Kultur and Culture

I.  Why Look at German Kultur?
The anthropologists' "culture" comes into English (e.g., through Tylor & Boas) from German, and it carried with it a hundred years of development. When the inspiration and institutional centre of American anthropology - Franz Boas - moved to New York around 1890, he took up residence in the third largest German-speaking city in the world, with at least a half million other German-speakers. Adams (see below) refers to the dominant thread of German thought of the time as "German idealism" (descending from Kant and Hegel), which was itself profoundly intertwined with the Romantic reaction to the Enlightenment's rationalism. If the Englishman Tylor largely recycled the rationalist ideas of the 1700's, Boas' "culture" was more irrational, more romantic.  The following is from William Y. Adams' 1998 The Philosophical Roots of Anthropology, which in fact deals mostly with the Americanist tradition. {All of the quotes on these pages have emphases on names and slogans added by me; and exclude the authors' references.]

    There can be little doubt that Tylor's conception and definition of culture, and indeed his whole position in anthropology, derives largely from the German idealist tradition. It is often forgotten that Tylor's self-education as an anthropologist, following his return from Central America, took place partly in Germany, and that the ethnographic materials cited so copiously in Researches into the Early History of Mankind and in Primitive Culture are mostly derived not from English but from German sources; especially from the voluminous works of Klemm. In short and in sum, it was Tylor who gave to the English-speaking world its central organizing concept of culture, which had already been developed in everything but name by the German idealists. This, rather than his somewhat intellectualized evolutionism, represents his most signal contribution to the development of anthropological thought.
    The giant figure of Franz Boas looms so large in the history of American anthropology that his name and his work have already been cited repeatedly in this as well as in earlier chapters. He was not a great innovator or an original thinker but a great transplanter, who brought to America the German traditions of idealist philosophy, particularist ethnography, and professional education. The story of his life and career have been told so often in anthropological literature that they must be part of the folklore that "every student anthropologist knows and every grownup anthropologist must at least have forgotten," to borrow a phrase from R.R. Marett....

II. From Kenan Malik's 1996 re-analysis of well-worn territory in The Meaning of Race: Race, History and Culture in Western Society. Malik is an outspoken critic of multiculturalism. His observations on that topic are related to those by Michel-Rolph Trouillot in the 2002 essay quoted in an earlier part of your readings.

    Understanding the richness of human cultural endeavour is a vital and fruitful quest. But contemporary visions of cultural difference seek to learn about other cultural forms not to create a more rich and universal culture, but to imprison us more effectively in a human zoo of differences. The aim of multiculturalist education policies is to preserve cultural differences as they present themselves in society, seemingly believing that these differences are static and immutable. The explicit link that opponents of transracial adoption make between 'race' and 'culture' - the 'race' of a child determines the 'culture' in which he or she should be brought up - reveals a view of culture as a predetermined, natural phenomenon.
    One American collection of articles on multiculturalism argues that 'As we learn more about ecology and of ways to preserve nature, we should also learn the great value of diversity and seek to preserve a diverse cultural heritage'. The analogy here between the preservation of nature and that of culture is telling. As we have already seen, the concept of race arises through the naturalisation of social differences. Regarding cultural diversity in natural terms can only ensure that culture acquires an immutable character, and hence becomes a homologue for race. Multiculturalists would no doubt abhor the racist policies of apartheid. But what links the two is a Romantic concept of human difference and the desire to understand better other cultures so as to preserve more effectively the differences.
    In this chapter I want to examine the key role played by anthropologists in popularising the understanding of culture as an immutable, inflexible essence and to explain how the anthropological concept of culture came to be the cornerstone of
antiracist discourse....
