In the last 20 years, cultural membership, ethnicity and the politics of diversity have received an enormous amount of attention in almost every field of study, from philosophy and psychology to mainstream politics and the popular media. In this paper, I want to explore two basic questions that are critical to any discussion of culture and diversity, yet are seldom made explicit: what exactly does the concept of culture mean and why is cultural diversity so important in the first place? I trace the concept of culture from the traditional model, which sees it as entirely homogenous, to post-modern perspectives, which often argue that there are no such things as enduring cultural identities. I argue for a more tempered view that while avoiding reifying culture, does not fall prey to the opposite danger of rendering the concept futile. I contend that this view fits better with actual lived experience, and for good reason. I then further explore the question of why cultural diversity is a good that we ought to promote: Even if culture is important to our lives, why is the diversity of cultures a good thing? Why not let people simply assimilate to one culture? I explore responses that are grounded in the innate goodness of diversity to the view that diversity provides the only real social conditions under which human freedom is possible.
|Keywords:||Definition of Culture, Value of Culture, Value of Diversity|
Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Department of Philosophy, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
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