How important is culture?
Eagleton thinks culture is both vital and not very:
In one sense it is what we live by, the act of sense-making itself, the very social air we breathe; in another sense it is far from what most profoundly shapes our lives.
Without antibiotics and medical science I would have been dead at 12 from TB or appendicitis. But in a world without medical science I think we can assume we wouldn't know about germs and would have pretty poor sanitation. So maybe I'd have already been dead from dysentery.
I had culture when I was 12: tapes of the Goon show leant to me while I languished in bed with TB. I had Arthur Ransome and Lord of the Rings. I had many years of Meg and Mog, and I knew well the timing of the canon towards the end of the 1812 Overture.
Without medicine I would have been negated, but without culture I wouldn't have been me. Culture was not something bestowed upon me. The list of Cultural Things I just gave actually isn't at all helpful, because culture is the milieu, it's anything touched by humans, which is everything. It's the sort of tiles they had in Portugal, and the shade of blue that surrounded the windows. It's the smell of oranges blossom and pine trees and eucalyptus, mixed with the memory of white villas on hard ochre ground.
Culture is everything, unless you're dead.