Henry Kim

I don’t think of culture as a monolithic thing. The way we experience and are shaped by “culture” is through countless individual interactions. When we interact with something, the experience changes how we perceive and think about things moving foward. Dewey describes this as “continuity” of experience. Because one interaction shapes how we experience the next one, sequences of interactions can add up. For example, Dewey believes it’s the role of a teacher to help the student select interactions that will reinforce and build on ways of perceiving and thinking that make us more educated. We become lawyers because we have a long series of interactions that have caused us to see and think more lawyerly.

The interactions that shape us aren’t only people-to-people interactions. If I build an artifact, it’s influenced by my perceptions and thinking. Then, if you interact with that artifact, that affects you, too. The way I think about culture is that there are certain ways of seeing and thinking that are just so common, they become self-reinforcing. We encounter them so frequently in our landscapes, it’s hard to not be shaped by them. But again, different people have different interactions and respond to them differently, so we’re shaped by this pervasive culture individually.

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