Philosophy Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for those interested in logical reasoning. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Do we teach for any reason besides pleasure?

Humans can focus their attention away from their present moment into the past and future. We develop a sense of identity. We can reflect back and learn from our experiences. We teach others what we learned.

Someone adapted to a Nazi concentration camp becomes apathetic and almost entirely focused on food and survival. There is no need for sex. Once a man's basic needs have been met, he can aspire to higher level goals, like art. That's not to say prisoners never displayed artistic expression, just very seldom.

Those who are doing excellent design work are making things to be workable, useful, and desirable. We have life, justice, and fun. (Call it life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness). Is that it?

Now that we've improved our survival fitness, can higher level aspirations emerge from culture?

I still prefer the title "What is culture for?" more than "What is the purpose of culture?" By receiving the verb we sound like a victim.

share|improve this question

closed as not constructive by iphigenie, Michael Dorfman, commando, Rex Kerr, Ricardo Jan 22 '13 at 18:40

As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, visit the help center for guidance.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Is there any chance I might be able to persuade you to share a little bit more about your concern here with us? – Joseph Weissman Jan 16 '13 at 1:57
I would say that a thorough answer to the question "What is culture?" would necessarily contain the answer you're looking for. – danielm Jan 16 '13 at 23:03

It is an oxymoron to assume that all things have purpose. Purpose is in the eye of the beholder (i.e. it is something our brains create internally, not something attributed to objects).

Culture is a consequence of how humans interact (and by extension how we have been shaped by natural selection (especially psychologically)). It has it's benefits, but I am pretty sure no-one ever sat down and invented culture with a specific purpose in mind.

Grass grows, birds sing, humans culture.

share|improve this answer
Do you mean oxymoron? – Schneider Jan 22 '13 at 2:18

I believe there's a bit of misconception right there in your question. Culture is not something that is explicitly and intentionally developed — it's a consequence of the existence of societies.

On the other hand (and as your question's body mentions), we do try to make our culture and set of principles that define our logic inheritable. But it is not because we have motivations to do that (pleasure? I wouldn't have thought of that explanation at all), it's rather because inheritance of concepts is something that is automatically hard-wired into humans by need-based basis.

A baby can't come up with his/her own culture; if that were possible, the concept of culture (a unifying pattern of actions and views) wouldn't have existed (because 'coming up' implies a random, or at least natural, distribution of traits).

share|improve this answer
General concepts that had self-duplication through "inheritance" and "popularization" survive through that inheritance and popularization. Ones that don't have these effects die away with their bearers. Since culture includes the concept of "preservation of culture" it persists. – SF. Jan 18 '13 at 15:13

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.