    The central figure in the story of the making of twentieth-century cultural anthropology is the German-American, Franz Boas.  It would be difficult to overestimate the impact of Boas, not simply on anthropology, but on our everyday perceptions of race, culture and difference. Contemporary ideas such as multiculturalism, pluralism, respect for other cultures, and belief in the importance of tradition and history are all significant themes in Boas' work.... The legacy of Boas remains, however, an ambiguous one. Boas certainly played a prominent part in the replacement of racial theories of human difference with cultural  theories, and in so doing helped undermine the power of scientific racism. Yet the concept of culture that he helped develop to a large extent rearticulated the themes of racial theory in a different guise. Influenced both by the German Romantic tradition and by a liberal, egalitarian outlook, the problem facing Boas, notes George Stocking, was how to define the Romantic notion of 'the genius of the people' in terms other than racial heredity. His answer, ultimately, was the anthropological idea of culture.
    Born in Germany, Boas emigrated to America in 1887 after completing his studies in physics at the universities of Heidelberg, Bonn, Kiel and Berlin. His shift from physics to anthropology coincided with his emigration from Germany. As a physicist Boas had made a field trip to the Arctic to study colour perception among the Eskimos. He related in a letter the impact of meeting 'savages':

I often ask myself what advantages our 'good society' possesses over that of the 'savages'. The more I see of their customs, the more I realise that we have no right to look down on them. Where amongst our people would you find such hospitality?... We have no right to blame them for their forms and superstitions which may seem ridiculous to us. We 'highly educated people' are much worse, relatively speaking ... As a thinking person, for me the most important result of this trip lies in the strengthening of my point of view that the idea of a 'cultured' person is merely relative and that a person's worth should be judged by his Herzensbildung (lit: education of the heart).'
We can see here Boas's characteristic philosophical egalitarianism and cultural relativism. We can also see that these characteristics arise largely from his disillusionment with the values of 'our "good society"'. It was this disillusionment with the modes of modernity that fuelled Boas's philosophy all his life. It was the root of the ambiguity in his treatment of the idea of culture. The egalitarianism that arose out of the Enlightenment was positive and forward-looking. The philosophes held that social progress could overcome artificial divisions and differences and reveal our essential commonality. Boas's egalitarianism arose, on the contrary, from the belief that such progress was not possible. Humanity was equal not because differences could be overcome but because every difference was equally valid. For Boas, then, 'equality' meant the acceptance of the actual inequalities of society but the regarding of these inequalities as different manifestations of a common humanity....
    ...[In his 1911 book The Mind of Primitive Man] Boas is not contesting the concept of race, nor the division of humanity into different races. He is contesting, rather, the basis on which such division occurs, arguing that biological races differ from linguistic and cultural races and that the three categories should not be confused or conflated....
    The second major theme in The Mind of Primitive Man was a critique of hierarchical theories of race. The claims for the superiority of the white, or Anglo-Saxon, race were, Boas argued, scientifically spurious. The mental capacities of all human beings were fundamentally similar. Boas believed that 'the organisation of mind is practically identical among all races of man; that mental activity follows the same laws everywhere, but that its manifestations depend upon the character of individual experience that is subjected to the action of these laws'.
    This sounds like the pure milk of Enlightenment universalism. But there was a fundamental difference between the argument put forward by Boas and that of an Enlightenment anthropologist such as Degerando. The Enlightenment philosophes (and later anthropologists influenced by this tradition, such as E. B. Tylor) posited the psychic unity of humankind on the grounds that all human beings were rational. Only in certain circumstances, however, was this rationality allowed to come to fruition.... In other words, for Tylor 'primitive man' reasoned soundly from false premises. As knowledge increased, premises became more sound and progress took place on a rational or scientific basis. For Boas, on the other hand, belief in the equality of 'primitive' and 'civilised' man rested to a large extent on his belief that 'civilised man' had a limited grasp of reason. Whereas Tylor regarded primitive folklore as originally rational in origin, but surviving as irrational custom, Boas... saw the culture of advanced peoples as folklore, unconscious in origin but central to the maintenance of society through its rationalisation of traditional forms of behaviour. Even scientific thought, for Boas, was analogous to the thought processes of 'primitive man.'
    Enlightenment thinkers had seen human beings as conscious, creative subjects constantly making and remaking the world around them. In the hands of nineteenth-century social evolutionists this argument had become a rationale for 'race'. The creativity of humankind, they argued, meant that all societies independently created their own customs and culture. The fact, then, that some societies were more advanced than others meant that some were naturally more creative than others, that less-advanced societies were retarded on the social evolutionary scale.
