2.a.2 – Culture is an individual or collective heritage?

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January 8, 2010 — Riccardo Sabellotti - Giacinto Sabellotti

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Culture is an individual or collective heritage?

The culture of an individual as a whole is unique and, as such, is therefore comparable to the genetic heritage of the same. Two human beings, although brothers, may not have inherited the same genetic sequence and similarly can’t have exactly the same knowledge, beliefs, traditions, etc.…
As the genetic heritage, also culture is clearly an individual heritage.
If we do not consider the genetic heritage as a whole, but examine a partial sequence of it, we will identify a high number of individuals who possess this sequence: in this case we speak of collective heritage, common to a family or a particular local population (e.g. the many stretches of similarity between cousins or the case of a whole almond-eyed population).
If we consider ever smaller parts, until we get to a single gene, we’d probably discover that this is a gene shared by all humanity and even by other species. It is necessary to know that over 90% of human genes is common to all great apes.
Likewise, the cultural heritage can be divided into small parts as well, and the smaller is the considered part, the greater is the population that shares it (think of the profession of a given religion and of the habit of  wearing trousers).
Therefore, if it is true that each of us has unique cultural characteristics, we must also recognize that a significant part of our cultural heritage is collective.

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