Art has lost her soul. In the search for method the artist goes still further. Competition arises. But despite all this confusion, this chaos, this wild hunt for notoriety, the spiritual triangle, slowly but surely, with irresistible strength, moves onwards and upwards. But he brings with him fresh stores of wisdom to man.
Almost unknowingly the artist follows the call. The spiritual triangle moves slowly onwards and upwards. They call themselves Jews, Catholics, Protestants, etc. In economics these people are Socialists. In these loftier segments other categories of ideas, absent in these just described, begin gradually to appear—science and art, to which last belong also literature and music. And this is due to their upbringing. And if it does so attain, will men be able to rely on its solution? But when we get still higher there is no longer this bewilderment. Literature, music and art are the first and most sensitive spheres in which this spiritual revolution makes itself felt.
They reflect the dark picture of the present time and show the importance of what at first was only a little point of light noticed by few and for the great majority non-existent.
Passar bra ihop
A poet of this kind in the realm of literature is Maeterlinck. The adjective "cultured" presupposes something more than the acquisition of the ability to solve complex intellectual problems or to behave properly in society. Culture in the true sense presumes the observation of all the formal elements of socially accepted standards not as something external but as an integral part of the personality, of consciousness and even subconsciousness, of its habits.
These standards then acquire a true and lofty spirituality, which is something more than obedience to certain rules. The culture of both the individual and society has various degrees of sophistication. Every educated person may at times have a good opinion of himself. He may feel that he is cultured, and even intellectual ly advanced.
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But true culture and intellect are something very elevated and also very profound. They imply not only a subtle, sophisticated cast of mind developed through education but also a restless conscience, a bitter sense of discomfort when one is pursued by doubts as to the truth or falsehood of a situation. They imply concern and compassion for the fate of the people. An intellectual person knows that intellect is not an aim in itself but the dedication of one's life to others, the altruistic service of truth, goodness and beauty.
All this is what we mean when we say a person is cultured. And we also mean the ability and courage to take responsibility for things that may have no direct bearing on ourselves but affect other people, and not only our near ones, but the people in general, the whole of humanity. People are not born cultured; they become so through education and upbringing. Every individual learns to be cultured. The objective and symbolic forms of culture are not implanted in man, they are merely given to him as the subject for study. In order to master them, to make them his own, to incorporate them in the structure of his personality and thus cultivate that personality, a person must enter into special relations with them through other people and subject himself to what is called upbringing, an active process that involves both the educator and the educated in culture making, without which the life of contemporary or any other society would be inconceivable.
Upbringing or education is itself historical. At first, in the earliest stages of human society, as with small children, education was simply imitative of the elementary actions of others. But this process becomes educative inasmuch as it takes place under the control of educators. With the passage of time it becomes more and more complex. Until, finally, such forms arise as school and college education and training on scientifically evolved principles.
At the same time the boundlessly rich school of life as well as self-education also play the part of educator. Without education and self-education there could be no culture, and certainly no cultural progress.
It is education that relays cultural values from one generation to another and helps to multiply them. The constant accumulation of cultural values places increasingly complex demands on education as a most essential form of the creation of culture. Culture is a social phenomenon that embraces not only the past and the present, but also the future. Like everything else in life, culture is historical. The primitive horde and the tribal society and all the subsequent forms of organisation, all the stages of civilisation are characterised by their own peculiar way of life, perception of the world, and levels of consciousness.
The culture of all peoples throughout history is permeated to some extent by religion. This is expressed in various rituals, forms of worship, in deities, in art, in philosophy and even in science. It is hidden in the very fabric of language—even an atheist, for example, may say several times a day "goodbye", which originally meant "God be with you".
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Without some fundamental knowledge of the history of religion it is impossible to understand our human biography, the biography of the human race, and to become a cultured person generally. For example, primitive society was full of animist, magic and mythological beliefs and this left its imprint on the whole system of the life, thought, emotions and interrelations of people and their relationship with nature. The ancient Orient is characterised by an urge to achieve complete union between man and nature, the extinction of the self in nirvana, understood as the highest level of the existence of energy.
