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Culture (from the Latin cultura stemming from colere, meaning "to cultivate") is a term commonly used to indicate the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution, organization or group, an integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for symbolic thought and social learning, or an excellence of aesthetic taste in the arts and humanities, (also known as high culture).


  • In 16th-century Italy there lived Lodovico Gonzaga, a 16-year old seminarist who was very fond of playing ball. Once a certain priest passing by wondered if for a future priest the youth was too keen on his pursuit and asked him: "What would you do if you learned that in half an hour the end of the world was coming?" To which Lodovico replied: "I'd play on." According to the Russian thinker Georgy Fedotov, the importance of culture lies in precisely that: we go on playing ball on the verge of Doomsday....
  • Whoever controls the media — the images — controls the culture.
    • Allen Ginsberg, as quoted in Brain Power : Learn to Improve Your Thinking Skills‎ (1980) by Karl Albrecht, p. 6
  • When two cultures collide is the only time when true suffering exists
    • Hermann Hesse, as quoted in Peter's Quotations : Ideas for Our Time‎ (1977) by Laurence J. Peter, p. 456
  • Each form of the sacrosanct was regarded by members of the culture which gave rise to it as a revelation of the Truth.
    • André Malraux, in Voices of Silence [Les voix du silence] (1951), Pt. IV, Ch. V
  • Our art culture makes no attempt to search the past for precedents, but transforms the entire past into a sequence of provisional responses to a problem that remains intact.
    • André Malraux, in Voices of Silence [Les voix du silence] (1951), Pt. IV, Ch. VII
  • Culture would seem … first and foremost, to be the knowledge of what makes man something other than an accident of the universe be it by deepening his harmony with the world, or by the lucid consciousness of his revolt from it. … Culture is the sum of all the forms of art, of love and of thought, which, in the course of centuries, have enabled man to be less enslaved.
    • André Malraux, quoted in Malraux : An essay in Political Criticism‎ (1967) by David O. Wilkinson, p. 153
  • It... [is] a brute fact that our world is organized in large measure around groups with pervasive cultures.... membership of such groups... greatly affects one's opportunities.... If the culture is decaying, or if it is persecuted or discriminated against, the options and opportunities open to its members will shrink
    • Joseph Raz, Ethics in the Public Domain: Essays in the Morality of Law and Politics (1994), Clarendon Press.
  • One ought not to hoard culture. It should be adapted and infused into society as a leaven. Liberality of culture does not mean illiberality of its benefits.
    • Wallace Stevens, in a journal entry (20 June 1899); as published in Souvenirs and Prophecies: the Young Wallace Stevens (1977) edited by Holly Stevens, Ch. 3
  • Whenever I hear of culture... I release the safety catch of my Browning!
    • Hanns Johst, playwright, minister in the Nazi Kulturkammer. Often misquoted as "When I hear the word culture, I reach for my revolver", and misattributed to other Nazi leaders.
  • I didn't learn until I was in college about all the other cultures, and I should have learned that in the first grade. A first grader should understand that his or her culture isn't a rational invention; that there are thousands of other cultures and they all work pretty well; that all cultures function on faith rather than truth; that there are lots of alternatives to our own society. Cultural relativity is defensible and attractive. It's also a source of hope. It means we don't have to continue this way if we don't like it.

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