Examine the significance of Ruth Benedicts statement that "The very eyes with which we see the problem are conditioned by the long traditional habits of our own soceity."

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The original question has been edited down.  I would suggest that the significance of Benedict's statement is one that begs for a relative position in assessing other cultures in relationship to our own.  Given Benedict's work in anthropology and critically analyzing other cultures, her position is one that speaks towards a culturally relativistic position.  The significance of the statement is one that speaks to how other cultures should be perceived in the time period that follows World War II.  

For Benedict, the lens of cultural perception is rooted in the eye of the beholder.  In the period that followed World War II, there was an extreme sense of absolutism in how American culture viewed other cultures.  The significance of Benedict's statement is to initiate reflection and introspection about how cultural judgments are relative to the individual's own traditional cultural habits.  The forming of cultural habits is relative to one's own culture.  The quote asks for individuals to recognize this in making judgments about other cultures.  Benedict's statement is significance to her own work in the field, one that sought to better understand cultural valences without arbitrarily judging them as inferior to a supposed standard of superiority. 

Read the study guide:
Ruth Benedict

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question
Additional Links