University of St Martin - Fall, 2006 - PHIL232

Monday, Nov 13 - Racism and culture

Midterm Essay
Monday, Sept. 4 - What is philosophy?
Wednesday, Sept. 6 - Aristotle (1)
Monday, Sept. 11 - Aristotle (2)
Wednesday, Sept. 13 - Aristotle (3)
Monday, Sept. 18 - Nietzsche (1)
Wednesday, Sept. 20 - Nietzsche (2)
Monday, Sept. 26 - Abortion (1)
Wednesday, Sept. 28 - Abortion (2)
Excursus 1: Historical overview
Excursus 2: Abortion in Judaism and Christianity
Excursus 3: Abortion in Islam
Excursus 4: Pro-choice argument
Monday, Oct. 2 - Suicide (1)
Wednesday, Oct 4 - Revision
Monday, Oct 16 - Suicide (2)
Wednesday, Oct 18 - Paradigm shifts
Monday, Oct 23 - Brave New World (1)
Wednesday, Oct 25 - Philosophical Anthropology (1)
Monday, Oct 30 - Sexual History of the USA
Wednesday, Nov 1 - Philosophical Anthropology (2)
Monday, Nov 6 - Race, death, tragedy, and bad faith
Wednesday, Nov 8 - Race, Biology, and Culture
Monday, Nov 13 - Racism and culture
Wednesday, Nov 15 - Existentialism
Monday, Nov 20 - Political Obligation, Moral Duty, and Punishment
Wednesday, Nov 22 - Kant and Moral Obligation
Monday, Nov 27 - War and Peace
Wednesday, Nov 29 - Non-Western Philosophies (1)
Monday, Dec 4 - Non-Western Philosophies (2)
Wednesday, Dec 6 - The End
Final Paper

From Wikipedia
Acculturation is the modification of the culture of a group or individual as a result of contact with a different culture. The term originally applied only to the process concerning a foreign culture, from the acculturing or accultured recipient point of view, having this foreign culture added and mixed with that of his or her already existing one acquired since birth. Acculturation is the exchange of cultural features which result when groups come into continuous firsthand contact. Either or both groups of the original cultural patterns may be changed a bit, but the groups remain distinct overall. Differs from diffusion and can be voluntary or forced. It is a second mechanism of cultural change. Acculturation involves different levels of destruction, survival, domination, resistance, modification, and adaptation of native cultures following interethnic contact.Traditional conceptualizations of acculturation have take a unidimensional approach contending that individuals must lose cultural characteristic to gain characteristics from other cultural groups for cultural and social adaptation. Contemporary conceptualizations take a multidimensional approach that place both cultures on different continuums indicating an individual's ability to maintain their culture of origin while adopting characteristics from other groups deemed appropriate for cultural adaptation (Berry, 2003;Conceptual approaches to acculturation from Acculturation: Advances in theory, measurement, and applied research by Chun, Balls Organista, and Marin). Berry conceptualizes acculturation as occurring in strategies (assimilation, marginalization, separation, and integration) where individuals make determinations about maintaining cultural characteristics and the amount of contact needed with dominant group members to obtain a suitable means of adaptation. Research on the topic of acculturation has indicated that individuals unable to reconcile these cultural changes often experience acculturative stress resulting in reduced mental health outcomes among some groups(Berry, 2003; Burnam,Hough, Karno, Escobar, & Telles, 1987; Hovey, 2000). [...]

Enculturation is the process whereby an established culture teaches an individual by repetition its accepted norms and values, so that the individual can become an accepted member of the society and find their suitable role. Most importantly, it establishes a context of boundaries and correctness that dictates what is and is not permissible within that society's framework.

It is the process of learning that takes the person and teaches him or her the ways of life of their people or country. It is a life-long process, affecting not only the child, but the adult too. Enculturation is learned through communication in the form of speech, words, and gestures. The six things of culture that are learned are: technological, economic, political, interactive, ideological and world view.

