Reflections on Culture

  • Roy D’Andrade
Part of the Culture, Mind, and Society book series (CMAS)


The culture concept has been a continuing source of conceptual difficulties. This chapter begins with some of the failed attempts to address those difficulties, which also cropped up in my own research. Thus, for example, D’Andrade found that a value can be either institutional or personal, leading to the anomalous result that Japanese in my sample, questioned about institutional values, were only slightly higher than Americans on collectivism. Thus, the big differences in cultures are in the interpretation of what-counts-as-what. To appreciate culture, we must first accept the prior assumption that it constitutes a discrete ontological level of collective mental states, above individual mental states. This level, moreover, is a clear case of non-eliminative reductionism; that is, collective mental states can do things that individual mental states cannot. To capture this mix of values, practices, norms, sanctions, institutions, and representations intersubjectively shared by a recognized collectivity, I introduce the notion of lifeworlds. Lifeworlds may or may not conflict, and one can colonize another. In addition are the innate, but culturally shaped, social instincts with which humans are endowed. Culture thus has important causal force, and cannot be omitted from the equation.


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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roy D’Andrade
    • 1
  1. 1.El CerritoUSA

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