In each instance, he convincingly demonstrates that to varying degrees education has come to be seen as an instrument for advancing social ideals. Eliot grew up within the … Revised, it is the first chapter of the finished book. Thus, Eliot’s presentation arrives at a critical moment: “[N]o culture can appear or develop except in relation to a religion.” Indeed, Eliot goes even further in linking a people’s culture to their belief system by noting that all that he has just said by way of describing how a culture may decline and disintegrate may also be said of the same phenomena as they would occur in the history of a religion. Because of the economic and other restrictions on personal freedom brought about by years of devastating warfare, men of letters throughout Europe are not as free to travel and to communicate with each other as they ought to be. After defining culture much in the same terms as he subsequently does in Notes, he makes it clear that, ultimately, there is no demarcation totally separating one human culture from another; still, he can insist on a unity of European culture. The first examination, involving the prevailing notions of the purpose of education, entails the most extensive summary on Eliot’s part, citing such contemporary authorities as H. C. Dent, Herbert Read, and C. E. M. Joad. Eliot 3.90 avg rating — 453 ratings — published 1939 — 13 editions Poetry and Drama. Another way to prevent getting this page in the future is to use Privacy Pass. Meanwhile, there are other crucial considerations, to say the least. This dramatic sense on the part of the characters themselves is rare in modern drama. .” Regarded from that point of view, in fact, his comments on the maintenance of Norwegian as a literary language under Nazi rule are no less in keeping with his remarks here on the various peoples of the British Isles writing solely in English, although all individuals of Welsh, Irish, and Scottish extraction might not find themselves in agreement with his position. is the true bond between us,” a bond that, unlike political or economic bonds, does not require one loyalty; indeed, it may flourish best under many. Get an answer for 'What is T.S. When Eliot, in chapter 6, takes up the topic of culture and education, the reader may recall that Eliot had, in chapter 2, argued that culture is better maintained and transmitted by the family than by those he calls educationists for the simple reason that the family unconsciously embodies the culture, while education, to be successful, must be a conscious process. Rather, he is opposed to those who “have believed in particular changes as good in themselves, without worrying about the future of civilisation, and without finding it necessary to recommend their innovations by the specious glitter of unmeaning promises.” Eliot would like to see enter such dialogues a “permanent standard” by which one could compare one civilization with another, not just one’s own with others’, but one’s own with the civilization that it has been at various times or may be becoming. Mannheim, Eliot tells his readers, fails to distinguish between elites, with their tendency to cluster and become isolated in their various fields, and the elite, who through separate interests would nevertheless operate in concert in support of the common interest of a common culture. Quite simply, the processes by which cultures are formed and fostered may themselves have been undergoing a radical transformation in the 20th century, one that required an entirely new assortment of social methodologies for maintaining and transmitting them. That while this culture is the expression of the whole people, that expression is continuously being modified, revised, and adjusted by the sometimes conflicting interactions and goals of the various groups, classes, and regions that make up any single culture. we cannot set about to create or improve culture, . Nothingness and Self-Contradiction: T.S. That Eliot mourns the passage of such a time and spirit is very clear, but it also permits him, in the third and final part of his presentation, to introduce the idea of a European culture. Here, of course, he can again bring to bear as evidence present conditions in Western Europe, a situation that he had already addressed in 1939 in The Idea of a Christian Society. . The total exclusion of "politics" Christianity and Culture: The Idea of a Christian Society and Notes Towards the Definition of Culture by T.S. While he avoids evaluating the pros and cons of that separation for the cultures of the north, he returns again to its consequence for the English. After making a distinction between intercommunion and reunion, he observes that complete reunion would entail a “community of culture.” The result would not, however, be that dreaded uniform culture worldwide, but rather a “Christian culture” manifested in its various local components. “In a healthily stratified society,” he observes, “public affairs would be a responsibility not equally borne.” Nevertheless, the governing elite must not itself become one “sharply divided from the other elites of society.” To achieve this aim, he would not like to define the governing elite as opposed to the other elites as if the first were men of action as opposed to men of thought. It may be that, rather than a “classless” society, Eliot is making a case for what a society should want its so-called “ruling” class to be. From Poe to Valéry. While he must also admit that it is impossible to say what sort of cultural developments may have occurred instead had Europe remained Catholic and Christian, he cannot avoid the obvious conclusion that, based on the European experience, “[e]ither religious unity or religious division may coincide with cultural efflorescence or cultural decay.”