    Boas tackled the racist logic of the social evolutionists by denying the creative aspects of humanity. Human beings were, for Boas, essentially uninventive. Their creativity was expressed not in independent invention but in the manipulation and reinterpretation of elements given to them by their cultural tradition, or borrowed from other cultural traditions.
    Important consequences flowed from these differences in approach to human reason and creativity. In the Enlightenment tradition, the application of reason to social problems helped dissolve human differences and ensure that even those considered 'primitive' could enter the highest reaches of civilisation. This was the transformative content of Enlightenment universalism. This was taken furthest in the works of Marx, for whom the transformative nature of conscious activity acted as the link between the particular and the universal. For Marx human beings were conscious, active subjects making and remaking the world around them. The process of transforming society was also the process of overcoming parochialism and division and of revealing the commonality of humanity.
    For Boas, however, customs, rituals and habits were of vital importance in the maintenance of societies. Culture was synonymous not so much with conscious activity as with unconscious tradition. He drew on the Romantic vision of culture as heritage and habit, the role of which was to allow the past to shape the present. Tradition and history moulded an individual's behaviour to such an extent that 'we cannot remodel, without serious emotional resistance, any of the fundamental lines of thought and action which are determined by our early education, and which form the subconscious basis of all our activities.' Learned 'less by instruction than imitation', cultural mores 'constitute the whole series of well-established habits according to which the necessary actions of every day life are performed'. 'The idea of culture', observes [George] Stocking, 'which once connoted all that freed men from the blind weight of tradition, was now identified with that very burden, and that burden was seen as functional to the continuing daily existence of individuals in any culture and at every level of civilisation.'
    For Boas, then, the particularity of cultures was essential in maintaining social stability.  Every society had developed its own habits, rituals and cultural forms which helped integrate individuals and gave them a means to relate to each other and to the outside world. Boas suggests that culture has an adaptive function and that social change and progress could be harmful both to the individual and to society. It was an argument that harked back to Burke, Coleridge, de Maistre and other conservative critics of the French Revolution who believed that the social forces unleashed by the revolutionary change undermined the essential props of both the individual and society. This argument was given new shape in the early part of this century through the work of the French sociologist, Emile Durkheim.
    Durkheim considered social facts to be objective phenomena which should be considered on their own terms. Social phenomena existed prior to any individual and exercised a constraint upon his behaviour. Cultural habits and customs existed before the birth of an individual and survived his death. Individuals did not freely choose a culture but were compelled to adopt one. Cultural traits were neither accidental nor incidental. Every custom and habit had a function in society and was necessary for its survival. Even crime was necessary to society, since, by dramatising deviance and retribution, it strengthened the sentiments which supported the moral order. Central to this approach was the concept of 'collective representation', by which Durkheim meant the beliefs, values and symbols that were common to any particular society. Collective representations served as a means of picturing the world meaningfully to members of that particular social group. For Durkheim, individuals' modes of thinking and feeling were shaped by such collective representations imposed on them by their society.
    Collective representations were rational by relative rather than absolute standards - they were appropriate in so far as they served to motivate individuals to play their proper social roles. There could not be any other way for individuals in a particular society to make sense of the world. For Durkheim dilferent people inhabited different symbolic worlds of meaning, each as real and as true as any other. From the viewpoint of one culture, the ideas and mores of another may have seemed backward or irrational. But this was only because the collective representations of one culture - the means through which people in that culture make sense of the world - were necessarily different from those of another culture. In other words, the ways and beliefs of each culture were rational in their own terms, but necessarily irrational in terms of a differing culture. The logic of such an argument was that a particular culture could be comprehensible only to those who were an organic part of it.
    Society, for Durkheim, was essentially a moral order. The preservation this order depended upon the maintenance of sentiments of social solidarity, and the embedding into the individual of the values and norms of that society through collective representations - or culture. Cultural change could therefore lead to social breakdown. From a functionalist point of view it was necessary to maintain the particularities of any culture - from tribal customs to traditional food habits, from religious rituals to political procedures - if social anarchy was to be averted. This inevitably led to a static, and conservative, view of social development.

