C. Geertz, «The Impact of the Concept of Culture on the Concept of Man»

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We are . . . incomplete or unfinished animals who complete or finish ourselves through culture —and not through culture in general but through highly particular forms of it: Dobuan and Javanese, Hopi and Italian, upper-class and lower-class, academic and commercial. Man’s great capacity for learning, his plasticity, has often been remarked, but what is even more critical is his extreme dependence upon a certain sort of learning . . . Beavers build dams, birds build nests, bees locate food, baboons organize social groups, and mice mate on the basis of forms of learning that rest predominantly on the instructions encoded in their genes and evoked by appropriate patterns of external stimuli . . . But men build dams or shelters, locate food, organize their social groups, or find sexual partners under the guidance of instructions encoded in flowcharts and blueprints, hunting lore, moral systems and aesthetic judgments: conceptual structures molding formless talents . . .

Our ideas, our values, our acts, even our emotions, are, like our nervous system itself, cultural products —products manufactured, indeed, out of tendencies, capacities, and dispositions with which we were born, but manufactured nonetheless . . . [Men], every last one of them, are cultural artifacts.

Clifford Geertz, «The Impact of the Concept of Culture on the Concept of Man», a ‘Monday Lecture’ at the University of Chicago, 1965 [linked version: as collected in The Interpretation of Cultures, 1973] (excerpt La Litera información)

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