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On the Nature of Civilizations

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Civilization is a subset of human culture. Generally the term is used to indicate the more modern and complex type of society which is characterized by urban communities, written language, and social stratification. However, “civilized” has the connotation of being morally or culturally superior to other types of community. “We are civilized; you are barbarians” would be a general statement of this view. Today we would call such thinking “racist”.

A more productive way to look at civilizations would be to see them in historical context. Civilization appears at a certain stage in the development of human society. Another view would contemplate several successive civilizations arising in world history. That is the view of Five Epochs of Civilization. It is less judgmental than some other kinds of history.

The following linked pages each look at civilization in a certain way.

Click here for: What is Civilization? (1046 words) The concept presented in this website differs from that of Arnold Toynbee and other civilizational scholars in positing a single worldwide culture that develops in history.www.civilizationscheme.html - 5 foreign languages

Click here for Civilization and the Envious Outsider (1666 words) Civilization is set in contrast with the barbarian point of view as something comparatively refined, rich, clean, and attractive. This link identifies that perspective for each of the five civilizations. www.outsider.html - 5 foreign languages

Click here for A Neo-Hegelian View of Human Societies (3078 words) Civilization is governed by a more complex logic than primitive societies. Each situation has a meaning that includes awareness of many previous experiences. Hegelian dialectics works through history to produce various institutions and practices that reflect self-conscious thinking. This link includes part of a chapter from William McGaughey’s book, Rhythm and Self-Consciousness, which shows the logical progression from simplicity to complexity or, in other words, to civilization.www.complexity.html - 5 foreign languages

Click here for An “Internal Dynamic” causing the Decline and Fall of Civilizations (2673 words) A presentation at the 39th conference of the International Society for the Comparative Study of Civilizationswww.internaldynamic.html - 5 foreign languages

The “clash of civilizations” is often discussed these days. As Samuel Huntington and others use this phrase, it refers to conflict between different religions or groups of people that are regionally based. However, this “clash” may also be seen as a struggle between different institutions in society that were or are dominant in particular epochs of history. Government, an institution associated with Civilization I, may come in conflict with world religion (associated with Civilization II) or with institutions of commerce (Civilization III), or even with the news and entertainment media (Civilization IV). Two writings probe this aspect of civilization.

Click here for: Business vs. Government: Historical Perspectives (2549 words) www.busvgov.html - 5 foreign languages

A personal perspective: China, Persia, Europe, America, and the "Clash of Civilizations" (2855 words) www.chinapersia.html - 5 foreign languages

Do people today care about civilization? Yes, there is an organization called International Society for the Comparative Study of Civilizations (ISCSC) whose members do. The author of this website has attended several of their annual conferences. Here is a report on the latest one held in Kalamazoo, Michigan. See: An Underground View of the 39th ISCSC International Conference at Western Michigan University in June 2009 (26,241 words) www.2009conference.html - 5 foreign languages

See: Symbolic Implications of my “Underground View” of the 2009 ISCSC Conference (1753 words) www.ISCSCsymbol.html - no foreign languages

Click here for: Topics discussed at the 1961 meeting of civilization scholars in Salzburg Intellectual giants of that day discuss the big themes of history and society (2304 words) www.salzburgmeeting.html - 5 foreign languages

See Program Schedule for 2011 ISCSC conference in New Orleans in the 50th anniversary year of the Salzburg meeting. www.2011conference.html - no foreign languages


See also: How Civilization subverts Personal Identity www.civilizationsubverts.html - 5 foreign languages


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