Posted on December 1, 2009 - by David
Boston University professor Liah Greenfeld in her essay Nationalism and the Mind gives an overview of her theory of modern culture and the mind.
The fundamental points…
- Humanity is distinguished from the other animal species by the symbolic (cultural)… instead of genetic… transmission of its ways of life across generations. (p.1)
- “Nationalism is a fundamentally secular and humanistic consciousness based on the principles of popular sovereignty and egalitarianism.”(p.4)
- Nationalism is the modern culture (p.4)
- “Modern societies… because of their very secularism, openness, and the elevation of the individual, are necessarily anomic,” making anomie “the fundamental structural problem of modernity.”(p.13-14)
- Anomie (a product of nationalism, the modern culture) “inhibits the formation and normal functioning of the human mind.”(p.15)
- “…culture creates the human mind. The mind is also a symbolic and a mental process: it is supported by biological brain mechanisms, but is generated by culture outside the brain.”(p.16)
- She essentially states that by impairing the formation and normal functioning of the human mind, modern culture causes mental illness.
These ideas are certainly controversial, not widely held, and may seem preposterous to some. Please read the essay for yourself and see what you think.
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