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Characters Of The Culture Of Vietnam (Part 1)

05/01/2016


Characters Of The Culture Of Vietnam (Part 1)

Karl Marx once pointed out, cultural activities of human initially belonged to emotionally material labor: “Religion, the family, the state, law, morality, science, art, etc., are only particular modes of production and therefore come under its general law.” Thus, labor, practice - or self-conscious and purposeful operations of human have confirmed “the existence of species” of human beings, which is also the origin of true nature of human, and the origin of culture.


Characters Of The Culture Of Vietnam

Assoc. Prof. PhD. Le Van Toan*

 

Karl Marx once pointed out, cultural activities of human initially belonged to emotionally material labor: “Religion, the family, the state, law, morality, science, art, etc., are only particular modes of production and therefore come under its general law.” Thus, labor, practice - or self-conscious and purposeful operations of human have confirmed “the existence of species” of human beings, which is also the origin of true nature of human, and the origin of culture.

 

1. Culture and characters of culture​

Culture has always carried two connotations – static and dynamic. Considering culture from the static perspective, the intrinsic property of culture is “endogeny”[1], i.e. intrinsic causes, rises in internal culture. In addition to endogeny, culture reviewed from in terms of static perspective also provides basic property and its outstanding performance as the testing of education. Due to this educational attribute of culture, the development of economics and culture has a profound and natural intrinsic relationship.

In terms of the sense as a resource of culture, in ancient China, people regarded culture as “writing and teaching.” In the West, the word “culture” is originated from Latin language; its original meaning is cultivation, nurture, training, exploitation, development. Thus, in the East or the West, culture symbolized human activities and people respect the etymological sense of culture as educational. The educational character of culture is primarily expressed through inheritance and propagation. Hence, culture is condensed knowledge and skills of human; which are spreaded, inherited, learnt from generation to generation. These are all practical activities of mankind, especially internal factors which are relentlessly growing of economic activities.

Considering culture from the dynamic perspective, the intrinsic property and function of culture primarily is at the practicality of culture. In his “A Contribution to the Critique of Political economy”, Karl Marx guided that nature cannot invent any self-acting mules, railways, locomotives, electric telegraphs and so on. All those things are products of the creation of mankind industry. The change of material in nature is by the will of human to conquer the nature or human’s operation apparatus to control nature. All those things are created by human intelligence and human labor; they are mentality of reification.[2] In that passage of Marx, “the will of man” or “mentality of reification” or “control of nature” are evident for practical attributes of culture. The practicality of culture lies in essence that “culture” also means “personification”. Humans are authors of culture, are the subject of historical activities of culture. If speaking from the dynamic perspective of culture, we must explain the nature of culture from human nature.

The deepest point in Karl Marx’s viewpoint in culture is examining properties of nature and function of culture from practices of human in reality. Through a series of works on philosophy and economics by Marx, we know that people who engage in cultural activities and cultural creativity are not abstract people. They are individuals of history, people of reality, specific human, and practical human, social human.

Karl Marx once pointed out, cultural activities of human initially belonged to emotionally material labor: “Religion, the family, the state, law, morality, science, art, etc., are only particular modes of production and therefore come under its general law.” Thus, labor, practice - or self-conscious and purposeful operations of human have confirmed “the existence of species” of human beings, which is also the origin of true nature of human, and the origin of culture. On one hand, regarding material productive labor as a basic form of practical activities of the mankind, must rely on nature, under the regime of natural circumstances. On the other hand, it is essential to conquer nature constantly, to renovate nature, to create, for the purpose and requirements of human. Positive factors – social productive power – in practical activities of material production is not only a natural creation of human, or the material world that human demands, but also a creation of total diversity of human beings as well as social cohesion and social relations. Meaning and true value of labor products are not only in meeting basic needs of human as needs of food, clothing, housing, transporting, to maintain contacts with reproduction of human; but also in the innate creativity, ingenuine intelligence, strength, courage, love, inspiration, skills, experiences, knowledge, spiritual exchanges, pleasure and aestheticism, that human promoted, ever created, ever achieved in manufacturing process.  Therefore, the most basic practices of human labor, or course, must include the creation of culture activities, natural creativity, creation of human society, creation of human himself, also creation of the essence of spiritual human civilization as arts, religions, philosophy and so on. We can say that culture has practical nature, which decides features of social history in the most basic way. It attends dynamically, self-discipline, creatively and affect the natural feature of economic performances. Economic property and capability of culture are the most concentrated expression of cultural practicality. 

Considering from the dynamic perspective, historical activities of the society are in accordance with the practical nature of culture, which make it gets characteristics and utilities of productive forces. Therefore, it can work directly to the construction and economic development, the construction and development of society and natural world.

When considering culture as a productive force, it is indeed a little bit sudden. In political economic textbooks, this treatise is unprecedented. Nevertheless, because of the nature of cultural practices, with some forms of performance characteristics and productivity, it is able to say this line is in accordance with real situations.

Firstly, culture is a particular type of production force: its peculiarity is that, culture affect and convention economic activities in a positive and dynamic way, by synthetic performance of conceptions, behaviors, and, on a certain level, has become intrinsic constituent of economic activities. 

Generally, productive labor of mankind consists of two major types: physical labor and mental labor. Mental labor is one of the basic practices and most importantly, human. Productive labor practices of human are conscious and purposeful activities, i.e. the unity of manual labor and intellectual labor. All production activities of human are carried under the domination of ideals, consciousness, perception on the base of specific scientific conditions and certain techniques. Not all these things can be separated from culture facilities and a certain cultural context. As a designated pattern of perception and behavior, of cultural osmoses throughout the entire process of physical labor and mental labor, it is effective in a profound way.

Secondly, from the cultural viewpoint and greater productive viewpoint, we see dialectical relationship inside them. The history of social development has proved that, with the production capacity to solve the physical transformation between human and nature, it also carries chemical forms that penetrate into crystal movement; but culture also forms behavior and value system of conception development, which extends to the natural border objectivity. Thus, culture and productivity in all social practices are mainly in economic activities, always penetrate each other, promote each other and always achieve internal unity. From the a viewpoint about productivity, culture is a production. From a higher cultural viewpoint, production power is also culture. 


* Director of Centre for Indian studies of Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics.

[1] Endogeny: (biology) developing or originating within an organism or part of an organism. We use this concept to imply the originating and proceeding within culture, cultural background.

[2]A Contribution to the Critique of Political economy” by Karl Marx, Vol.3 (1857 – 1859), People Publishing House, 1963, Pg. 358

(Part 2)

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