chapter
Culture
Pages 22

Nevertheless the development of a notion of culture has from the beginning been driven hard from behind by the intellectual struggle against attempts to explain human behaviour and human variety using purely natural scientific means. It is therefore impossible to understand the concept ‘culture’ clearly without reference to its opposing concept, ‘nature’. In a wider perspective this struggle is but a fragment of the greater conflict over human nature which has been so pervasive a feature of intellectual life in the North Atlantic societies of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. For as the assurance of the natural sciences grew, and as more of the living world fell under their confident surveillance, so a conception of nature began to grow that was to be subject to an increasingly authoritative style of enquiry, which we know today as biology. The burning question then became: to what extent do humans fall into nature and therefore under the sovereignty of biological explanation? For some-and this is as true today as it was in the last century-the sway of such explanation was to be total. For others in *sociology and related disciplines, however, humans and human society participate in a different order of existence altogether.