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CULTURE ANTHROPOLOGY- EXAMINING THE BOOK Culture as Given, Culture as Choice by Dirk Van Der Elst

    The book Culture as Given, Culture as Choice by Dirk van Der Elst states the functionality of humanity's defining adaptation and its origin. Its simple presentation and convincing real life statements display how culture affects the way we live our life and the duration of our life. By making a person aware of his own presumptions and partialities, this interesting book widens his level of intellect and alternatives about phenomena such as science, value systems, inequality, change and culture as it assists you in preparing for the future.

     People with high intellect will definitely agree with me when I say that we were brought into this world culture-less, innocent and ignorant. When we arrived in this world we did not know anything and we certainly could not have known much by ourselves. We were forced to follow the culture set for us by the society that we were born in.

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     When one discusses the different standard statuses in our society, not all of them are avoidable. As a matter of fact the power difference that exists between a child and his parents is highly necessary for the society to function in a proper manner. On the other hand inequality that is hereditary is both avoidable and unnecessary. Inequality creates frustration inside any normal person. A person feels quite demoralized and thus acts in an unethical way just for the sake of getting revenge and satisfying his ego. Stratification of any sort that is practiced in the world of today is neither inevitable nor defensible.

     Culture is a like a river. It flows like time. Whenever you might fall in it, its constantly altering currents begin to re-structure you being and character. For instance if two people dived into this river {culture} in different points in time they would most probably possess different characters. A culture, which promotes education at all levels with out any bias, is able to generate better people. 1White women are far more likely than blacks or Mexican-Americans to use hormone replacement after menopause, shows a federal survey. In all three groups, the better educated a woman and the higher her family income, the more likely she is to have tried estrogen therapy. {1}

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     People tend to benefit at other’s expense. This has somewhat become part of human nature. What people need to realize is that there is nothing to gain at the cost of someone else. They need to realize the importance of morals and social ethics in their life. Individuals who gain from material worldly things from hurting others have to realize the importance of the after life rather than the material life that they are living in this world. Every single individual is answerable to the Almighty god for his good and bad deeds. Why take the risk of going to hell when going straightaway to heaven can be such an easy ride?

    Science has not been able to prove the existence of god and the after life. The truth is that science will never be able to do it. The reason for this is because the existence of god and cultural values are based on faith. Amazingly a scientist {2}Feyerabend denied that there is any single form of reasoning that can be labeled "the scientific method," asserting brazenly that the basic rule in science is that anything goes{2}, which annoyed a lot of conventional scientists. Only a person possessing a strong heart and staunch faith can understand such issues relating to moral and social ethics. For the ordinary person who doesn’t believe in what he cannot see, such odds are quite overwhelming. When a person is so apprehensive about such integral issues relating to his life he will definitely prefer not to take any risks and stick to reality which he can view much more clearly.

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     As a person progresses in his/her life, he/she goes through a lot of experiences. They have to deal with their parents passing away, situations where they are betrayed by their supervisors or lovers. All of us want to stop this from happening. These are extremely painful experiences and most of us try very hard to know why all such things happen in our lives so that we are able to deal with them effectively or at least prevent them from happening. But we spend our entire lives searching for ways and reasons without much success and in the end we have to part from this world and accept the truth that knowledge attained can never be enough because if it was then we wouldn’t have any grudges relating to our life when dying.

     Every one of us wishes to live a life without any restrictions. We do not want any one to invade our privacy or put boundaries around our freedom. We never want to give in to anything that is a “Must” and are always inclined towards the option of “May not”. This is the big dilemma in a person’s life where he knows that he exists to choose but mostly is not permitted to do so.

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     We face numerous problems in the world. Horrendous crimes are being committed, war like conditions are being experienced such starvation, inflation, tension, destruction of land that provide us with oxygen to breath. What the leaders of our world need to realize is that it is all being made worse by increasing the number of people. Population should be controlled, as an increase in the number of people is definitely not a good sign.

     It is only “us” who can improve our conditions. Our personal culture rests on our own interests, attitudes, possessions, and actions. We are the ones who select our culture of choice from this huge bazaar of culture. People will always try to influence us with the culture of their own choice but it is us who have to make the decision of being influenced or not. We people have to decide for ourselves what should be kept and what should be deleted from our culture.

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Work cited

From the world wide web:

  1. http://www.blacknlittlerock.com/html/estrogentherapy.html
  2. http://www.arn.org/docs/johnson/feyer.htm

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