Multiculturalism Wednesdays, 12: 15 2: 00


cultivation and cultivated



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cultivation and cultivated were more commonly used for this. But there is a letter of 1730 (Bishop of Killala, to Mrs Clayton; cit. Plumb, England in the Eighteenth Century)which has this clear sense: 'it has not been customary for persons of either birth or culture to breed up their children to the Church. Akenside (Pleasures of Imagination, 1744) wrote: '... nor purple state nor culture can bestow. Wordsworth wrote 'where grace of culture hath been utterly unknown (1805), and Jane Austen (Emma, 1816) 'every advantage of discipline and culture.

It is thus clear that culture was developing in English towards some of its modern senses before the decisive effects of a new social and intellectual movement. But to follow the development through this movement, in lC18 and eC19, we have to look also at developments in other languages and especially in German.

In French, until C18, culture was always accompanied by a grammatical form indicating the matter being cultivated, as in the English usage already noted. Its occasional use as an independent noun dates from mC18, rather later than similar occasional uses in English. The independent noun civilization also emerged in mC18; its relationship to culture has since been very complicated (cf. CIVILIZATION and discussion below). There was at this point an important development in German: the word was borrowed from French, spelled first (lC18) Cultur and from C19 Kultur. Its main use was still as a synonym for civilization: first in the abstract sense of a general process of becoming 'civilized or 'cultivated; second, in the sense which had already been established for civilization by the historians of the Enlightenment, in the popular C18 form of the universal histories, as a description of the secular process of human development. There was then a decisive change of use in Herder. In his unfinished Ideas on the Philosophy of the History of Mankind (1784--9 1) he wrote of Cultur: 'nothing is more indeterminate than this word, and nothing more deceptive than its application to all nations and periods. He attacked the assumption of the universal histories that 'civilization or culture -- the historical self-development of humanity -- was what we would now call a unilinear process, leading to the high and dominant point of C18 European culture. Indeed he attacked what be called European subjugation and domination of the four quarters of the globe, and wrote:
 

Men of all the quarters of the globe, who have perished over the ages, you have not lived solely to manure the earth with your ashes, so that at the end of time your posterity should be made happy by European culture. The very thought of a superior European culture is a blatant insult to the majesty of Nature.


 

It is then necessary, he argued, in a decisive innovation, to speak of 'cultures in the plural: the specific and variable cultures of different nations and periods, but also the specific and variable cultures of social and economic groups within a nation. This sense was widely developed, in the Romantic movement, as an alternative to the orthodox and dominant 'civilization. It was first used to emphasize national and traditional cultures, including the new concept of




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