III.  Manuel on German versus French Views of "Philosophical History"
From the intellectual historian Frank Manuel's Shapes of Philosophical History (?1965). Here, he primarily contrasts French enlightenment thought (humans are rational, with the application of reason there will be progress, and all peoples, using their reason, will reach the same conclusions) with German early 19th thought associated with idealism and romanticism.

    Crossing the Rhine [from France to Germany] one is immediately struck by a different temper among the philosophers of history. The Germans were either pastors like Herder, sons of pastors like Lessing, or state university professors like Kant and Hegel. Germany was economically weak and politically divided, and despite the respectable positions occupied by the pastors and professors in their isolated principalities, they never presumed to exert direct influence on the external world of public affairs. At most they were educators. The philosophies of history they wrote were treatises that, by describing how the human species was fashioned in time, aimed to mold the inner beings of their students and their small literate public. Among the German pastors the militancy of a Luther had long since died. And in the university the distinction between the vita activa and the vita contempletiva was absolute... the contemporary activism of the American professoriat and its direct manipulation of power would not be the least astonishing aspect of our way of life. German philosophical discussions, even after the appearance of Marx, were remote from immediate political and social reality, and perhaps this very circumstance rendered them what Nietzsche would call interessant, in an interesting condition, pregnant with novel ideas. Political dormancy made the Germans more speculative and imaginative, less cut-and-dried, and often less sensible than their French counterparts.
    The German style of philosophical history faithfully records the mood of these doctors of the inner life. In effect, the religious spirit of Luther - not his political activism - informs virtually all the works of the Germans. While the French wrote a secular history of man's expanding capacities and his outward achievements, the Germans composed a history of introverted man, a Protestant world history....
    The French philosophers of history concentrate on the novelties; they revel in the material conquests and in the new acquisitions. They take a Baconian delight in sheer accumulation and in the variety of objects. They enjoy what Montesquieu called Le bonheur de l'existence. For the Germans, who made world history into a Bildungsroman, the education of the human race was no lark. There is throughout these writings a sense of the pain and anguish of growth. They were dealing with a refractory pupil who kicked against the pricks and learned only through punishment. Man refuses to quit his minority, lamented Kant, anticipating Freud. The Germans were always conscious of the bloody travail of history. While among most of the French the philosopher's eye was focused on the growing ease and the new rationality, the Germans, even the secularists among them, were weighed down by a sense of inborn evil. The baubles of French civilization they rejected with the moral righteousness of a Rousseau repudiating the arts and sciences. For the Germans history had one meaning: the hard-won battle for consciousness, which is Hegel's Spirit, or the struggle for liberty, which even in Kant is not far removed from Luther's Christian liberty....
    ...The Latin nations were formed by an admixture of Latin and German blood, according to Hegel [c. 1820]. And because of this miscegenation, they are not an appropriate, fitting abode for the highest form of Spirit. How readily Absolute Spirit can backslide to a Blut und Boden theory!
    Here Hegel closely approaches Herder [c. 1790], though he rarely mentions him. Herder too identified creativity with Volk purity. In describing world-history the Germans regard the moments of intermingling as the ugly ones, for they give birth to half-breeds. In virtually all philosophical history those who concentrate exclusively on the abstraction of a nation or a culture or a civilization or a race as the organic historical unit of discourse have a fatal tendency to regard any intermixture as poisoning, corrupting, and diluting. The number of such theories is legion: in Gobineau's doctrine racial contamination later became the historical event that directly determined decay and destruction. Hegel rejected the Latin nations, not only because they failed to achieve "innerness," but because they were mongrel and polluted.
