Kim H. Veltman

Goals of Culture and Art

Abridged Version of Lecture to the International Institute of Communications, Kuala Lumpur, September 1999. Also on the site of the International Institute of Communications, (
Published electronically in TRANS. Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften, vol. 1, Vienna,

1. Introduction
2. Pre-Literate Goals
1. Connecting
2. Ordering
3. Literate Goals
3. Imitating
4. Matching
5. Mixing
6. Exploring

1. Introduction

Culture is linked with the word cult, with that which binds us. It is linked with religion (from religio to bind) and other fundamental aspects of our identity such as food, and language. In the United States some see culture as what we do together (faith, family, associations). In Europe, culture is seen more in terms of the expressions that result from what we believe in and do together.

For a long time the great civilizations defined cultures in terms of themselves. China created a Sino-centric view of the world, which ignored everything beyond the Great Wall. Europe created a Eurocentric view. The Arabic world created their own. In an era of global communications, we need a more comprehensive approach if there is to be true understanding among persons. How can we give due recognition to the inherent dignity of all persons and yet recognize properly the outstanding achievements of some without falling into simplistic models of cultural imperialism? Some initial steps in this direction follow.

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