An intuitive integral knowledge of the world and of human nature permeates the whole of human existence and the spiritual life of human beings. This is a kind of knowledge in which philosophy, art, religion, science and social psychology are all intrinsically merged.
The philosophy of the ancients was steeped in an awareness of the cosmic element and its exponents thought in terms of images which were plastic and almost geometrically integrated; and this was expressed in science, philosophy, art and everything else. The Middle Ages had a special type of culture related to the desire to achieve a personal absolute—God. Medieval culture is a culture of religious spirituality and the mortification of the flesh in the name of this spirituality with its orientation on the heavenly kingdom as the highest ideal of earthly existence, to which all the spheres of the life of society are subordinate.
When capitalism came into being, everybody began to claim the right of free manifestation of his creative ego. The whole mode of human existence changed. The standards of culture also changed.
Everything was subjected to the judgement of human reason and everything that failed this test was rejected. Society was rife with individualism, calculation and pragmatism. Socialism has brought different ideals and standards of culture that are permeated with a profound and comprehensive humanism, as expressed in the maxim: everything for the benefit of man and everything in the name of man.
The freedom of every person is seen as an indispensable condition for the freedom of all. This is the truly humane principle of life and standard of cultural development that permeates the whole world outlook of socialist society. These are very general outlines of the historical types of culture and are not intended to draw strict dividing lines between them. It should also be stressed that to this day in many parts of the world huge masses of people on our planet adhere, in varying degrees, to some kind of religious belief and this is true not only of "simple folk" but also of highly educated people.
At the same time growing numbers of people are estranged from this form of culture. The striking thing is the vitality and social power of religious culture, which provides a kind of spiritual integrating principle for whole nations and also for various social groups within one or another nation. This extremely complex social and psychological phenomenon needs investigation in the context both of world history and the present day.
The dominating role of certain forms in relation to others is characteristic of culture. In the Middle Ages religion clearly played the dominating role; its values were placed higher than anything else. The religious-philosophical consciousness is the dominant form of culture in the Orient. Literature and music were the prime factors in all Russian culture of the 19th century, just as, a little earlier, philosophy and music played the dominant role in Germany.
The development of culture does not follow a straight ascending line. It is beset with contradictions, that can be both beneficial and harmful, and signal decline as well as achievement. The wisdom of the people, folk wisdom, for example, has amassed a great wealth of empirical discovery connected with healing. But how much has been lost or passed unnoticed or deliberately ignored through the "ignorance of the wise"?
The rediscovery and rehabilitation of what is reasonable in folk culture but has been "tarnished" is also a contribution to culture, and a very important one. The contradictory nature of culture finds expression also in the fact that every culture has progressive, democratic and antidemocratic, reactionary, regressive tendencies and ele ments.
This is expressed in Lenin's idea that there are two cultures in the national culture of every class-divided society. The expression "mass culture" is today extremely popular in the West. It is mostly used with a tinge of scorn, meaning something "watered down for the majority". But the concept of mass culture may also be understood positively.
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Socialism has made culture accessible to the masses, to millions of ordinary people, who previously vegetated in a state of ignorance and illiteracy. Today the peoples who have shaken off colonial oppression are vigorously and with all their strength striving towards the heights of modern culture. What is imposed or implanted under the guise of "mass culture" in the capitalist countries has a political and ideological implication—the reinforcement of the power of the bourgeoisie.
The term "mass culture" becomes negative when the masses are not raised to the level of real culture, when "culture" itself is refabricated to suit the primitive tastes of the backward sections of the population and itself declines, degenerates to a level so low as to be an affront to all real cultivation of the senses. The mass of the people with its great fund of folk wisdom is presented with stupidity in the guise of culture and the sacred majesty of true culture's historical mission is insulted in the process.
If cultural progress may be defined as the growth of spirituality both in individuals and society as a whole, its regress is expressed in a lack or decline of such spirituality. And this is not compensated by material wellbeing. In the developed capitalist countries the ordinary person is sur rounded by an abundance of consumer goods, but society as a whole is in the midst of a moral crisis.