. “[T]he actual religion of no European people has ever been purely Christian, or purely anything.” Indeed, Eliot contends, “behaviour is also belief,” and the purity of line between how a people believe and how a people behave colors every aspect of their being and constitutes, ultimately, what may be called their culture, even if it is not seen exclusively as their religion. “Christendom should be one,” but “within that unity there should be an endless conflict between ideas.”. 1949. His experiments in diction, style, and versification revitalized English poetry, and in a series of critical essays he shattered old orthodoxies and erected new ones. Those tensions, Eliot argues, may further become tensions within individuals, citing for his example the contention between the demands of the state and the demands of the church that form the basis for the tragedy in Sophocles’ Antigone. Now, however, he emphasizes that he wishes to explore those same issues not from the point of view of the Christian apologist but from that of the sociologist. In other words, these “men of action,” the political, would not be isolated in their own dangerously and disproportionately powerful subculture but would instead be subject to the judgment of those who respect thought over action. No doubt it remains to be seen how much the increasing pressure of both population growth and widespread urbanization on a virtually global scale during the 20th and 21st centuries may alone require an entirely new set of paradigms than Eliot’s. It is possible, however, that after all is said and done, Eliot may have missed a critical beat in his analysis of what makes human cultures work and develop, a lapse for which he can be forgiven but which still should be brought to the attention of interested readers. In an appendix, which comprises the English-language transcriptions of three radio broadcast talks that Eliot originally made in German in 1946, he comments on the unity of European culture. It serves his purpose, for he finds himself compelled to admit that Europe since the 16th century, a convenient period reference for the Protestant Reformation, has certainly not suffered in terms of overall cultural development. encamp[ed] in their mechanised caravans.”. Henry Ware Eliot, the father of T. S. Eliot, became chairman of the board of a brick company and served the cultural institutions his father had helped found, as well as others. Furthermore, it would be unfair to define their ethnic background and the dialect and other idiosyncratic habits that have emerged from it as distinctions peculiar of a region inasmuch as Irish could be found in every major metropolis in England itself. Rather than revisit that earlier argument in chapter 6, then, Eliot analyzes the general expectations associated with the idea of education by the culture, in order to extrapolate a more general idea of how education might best serve cultural purposes. It is Eliot’s considered view that only the broadest and most generous definition of culture can acquaint individuals with the importance of that ongoing endeavor. As he outlines his approach to the topic in the coming essay, Eliot also reveals, of course, his personal bias, which is that there is a relation between culture and religion, so much so, indeed, that “the culture [of a people] will appear to be the product of the religion, or the religion the product of the culture.” Furthermore, he believes that a culture is “organic,” that is, that it grows and changes so that it may be transmitted through succeeding generations; that it should be reducible to more and more local manifestations, as is implied by regionalism; and that, as far as religion is concerned, it should reflect both unity and diversity. Some areas of the world, Eliot notes in ending his remarks on unity and diversity as regional issues, citing as an example India, where a Hindu and Muslim culture existed side by side at the time, have seen the evolution of competing cultures to a degree that would make Eliot’s comments on British regionalism seem a mockery. The title implies that Eliot is working towards a definition of culture and that his effort is still a tentative and not a definite one. Therefore it is the culture of the society that is fundamental”. Still, Eliot is enough a child of his time to recognize the importance that the culture itself, particularly in the postwar environment in which he is writing, attaches to the political sphere, so he treats it gingerly but with a profound respect for its genuine even if superficial importance. Eliot's culture is an abstraction that exists outside the domain of sodal reality in this Sense. Related Posts: T. S. Eliot: The Idea of a Christian Society; References: Eliot, T. S. “Notes Towards The Definition Of Culture”. . . Eliot takes up the views of Dr. Karl Mannheim to espouse his own opposing view. Its chief means of transmission, he holds, is the family. Eliot closes by reminding his reader of what he clearly thinks is a cardinal point, perhaps the cardinal point of his entire presentation thus far: “. Eliot himself would go as far as to defend and encourage such disagreements, for they too form a part of a culture. A culture, he insists, is “a peculiar way of thinking, feeling and behaving.” He continues: “[F]or its maintenance, there is no safeguard more reliable than a language. The Value and Use of Cathedrals in England Today. They can try, he nevertheless pleads, to preserve the legacy of Greece, Rome, and Israel to which Europe is heir, for, as he sees it, “these spiritual possessions are also in imminent peril.”