Evaluating Culture: Well-Being, Institutions and by Matthew Thomas Johnson (auth.)

By Matthew Thomas Johnson (auth.)

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Extra info for Evaluating Culture: Well-Being, Institutions and Circumstance

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G. Gray 2000a, 21). As Gray explains in his rejection of Millian utilitarianism, the concept of flourishing may include, but should not be confined or reduced to, happiness – the intention being to articulate more clearly the ‘potential infinity’ of good lives engendered by The Case Against Cultural Evaluation 33 different cultural strategies (Gray 1997, 55–60). This diversity of flourishing depends, though, upon the satisfaction of a set of needs or ‘fundamental goods’ which apply to the entire species.

He denies ‘that it is explanatorily useful to pick and choose among the contents of our minds or our language and say that this or that item The Case Against Cultural Evaluation 19 “corresponds to” or “represents” the environment in a way that some item does not’ (Rorty 1991a, 5). In order to represent things, we have to be able to find neutral standpoints or ‘God’s-eye’ points of view by which accurately to view the world. Rorty, developing the Wittgensteinian tradition, argues that this is impossible.

A] teacher warned me that Filipinos are ‘people without culture’. 8 While modern culture is ‘bland’, ‘transparent’ and ‘corrupted’, pre-modern culture is ‘vibrant’, ‘pure’ and ‘innocent’ (Rosaldo 1993, 198–202). Modernity is relegated ‘to the status of corruption and filth’, while ‘indigenous peoples’ are seen as ‘“noble savages” at first encounter, only to be condemned by their conquerors’ (Herzfeld 2001, 172) to the ‘decay of culture’ (Marcus and Fischer 1999, 49). This evaluative schema has clear normative consequences.

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