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This "OP Book" Is an Authorized Ref'rint of the
Original Edition, Produced by Mfcrofilm-Xerox b^
University Microfilms, Inc., Ann Arbor, Michk;an, 1962



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CULTURE
A CRITICAL REVIEW OF CONCEPTS AND DEFINITIONS



PAPERS

OF THE

PEABODY MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ARCHyEOLOGY

AND ETHNOLOGY, HARVARD UNIVERSITY

VOL. XLVII-ND. 1



CULTURE

A CRITICAL REVIEW OF CONCEPTS AND DEFINITIONS



BY

A. L. KROEBER

AND

CLYDE KLUCKHOHN

WITH THE ASSISTANCE OF
WAYNE UXTERI^INEK

AND

APPENDICES BY
ALFRED G. 7.1EYER



CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS, U.S.A.

PUBUSHED BY THE MUSEUM

1952



5/




vA7
no.



PRINTED BY TlIE HARVARD UNIVERSITY PRINTING OFFICE
CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHVSETTS, U.S.A.



ACKNOWLEDGMENTS



WE ARE indebted to Professor Robert
Bierstedt for access to his master's thesis,
only a small portion of which has been pub-
lished. His extensive bibliography through
^935 greatly lightened our task, and his text
was also suggestive to us at many points. We
have also benefited from the memoranda and
records, largely unpublished, of the Commit-
tee on Conceptual Integration of the American
Sociological Society (Albert Blumenthal,
Chairman) of which one of us (C. K.) was a
member in its later stage. Dr. Alfred Meyer
was very helpful, especially with the Germ.an
materials. To Professor Leslie White we owe
several references that we probably would not
have discovered ourselves. Professor Jerome
Bruner has made clarifying suggestions. Dr.
Walter Taylor and Paul Friedrich kindly read
the manuscript and made suggestions.

Wayne Untereiner, Richard Hobson, Clif-
ford Geertz, Jr., Charles Griffith, and Ralph
Patrick (all graduate students in anthropology
at Harvard University) have not onlv done
unusually competent work as rcscarca assist-
ants; each has made significant criticisms of
content and style. We have placed the name
of Mr. Untereiner on the title-page because
he made major contributions to our theoreti-
cal formulations. ^Vc are also grateful for
the scrupulously careful work of Hermia Kap-
lan, Mildred Geiger, Lois Walk, Muriel Levin,
Kathryn Gore, and Carol Trosch in typing
various versions of the manuscript, and to the
four first-named in collating bibliographical
references and editorial checking and to Cor-
delia Gait and Natalie Stoddard who edited the
monograph.

Wc thank the following publishers for per-
mission to quote from copyrighted materials:

Addison-Wesley Press, Inc.: G. K. Zipfs Human
Behrvior and the Principle of Least Effort (1949),

Applcton-Cenmry-Crofts, Inc.: A. A. Goldenweiser's
Anthropology (1937).

The Century Co.: C. A. EUwood's Cultural Evolution
(1917)'



Cohen & West, Ltd. (British Edition) and The Free
Press (American Edition): E. E. Evans-Pritchard's
Social Anthropology (1951).
Columbia University Press: Abram Kardiner's The
Indiiidual and His Society (1959) and Ralph
Linton's The Science of Man in the World Crisis
(1945)-
E. P. Dufton & Co., Inc.: Alexander Leighton's

Huniarn Relations in a Changing World (1949).
Farrar, Straus, and Young, Inc.: Leslie White's

The Science of Culture (1949).
The Free Press: S. F. Nadel's The Foundations of

Social Anthropology (ijjo).
Harcourt, Brace and Company, Inc.: A. L. Krocbcr's
and T. T. Waterman's Source Book in Anthropology
(1931), Kroeber's Anthropology (1948), and Lewis
Mumford's The Culture of Cities (1938).
D. C. Heath and Company: Franz Boas and others'

General Anthropology (1938).
The Hogarth Press: Geza Roheim's The Riddle of

the Sphinx (1934).
A. A. Knopf, Inc.: .M. J. Herskovits' Man and His
Works (1948), and A. A. Goldenweiser's History,
Psychology and Culture (1933).
The Macmillan Company: G. P. .Murdock's Social

Structure (1949).
iMcGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc.: Ellsworth Faris's
The Nature of Hwnan Nature (1937), Talcott
Parsons' The Structure of Social Action (1937), and
W. D. Wallis's Culture and Progress (1930).
Methuen Sc (Dompany: R. R. Alarctt's Psychology and

Folklore (1920).
Oxford University Press: Meyer Fortes' The Web

of Kinship Among the Tallensi (1949).
Routlcdgc and Kcgan Paul, Ltd.: Raymond Firth's

Primitive Polynesian Economy (1939).
University' of California Press: Edward Sapir'j
Selected Writings of Edv:ard Sapir in Language,
Culture, and Personality (edited by D. G. Mandel-
baum) (1949).
The Viking Press, Inc.: W'. F. Ogburn's Social Change

(1950)-

Watts & Company: Raymond Firth's Elements of
Social Organization (1951).

