The life-history of the individual is first and foremost an accommodation to the patterns and standards traditionally handed down in his community. From the moment of his birth the customs into which he is born shape his experience and behavior. By the time he can talk, he is the little creature of his culture, and by the time he is grown and able to take part in its activities, its habits are his habits, its beliefs his beliefs, its impossibilities his impossibilities.
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Japan likewise put her hopes of victory on a different basis from that prevalent in the United States. (...) Even when she was winning, her civilian statesmen, her High Command, and her soldiers repeated that this was no contest between armaments; it was pitting of our faith in things against their faith in spirit.
The prime lesson the social sciences can learn from the natural sciences is just this: that it is necessary to press on to find the positive conditions under which desired events take place, and that these can be just as scientifically investigated as can instances of negative correlation. This problem is beyond relativity.
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An observer will see the bizarre developments of behavior only in alien cultures, not his own. Nevertheless this is obviously a local and temporary bias. There is no reason to suppose that any one culture has seized upon an eternal sanity and will stand in history as a solitary solution of the human problem. Even the next generation knows better. Our only scientific course is to consider our own culture, so far as we are able, as one example among innumerable others of the variant configurations of human culture.
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... it is a commonplace that men like war. For peace, in our society, with the feeling we have then that it is feeble-minded to strive except for one's own private profit, is a lonely thing and a hazardous business. Over and over men have proved that they prefer the hazards of war with all its suffering. It has its compensations.
So much of the trouble is because I am a woman. To me it seems a very terrible thing to be a woman. There is one crown which perhaps is worth it all--a great love, a quiet home, and children. We all know that is all that is worthwhile, and yet we must peg away, showing off our wares on the market if we have money, or manufacturing careers for ourselves if we haven't.
... with every Asiatic country where we operate in cooperation with the existing culture, the need for intelligent understanding of that country and its ways of life will be crucial. These nations will very likely not respond to appeals with which we are familiar, and not value rewards which seem to us irresistible. The danger--and it would be fatal to world peace--is that in our ignorance of their cultural values we shall meet in head-on collision and incontinently fall back on the old pattern of imposing our own values by force.
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Our national experience in Americanizing millions of Europeans whose chief wish was to become Americans has been a heady wine which has made us believe, as perhaps no nation before us has ever believed, that, given the slimmest chance, all peoples will pattern themselves upon our model.
The mere fact of leaving ultimate social control in the hands of the people has not guaranteed that men will be able to conduct their lives as free men. Those societies where men know they are free are often democracies, but sometimes they have strong chiefs and kings.they have, however, one common characteristic: they are all alike in making certain freedoms common to all citizens, and inalienable.
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Most people are shaped to the form of their culture because of the enormous malleability of their original endowment. They are plastic to the moulding force of the society into which they are born. It does not matter whether, with the Northwest Coast, it requires delusions of self-reference, or with our own civilization the amassing of possessions. In any case the great mass of individuals take quite readily the form that is presented to them.
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The psychological consequences of this spread of white culture have been out of all proportion to the materialistic. This world-wide cultural diffusion has protected us as man had never been protected before from having to take seriously the civilizations of other peoples; it has given to our culture a massive universality that we have long ceased to account for historically, and which we read off rather as necessary and inevitable.
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Society in its full sense ... is never an entity separable from the individuals who compose it. No individual can arrive even at the threshold of his potentialities without a culture in which he participates. Conversely, no civilization has in it any element which in the last analysis is not the contribution of an individual.