Culture and its Vision

Emely Hernandez The Patterns of Cultural Behavior: and What We Think of as Anormal Behavior Benedict introduces a style of culture that anthropology no longer uses. She splits patterns of Culture into five categories: customs, diversity, integration, society and the individual, and discusses their relation to the greater culture. These patterns constitute the culture’s foundation of existence and their meaning to the human persona. They reveal the different processes that are active within cultural changes and allows us to analyze and see comparisons within similar cultures. In essence, everything must begin to be understood in relation to other things. That is why, cultural relativism is applicable, it must be demonstrated how each culture can have moral importance and when studied as a whole it gains understanding. Although in this case patterns can be found as only a part of the fragment of the whole culture. “The relation of motivation and purposes to the separate items of cultural behavior at birth, at death, at puberty, and at marriage can never be made clear by a comprehensive survey of the world. We must hold ourselves to the less ambitious task, the many-sided understanding of a few cultures” (Benedict 56). Benedict argues that every culture is designed around specific ideologies that can be seen in a series of behaviors held to be adequate within that culture.
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We must also consider that those specific ideologies that are not consistent within those behaviors are not acknowledged as normal behavior to other beings. The Zuni of the Southwest has been compared by Benedict to have an Apollonian institution of existence. Benedict uses this term because she believes it brings forth the qualities that differentiate Zuni culture from those of other American Indians (Benedict 79). The Zuni outlaw all the bad in their life. This in part makes their cultural behavior different from all other American Indians and the indigenous in Mexico who correspond with Dionysian ways. The Zuni behavior comes from the sanctions of a structure. They live by the individual representation that forms their society. Although, Benedict does provide value in regards to the Zuni as being an Apollonian institution as they are people that are regarded as having reason and harmony.
We must also acknowledge the symbolic meaning of the war dance which is also said to be the scalp dance. It is a ceremony that not just the Zuni Pueblo do, but the Western Plain Indian also take part in it but to their extent. These two different ideologies can be viewed to the outside as abnormal cultural behavior, but Benedict helps us understand that this is not the case. She puts into perspective how the Zuni ceremony of the scalp dance is that of honoring the man that has been killed and receiving a new war member into their society. “They describe the transformation of the valueless enemy into a scared fetish of the people and the joy with which the people acknowledge the new blessing” (Benedict 114). This exemplifies what Benedict means by cultural relativism; she made it so it would be understood under its cultural context and not by the cultural context of the Western Plain Indians. The Dobu is described as malevolent and hostile.
Benedict uses an example of what would be considered as abnormal behavior in Dobu society. She gives the example of the man who is naturally friendly and pleasant. He was the total opposite of the Dobuan individual man; he was regarded as someone that is outside of the society’s circle. Benedict’s response to this is that the Dobu man was not able to function in his culture the way he was supposed to because of the gap between his society and their cultural pattern. This was a strong conception in addressing what would be considered abnormal behavior within ones’ society and the cultural context involved. Another cultural conception Benedict does is that of a cultural comparison with the Dobu and the Puritans in regards to their marked similarity to prudery. She makes this comparison while still making it quite evident that there are differences. The Kwakiutl people are associated with having a Dionysian characteristic.
Like the Western Plain Indians and the who is also associated with having Dionysian culture. The Kwakiutl are described as having an institution of culture that we would consider as abnormal in respect to our own culture yet Benedict points out that we have close relative attitudes. All the cultures that Benedict presented have been viewed as a blended cultural unit that has a way of life and even if they were unknown to readers who belonged to any given culture; they would continue to be relative to them. “The relation of motivation and purposes to the separate items of cultural behavior at birth, at death, at puberty, and at marriage can never be made clear by a comprehensive survey of the world. We must hold ourselves to the less ambitious task, the many-sided understanding of a few cultures (Benedict 56).” Patterns of Culture puts cultural Relativism into function through these cultural traits Benedict presents to us. We are left to think about what constitutes as abnormPsychological conceptsal behavior and do we even have a right to constitute it as such especially, within any given culture. Benedicts’ writing produces the right thought of consideration when it comes to ethics and practices of different people that are different from our ethics and practices.

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