. Eliot's paternal grandfather, William Greenleaf Eliot, had moved to St. Louis, Missouri, to establish a Unitarian Christian church there. A society that is graded accordingly, Eliot contends, with “several levels of power and authority,” might find the politician “restrained” in his use of language by his fear of censure if not ridicule from “a smaller and more critical public,” composed of those other segments of the elite who are not directly involved with the governing elite. Few definitions of culture included all of the attributes which might be considered, but no one of them alone could confer the wholeness of culture.<14> Culture, out of necessity, had many other divisions. You must pass through many centuries of barbarism. So, then, Eliot can assert as well that “[t]o our Christian heritage we owe many things besides religious faith,” and that “this unity in the common elements of culture . If his definition of a classic as a summary work holds true, then it would be equally true that, for European history and culture, no classic can ever equal Virgil’s Aeneid for the simple reason that Europe would never again realize such cultural and linguistic cohesion as it did during the time of Caesar Augustus, whose reign Virgil celebrates. Eliot's Homogeneity and the Definition of Modernist Culture and Identity Rather, Eliot would like to imagine a society in which “both ‘religion’ and ‘culture’ . Since the last comprises the other two, it is there that he wishes to begin. An Address to Members of the London Library. . If you are at an office or shared network, you can ask the network administrator to run a scan across the network looking for misconfigured or infected devices. Christianity certainly fills that bill; however, Eliot observes that there is always the danger that too broad a cross-cultural appeal can also result in the dilution of a religion’s core values. That he treats both topics in a far more cursory fashion than he had culture and class, culture and region, and culture and religion suggests that he does not view those last two categories as being as critical to the maintenance and transmission of cultural values. London: London Library. Eliot that originally appeared as a series of articles in New England Weekly in 1943. This governing elite should, then, be required to study history and political theory, so that they are inculcated in the life of the mind. In plays of . A critical point not to be missed, however, is that that very dramatic and necessary sea change in the common perception of what culture means and of what it constitutes has Eliot’s own work and thought on the topic in part to thank. The political, for one thing, bandy the word culture about quite freely. After having six children, she turned her energies to education and legal safeguards for the young. If there is a commonality to these assumptions that he raises only to challenge them, it is that they all emphasize the social benefits of education rather than promoting it for its own sake and as a force to help shape individual lives. What is true of the benefits of a healthy diversity between nations and peoples, Eliot happily and wisely contends in his next two chapters, must be true as well of the diversity among an otherwise common people sharing what, from the outsider’s point of view, appears to be a common culture. It is that idea, if not practical reality, that Eliot hopes to short circuit somewhat as he now defines what he sees to be the place of the political in a culture. Home › American Literature › Analysis of T.S. Eliot’s point is that all these various senses, then, and all these various levels of culture must be taken into account in a coherent manner if anything approaching an adequate definition can ever hope to be achieved. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Indeed the potential for allowing the pernicious nature of these ways of thinking and of behaving to dominate a society’s way of life and treatment of others is increased especially when distinctions of that kind are not openly addressed, analyzed, and questioned. In a nutshell, the increasing abstractedness of the state and its more and more total control of the instruments of education at the expense of more natural units of human association, such as the family and the region, can result only in the stultification of culture, a prospect that humanity has never contemplated before. Eliot’s Notes towards the Definition of Culture, Criticism of Notes towards the Definition of Culture, Criticism of T.S. Eliot’s Notes towards the Definition of Culture, Criticism of Notes towards the Definition of Culture, Criticism of T.S. Eliot therefore can conclude his first chapter by proposing that “any religion, while it lasts, . His argument, in any case, regards the transmission of a culture, not the dynamics of its political and often military history. Little by little then, the culture of the class or group emerges from the intracultural tensions formed between the individual and society. . He