Week 1. Raymond Williams

Week 1. Raymond Williams - Excerpts from Raymond Williams...

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Excerpts from Raymond Williams, Keywords (1) CULTURE Culture is one of the two or three most complicated words in the English language. This is so partly because of its intricate historical development, in several European languages, but mainly because it has now come to be used for important concepts in several distinct intellectual disciplines and in several distinct and incompatible systems of thought. The fw is cultura, L, from rw colere, L. Colere had a range of meanings: inhabit, cultivate, protect, honor with worship. Some of these meanings eventually separated, though still with occasional overlapping, in the derived nouns. Thus 'inhabit developed through colonus, L to colony. 'Honor with worship developed through cultus, L to cult. Cultura took on the main meaning of cultivation or tending, including, as in Cicero, cultura animi, though with subsidiary medieval meanings of honor and worship (cf. in English culture as 'worship in Caxton (1483)). The French forms of cultura were couture, OF, which has since developed its own specialized meaning, and later culture, which by eC15 had passed into English. The primary meaning was then in husbandry, the tending of natural growth. Culture in all its early uses was a noun of process: the tending of something, basically crops or animals. The subsidiary coulter -- ploughshare, had travelled by a different linguistic route, from culter, L -- ploughshare, culter, OE, to the variant English spellings culter, colter, coulter and as late as eCl7 culture (Webster, Duchess of Malfi, III, ii: 'hot burning cultures). This provided a further basis for the important next stage of meaning, by metaphor. From eCl6 the tending of natural growth was extended to process of human development, and this, alongside the original meaning in husbandry, was the main sense until lC18 and eC19. Thus More: 'to the culture and profit of their minds; Bacon: 'the culture and manurance of minds (1605); Hobbes: 'a culture of their minds (1651); Johnson: 'she neglected the culture of her understanding
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(1759) . At various points in this development two crucial changes occurred: first, a degree of habituation to the metaphor, which made the sense of human tending direct; second, an extension of particular processes to a general process, which the word could abstractly carry. It is of course from the latter development that the independent noun culture began its complicated modern history, but the process of change is so intricate, and the latencies of meaning are at times so close, that it is not possible to give any definite date. Culture as an independent noun, an abstract process or the product of such a process, is not important before 1C18 and is not common before mCl9. But the early stages of this development were not sudden. There is an interesting use in Milton, in the second (revised) edition of The Readie and Easie Way to Establish a Free Commonwealth (1660): 'spread much more Knowledg and Civility, yea, Religion, through all parts of the Land, by communicating the
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This note was uploaded on 03/30/2011 for the course SOCI 3010 taught by Professor Staff during the Spring '08 term at UGA.

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Week 1. Raymond Williams - Excerpts from Raymond Williams...

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