The term culture is rather hard to define. Sometimes, though rather loosely, it is used in the simple sense of ‘approach to life.’ Thus people talk of Hindu culture, Muslim culture, European culture etc. Again people talk of ‘physical culture’, ‘Mental culture’ or ‘Intellectual culture.’ In this sense culture simply means ‘training’ or ‘development.’ In another sense, culture is the study of perfection, a perfection which consists in becoming, rather than in having something, in an inward condition of mind and spirit, not in outward circumstances? (Aristotle). This implies that culture is a spiritual, dynamic conception, not a physical, static something.
True culture is not a matter of good clothes and good manners merely. It should not be confused with outward glitter and polish.
A suited booted, stick in hand
A dog behind the gentleman.
This is not the portrait of a cultured man. Mere pretentions show and ostentatious display of what one knows are not the marks of culture. True culture is identical with perfection which to quote another writer means ‘all-round and harmonious development of the personality a condition in which all the faculties of man, physical, intellectual, moral etc., are properly developed and ennobled. It is an inward condition of the mind, manifesting itself in our outlook, in our habits, in our dealings with our fellow-beings, in fact, in all that we say, do, think and feel in the course of our day-to-day life. It permeates all the various facts of our personality.
Thus a cultured man is an allrounder, a. man of taste and refinement, one whose faculties are adequately developed, and who possesses not only trained intelligence and breadth of outlook, but also courtesy, sympathy and consideration for the thoughts and feelings of others. Some opine that culture and education are interchangeable terms. This narrows down the definition of true culture. A smattering acquaintance with Greek or Latin or some modern languages does not, as Arnold pointed out, make for culture. A man may be uncultured, in spite of University education if he has known no refinement of taste or manner.
Education is one of the ingredients of culture. To be cultured a man must be educated, although every educated man is not necessarily a cultured man. Education, however, means something more than the three R’s, it means knowledge, not only of literature but also of sciences-of the best that has been said or thought in the world,’ With education goes refinement and general enlightenment. It is wrong to identify it with intellectualism, pure and simple. Intellectualism is the disease of intelligence, but culture, in addition to a trained intelligence, connotes broad outlook, character, and last but not least, something of the moral and social passion for the doing good.’ Thus it is not a sentimental fancy fit only for a professor of belles-letters, as some would have us believe. It is a reality and has a practical aspect. No one can question the value of culture in social day-to-day life.
Culture distinguishes men from boors and barbarians. It is the measure of civilisation. The prosperity of a country depends, not. on the abundance of its revenues, nor on the strength of its fortifications, nor on the beauty of its public buildings, but it consists in the number of its cultivated citizens, in its men of education, enlightenment and character.’ Not gold, but men can make A nation great and strong.