also tells his readers that the second chapter is a revised version of a paper first published in The New English Review in October 1945, and that there is an appendix compiled from three radio broadcasts he had made, in German, to the German people in 1946. Here again, the danger would lie in such a Christianity’s attempting to be all things to all people, reducing “theology to such principles that a child can understand,” which he sees as a cultural debility. Throughout the book, Eliot has been defining culture as those inherited values, behaviors, and institutions that define the same people living in the same place, an idea borrowed somewhat from the early 19th-century German philosopher Georg Friedrich Hegel’s definition of nation. Eliot cites the British Council, an official body created to promote “cultural exchanges,” to show how those tactics are little different, since it too makes the transmission and exchange of culture a function of the state apparatus. Men require of their neighbours something sufficiently akin to be understood, something sufficiently different to provoke attention, and something great enough to command admiration.”. Rather it was an argument that any individual should foremost be mindful of and loyal to the cultural legacy of his or her own people, not to the exclusion of an exposure to and respect for other cultures and their values, but in order better to appreciate those other cultures as a part of the continuing and mandatory dialogue regarding not what it is to be English and Christian, but what it is to be human. Eliot has a pointed reason for bringing the political to the broader cultural table: “Today, we have become culture-conscious in a way which nourishes nazism, communism and nationalism all at once; in a way which emphasises separation without helping us to overcome it.” A more culturally astute governing elite would obviously go a long way toward overcoming those separations that are otherwise exposed to the exploitation of unscrupulous parties with agendas of their own. In any event, it will be this emphasis on the naturalness of culture, as opposed to the idea, for example, that it can or should be consciously manipulated, that the reader should keep in mind, for Eliot certainly will as he continues to frame his definition. Politics and education, from that point of view, are relatively equal to religion in forming the bedrock of a people’s culture as a nation, although the reader should recall at all times that, as far as Eliot is concerned, religion and culture are virtually inseparable. . T.S. In T. S. Eliot’s essay, Notes Towards a Definition of Culture, he makes the following claims. Since Anglicanism as an offshoot of Catholicism was the result of a decision made at the top, in this case by Henry VIII in his own dispute with Rome, whereas the Protestant dissenters were opposing themselves on native ground specifically against what they saw as little more than a national expression of Catholicism, England may be culturally more stratified religiously in ways that are themselves modified by cultural distinctions among classes. This is an Eliot who, far back in his own career as a social commentator, in essays such as The Function of Criticism in 1923 and After Strange Gods in 1934, had been arguing, sometimes stridently but always with a passionate cogency, against literary and other intellectual forces that he saw to be at enmity with his own cherished beliefs and attitudes. Eliot does take a tangent here, however, that may not find universal agreement. The next logical step is to consider the ecumenical movements that are becoming more common. That he equally as often associated those concerns with England and Europe’s Christian background and traditions gave even him, perhaps, the impression that his was an exclusionary and conservative stance, one that may have beguiled him into making his extremely unfotunate remark regarding “free-thinking Jews” in After Strange Gods. To critique an entire civilization is one thing; to present a reasonable alternative is quite another. IT is questionable whether T.S. The net result is that people are thus encouraged to think of themselves as persons of culture when they are versed in one area of it but are totally unaware that there are other areas as well. Indeed, Eliot’s definition of culture is in this chapter of his book strongly suggests that his views on culture are elitist, if simply in the reason that his definition of ‘culture’ differs’ from that of today. Homer's Odyssey and the tradition it inspired became one of Eliot's most successful paradigms for historical re/vision of women, father/son relationships, cultural evolution, time, and poet's struggle with words." Finally, Eliot promises that any such discussion must close itself by “disentangling” just such a definition of culture from any consideration of the educational and political life of the community. As a bulwark against that possibility, Eliot envisions an elite of individuals in the arts, sciences, religion, philosophy, and government who are respected not for their inherited or appointed position in the culture but for the inherent capacity that they each exhibit for keeping the cultural life of the community viable and active, so that change occurs as a result of the shaping power of natural talents and skills among individuals, and most certainly not of preconceived public policies. 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