Culture is defined sometimes in a narrow way, and sometimes in a wide range. We often take it to mean a superior intellectuality and a social distinction. In this way, a man takes a self-flattering pride in his intellectual or aesthetic accomplishments. It often takes him a highbrow to look down upon the rest of mankind. But in its broad sense, culture may be defined as the flavour of civilization. Culture is actually the attitude that a civilized man takes to live and expresses the same through art, music, literature, and the like. It is, as Mathew Arnold says, an acquisition of sweetness and light, a continuous process of knowing more and becoming better.
Thus culture is bad when it is, as a modern writer calls, a ‘jackdaw culture’, a collection of charming misconceptions, undigested enthusiasm of charlatanism. It may be the device of an untaught member of an upper class to plume himself with borrowed feathers. It is mere outward varnish and veneer that comes from superficial or smattering knowledge. And in its good sense, it is a finely tempered nature. We know human nature is a complex thing made up of many diverse elements. True culture implies that these elements must be properly disciplined, with all undue excesses and angularities subdued or chiselled.
It is, therefore, one’s chief business to acquire perfection in affairs of life to be a man of culture. But it is not an easy task. It can be done, by habitual practice with refined thoughts and works so that one’s mind is filled with nobleness, with genial thoughts and feelings. Cultivation of sweetness of temper and acquirement of the light of understanding should be the aim to represent culture in one’s life. And thus by constant association with literature and philosophy, history and sociology, and above all a scientific bent of mind for proper reasoning, a man experiences an enlargement of the mind, a sublimation of his thoughts and ideas, and prepares himself to be a cultured man.
Culture bears a broad impact on society. If culture is confined in ornaments that confer on individuals a kind of social distinction, its value and influence would, indeed, be limited in a narrow class of society. We must hear in mind that modern age is tending to a general removal of separation between man and man, as well as between class and class. Therefore culture has now come to acquire a broader value and significance in social life not contemplated only in the past ideas. If culture means the pursuit of perfection, it is obvious that it should be with its force from the past and its face for the future and it should be spread among the people at large, irrespective of caste, creed or communities.
Actually, the pursuit of culture depends on some basic conditions. The first and foremost of these are good education and proper use of leisure. Formerly these were regarded more or less confined to certain privileged sections from which others were excluded. But this exclusiveness is the very antithesis of the view of culture. Once the blueblooded aristocracy, with all the material resources at their command, tried to acquire culture as a mark of distinction. In fact, whatever leads to separatism, exclusiveness or a feeling of class superiority is antagonistic to true culture, If we want a culture in a desirable form in society, it should be available to all alike. For this, it is necessary to lay due to importance on education at all stages. Moreover, leisure should be ensured for every worker to enjoy him the privileges of culture. Thus it will spread the light of culture in the society at large.