    Perhaps the character of this German form of philosophical history is again best brought out by contrast with the sensationalist or arithmetic progressivism of the Turgot-Condorcet  type [i.e., French, 1750-1790]. They are opposites. In the French system a closed or isolated culture is in continuous peril of stultification; the rut of sameness is mortal. The multiplication of communications, the creation of new relationships is the key to new perceptions, hence to new ideas. Endless novelty invites new impressions and discoveries. The French look upon cross-fertilization as the highest good, productive of science, technology, and ultimately moral perfectibility. The Germans, on the other hand, tend to view cross-fertilization as destructive of values, style, identity, structure, growth. The intrusion from the outside is alien, unnatural, inimical to form and cohesiveness. German race theories did not need to await the new biology; they had already acquired philosophical roots in the conceptualization of culture itself in Herder and Hegel....
    Since the French saw man as endlessly malleable and his reason easily amenable to novelty, a long hiatus between the discovery of a new truth and its implementation in history was not inherently necessary. The speed of change depended on the wills of men, which could be rationally organized for maximum effectiveness; progress could be accelerated through reform. The French philosophes from Turgot down, with their geometric pattern of enlightenment - blocks of darkness that presented danger and of light that in time would penetrate the black - expected this conversion of superstition to scientism to take place as painlessly and as fast as possible. Even Auguste Comte, the Frenchman most committed to a stadial theory, nevertheless argued in the Positive Polity that the contemporary savage world could rapidly advance from fetishism to scientism (naturally under the appropriate tutelage of Parisians), skipping the intermediate stages through which Western Europe had passed because the universal progressist model had already been set.
    Beginning with Herder, German philosophical history was bound to a slow genetic sense of time. Benign transformations in national genius had sometimes taken place through the penetration of its hard core, but only with the passage of ages. For each being, each Volk, for mankind itself, there was an ordained time-span of growth and decay, and there was no way that organized wills could affect this biological life-process....
    French philosophy of history deals with events and actions; German, with the soul. Though both use a terminology that betrays a common Christian origin, the French wrote a history of the achievements of the mind and humanity (to amend Condorcet), the Germans a history of Spirit itself, for which men and their deeds are only vessels. Perhaps in their contrasting sense of historical time do we finally perceive the most fundamental difference between the French and the German schools - French progress is continuous and subject to rapid change, German is discontinuous in its leaps and beyond human will to alter. I would even hazard the reflection that sciences of man, down to our own day, called upon to depict process in time - whether economic growth or child development - find themselves forced to choose between these two modes developed by French and German philosophical history.

IV.  The following is excerpted from Alfred G. Meyer's 1952 "Appendix A: Historical Notes on Ideological Aspects of the Concept of Culture in Germany and Russia" written for Kroeber and Kluckhohn's Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions.

   One reason why the German term "Kultur" could acquire a connotation different from that given it by contemporary American anthropology is the very trivial fact that the German language has another word which has often been used to denote "culture' in the anthropological sense. That word is "Volk," together with its derivatives, "Volkstum," "volltstuemlich," "voelkisch," and others. More often it is the plural, "Voelker," which has the meaning that "culture" has acquired in anthropology. "Volk," when used in the singular, often connotates the German people;  indeed, the adjective "voelkisch" acquired a distinctly jingoist character around the turn of the century, stressing the indigenous racial and cultural heritage rather than political allegiance. But the plural, "Voelker" - often used in the combination "Voelker der Erde" - can often be translated as "cultures." "Voelkerkunde" and ethnography are, as a rule, synonymous. In both the German and the Russian tradition, anthropology more often than not is physical anthropology, whereas social and cultural aspects are stressed by ethnography; hence "Voelkerkunde" is roughly equivalent to "cultural anthropology." As early as 1785 Meiners held that his comparative description of cultures might just as well be called "Voelkerkunde" or, more specifically, "Fruehvoelkerkunde."
    In this connection, it should be pointed out that the word "Voelker" is used more often to denote primitive cultures than advanced cultures. The plural of "Volk" thus came to denote cultures other than our own, specifically, non-European or non-Western cultures.
