Volltext: Patterns of culture

The Integration of Culture 
THE diversity of cultures can be endlessly documented. 
A field of human behaviour may be ignored in some so- 
cieties until it barely exists; it may even be in some cases 
unimagined. Or it may almost monopolize the whole or- 
ganized behaviour of the society, and the most alien situ- 
ations be manipulated only in its terms. Traits having no 
intrinsic relation one with the other, and historically inde- 
pendent, merge and become inextricable, providing the 
occasion for behaviour that has no counterpart in regions 
that do not make these identifications. It is a corollary of 
this that standards, no matter in what aspect of behaviour, 
range in different cultures from the positive to the negative 
pole. We might suppose that in the matter of taking life 
all peoples would agree in condemnation. On the contrary, 
in a matter of homicide, it may be held that one is blame- 
less if diplomatic relations have been severed between 
neighbouring countries, or that one kills by custom his 
first two children, or that a husband has right of life and 
death over his wife, or that it is the duty of the child to 
kill his parents before they are old. It may be that those 
are killed who steal a fowl, or who cut their upper teeth 
first, or who are born on a Wednesday. Among some 
peoples a person suffers torments at having caused an acci- 
dental death; among others it is a matter of no conse- 
quence. Suicide also may be a light matter, the recourse 
of anyone who has suffered some slight rebuff, an act that 
occurs constantly in a tribe. It may be the highest and 
noblest act a wise man can perform. The very tale of it, 
on the other hand, may be a matter for incredulous mirth, 
and the act itself impossible to conceive as a human possi- 
bility. Or it may be a crime punishable by law, or re- 
garded as a sin against the gods. 


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