This is a draft of what will likely become a book detailing how our minds form culture based on shared experiences and a Nash-like equilibrium of cultural dynamics.
The Emergence of Culture
Most of us are very deeply embedded in our cultures. Most of us only have one culture and we are typically blind to how it shapes our thoughts and feelings. Culture is one of the filters through which we see the world. It is one of the deepest ways we make sense of the world rooted in our experiences and intergenerational ways of thinking. Culture shapes how language is understood. Culture shapes what actions are considered acceptible. Culture forms how we relate to every other entity in the universe.
Many definitions of culture do not seem to have the necessary depth to fully address the phenomenon. They look at very specific manifestations of culture and mistake those check lists as culture in and of itself. This leads to many issues and misunderstandings which will be addresssed later in this work. Here are some definitions according the the Oxford English Dictionary and Merriam-Webster:
The arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively (OED).
The customs, arts, social institutions, and achievements of a particular nation, people, or other social group (OED).
The customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group. Also: The characteristic features of everyday existence (such as diversions or a way of life) shared by people in a place or time (MW).
The integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations (MW).
These definitions seem to move from pure material culture and acheivement to the last definition which appears to be all encompassing, but I feel like it’s missing a particular aspect which we have no word for in English. The closest I can come to defining it is a set of reference frames which reify reality and which are key to survival within the hyperspace created through both the environment and ways of relating to on another.
In some cases, the definition of culture could parallel the meaning that is used in regards to cultures of bacteria, molds, or fungi. It is something that has a distinct life as a collective which engenders specific internal conditions within individual organisms. Those internal conditions are dependent on the continuation and reproduction of the specific culture over time. The culture will evolve and change over time, but there will likely a distinct core of it. In some cases there may be an apparent discontinuity due to extreme circumstances (disease, foreign invasions, colonization, etc.).
- Perceptual + Narrative Zones
- Each individual (an agent) has their own perceptual zone which differs from other people's perceptual zones. The perceptual zones may overlap, but in many case they don't. The perceptual zone is the combined whole of experience each individual is perceiving and sense-making at any given time.