Influences On US Culture

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Influences On US Culture

Postby Athena on July 18th, 2015, 12:13 pm 

I just got new information, which lead to recalling other information stored in my head and I am praying you all help me chew on this stew of science influenced enlightenment thinking. Forgive me if I am not clear, as I find in my old age ideas are not so separate but come together in this fascinating organic whole that is forever changing as life is forever changing.

Charles Darwin and Herbert Spencer very strongly influenced the culture of the United States. As we know the religious community stood against Charles Darwin and the theory of evolution, and they may have been justified in doing so because of what Herbert Spencer did to the theory of evolution and how that influenced materialism in the US. Darwin wrote of natural selection, and it was Spencer who rephrased this to "survival of the fittest" and the impact of this has been brutal.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/carnegi...s/pande03.html
Spencer adapted Charles Darwin's notion of natural selection and applied the theory to human society in a philosophy that became known as "Social Darwinism." It was Spencer who coined the term "survival of the fittest," using it to apply to the fate of rich and poor in a laissez faire capitalist society. Spencer argued that there was nothing unnatural -- and therefore wrong -- with competing and then rising to the top in a cut- throat capitalist world.

"Spencer told [Carnegie] that it was a scientific fact that somebody like him should be getting to the top," says historian Owen Dudley Edwards. "That there was nothing unnatural about it, wrong about it, evil about it."

Not only was competition in harmony with nature, Spencer believed, but it was also in the interest of the general welfare and progress of society. Many successful capitalists of the late 19th century embraced Spencer's philosophy. These captains of industry used his words as justification to oppose social reform and government intervention. As Spencer said, these would interfere with the natural -- and beneficial -- law of survival.


Now we need to add John Dewey and the philosophy of pragmatism to this stew of culture in the US. However, Dewey is in the line of Scottish common sense that was so much a part of US culture. These are pieces flavoring the stew, but as stew has many different meats and different vegetables, the Scottish common sense and pragmatism is in the stew but not the same kind of ingredient and as the Darwin, Spencer, Galton ingredients. Does that make sense?

The idea of eugenics is in line with Darwin and Spencer

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugenics

The idea of eugenics to produce better human beings has existed at least since Plato suggested selective mating to produce a guardian class.[12] The idea of eugenics to decrease the birth of inferior human beings has existed at least since William Goodell (1829-1894) advocated the castration and spaying of the insane.[13][14]

However, the term "eugenics" to describe the modern concept of improving the quality of human beings born into the world was originally developed by Francis Galton. Galton had read his half-cousin Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, which sought to explain the development of plant and animal species, and desired to apply it to humans. Galton believed that desirable traits were hereditary based on biographical studies.[15] In 1883, one year after Darwin's death, Galton gave his research a name: eugenics.[16] Throughout its recent history, eugenics has remained a controversial concept.[17]

Eugenics became an academic discipline at many colleges and universities, and received funding from many sources.[18] Organisations formed to win public support, and modify opinion towards responsible eugenic values in parenthood, included the British Eugenics Education Society of 1907, and the American Eugenics Society of 1921. Both sought support from leading clergymen, and modified their message to meet religious ideals.[19] Three International Eugenics Conferences presented a global venue for eugenists with meetings in 1912 in London, and in 1921 and 1932 in New York. Eugenic policies were first implemented in the early 1900s in the United States.[20] It has roots in France, Germany, Great Britain, and the United States.[21] Later, in the 1920s and 30s, the eugenic policy of sterilizing certain mental patients was implemented in other countries, including Belgium,[22] Brazil,[23] Canada,[24] Japan, and Sweden.[25]


It was the US interest in eugenics that influenced Hitler and the Germany's ideas of being a superior race.

Given the world tensions today and the our reputation around the world, and the possibility of major change, can we analyze the US psychi and make some corrections for a New Age- a time of high tech. and peace and the end of tyranny.
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Re: Influences On US Culture

Postby Ursa Minimus on July 21st, 2015, 7:48 am 

If you wish to consider US culture, I suggest you consider three factors as a basis.

The Enlightenment.

Anglican Protestantism.

Western Colonialism.

Social Darwinism, and the clash you talk about, is heavily influenced by all three.
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Re: Influences On US Culture

Postby Athena on July 22nd, 2015, 10:21 am 

Well, I usually talk about classical or liberal education and its influence on the US democracy. I also believe we have a federal government because of the native American federation of tribes, and how this resembled the ancient Greek city/states, but I do not have solid information about this. However, for education the first model for education in the US was Athens education of well-rounded individual growth. This would make sense considering the ancient Greeks were thought to be a race of geniuses. However, the Roman family and citizenship values also became a strong part of liberal education.

I think the Puritans and the Quakers were much more important to the culture of the US than the Anglicans. We could explore how religion, beginning with Calvinism impacted the US. This would be every worthwhile.

The reason for focusing on Darwin, Spencer, and eugenics, is the particular influence this line of thinking had on the US. Knowledge of this influence is new to me, to it is more like a new toy that I what to play with.

