Ruth Fulton Benedict Essay

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Considered a pioneer in her time, Ruth Fulton Benedict was an American anthropologist who helped to popularize anthropology while introducing such terms as culture and racism into common place language. As an advocate against discriminatory attitudes, Benedict advocated for tolerance and individuality within social norms and expectations and sought to determine that each culture has its own moral imperatives. Considered her most famous written work, Patterns of Culture, Benedict explores the differences between rituals, beliefs, and personal preferences and how within that culture, personality within the individual exists. While Benedict advocated for tolerance within individual choice and society, she also recognized the struggle within society to fully embrace such choices as she remained silent about her personal life. An outspoken voice against racial inequality and discrimination, Benedict determined a variety of aspects within the cultures of that which she studied bringing forth awareness and helping to create peace.
Benedict (1934) wrote in her book Patterns of Culture, “From the moment of his birth the custom into which he was born shape his experience and behavior” (p.3). Benedict was born on June 5, 1887 in New York City to Frederick S. Fulton and Beatrice Shattuck. Following the death of her father at her early age of two years old, Benedict and her sister became isolated as their mother remained in grief of the loss of her husband. Isolated and confined to a fantasy world within her mind, Benedict developed depression that would prove to be a struggle much of her life. Lacking nurturing from her mother and isolated from a childhood of normalcy, Benedict found comfort in her imagination and what would later be h...

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...ct’s work as an advocate against discriminatory attitudes paved the way for tolerance and individuality within social norms and expectations, as she also sought to determine that each culture has its own moral imperatives. Benedict’s life is a shining example of the ability to keep individuality of ones self paramount within the greater society while fulfilling both internal desires for success and creating peace and understanding in the external world.

Works Cited

Benedict, R. F. (1946). The Chrysanthemum and the Sword . Cleveland: Meridian Books.
Benedict, R. F. (1934). Patterns of Culture. USA: Eighteenth Printing.
Ruth Benedict. (2009, January 12). New World Encyclopedia. Retrieved 17:18, April 27, 2011 from
Mead, M. (1959). An Anthropologist at Work. USA: Atherton Press.

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