Conrad Phillip Kottak (in Window on Humanity ) wrote:

Enculturation is the process where the culture that is currently established teaches an individual the accepted norms and values of the culture or society in which the individual lives. The individual can become an accepted member and fulfill the needed functions and roles of the group. Most importantly the individual knows and establishes a context of boundaries and accepted behavior that dictates what is acceptable and not acceptable within the framework of that society. It teaches the individual their role within society as well as what is accepted behavior within that society and lifestyle"

Enculturation can be conscious or unconscious. There are three ways a person learns a culture. Direct teaching of a culture is done, this is what happens when you dont pay attention, mostly by the parents , when a person is told to do something because it is right and to not do something because it is bad. For example, when children ask for something, they are constantly asked "What do you say?" and the child is expected to remember to say "please." The second conscious way a person learns a culture is to watch others around them and to emulate their behavior. An example would be using different
slang with different cliques in school. Enculturation also happens unconsciously, through events and behaviors that prevail in their culture. All three kinds of culturation happen simultaneously and all the time.

Enculturation helps mold a person into an acceptable member of society.
Culture influences everything that a person does, whether they are aware of it or not. Enculturation is a life-long process that helps unify people. Even as a culture changes, core beliefs, values, worldviews, and child-rearing practices stay the same. How many times has a parent said "If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you?" when their child wanted to fit in with the crowd? Both are playing roles in the enculturation. The child wants to be included in the subculture of their peers, and the parent wants to instill individualism in the child, through direct teaching. Not only does one become encultured, but also makes someone else encultured.

Enculturation is sometimes referred to as acculturation, a word which originally referred only to exchanges of cultural features with foreign cultures. [...]


Cultural assimilation, or 'assimilation' for short (but that word also had other meanings), is an intense process of consistent integration whereby members of an ethno-cultural group, typically immigrants, or other minority groups, are "absorbed" into an established, generally larger community. This presumes a loss of all or many characteristics which make the newcomers different. A region or society where assimilation is occurring is sometimes referred to as a "melting pot." [...]

Frantz Fanon, "Racism and Culture," in Toward the African Revolution.
Guiding questions:
  1. What is the problem with certain cultures which see themselves as being normative? (p. 31)
  2. What makes possible that one culture may dominate another? (p. 32 and 37-38)
  3. What description of "culture" is provided on p. 32?
  4. What is the difference between "primitive racism" and "cultural racism"? (p. 32)
  5. If racism is but an aspect of the systematized oppression of a people, what elements are included in the overall oppression? (p. 33)
  6. What is deculturation? (p. 34)
  7. Why can the oppress not honestly be blamed of inertia? (p. 34)
  8. Are cultures normally open and flexible or closed and fixed? How can you relate this to the ongoing St. Martin discussion about "St. Martinness and St. Martin culture" (p. 35)
  9. What does "object man" mean? (p. 35)
  10. Why and how does deculturation lead to the self-alienation of the oppressed? (p. 38)
  11. In which ways does deculturation encourage the acculturation of the oppressed into the culture of the oppressors? (p. 39)
  12. "The racist in a culture with racism is therefore normal." (p. 40) "A society has race prejudices or it has not. There are no degrees of prejudice." (p. 41) Do you agree with these two statements? Why (not)?
  13. For Fanon, is racism a cause or a consequence of a broader dynamic? (p. 40)
  14. What is the problem when traditions become a defence mechanism? (pp. 42-43)
  15. When can cultures be relativized and true and legitimate intercultural dialogue and borrowing take place? (p. 44)


To think about       

"Any society that values creativity also needs to enable criticism. If we cannot question the way we are doing things and thinking about things at present, it will not occur to us that they could be thought of or done differently. (...) So philosophy is important partly because cultural criticism is so important."

CHRISTENSON, Tom (2001). Wonder and Critical Reflection. An invitation to Philosophy, p. 37. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall Inc.


This page was updated on Nov 21, 2006
at 10.00 PM St Martin Time (-4 UT)