However, this thread has not gotten attention and I would enjoy any discussion about US that is possible.
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Re: Influences On US Culture

Postby BadgerJelly on July 23rd, 2015, 12:19 pm 

Going back further didn't Hume have an influence ... I admit my reference is from The Lone Ranger!! :P

American history is not something I am overly familiar with.
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Re: Influences On US Culture

Postby CanadysPeak on July 23rd, 2015, 4:47 pm 

Although I agree that the influences given by Athena, Ursa Minimus, and BadgerJelly are all valid, they apply only to the intellectual part of culture. None of those, however, explain Larry the Cable Guy, GLOW, Andy Warhol, or John Coltrane. There is a brash, vibrant, sometimes vulgar, sometimes violent streak in American culture,
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Re: Influences On US Culture

Postby Ursa Minimus on July 24th, 2015, 7:40 am 

CanadysPeak » July 23rd, 2015, 2:47 pm wrote:Although I agree that the influences given by Athena, Ursa Minimus, and BadgerJelly are all valid, they apply only to the intellectual part of culture. None of those, however, explain Larry the Cable Guy, GLOW, Andy Warhol, or John Coltrane. There is a brash, vibrant, sometimes vulgar, sometimes violent streak in American culture,


Saying large scale cultural forces can't explain an individual case is like saying oceanography can't explain why that particular starfish at your feet washed up on shore. There is probably an explanation, but not the type of one you are looking for when asking the question.

Still, given that, I suggest you consider Larry the Cable Guy's catch phrase (git 'r done!) in light of how Anglican Protestantism influenced the Calvinists, who drove the creation of the cultural "protestant work ethic" in the USA. See Max Weber's "The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism".

Git 'R Done..... work ethic. Plus this work ethic is wrapped up in how economic classes see themselves, and Larry's comedy is working class comedy. Move him to Europe somewhere for his formative years, and his working class comedy would be very different I am sure. And I doubt his comedy would work in Europe nearly as well as in the US. Not that he seems to have tried much, if at all, based on a brief search.

Warhol, Coltrane, opposition to enlightenment based sensibilities regarding art and music. Culture is formed by forces... and opposition to those forces. Warhol for sure was reacting against commercial art, and commercial art is rationalized (enlightenment based goal, rationalization, in the sense of calculability, not utility maximization).

GLOW? Gorgeous ladies of wrestling? Gender roles flow from religion (women are subservient etc), gender from "science" (which pretty much meant essentialism, historically)... and GLOW is in opposition to the larger culture's idea of femininity.

The threads are there, we just don't see the threads when we focus on the jacket. Or so the arguments go from those who see culture as a driving force in society over the long term.
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Re: Influences On US Culture

Postby CanadysPeak on July 24th, 2015, 8:38 am 

Ursa Minimus » Fri Jul 24, 2015 7:40 am wrote:
CanadysPeak » July 23rd, 2015, 2:47 pm wrote:Although I agree that the influences given by Athena, Ursa Minimus, and BadgerJelly are all valid, they apply only to the intellectual part of culture. None of those, however, explain Larry the Cable Guy, GLOW, Andy Warhol, or John Coltrane. There is a brash, vibrant, sometimes vulgar, sometimes violent streak in American culture,


Saying large scale cultural forces can't explain an individual case is like saying oceanography can't explain why that particular starfish at your feet washed up on shore. There is probably an explanation, but not the type of one you are looking for when asking the question.

Still, given that, I suggest you consider Larry the Cable Guy's catch phrase (git 'r done!) in light of how Anglican Protestantism influenced the Calvinists, who drove the creation of the cultural "protestant work ethic" in the USA. See Max Weber's "The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism".

Git 'R Done..... work ethic. Plus this work ethic is wrapped up in how economic classes see themselves, and Larry's comedy is working class comedy. Move him to Europe somewhere for his formative years, and his working class comedy would be very different I am sure. And I doubt his comedy would work in Europe nearly as well as in the US. Not that he seems to have tried much, if at all, based on a brief search.

Warhol, Coltrane, opposition to enlightenment based sensibilities regarding art and music. Culture is formed by forces... and opposition to those forces. Warhol for sure was reacting against commercial art, and commercial art is rationalized (enlightenment based goal, rationalization, in the sense of calculability, not utility maximization).

GLOW? Gorgeous ladies of wrestling? Gender roles flow from religion (women are subservient etc), gender from "science" (which pretty much meant essentialism, historically)... and GLOW is in opposition to the larger culture's idea of femininity.

The threads are there, we just don't see the threads when we focus on the jacket. Or so the arguments go from those who see culture as a driving force in society over the long term.


"Git 'r done" is not about the work ethic so much as it is about a distain for work, i.e., "Don't worry about doing it well or right, just use a bigger hammer and force the thing." I appreciate that anything can be seen in terms of not being some stated explanation, but that's a bit too esoteric for me. GLOW, for example, could be said to be in opposition to femininity, but I think it much more mainstream than that; people see those performers as very feminine.
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