Define the term 'civilisation'

Discussion in 'Human Science' started by Xylene, Dec 2, 2005.

  1. Xylene Valued Senior Member

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    Well, can anybody do that? I know it's a broad question, but there must be someone out there with a definion of what it means to be civilised, or what the idea of a civilised society really entails. Any answers?
     
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  3. Light Registered Senior Member

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    Sure. Even though there are TONS of different definitions with all sorts of varying nuances, simple is best. A group of people living together cooperatively.
     
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  5. allisone417 i'll be in my room Registered Senior Member

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    a common misspelling of civilization
     
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  7. Light Registered Senior Member

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    Not if you are British.

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  8. Baron Max Registered Senior Member

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    Cooperatively? Does that mean that the USA is NOT a civilization? Or many other nations of the world?

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    Perhaps a better definition is: A group of people living together. Forget the "cooperative" issue, 'cause there ain't so much of that going on in the world today!

    Or perhaps: "A group of people living together in situations where they really don't want to, but they're forced to because they either can't get away or they don't have the resources to do so."

    Baron Max
     
  9. Zephyr Humans are ONE Registered Senior Member

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    The definition implies humans=civilisation. Replace 'people' with 'beings' and by that definition, any herd of wild animals constitutes a civilisation.
     
  10. Baron Max Registered Senior Member

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    I know of no one on Earth who'd call a herd of non-human animals a "civilization", do you??

    Of course "civilization" implies humans! Why is that such a stretch of the imagination?

    Baron Max
     
  11. Light Registered Senior Member

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    Well, that's a weird tangent. Just what is the point of going off in that direction???
     
  12. Roman Banned Banned

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    So you think civilization is a term like 'gaggle', 'herd', 'murder', 'pack', or 'flock'?
    It doesn't imply anything special that requires a great degree of cooperation?

    How is the United States excluded from civilization on the cooperation criterion? The United States is highly cooperative. Competitive and fractitious, yes, but certainly not uncooperative. When there's a controvery, three government branches decide policy, each composed of individuals representing a large and varied population, which then becomes law through a great deal of compromise. All accept the law and follow it, even those who disagree with it. The small minority that break the law are punished (which consequently keeps others from breaking the law).
     
  13. Zephyr Humans are ONE Registered Senior Member

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    Yes, it is weird. But your definition was 'a group of people living cooperatively'. A herd of wild animals is also 'a group of animals living cooperatively'. Doesn't that suggest the definition is too simple? Since Baron Max suggests that civilisation cannot possibly apply to animals? Or am I the only person who thinks that crookedly?

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    To fill in an intermediate step: what isn't civilisation? A group of hunter gatherers in a rainforest? A highly organised western society that tearing itself up with civil war? (If neither of these, then the definition basically becomes civilisation=humans, humans=civilisation, and the word civilisation is redundant since talking about humans implies civilisation. Right?)
     
  14. River Ape Valued Senior Member

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    It does no harm to remember that by derivation "civilisation" refers to a culture which supports the existence of the "civis" -- the Latin word for a city.

    I think there is something in this. Societies which are entirely tribal tend to exhibit a lesser degree of structure, specialisation and economic organisation than urban societies.

    (In England, specifically, the word "city" has been used historically to designate a town which had a Cathedral. However this is best ignored, lest it render the Chinese uncivilised.

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  15. Light Registered Senior Member

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    Ha-ha! Yes, I see now where you were going.

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    Sure, I's say the hunter-gathers qualify. A very rudimentary form for sure, but they would still qualify - while a bunch of individual hermits even living within a half-mile of each other would not. They would just be several individuals.
     
  16. Roman Banned Banned

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    I don't think hunter-gatherer's qualify as civilization. Do bands of chimps qualify? They hunt and gather. Wolves and lions hunt socially. Elephants gather socially. Are these instances of civilization?
     
  17. Baron Max Registered Senior Member

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    Can't read or comprehend too well this morning, huh, Roman? ..LOL! Read my sentence again ...and think a bit while you read the words.

    Divided? ...by politics, by religion, by abortion rights, by...(well, by almost every-damned-thing!)? Racism? Discrimination? Protests? Theft? Assault? Violence? Killing? Murder? Sexual abuse of children?

    And if we're so cooperative, why do we need so many laws? ...and so many cops? ...and so many courts and judges?

    Yeah, and the cops and attorneys then FORCE those who aren't "cooperative" concerning those laws to obey them on the threat of punishment and/or prison. That's cooperative citizens? ...that some need to be forced to do what the others want/expect?

    I don't know ...civilization seems to me to be nothing more than a group of people living together ...without the mention of such vague terms as "cooperative" or "in harmony" or whatever.

    Baron Max
     
  18. Baron Max Registered Senior Member

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    Sure they would ...IF they lived together in a group. But the term "hunter-gatherer" does NOT imply that it's a collective group. A hunter-gatherer could be just one single individual or just one single family. So the term itself does NOT imply "civilization". And I still think that the term "civilization" implies human, not just any animals.

    Baron Max
     
  19. Roman Banned Banned

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    I've been up all night, so maybe I'm missing something.

    You said:
    and
    So then civilization implies nothing more than people living together. The term for people living together would be 'civilization', just as the term for geese living together is called a 'gaggle'.