Yale University Press: C. S. Ford's "A Simple (Com-
parative Analysis of Material Culture," and G. P.
Murdock's Editorial Preface, both of which appear
in Studies in the Science of Society Presented to
Albert Galloway Keller (1937).



CONTENTS



ACKNOWLEDGMENTS v

INTRODUCnON 3

PART I: GENERAL HISTORY OF THE

WORD CULTURE 9

I. Brief sxiTvey 9

I. GTilizadon 1 1

3. Relation of civilization and culnire 13

4. The distinction of civilization from culture

in American sociology 13

5. The attempted distinction in Germany ... 15

6. Phases in die history of the concept of cul-
ture in Germany 18

7. Culture as a concept of eighteenth-century
general history 18

8. Kant to Hegel 23

9. Analysis of Klemm's use of the word "Cul-
tur" 24

10. The concept of culture in Germany since

1850 26

It. "Kultur" and "Schrecklichkeit" 28

12. Danilevsky 29

13. "Culture" in the humanities in England and
ebicwhere 29

14. Dictionary definitions 33

15. General discussion 35

Addendum: Febvre on civilisation 37

PART II : DEFINITIONS 41

INTRODUCTION 41

GROUP A: DESCRIPTIVE 43

Broad definitions with emphasL* on enumera-
tion of content: usually influenced by Tylor 43 .

Comment 44

GROUP B: HISTORICAL 47

Emphasis on social heritage or tradition ..;... 47 a,»

Comment 48

GROUP C: NORMATIVE 50

C-I. Emphasis on rule or way 50

Comment 51

C-II. Emphasis on ideals or values plus be-
havior 52

Comment 53

GROUP D: PSYCHOLOGICAL 55

D-I. Emphasis on adjustment, on culture as a

problem-solving device 55 -*-

Comment 56

D-II. Elmphasis on learning 58

Comment 59

D-III. Elmphasis on habit 60

Comment 60

D-IV. Purely psychological definitions 60

Comment 60

▼ii



GROUP E: STRUCrURAL 61

Emphasis on the patterning or organization

of culture 61

Comment 61

GROUP F: GENETIC 64

F-I. Emphasis on culture as a product or

artifact 64

Comment 65

F-II. Emphasis on ideas 66

Comment 67

F-III. Emphasis on symbols 69

Comment 70

F-IV. Residual category definitions 70

Conunent 71

GROUP G: INCOMPLETE DEFINITIONS 72

Comment -ji

INDEXES TO DEFINITIONS 73

A: Authors 73

B: Conceptual elements in definitions 74

Words not included in Index B 78

PART III: SOME STATEMENTS ABOUT

CULTURE 83

INTRODUCTION 83

GROUP a: THE NATLTIE OF CULTURE 84

Comment 92

GROUP b: THE COMPONENTS OF CUL-
TURE 95

Comment 97

GROUT c: DISTINCTIVE PROPERTIES OF

CULTURE 99

Comment 100

Summary of properties 101

GROUP d: CLT.TURE AND PSYCHOLOGY 102

Comment 109

GROUP e: CULTURE AND LANGUAGE 115

Comment 123

GROUP f: RELATION OF CUTTURE TO
SOCIETY, INDIVIDUALS, ENVIRON-
MENT, AND ARTIFACTS 125

Comment 131

ADDENDA 139

INT)EX TO AUTHORS IN PART III 141

PART IV: SUMMARY AND CONCLU-
SIONS 145

A: SUMMARY 145

Word and concept 145

Philosophy of history 145

Use of culture in Germany 146

Spread of the concept and resistances 146

Culture and civilization 147



VUl

Culture as an emergent or level 148

Definitions of cultxire 149

Before and after 1920 149

The place of Tylor and Wissler 1 50

The course of post-1910 definitions 152

Rank order of elements entering into post-

1930 definitions 153

Number of elements entering into single defi-
nitions 1 54

Final comments on definitions 154

Statements about culture 157

B: GENERAL FEATURES OF CULTURE . 159

Integration 159

Historicity 1 59

Uniformities 162

Causality 165



Significance and values 171

Values and relativity 174

C: CONCLUSION 180

A final review of the conceptual problem 180

Review of aspects of our own position 184

REFERENCES 193

APPENT)ICES 207

APPENDLX A: HISTORICAL NOTES ON
IDEOLOGICAL ASPECTS OF THE
CONCEPT OF CULTURE IN GER-
MANY ANT) RUSSL^, by Alfred G.

