There is a saying that good fences make good neighbors. This is a blog about creating effective boundaries.
Foundational Principle for this Conversation: To explore how the effective use of influence can bring greater love, wealth, and freedom into our lives.
STUDENT: Is there a specific academic discipline that deals with boundaries?
LEWIS: No, however everything we do in life and every choice we make is influenced by the concept of personal and group boundaries.
STUDENT: How are boundaries addressed in groups?
LEWIS: Through the exploration of social behavior and cultural behavior. These are expressed in the concepts of “society” and “culture”.
STUDENT: Is culture and society different?
LEWIS: Most anthropologists believe so. Whereas society refers to a group of people; culture refers to the inherent genetic based human capacities as well as all of non-genetic human activities.
STUDENT: Was this distinction first noted within anthropology?
LEWIS: Most anthropologists would believe so, however Nicholas Roerich the great Russian Painter/Philosopher wrote extensively of primary differences between culture and society. Roerich pointed out that while culture best refers to the spiritual intentions of man in creative self-expression, a society (what he called civilization) is an external arrangement of human life in all its aspects – political, material, or civil.
STUDENT: Please discuss the distinctions between boundaries in a society and boundaries in a culture.
LEWIS: When you are part of a group or society you will seldom have the opportunity to create defined boundaries unless of course you are an authoritarian leader with the ability to define boundaries by force. In a group setting boundaries tend to be set and specifically defined. Though they can change over time, they tend to be understood among members of the group, and those who cross those boundaries risk minor or extreme sanctions. In groups many of these boundaries are written into law.
Cultural boundaries are different in that, unless imposed through a theocracy culture, they are more flexible, constantly changing, and mobile. In this setting the boundaries are actually an expression of the group intention, reflecting shared practices, attitudes, values, goals, and an integrated pattern of human knowledge, beliefs, and behavior. In such an environment there exists some capacity for symbolic thought and social learning that would not be easily available in imposed group boundaries.
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