    Kultur theories can be explained to a considerable extent as an ideological expression of, or reaction to, Germany's political, social and economic backwardness in comparison with France and England. But the ideological reaction to this backwardness went into different and mutually hostile directions. For Kant and other representatives of eighteenth-century enlightenment in Germany, the enlightenment itself, the growth of rationalist and utilitarian philosophy, the flourishing of political and economic institutions, represented Kultur, and to emulate the achievements of Kultur was the task they set for Germany. Kultur thus had a universal, patently international flavor. Nonetheless individual nations or states could be regarded as the principal carriers of Kultur, and those nations were acclaimed as pathfinders and models for backward Germany. In this spirit, German radicals during the last decade of the eighteenth century supported revolutionary France and hailed Napoleon as the spreader of Kultur over all of Europe.
    The other ideological strand tended to regard Kultur as a complex of qualities, achievements, and behavior patterns which were local or national in origin and significance, unique, non-transferable, non-repetitive, and therefore irrelevant for the outsider. Herder's relativism did much to pave the way for this conception of Kultur. The stress on such unique culture patterns as against the economic, political, scientific, or philosophical achievements of Western civilization can be regarded as an attempt to cornpensate for a deep-seated feeling of inferiority on the part of German intellectuals once they had come in contact with the advanced nations.... These Kultur theories, then, are a typical ideological expression - though by no means the only one - of the rise of backward societies against the encroachments of the West on their traditional culture. They consist in asserting the reality of something which is just about to be destroyed.
    This ideological reaction against the dynamics of westernization and industrialization need not, of course, be international only; it can be a purely domestic phenomenon. The tradition of enlightenment calls for support of those social strata in one's own country which are likely to further the spread of Kultur; conversely, Germans, in the name of Kultur, opposed the encroachments of Zivilisation, just as certain Americans, in the name of traditional American community ways, bewail urbanization, industrialization, and the curse of bigness. And in this fight for the preservation of the cultural heritage at home, the ideologist is often tempted to seek support for his denunciations of civilization in a glowing description of primitive but unspoiled cultures. Tacitus held up to his degenerate contemporaries the simple but upright life of the primitive cultures in Germany's forests; Rousseau similarly used the noble savage of the North American plains; Herder draws on an almost encyclopaedic knowledge of primitive cultures for the same reason; and one might even point out that Margaret Mead's studies of Samoan culture were undertaken in part in order to hold up a didactic rnirror to modern man.
    This is not, however, the original "domestic" significance of Kultur theories of this sort. Like theories of contact and popular sovereignty, Kultur theories were directed against the ancien regime and its absolutism; for they held, explicitly, that history was not made by states and dynasties, but by peoples. The difference between the two types of revolutionary ideologies is that the one conceives of "the people" as a political association; the other, as a natural community of culture. Both are liberal in their intent; but the one is rational, the other, romantic or even sentimental liberalism. One wants to go "forward" - if the word make any sense - to political democracy; the other, "back" to nature.
    Romantic liberalism and those Kultur theories which are within its tradition are therefore not only directed against absolutism, but also against the entire rational-utilitarian tradition of the Age of Enlightenment. It is therefore not at all astonishing that after the French Revolution, when rationalism, utilitarianism, and related theories were associated with Jacobinism, just as dialectical materialism is today associated with the Kremlin, the Romantic struggle against this tradition turned against the Revolution. The Sturm und Drang movement, of which Herder's preoccupation with primitive cultures is an intrinsic part, had been a rebel ideology; Romanticism was clearly counter-revolutionary. Yet, Kultur theories of both the Kant and the Herder tradition were sufficiently identified with the idea of dissent or revolt that this identification alone might explain why the concept of Kultur was altogether eliminated from the dictionary of German social thought until after 1848 by which time its radical connotation had probably been forgotten entirely.
    At the same time, it is quite possible to argue that the Kultur idea of Herder and his contemporaries too was directed against the French Revolution even before that revolution took place. Herder's history expressed dissatisfaction with the course of our own civilization. There is implicit in it a theory of the decline of the West and the ascendancy of unspoiled cultures like those of the Slavs. There is at times a mood of pessimism, a lamenting over the opportunities which the West has missed, and a warning of evil things to come. Thoughts like these were eagerly picked up by cultural nationalists in Russia. Russian social thought, one might rightfully claim, centered around problems of culture. Throughout the nineteenth century, the "problem of Russian history," i.e., the question concerning Russia's cultural characteristics, destiny, and mission, was one of the central themes with which all social thought, from Chaadaev to Stalin and Berdiaev, had to deal. Posing the problem of "Russia and the West," which was germane to this ever recurrent theme, gave a relativistic character to all Russian ideologies from the start. Similar to the divergent strands in German Kultur ideas, moreover, two schools of thought forked out in Russia as well, the Westerners - rationalists, utilitarian in orien tation, mechanistic in method, who regarded Russia as an integral part (however back ward) of Western civilization - and the Slavophiles, cultural nationalists, who asserted the distinctness and superiority of Russian or Slavic culture, the irrelevancy of European experience for Russia, and the inapplicability of historical laws of the West to Russian soil.
