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Presence of a Human Perspective

 
 
Khethil
 
Reply Tue 11 Nov, 2008 07:56 pm
I'd like to toss something out.

This will sound severe, but I'm wondering if you fine people would mind sounding off with your agreements or disagreements on the following assertion:
[INDENT]Unless (and/or until) one leaves the boundaries of his or her own country to really experience another culture, they are unqualified to speak with any proper intelligence or perspective on world (or humanity-wide) issues.

This is because one cannot gain any measure of perspective on humanity itself, without actually experiencing a foreign culture (and in so doing, experience the depth of what the word "foreign" means).
[/INDENT]What say ye?
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William
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 Nov, 2008 10:16 pm
@Khethil,
Khethil wrote:
I'd like to toss something out.

This will sound severe, but I'm wondering if you fine people would mind sounding off with your agreements or disagreements on the following assertion:
[INDENT]Unless (and/or until) one leaves the boundaries of his or her own country to really experience another culture, they are unqualified to speak with any proper intelligence or perspective on world (or humanity-wide) issues.

This is because one cannot gain any measure of perspective on humanity itself, without actually experiencing a foreign culture (and in so doing, experience the depth of what the word "foreign" means).
[/INDENT]What say ye?


Couldn't you do that in this country by speaking with exchange students on college campuses? It would seem to me you could get a world of information that way. Just a thought.
William
validity
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Nov, 2008 01:06 am
@Khethil,
Khethil wrote:
I'd like to toss something out.

This will sound severe, but I'm wondering if you fine people would mind sounding off with your agreements or disagreements on the following assertion:
[INDENT]Unless (and/or until) one leaves the boundaries of his or her own country to really experience another culture, they are unqualified to speak with any proper intelligence or perspective on world (or humanity-wide) issues.

This is because one cannot gain any measure of perspective on humanity itself, without actually experiencing a foreign culture (and in so doing, experience the depth of what the word "foreign" means).
[/INDENT]What say ye?


It is an interesting comment. With a definition of culture being "a particular society at a particular time and place" how is it possible to experience the entire society at one particular time? Culture it would seem is a dynamical system.

If the issue is world or humanity-wide there is no need to travel to experience it as by definition it is world and humanity wide ie I should be experiencing it myself already. For example why would I need to travel to a particular country to experience global warming? Is there a particular world or humanity-wide issue you had in mind?

I think all that one can say is what one experiences and can not assume that a set of experiences is reflective of the whole culture of a particular country.

Smile
Khethil
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Nov, 2008 06:48 am
@William,
William wrote:
Couldn't you do that in this country by speaking with exchange students on college campuses? It would seem to me you could get a world of information that way. Just a thought.


Not a bad point. Yes, one certainly could gain some perspective into other cultures, countries and methods by closely interacting with exchange students. But I'm not sure this would take one very far.

I know for me, I was completely taken aback with how completely different two other particular cultures were (in this case, Iraq and Turkey) when I first traveled. I realized how Boxed-In I was... and what a good thing these experiences were.

As far as your comment; you're quite right, and every little bit helps.

Thanks
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Khethil
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Nov, 2008 07:01 am
@validity,
Hey Validity,

validity wrote:
It is an interesting comment. With a definition of culture being "a particular society at a particular time and place" how is it possible to experience the entire society at one particular time?


No one said anything about the "whole thing all at once". But I suppose I should have clarified my parameters. Let me clarify by saying that what I'm suggesting is that in order to have any semblence of a decent perspective on humanity, I think it essential that they travel to - and spend time in - nations/countries other than their own.

I probably should have been more clear on this. Thanks

validity wrote:
If the issue is world or humanity-wide there is no need to travel to experience it as by definition it is world and humanity wide ie I should be experiencing it myself already. For example why would I need to travel to a particular country to experience global warming? Is there a particular world or humanity-wide issue you had in mind?


Good example (global warming). Sure, you can learn quite a bit within the confines of your own country. But what I realized is that one misses essential elements of other lifestyles, other-country local and national issues of which you may have no knowledge of and the biggest factor which is not everyone thinks alike from country to country. This is really hard to put into words (I alluded to this factor in my original post: Until experienced, the word "foreign" has a bit of a stunted meaning. When experienced, just how differently folks can view the same thing, in other countries, has a real "Wow!" impact"). Its very difficult to delineate the huge impact - just how different - this can be. But rationally, one might be able to catch a glimpse of the breadth of this diversity by considering how much national identity, economy, religious and cultural influences might have on just such an issue.

validity wrote:
I think all that one can say is what one experiences and can not assume that a set of experiences is reflective of the whole culture of a particular country.


... although I don't quite see how this might fit into the question at hand, you're quite right. My suggestion is that, wherever possible, a good philosopher should get out of the confines of their own "box" and experience how other varied sects of humanity lives, views, thinks and loves.

Very nice response.

Thanks
Khethil
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Nov, 2008 07:30 am
@Khethil,
Side Note...

I just read this thread to my wife and asked her about it. She had a really good point: Although she acknowledged the importance of having directly experienced living amongst those in a foreign land, she asked, "How exactly would one *know* how important it is, for any world-perspective, until they really did do what you suggest?".

So perhaps my question "How important is life outside the box" to the person who's never been outside its walls, may be a bit moot. I still think it important.

She also added that, from a female perspective how views of the arabic world (she was in Saudi Arabia for some time) completely obliterated the stereotypes of women in that country. I thought this a good example.

I'll go back to my corner now Smile
0 Replies
 
jgweed
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Nov, 2008 07:47 am
@Khethil,
Being something of a perspectivalist, I would tend to agree with the statement if it were not universalised, and extend it even further.
Comment I:
At one time, a young person would spend a year or so--- often accompanied by a tutor--- on an European Tour; to see something of the world by traveling and meeting people of other nations was seen as time well-spent. Currently, many universities have programmes allowing their students to study abroad, and there are exchange students in high school.
Earlier in time, students were encouraged, for the same reason, to have "pen pals" from different nations. The arrival of the internet, with the possibility of making acquaintences and friends (sometimes even lovers) from all over the world, through forums and chat engines supports and extends to everyone this opportunity.
Comment II:
The extension I mentioned includes not only the spacial dimension, but the temporal as well. The study of history expands one's perspective in two ways: one sees the world through different eyes from the past (for example, the Hellenistic world is akin to a foreign land), and gains an appreciation and understanding of how one's situation (the always-already in Heidegger's phrase) has come to be as it is.
The extension also includes a knowledge of great literature, for this also provides different perspectives on the world that one might not have without it. Literature creates unique worlds and can alter our conception of our own and how we can comport ourselves.
Finally, this extension includes the study of philosophy. Every important philosopher presents a different way of understanding and interpreting the world in which we live and our place in it; it liberates us from the common way of thinking by showing us different directions and providing analytical tools we would not have ordinarily.
Khethil
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Nov, 2008 01:57 pm
@jgweed,
Jgweed,

You're very right; there are many ways to increase our perspective towards a more rounded view.

Perhaps I'm placing a disproportionate value in actually going and experiencing. After all, I can only come from my own experiences and I've got some idea how much these have helped.

Thanks
0 Replies
 
aaron the red
 
  1  
Reply Sat 20 Dec, 2008 07:32 am
@Khethil,
if you have the insight and depth of thought to understand a culture through reading about it then no. but you would need to read a lot and understand human psychology quite well.
0 Replies
 
 

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