The cultural role of individuals in the new millennium

The cultural role of individuals in the new millennium

Simone Redaelli

Simone Redaelli

Simone is a biologist and scientific copywriter. He is vice-director of Culturico, where his writings cover the intersection between philosophy, poetry, science and society. He is also the author of "A Sonnet to Freud", a blog for Psychology Today to illustrate how the life of poets, novelists, and intellectuals can be an inspiration for individuals to better face their interior and social life.

At the beginning of our history, culture arose as an instrument to face the wildness of nature: every single human used to be a fair representative of our primordial knowledge. Nowadays, because humanity is safe, this original meaning becomes useless. While our civilization is growing so fast, how can we – as individuals – still actively embrace it?
What is the actual meaning of the term culture?

There is a definition of culture that moves across millennia: ‘every matter of reality that specifically regards humans and cannot be referred to other living organisms’.

Humans have been naturally modeled to seek the truth in their reality. When the first Homo sapiens became aware of themselves, this tension towards the pursuit of knowledge had a chance to begin. The result of this movement is our ongoing history.
Thus, such statements lead us to the following observation: at the dawn of our time, every single human being used to carry the entire knowledge of its species.
In other words, every individual was a full representative of a universal culture. Doubtless, an amazing perspective.

Let us now face this dimension with few examples.
Back in the days, when Homo sapiens realised their own existence, they were immediately forced to learn how to survive. This struggle between life and death was the major driving force of our primordial culture. Everything that jumped out of our mind had the crucial value to fill the gaps between our weakness and the inexorable drive of nature.

To note: as long as hominids were part of nature, their existence was lived in agreement with the natural laws. Their instincts were planned to fulfill all the requirements to stick to the rules. Only the emergence of our consciousness places a distance between humans and nature: given that we are no longer so directly affected by the natural world, since we are indeed out of it, we must learn how to stand in front of it. How to deal with the hidden (Read the article “Are humans still under the pressure of natural laws?” if you want to know more).

Coming back to our original question, we might want to rephrase it as follows: is each individual on Earth still a fair representative of our modern culture? Of course not.
If my phone falls down and breaks apart, I would only be capable of collecting the pieces. Nothing more. In pure honesty, most have no idea how to assemble all the electronic constituents of our devices, not to mention the programming component, which makes them ‘alive’ (If you are curious about the physics of mobile devices, read this article).
Therefore, an obvious observation should be considered: an individual of the modern era does not impersonate the soul of the world. In the best case, he represents a tiny part of it.

The cultural role of individuals in the new millennium
“The cultural role of individuals in the new millennium”

Now, the reader would certainly raise questions such as: “Our world, our horizon of events is much more complex than the one of seventy thousand years ago. How could anybody pretend to get deeply in touch with every aspect of the truth?”
That is right, nobody could imagine that. However, there is a growing tendency to make use of the following question, in order to overturn the issue: since the world is so complex, why should I invest my time to explore and comprehend it?
Nowadays, it is really possible to spend a lifetime without knowing any relevant aspect about reality.

Why is this unhealthy behavior spreading so fast?
From our perspective, it is not difficult to notice that the human species is out of the natural selection process. Although we are still under the pressure of other evolutionary forces as a direct product of nature, we actually escaped from its environmental selection: we do not live into the wildness.

Because humanity is safe, the original meaning of its culture becomes useless.
And here comes the modern cultural paradox: while our civilisation – overall – continues to expand, we do not easily find – as individuals – a clear reason why we should embrace it.
Among others, this is a prominent explanation to the new way of describing billions of global individuals: they are Users.

In simple terms, we do not make the world anymore, we just take it.

Perhaps, as active individuals being part of our infinite and never-ending history, we should not simply embrace the status of users, but rather actively participate in shaping our own culture.


Simone Redaelli


Received: 26.08.18, Ready: 29.08.18, Editors: Federico Germani, Robert Ganley.

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