    The ideological similarity or even identity of Russian cultural nationalism with German cultural nationalism is obscured by the fact that nineteenth-century Russian thought initially took its method and terminology largely from Hegel who spoke in terms of Geist, not of Kultur. It should not be forgotten, however, that Hegel's Weltgeist (world-spirit) is supposed to manifest itself at different times and in different places within groups referred to as nations. Weltgeist thus institutionalized becomes Volksgeist, and the concrete investigation of any given Volksgeist is nothing else than the Hegelian version of the comparative study of cultures of Herder and the historiography he represents. In spite of the idealistic phraseology which Hegel has carried ad absurdum, Hegel's concrete analyses of his own and other cultures are no less rich in material and insight than, for instance, Spengler's descriptions of those institutions, ideologies, and behavior patterns in which a culture's "soul" supposedly manifests itself.
    Yet, the reemergence of the Kultur concept both in Germany and in Russia attests to the limitations of the Hegelian method and terminology. Geist, it appeared, was excessively laden with unstated methodological premises; culture served far better as a concept through which to view the social structure and institutions, behavior patterns, ideologies, and ethos of a given society in their totality and interdependence. Consequently, in the latter part of the century, when Klemm, Rickert, and others revived the Kultur concept in Germany, the concept of kultura enters the writings of Russian social scientists....

V.  Adams on German Historical Particularism
From William Y. Adams' (1998) The Philosophical Roots of Anthropology. These quotes are taken from scattered pages in his chapter on German Idealism, so the choppiness is mine, not his.

    The philosophy of history developed by the Germans has been labeled both as rationalist and as progressivist, inviting comparison in both respects with the Enlightenment traditions of France and Scotland. But the comparison obscures more than it clarifies, for both rationality and progress meant something very different to the Germans than they did to the French and the Scots. The historical outlook of the French, and to a lesser extent of the Scots, was societal, pragmatic, and to a considerable degree materialist, while that of the Germans was individualist and mentalist.... In the French and Scottish schemes reason was primarily a means to practical ends, while to the Germans it was always an end in itself.
    The difference was also, and importantly, one between a world in being and a world in becoming - a philosophical distinction originally noted by the Germans themselves....
    The concept of Geist (usually translated as 'spirit') was widely employed by the Aufklarung philosophers, but they never attempted to define it systematically. They used it variously to mean the spirit of the times (Zeitgeist), national character (Volksgeist), the spirit of groups or corporations (Gesellschaftsgeist), the spirit of events (Geist der Begebenheiten), or the overall driving force of human creativity (unmodified Geist). As we saw a little earlier, it was the dynamic tension between these sometimes conflicting forces that was seen as propelling history forward.
    The Geist concept was invoked by the German Enlightenment philosophers mainly in their attempt to define the German Self: to identify the essential factor that made Germans different from other Europeans. They did not apply it in a systematic way to anyone but themselves and their own historical predecessors. They nevertheless laid the foundation for a more general cultural particularism and relativism, when later philosophers began to apply the Geist concept to all of the world's peoples and cultures....
    [T]he undoubted father of German Historical Particularism as an articulate philosophy was Johann Gottfried Herder, another onetime pupil of Kant. Herder's contribution to the subsequent development of German Idealism has been vastly underrated, both in his own country and abroad. There are probably several reasons for this neglect. To begin with, his published oeuvre is massive, muddled, and frequently obscure: Rationalism and Mysticism, Progressivism and Primitivism, Deism and Agnosticism seem to tumble over one another in a disorderly progression in his pages. There is, consequently, no one clearcut philosophical message. It is possible to cite specific passages to show that Herder was for or against almost anything....
