Last episode of Melvyn Bragg’s “The Value of Culture” today.

Hooray for Tiffany Jenkins – no matter how wide you include all human activity in your culture / Culture definitions and how those activities are distributed “tribally” in your definition, we must not dodge the question of quality – there is a hierarchy of value – high / mass / pop / local / general / received / traditional / radical / whatever – in terms of the content and processes of culture and in terms of experts / elites / cliques. None of which boxes fixed definitions into fixed constituencies; communication / education / evolution happens and it happens at the boundaries of those constituencies, therefore many smaller “ponds” is an advantage.

Yes the definition is broad, but the spectrum of value is real across many dimensions. To pretend “anything goes” on some artificially equal footing is pure cultural relativism.

The integration of science into culture – a third culture – has happened for sure, but a value-free science does not make culture value-free. (Not that science itself is value-free …)

There are things that science can’t explain, or that can be truly explained “better” by other forms of culture …. Shakespeare / Austen are better psychologists than Freud say, better moral philosophers than Kant say.

Cultural evolution may be Darwinian, sure, but it’s also Lamarkian and can be (must be) directed to greater value and quality in the current generation, with the learnings of previous generations – our moral responsibility.

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Experts are not perfect, but they are essential; wisdom is essential. We need to manage our memes, using our better memes, not simply let them run riot on social media.

And more : A narrow economic definition of “Utility” is not the sole measure of quality and value – far from it, etc …

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