the study of cacti or termites …is to group the relevant material … • It is only in the study of man himself that the major social sciences have substituted the study of one local variation, that of Western civilization.