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Ancient knowledge, Ancient know-how, Ancient reasoning: Cultural Memory in Transiti ...

Chapter :  Introduction
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Ancient knowledge,  Ancient know-how,  Ancient reasoning:


Cultural Memory and
the Knowledge It Transmits

That which allowed modern humankind’s remote ancestors to survive and develop a sustained community life was one of humanity’s great discoveries: culture. The fabric of culture is not restricted to its material basis, to artifacts. Culture is composed as much of its mentifacts—that is, of all the mental expressions (i.e., ideas, mental blueprints for creating social patterns and cultural traditions) that are valid and valued in a community and that are, as items of knowledge in cultural memory, transmitted from one generation to the next. Artifacts and mentifacts form an organic whole, operating with locally specific features as a unique interplay of factors that fuel people’s activities and keep up vital functions of a cultural environment.

Each human society develops a unique culture, which is also to say that it constructs a unique world that includes not only a special understanding of trees and rocks and water surrounding it, but of other things, many unseen, as real as those trees and animals and rocks. (Rappaport 1999, 9)