The Cultural System


The cultural subsystem has four aspects: the cognitive, cathectic, technological, and moral.

The cognitive concerns factual matters, which can be true or false.  The cathectic concerns matters of taste and beauty, which can be attractive or repulsive.  The cognitive and cathectic are passive because they assess existing states of affairs rather than create or destroy them.

The technological concerns matters of prediction and control, which can be effective or ineffective.  Lastly, the moral concerns matters of ethics and justice or what should be, so that one can evaluate goals and outcomes in terms of good and bad.  The technological and moral are active because they relate to bringing about one state of affairs over and against another.

Many people feel that Western culture has tended to overemphasize the cognitive and technological aspects of the functional cultural system at the expense of the aesthetic and moral.  Since so many people hold this opinion, it is possible that it might not be true.  Nevertheless, culture is the social version of personality, and just as personalities differ, different cultures may tend to emphasize different aspects and styles of the functional cultural system.  The cultural system is the realm of institutions and habits writ large.  As with all the subsystems of the functional action system, it is in an ideal state when it is in balance.

[References forthcoming.]

The Personal System