    Herder's main ideas that are relevant to us here were set forth in his four-volume Ideen zur Philosophie der Menschengeschichte (Ideas about the Philosophy of the History of Mankind), published between 1784 and 1791. Here, as everywhere in his writing, his message was not entirely clear or consistent, so that he has been identified at times both as a racist and an antiracist, a progressivist and an antiprogressivist. He was adamant in condemning the conventional racial typologies of his time, yet he believed at least to some extent in the genetic inheritance of cultural characteristics - the Geist of each culture....
    In Herder's scheme, the first, relatively brief stage of history was the time between the first appearance of man and the emergence of regionally differentiated cultures; the time when there was, in effect, a single, worldwide prehistoric culture. The second and by far the longest stage, which Herder called the Volk stage, comprised the familiar world divided into separate peoples with separate languages and traditions. The third stage, brief and as yet incomplete, was marked by the gradual worldwide spread of modern Western civilization, which would eventuate once again in a single, worldwide culture. Herder called this the Historical stage because, in his view, Volk cultures were in a state of timeless equilibrium, and therefore had no historical self-consciousness.
    Whatever Herder's historical vision may have been, it was always the Volk that captured his strongest sympathies and interest. His use of the term, as of most other terms, was not entirely clear or consistent. It referred to all of the world's peoples before the rise of Western industrial civilization, but also at times to the less educated elements that persisted within the European societies of his own time. In other words, the Volk concept lumped together primitives, peasants, and proletarians - a conjunction that was also commonly made by progressivists in the eighteenth century....
    In sum, Volk-ness was an evolutionary stage defined not by material circumstances but by a particular mind-set, which had been characteristic of all mankind during most of its history, and which still persisted among all but the educated elites in European countries. It was the mind-set characterized by a timeless, nonreflective adherence to traditions - the Volksgeist - that had arisen through the conjunction of man's creative imagination and the environmental and climatic conditions peculiar to each region. Herder's distinction between the Volk and the "historic" mindsets clearly anticipates the distinction later made by Ferdinand Tonnies between Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft, and also Levy-Bruhl's distinction between the prelogical primitive mentality and the logical civilized mentality....
    While the identification of Herder as the father of anthropology has not been widely acknowledged within the profession, he undoubtedly deserves recognition as the modern-day father of Cultural Relativism. Indeed his commitment to this doctrine was adamant: he spoke out repeatedly and vehemently against all forms of colonialism, imperialism, and slavery. "O man, honor thyself; neither the pongo nor the gibbon are thy brother: the american and the negro are: these therefore thou shouldst not oppress, or murder or steal; for they are men, like thee...." More broadly, Herder may be identified also as the father of the concept of cultures in the specific, plural sense, as opposed to culture in the generic sense....
    In the later nineteenth century German Historical Particularism developed in two rather different directions, which I will here call German Nationalism and Ethnic Idealism. German Nationalism was the ideology driving the unification of the many German kingdoms in the 1860s and 70s. It was a thoroughly statist and chauvinist doctrine, emphasizing not only the distinctness of the Germans but also their superiority over other peoples, and their historically ordained destiny to rule over non-Germans. This doctrine evolved through Hegel, Nietzsche, and Kossina into the excesses of Nazism. Ethnic Idealism on the other hand was egalitarian and nonstatist: the Germans served merely to exemplify the historical and cultural uniqueness of all Volker. If the cultural autonomy of the Germans entitled them to aspire toward political unity and autonomy; so also did the cultural autonomy of all other peoples. Evolving through the works of Herder, Windelband, and Dilthey, the ethnic idealist position gave birth in time to the morphological school of biology, to Gestalt psychology, to the historicist movement in history, and to the semisacred doctrine of Cultural Relativism in anthropology.
    Throughout the nineteenth century German particularism found expression not only in the tomes of the philosophers, but also in the work of the German ethnologists and ethnographers....

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