Clyde Kluckhohn, "Mirror for Man": An investigation of American culture

Essay by TheShive101High School, 12th gradeA+, February 2006

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Clyde Kluckhohn, in an excerpt from his book "Mirror for Man" clearly and simply explains the driving force behind human nature; culture. The trouble is, human nature is neither clear nor simple. Kluckhohn argues that people of different cultures are different not because their biology, but because of their psychology. He clams that much of what we do today, such as brush our teeth in the morning, and eat three meals a day, is done because our parents did it that way, and their parents did it that way and so on.

Although Kluckhohn's ideas are appealing, they do not account for all facets of this "special form of nurture called culture."

Kluckhohn claims that human nature is not instinctive, but rather it is taught to us from birth by our elders. This argument seems valid, but if culture, as Kluckhohn argues, is strictly learned from childhood then eventually, if lineage is traced back far enough all cultures should be identical.

This is of course far from the truth. Clyde Kluckhohn himself states the vast differences between cultures in his paper. The very fact that cultures are different proves that human nature is not exclusively inherited from ones ancestry. This fact can be farther proven when one looks at American culture over just the last hundred years.

We have changed dramatically as a people, and continue to evolve with each passing generation. Kluckhohn's ideas, thought, should not by counted as totally false, they certainly account for many of the events discussed in "Mirror for Man". Clyde Kluckhohn's work is by no means wrong or inaccurate; however it fails to account for the bigger picture. His writings are insightful and his accounts of culture shock can not be denied but a person is much more than the sum of...