14. What Is Culture?
This is to understand culture from the perspective of psychoanalysis.
Culture is a kind of subconscious mind from the perspective of psychoanalysis. It is unable to detect and influences people’s behaviours all the time. Only when compared with other cultures can it be obviously found out, and people will not pay attention to it without comparison.
As there are differences between men and women of the subconscious mind, if you’re a man or a woman, all the people believe that their own behaviours are normal and correct. Instead, if a woman shows the male-specific behaviour or a man shows the female-specific behaviour, they will be regarded as abnormal, weird, and even perverted.
These common behaviour characteristics of men or women are in fact fully controlled by the subconscious mind, because all the wills of decision and the directions of thinking are the result of the driving of unconscious mind. What is a subconscious mind like? Just like vehicles.
For example, one friend owns a car while another one doesn’t have it and he can only travel by bus when he wants to go out. If both of them want to go somewhere far away, the ways of thinking of the car-driving friend and the bus-taking friend are totally different.
What the car-driving friend considers is which road is the shortest and the best one, while what the bus-taking friend considers is which bus line to choose to reach the destination and how he should transfer.
Although they are both able to reach the destinations, their ways of thinking and behaviour modes are totally different. The basic reason of the difference is about what vehicles they use: cars and buses.
Cars and buses can be equal to the subconscious mind while their action lines are awareness. The specific actions for reaching the destination are exactly the behaviours.
It is commonly considered that cars and buses are hierarchical. However, there are no distinctions of high or low of the subconscious mind between men and women. Humans are born with the subconscious mind, which has a close relationship with the sexual organs and the hormone secretion. The gender is determined by birth, which decides the sexual impulse to be active or passive and the ways of sexual impulse determine the ways of thinking and the subconscious.
For example, there is a phenomenon in psychology as follows:
Compared with beautiful girls, the general-looking girls can be introverted and extreme easily. In life, especially after sexual maturity, they feel the differences from the boys compared with beautiful girls. That is to say, they can feel their sexual satisfaction (spouse) is relatively difficult than beautiful girls. The dilemma and the difference that they face let the introverted girl have low self-esteem and lead the outgoing girls to be more extreme. Actually, their appearance decides the different ways of their spouse and sexual gratification. The difference of the spouse and sexual gratification determines the difference of their subconscious mind. The confidence, low self-esteem, and extreme are just a manifestation of character, while internal factors—the difference of sexual satisfaction—lead to the difference of the rational part of the unconscious mind.
Above is my simple presentation about change of the subconscious mind and human behaviour, but there is a huge impact of the subconscious mind on countries and areas in the aspect of culture.
Cultural differences can be said to be national and regional differences in people’s subconscious. The differences between Chinese culture and Western culture can be said as the differences between men and women, which are the differences on subconscious rather than only one issue or one thing.
The culture we usually talk about may be referring to our understanding of culture of heritage, the ancient architecture, customs, ethics, morality, novels, literature, etc. However, these things are just manifestations of culture.
The essence of culture is a kind of idea and a comprehensive set of understanding, universal recognition, and basic philosophy of the relationship between people in society. In a country or a region, these widely recognised concepts in people’s subconscious have been treated as an inherent condition and default, which is deposited in people’s subconscious and affects people’s every movement all the time. However people never doubt that these things are the default behaviour model and those who break these models are considered to be abnormal and will get sanctions of ethics, morality, and law.
The subconscious formed in people’s concept of the relationship between humans, human and society, and human and nature in a certain country and society, which is recognised by the majority of people, is the culture.
Since it is present in people’s subconscious and manifested and spread by people’s language, behaviour, artwork, ethics, morality, and law, it has several features:
1. Because the subconscious of culture is precisely spread through daily behaviour, only the people outside of this culture come to this culture environment and can feel it through comparison. Usually it is in a default state that people cannot perceive its presence.
2. Because culture is spread through daily behaviour, it is everywhere and omnipresent and has subtle influence on people. Through daily behaviour, it is spread all the time by people, thus it can be handed down from generation to generation.
3. Only when the environment has been changed and the subconscious is proved to be wrong could the culture be changed gradually by people. Such a thing as culture only can be changed by external promotion for culture has its inertness and inertia.
4. The time for a change in culture is the time for social contradictions, and the change in culture can lead to the social contradictions. To change a culture is bond to have the conservatives and reformers, and the two factions are inevitably to have conflicts in the change of culture. However, this conflict is actually the distribution of benefits dispute. Because the social rule change will inevitably bring about the change in the way of the distribution of social benefits, during this, some people feel a loss while others get benefit; those who get loss will inevitably rise to resist, and the beneficiaries will have to protect their interests, thus the social conflicts and disputes are generated. But after the social rules are reformulated, people will find a new balance and build a new culture.