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Cultural Relativism - Essay Example

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Anthropologist as they manage to study cultures of people tend to first suspend their own cultural background in order to prevent themselves from making interpretations and judgement that is based on their own cultural breeding. …
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Cultural Relativism
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Anthropologist as they manage to study cultures of people tend to first suspend their own cultural background in order to prevent themselves from making interpretations and judgement that is based on their own cultural breeding. It is in the idea that each culture should be understood and interpreted and judge within the social behavior and norms itself. This method is what they call as cultural relativism, wherein a relativist believes and holds to the idealogy that practices and beliefs are relative and dependent to every culture. Application of relativism is so important in gathering facts, as to present cultural differences of every society, groups and race.
It is an advantage anyway to apply relativism in some points most especially, when enganging to cross-cultural learning. A researcher or an anthropologist will react during cross-cultural studies as a blank table that will receive every informations and facts presented by every culture. Hence, he stay in the position of being a fact finder of a particular social behavior and norms attempting to collect datas of the “what” and “why” of a particular society. At this point, he will limit himself in only collecting what he can see, hear and get from respondents and research sources. Notably, it will be a prejudgement if one will not adopt the attitude of cultural relativism during cross-cultural studies. He can not get the facts if he fails to do so but his interpretations of the society which is therefore an idea of his own cultural breeding. If that happens, that is not relativism anymore but a ethnocentricism. During researches, what a researcher should do is to be broad minded in understanding cultures. That might not be his own culture so it is important that the side of the people who value a particular culture should be introduced and clearly presented.
However, though relativism in some points may be good in bringing out facts in particular studies of culture, there are still some instances wherein relativism could not be applied. There are practices and beliefs that some cultures pursue which are proven to be harmful to humans. These practices, like cannibalism, or the circumcision of women could be acceptable in some culture but is not universally acceptable. If relativism should be insisted through those practices, it will just imply the justification of things that might harm humans or in some extent would mean their death. Every cultures might have their own good sides, but human concern should not be bounded in a relativist point of view that what is good is relative. Good things remains to be good without looking after any cultural background. And if culture exist, then respect and tolerance should always remain on adhering to humane considerations.
Respect of one’s belief is a responsibility of the scholar of religion most especially when it comes to fact finding. But it should be noted, that what the scholars respect is the fact that introduces every culture and beliefs. They collected and compiled the data, presented it without originally based on studies of one culture and historically recorded the practices, system and norms that make up a particular group or society. This is what this culture do, then it should be respected in the context that this respect, after finding the fact would not prevent any scholar to compare one culture to another to find which is better. It is not indeed downgrading to find one culture better than the others or to find one culture more acceptable than the others.
It is not the scholars that will determine what culture is but it is everybody’s concern to be illuminated by the facts that the scholar and anthropologist discover. This is not the relativist concern anymore but human concern that should be discussed. Violation only comes when force is being applied to accept one’s belief or culture, but as long that man is given the free will to determine which is better, then there is nothing wrong with it. Every human being is born with their own abilities to think and to discern what condition is favorable for their race and it could be achieved by understanding what is good and bad of every cultures.
Stepping out in one’s belief does not mean that it is already a sort of disrespect. Disrespect only happens when you insist your culture to the others disregarding what is good of their culture. The stand that man should have is to incline to what is good and to stay away from evil. Practically, wherever you are and whatever culture you possess you can easily see what is going to harm you or not. It is an improvement for a man to see the wrong of his culture and to see the good of his own culture and the others. There is also nothing wrong if the world would let himself to adapt something from every culture most especially the principles that will be more effective.
Cultural relativism in some points will be remarkable if the intention is to present true records about one’s culture particular belief system and practices. It highlights what is deemed to be important to the people of those culture and also the grounds of their social living. However, a person should not be blinded by the idea that everything from every culture will be accepted. It is still under man’s prerogative to choose what is going to be good for him. Every culture might present what they believe to be good, but man choses what will be more helpful and effective for his own good and the good of his race. Cultural adaptation is also more helpful. An American can learn from the beliefs of the Chinese and Chinese will also benefit from the cultures of the Americans. It is a two way process that is needed to preserve human race.
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