    But none of these things seems to keep us from ultimately cooperating, does it? You have electricity, I know, and I assume running water, and roads that the feds maintain. All cooperation. The amount of cooperation FAR outweighs the non-cooperation. Did you know there are less than 1 murders per 100,000 individuals? That's a pretty low number, considering all the ways we can kill each other (all developed and distributed through cooperation, thankyouverymuch).

    No one said anything about the causes behind cooperation, just that that it exists.
     
  20. genep Guest

    re: civilization

    When power-politics organizes a cult to look nice then we call its façade a religion. And when religions get big, and the cult-god loses it importance, its religion, then power-politics organizes these big religions into civilizations.

    And the bigger the civilization gets the more desperate the power-politics it needs to survive into decadence and decay… and so the rebels of this decadence and decay sooner or later have to form a new cult that power-politics then exploits for its next civilization.

    If this is difficult to swallow, then history teaches us nothing because every religion on earth started off as a civilization’s (power-politics') most contemptible cult.

    Civilization: the facade of Power Politics. (power-politics, Machiavelli)
     
  21. Baron Max Registered Senior Member

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    I'm not sure that most people would consider it "cooperation" if "half" (that might be a stretch!) of the people have to be forced to do what the other "half" want .......do you?

    So ...just to set the record straight ...in prisons, the population is forced to remain there, forced to obey the guards, etc. and forced to cooperate to some extent. Would you call prisons "civilization"?

    Baron Max
     
  22. invert_nexus Ze do caixao Valued Senior Member

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    Well. No humans, anyway. The chimps might have something else to say on the matter. If they could say it that is.

    Which brings up a point. Does civilization require symbolic thinking? Must there be a symbolic reference for civilization for civilization to exist?

    That's dumb. Even you can't really believe that, can you?

    Do you even have any idea that you've just given several examples of cooperation in your very attempt to disprove cooperation?
    Ironic.

    And more evidence of cooperation.
    For prisons to exist, large groups of people need to cooperate to house the prisoners, feed the prisoners, watch the prisoners, entertain the prisoners, punish the prisoners, clothe the prisoners, etc... There is a huge amount of effort, planning, and cooperation that is entailed in every prison in the land.

    Is a prison 'civilization'? No. But it is an aspect of some civilizations. But not a civilization in itself.

    Thus the problem of defining civilization as a group of people living together.
    Interesting how you've self-disproved every point you've made.



    Technically, hunter-gatherer's don't qualify as civilizations. As River Ape has said (and which, til now, no one has commented on), civilization implies cities. Civilization also implies organized government. If hunter-gatherers qualified as civilization, then chimps and some other primate species would qualify as well. None do. In my opinion.

    The other examples wouldn't even qualify if hunter-gatherers were accepted. Not organized enough.

    Social does not equal civilization.


    But. Speaking of cities. Here's a question.
    What about termites?
    What about ants?
    They build cities. They're highly organized.

    In fact, it's been suggested that many of the earliest city-dwellers were brought together by force. God-kings mainfesting their will over a subjugate population. The causes of cooperation is not the issue. The issue is the end result.

    The ends justify the means.



    Well. This has already been answered and you've understood, but I'd like to just add that it would be best to be impartial. And being impartial would mean stripping our humanocentric viewpoint.

    Human social behavior does not equal civilization. Civilization is something more. It's something which we have only seen manifested through human social behavior, but this is not to say that this is the only avenue which it is possible.

    In many ways, chimpanzee society is just as rich as human society, with the sole exception of human symbolic achievements upon which so many other achievements have been made possible. Observe a group of humans and remove yourself from your humanocentric viewpoint. It's easiest when dealing with foreigners as you can't understand their language. They resemble apes in so many ways because they practically are (they meaning we. Don't go on a racial tangent. English speakers are just the same, it's just more difficult to get away from cultural.... integration while observing them. For English-speakers that is.)

    I find it humorous (and a trifle sad sometimes) that the gift of symbolic thinking which we are all heir to is so often used for purely social interaction. Interaction which, in the end, doesn't even require words. Chimps get along fine without it. Blah blah blah American Idol blah blah blah my boyfriends cock blah blah blah that rash on my ass blah blah blah blah. Empty and meaningless words. Only the social bonding underneath the words is important to most of these conversations.

    It's been a mystery for a long time where language originated. Many consider the possibility that it is derived from complex human social behavior. That as social behavior became more and more complicated, language was needed to organize and control that behavior. And, while this is true to some extent, I think that human social behavior did not need language at all. Rather, it came about through some other avenue and was then co-opted by a gregarious species. A species that was so addicted to grooming that it picked itself bald.... (I realize that this is probably not what happened to our fur. But it does illustrate our social addiction even if only anecdotally.)

    When this makes me sad, I stop to wonder if language would have gone as far as it did if it wasn't co-opted for social purposes. A complicated mix is the human animal.

    Well. I could go on, but I'll stop for breath and see what happens.
     
  23. Baron Max Registered Senior Member

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    So "cooperation" means to you that only a few of the entire group work together willingly, ...while at the same time, forcing the others to "cooperate" UN-willingly? And you call that "cooperation"?

    Surely there's a better word in the English language for such behavior/activity??!! Did the Iraqis, under Saddam Hussien, "cooperate"??

    As you can tell, I hope, ....I have a big problem with the term "cooperate" as it's being used here on this thread!

    Baron Max
     

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