Meyer 207

APPENDIX B: THE USE Or THE TERM
CLTLTURE IN THE SOVIET UNION

by Alfred G. Meyer 213

INDEX OF NAMES OF PERSONS 221



CULTURE
A CRITICAL REVIEW OF CONCEPTS AND DEFINITIONS



INTRODUCTION



THE "culture concept of the anthropologists
and sociologists is coming to be regarded
as the foundation stone of the social sciences."
This recent statement by Stuart Chase ^ will
not be agreed to, at least not \/ithout reserva-
tion, by all social scientists,^ but few intellec-
tuals will challenge the statement that the idea
of culture, in the technical anthropological
sense, is one of the key notions of contem-
porary American thought. In explanatory im-
portance and in generality of application it is
comparable to such categories as gravity in
physics, disease in medicine, evolution in biol-
ogy. Psychiatrists and psychologists, and, more
recently, even some economists and lawyers,
have come to tack on the qualifying phrase
"in our culture" to their generalizations, even
though one suspects it is often done mechani-
cally in the same way that mediaeval men added
a precautionary "God Willing" to their utter-
ances. Philosophers are increasingly concerned
with the cultural dimension to :heir studies of
logic, values, and aestl^etics, and indeed with the
ontology and epistemology of the concept it-
self. The notion has become part of the stock
in trade of social workers and of all those occu-
pied with the practical problems of minority
groups and dependent peoples. Important re-
search in medicine and in nutrition is orieiired
in cultural terms. Literary men are writing
essav's and little boo!^ about culture.

The broad underlying idea is not new, of
course. The Bible, Homer, Hippocrates, He-
rodotus, Chinese scholars of the Han dynasty
— to take only some of the more obvious
examples — showed an interest in the distinc-
tive fife-ways of different peoples. Boethius'
Consolations of Philosophy contains a crude
statement of the principle of cultural rela-
tivity: "The customs and laws of diverse na-
tions do so much differ that the same thing
which some commend as laudable, others con-

* Chase, 1948, 59.

•Malinowski has referred to culture as "the most
central problem of all social science" (1939, 588).
Curiously enough, this claim has also been made by a
number of sociologists — in fact, by more sociologists
ttian anthropologists, so far as our evidence goes.

•Cf. Honigsheim, 1945.



demn as deserving punishment." We find the
notion in more refined form in Descartes' Dis-
course on Method:

. . . While traveling, having realized that all those
who have attitudes very diiferent from our own are
not for that reason barbarians or savages but are as
rational or mor: so than ourselves, and having con-
sidered how greatly the self-same person with the
self -same mind who had grown up from infancy
among the French or Germans would become
different from what he would have been if he had
always lived amonjj the Chinese or the cannibals . . .
I found myself forced to try myself to sec things
from their point of view.

In Pico della Mirandola, Pascal, and Montes-
quieu one can point to some nice approxima-
tions of modem anthropological thinking.
Pascal, for example, wrote:

I am very much afraid that this so-called nature
may itself be no more than an early custom, just as
custom is second nature . . . Undoubtedly nature is
not altogether uniform. It is custom that produces
this, for it constrains nature. But sometimes nature
overcomes it, and confines man to his instinct, despite
every custom, good or bad.

Voltaire's ^ "Essai sur les moeurs et i'esprit des
nations" is also to the point. To press these
adumbrations too far, however, is like insisting
that Plato anticipated Freud's crucial concept
of the unconscious because he made an in-
sightful remark about the relation between
dreams and suppressed desire.

By the nineteenth century the basic notion
was ready to crystallize in an explicit, general-
ized form. The emergence or the Gentian
word, Kultur, is reviewed in the next section.
Part I. In developing the notion of the "super-
organic," Spencer presaged one of the primary
anthropological conceptions of culture, al-
though he himself used the word "culture"
only occasionally and casually.* The publica-

* In a secondary source we have seen the following
definition of culture anributcd to Spencer: "Culture
is the sum total of human achievement." No citation
of book or page is made, and we have been unable to
locate this definition in Spencer's writings. Usually,
certainly, he treats culture in roughly the sense em-
ployed by Manhew Arnold and other Elnglish human-



CULTURE: A CRITICAL REVIEW OF CONCEPTS AND DEFINITIONS



tion dates of E. B, Tylor's Primitive Culture
and of Walter Bagehot's Physics and Politics
arc 1 87 1 and 1872. Bagehot's "cake of custom"
is, in essence, very similar to Tylor's "culture."
The latter slowly became established as the
technical term because of the historical asso-
ciations of the word and because Tylor de-
fined its generic implications both more sharply
and more absuactly.

Even in this century after "culture" was
fairly well established in intellectual circles as
a technical term, certain well-known thinkers
have not used the word though employing
highly similar concepts. Graham Wallas, while
familiar with anthropological literature, avoids
the term "culture" (he occasionally uses "civi-
lization" — without definition) in his books,
The Great Society (19 14) and Our Social
Heritage (192 1). However, his concept of
"social heritage" is equivalent to certain defi-
nitions of cvilture:

Our social heritage consists of that part of our
"nurture" which we acquire by the social process of
teaching and learning. (192 1, 7)

The anthropologist, M. F. Ashley-iMontagu,
has recently asscxted that Alfred Korzybski's
concept of time-binding (in Manhood of Hu-
manity , \



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