(To continue with my last post: )
There are many elements to our culture that are clearly decadent in nature (i.e. representative of decay). There is no authentic meaning that is embraced culture-wide to guide us, unify us, and provide meaning to our culture itself. Collectively, we are struggling to find meaning in an overly rationalistic and objectivist world. In the past, cultures that have found themselves in exactly this same predicament did not survive. In other words, we are rapidly approaching the doom of Western/global culture. More seriously, because of, 1.) the serious negative impact of industrialization on this planet (thank you Western values of human dominance over nature), and 2.) the tremendous dependance of our overly inflated human population upon industrialization and modern technology (as the indigenous alien told the human in the movie Avatar, "You are like a baby!) we are rapidly approaching the crossroads leading the to the destruction of the human race.
Can we call a culture that is essentially meaningless superior? Can we call a culture that is on the verge of its own demise superior? Can we call a culture that is on the verge of destroying our whole species superior?
Now that I have shared the gloom and doom of our current situation, let me provide hope. We are definitely experiencing what the Ancient Greeks referred to as a, "metamorphosis of the gods." In other words, there is a feeling in the air that the times are ripe for change. "There is a change a-coming" is a very significant pop-cultural motif and meme. This is, after all, that struggle to find meaning I referred to earlier. The Age of Nihilism is in fact a symptom of the globalization of culture; it is a purge of the outdated and divisive understandings we have carried from an ancient past; it is also a means of coming to terms with our growing understanding of the cosmos----there is no coincidence in the fact that relativism as a philosophical understanding is happening just as the Theories of Relativity are coming of age, and we are understanding the relative nature of the universe (imagine the change in our zeitgeist as quantum mechanics comes of age, and we began to understand reality as it reflects quantum reality).
The problem is, will we find meaning and a unifying truth in time to save our own culture, or even in time to save mankind?
Assuming however that we do, or, considering that we are at least trying, does this mean that we are therefore superior as a culture that could lead mankind into the future? Not really---first of all, it is our own cultural shortcomings that has put us into this situation, secondly, this is a situation that has happened before.
Consider dualism, for example. The Hindu's long ago, took the problem of duality and defused its negative implications by developing a philosophy/unifying truth that focuses on transcendence. Granted, they did not resolve the issue, but they did create a unifying truth that has produced one of the longest surviving cultures, and longest surviving civilizations, in history. Is Indian civilization superior? Well, in some ways we could argue, yes-----but it is a very repressive culture built upon a strong group ethic, and for us, would represent a step backwards, not a step forward, and would therefore not resolve the current condition.
I also argue that their resolution to the problem of duality is not an answer for us. We are witnessing the break down of dualism, not a dialectic. Therefore we must ask, what is left if there is no duality? One answer is a singularity---but this cannot be our answer, because we do not have an existential experience of reality as a singularity (and this is true no matter how hard we try to be reductionist). The other answer is a multiplicity----and not surprisingly, this is in fact reflective of our actual existential experience of reality. We don't live in a world that is a continuous battle between two opposing forces. We live in a world filled with all kinds of forces. Even human relations are becoming less a question of two opposing genders, and more a question of differing humans. And imagine that-------a multiplicity is more reflective of a universe based on quantum reality than dualism.
But indigenous people all over the world have seen reality in terms of a multiplicity since well before we ever tried to record their beliefs. Does this make their culture superior?
Or, consider their concept of group ethic, the closer they are tied to their hunter-gatherer roots, the less formulated is their group ethic. In fact, all over the world, their version of individualism is one that gives true value to the individual. This is very different from American (and now global) industrial individualism---which is not really individualist in nature----but actually a version of elitist group ethic. To be an individual in the modern world---you have to 'make it' in your peer, professional, or other social, group-----otherwise you are a nobody. Who you are is a reflection of your credit report, your police record, your college degree, etc. etc. etc. In indigenous cultures the world over you are who you are, and they understand that each person has existential freedom to gain new skills, new understandings, to be a new person.
So are indigenous cultures superior? They are literally the oldest cultures on earth. They certainly have values that we seem to be struggling to understand in our own way. Yes, there are ways that they are superior (and imagine that, they are the one's we label as savage and primitive...) But would you be able to give up all of your technology, the comforts you enjoy, the medicines that may be saving your life, and so forth, to return to an indigenous lifestyle? Probably not.
Every culture is superior in its own right-----and that is a glimpse of the truth behind multipicity...