Sunday, January 8, 2012
Civilization and its Definition
Sunday, January 8, 2012 by Faizan Bhatti
A civilization is a society or culture group normally defined as a complex society characterized by the practice of agriculture and settlement in towns and cities. Compared with other cultures, members of a civilization are commonly organized into a diverse division of labor and an intricate social hierarchy.
Civilization is often used as a synonym for the broader term "culture" in both popular and academic circles. Every human being participates in a culture, defined as "the arts, customs, habits... beliefs, values, behavior and material habits that constitute a people's way of life". However, in its most widely used definition, civilization is a descriptive term for a relatively complex agricultural and urban culture. Civilizations can be distinguished from other cultures by their high level of social complexity and organization, and by their diverse economic and cultural activities.
In an older but still frequently used sense, the term "civilization" can be used in a normative manner as well: in societal contexts where complex and urban cultures are assumed to be superior to other "savage" or "barbarian" cultures, the concept of "civilization" is used as a synonym for "cultural (and often ethical) superiority of certain groups." In a similar sense, civilization can mean "refinement of thought, manners, or taste".
In his book The Philosophy of Civilization, Albert Schweitzer, one of the main philosophers on the concept of civilization, outlined the idea that there are dual opinions within society; one regarding civilization as purely material and another regarding civilization as both ethical and material. He stated that the current world crisis was, then in 1923, due to a humanity having lost the ethical conception of civilization. In this same work, he defined civilization, saying:
“It is the sum total of all progress made by man in every sphere of action and from every point of view in so far as the progress helps towards the spiritual perfecting of individuals as the progress of all progress.”
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