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The Primacy of Culture

Gregory R. Beabout


Every human being is an individual. Considered in this way, ones materiality differentiates one from others. However, every human being is also a person. To be a human person includes both objectivity and subjectivity, both physicality and spirituality. A person is endowed with the capacity for rational activity. As such, every person is endowed with the capacity for self-reflection and interiority. The human person is a synthesis of two poles. On the one hand, every human person is always situated in ones physicality, in a particular environment, at a particular time and place, in a specific cultural milieu. On the other hand, every human person is endowed with the capacity to gain a critical distance from ones situation, to become self-aware, to reflect, and to become detached, taking up a stance over against ones position in the world. Each of these two capacities, the ability to be immersed in the here-and-now as well as the ability to gain a critical distance from ones environment, is open to abuse. It is possible to throw oneself so completely into the moment, that one entirely neglects ones capacity for transcendence, for interiority, and for critical detachment. In this inauthentic mode of existence, one acts as if one is merely part of the crowd, neglecting that one is an individual person.

Gregory R. Beabout, "The Primacy of Culture," Journal of Markets and Morality 4, no. 2 (Fall 2001): 344-350

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