The Classification of Cultures

Cultures can be classified in many ways. One way is by how they are transmitted. Cultures can be passed down through families, or they can be shared among people who share a common language or heritage. Another way to classify cultures is by their level of development. Cultures can be simple, with only a few basic customs and beliefs, or they can be complex, with a rich history and many traditions.

There are also ways to classify cultures based on their values and beliefs. Some cultures value individualism, while others place importance on community and cooperation. Some cultures emphasize competition, while others focus on cooperation. And still other cultures may focus on spiritual values or on material possessions.

No matter how you choose to classify cultures, it is important to remember that all cultures are human creations. Cultures are not static; they change and evolve over time. What may be considered a culture today may be different tomorrow. So, while it is helpful to attempt to classify cultures, it is also important to remember that these classifications are always changing.

More broadly, we may separate them into two categories: those who think in terms of “humanness” and those who do not. Some societies are clearly anthropocentric; others, on the other hand, are plainly anthropo-transcendental. These two linguistic coins require further explanation to be properly understood.

Anthropocentrism is a worldview that posits humans as the central or most significant entity in the universe. Cultures with this perspective often emphasize human achievement, progress and power above all else. They view other beings (if they acknowledge their existence at all) as existing primarily for human benefit or amusement.

In extreme cases, anthropocentrism can manifest as human supremacism, the belief that humanity’s authority over the natural world is absolute. Anthropocentrism is evident in Western cultures which tend to be individualistic and value humans above everything else.

Anthropo-transcendentalism, on the other hand, is a worldview that posits humans as being part of a greater whole. Cultures with this perspective often emphasize harmony with nature, respect for other beings and a humble attitude. They view humans as existing in relation to other beings and see the natural world as sacred.

In extreme cases, anthropo-transcendentalism can manifest as a religious or spiritual belief that humanity is not the highest authority in the universe. Anthropo-transcendentalism is evident in Eastern cultures which tend to be collectivistic and value humans in relation to everything else.

So, which is better? There is no easy answer. Each perspective has its own merits and drawbacks. Cultures that are too anthropocentric can become exploitative and destructive, while those that are too anthropo-transcendental can become stagnant and overly reverential. The key is to find a balance between the two. Cultures that can do this tend to be the most successful and prosperous.

An anthropocentric culture is one that values human potential and works to create the circumstances needed for its fullest materialization and expression. It is the supreme objective, culminating achievement, and yardstick of such a society’s success or failure.

On the other side of the spectrum, we find peoples that want to go beyond humanity. The “transcendental” gaze has several goals. Some societies want to break through human limitations; others want to discover significance; and still others want to maintain social equilibrium. But what binds them together is their subordination of human activity, experience, potential, everything human in order for it to attain transcendence.

The dichotomy between anthropocentric and transcendental cultures is not a simple one of good versus bad, although most people tend to evaluate their own culture as good and the other kind as bad. It is more a question of different options, different choices. Each has its own logic, each has its own appeal, each has its own dangers.

Anthropocentric cultures are those that prioritize the human experience and human potential above all else. Transcendental cultures are those that look beyond humanity, often for spiritual or ideological reasons. Most cultures fall somewhere in between these two extremes. Cultures can be classified according to their relative focus on anthropocentrism or transcendence.

Cultures with these characteristics are sometimes called “synthetic” cultures. Other cultures consider the group or the community as more important than the individual, and would therefore focus on conformity, tradition, seniority, duty, religion and spirituality. These cultures are sometimes referred to as “traditional” cultures.

Cultures can also be classified according to their level of technological development. Culturally advanced societies make use of sophisticated technologies extensively, while less developed cultures make do with simple tools and technologies. Cultures can also be classified according to their economic system.

Market economies are based on the free exchange of goods and services, while centrally planned economies are based on the government controlling the means of production. Finally, cultures can be categorized according to their political systems. Democracies are based on the principle of majority rule, while autocracies are based on the rule of one person or a small group.

People are eaten alive in other cultures. They are regarded, a priori, to be superfluous; their value is based on their actual contribution to the whole. Such societies prize generalizations, preconceptions, conformity, agreement, belonging, social organizations, processes, forms, and undertakings that rely on the work or other input of human masses.

Cultures of this sort usually arrive at their decisions by means of bureaucratic or political methods. They are, in general, more efficient than Cultures of the second type but less tolerant of individual differences, more inclined to favor the status quo, and more resistant to change.

Cultures of the second type consider the individual human being to be the basic unit of worth and value. The emphasis is on personal fulfillment and achievement, on self-realization and expression, on individualism, nonconformity, diversity, creativity. These cultures encourage initiative and tolerance for risk; they stimulate competition, meritocracy, and progress. Cultures of this type foster science and technology and place a high value on education. They tend to be market economies.

The third type of culture, Cultures of the first type, is one in which the primary unit of worth and value is neither the individual human being nor the collective mass but rather some transcendent entity or principle. The emphasis is on faith, revelation, tradition, dogma. Cultures of this type often hold that their values and beliefs are absolute Truths and that other cultures are inferior.

They can be very intolerant of dissenting views and practices. Cultures of this type may be autocracies or theocracies; they may have a caste system. Cultures of this sort usually have a strong sense of community and place a high value on social cohesion.

Leave a Comment