CHAPTER I
THE PROMOTION OF CULTURE

Man is a peculiar creature; he is an oddity, a freak on the face of the earth. It is true that he has a good deal in common with his animal friends -- and enemies -- as the zoölogists, anthropologists, anatomists and other natural scientists have taken pains to show in some detail. But despite the many similarities, there are decided and startling differences. We need not go off into mysticism, either, to show that man is something, has something, has done something, and is always proposing to do and to be something over and above what any other creature is, has, has done, or proposes to do and be. For thousands of years, and lately more than ever, man has been cultivating himself, remaking himself; and here we come to grips with his outstanding peculiarity. In cultivating himself, man has diverged sharply and irretrievably from all other creatures, save as he has cultivated them also. One phase or feature of this cultivation is the theme of this book. But what does this mean, this cultivation? What is culture?


THE NATURE OF CULTURE

"The primitive savage," says Hart, "in exploring his environment, finds and eats a certain kind of food -- let us say grains of maize. Because resulting functioning is satisfactory, he tends to repeat it. The processes of eating maize come to be adopted as parts of the individual's personality. His associates, through contagious behavior, begin to use maize. Their children absorb the action-pattern and become maize-eaters. The eating of maize has ceased to be merely a personal habit and has become a culture factor, handed on from generation to generation, and from group to group.

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