But aren't all cultures equal?

Home / Education / ARChives / Foundational Discussions

But aren't all cultures equal?

From Brian K. Yoder

Published before 2005


Q: But aren't all cultures equal? If so, you have no business judging the products of another culture as good or bad.

Certainly not. Some are far more advanced than others. Of course, culture is a broad amalgam of ideas and practices and as such, there's a lot of complex detail in how one would go about making such general judgments about them, but that doesn't mean that it is always hard to do.

Would you apply this to other cultural characteristics as well? For example, is the transportation system of any culture the equal of any other? What about food production and preparation? Or public health measures? Or political systems? Are they all equally desirable? If not then the culture that includes excellent examples of these things is objectively superior to those with poor examples of those things.

Does this mean that more advanced cultures are perfect and impossible to improve? Certainly not. Does this mean that generally inferior cultures can have nothing of value for more advanced ones to adopt? Certainly not. What it does mean is that we should not adopt the notion that we must unquestioningly accept every idea we are presented with (whether it has its origins in our own culture or some other one). Instead we should evaluate each one rationally and accept the good and reject the bad regardless of whether we "inherited" it from the culture of our ancestors or not. This applies as much to art as it does to pizza, imported cars, and clever turns of phrase and for the same reasons.