Civilization

Civilization (or civilisation) is a sometimes controversial term that has been used in several related ways. Primarily, the term has been used to refer to the material and instrumental side of human cultures that are complex in terms of technology, science, and division of labor. Such civilizations are generally hierarchical and urbanized. In a classical context, people were called "civilized" to set them apart from barbarians, savages, and primitive peoples while in a modern-day context, "civilized peoples" have been contrasted with indigenous peoples or tribal societies.

There is a tendency to use the term in a less strict way, to mean approximately the same thing as "culture" and therefore, the term can more broadly refer to any important and clearly defined human society. Still, even when used in this second sense, the word is often restricted to apply only to societies that have attained a particular level of advancement—especially the founding of cities.

The level of advancement of a civilization is often measured by its progress in agriculture, long-distance trade, occupational specialization, a special governing class, and urbanism. Aside from these core elements, a civilization is often marked by any combination of a number of secondary elements, including a developed transportation system, writing, standardized measurement, currency, contractual and tort-based legal systems, characteristic art and architecture, mathematics, enhanced scientific understanding, metallurgy, political structures, and organized religion.

Read more about CivilizationEtymology, Characteristics, Cultural Identity, Complex Systems, Future, Fall of Civilizations

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Famous quotes containing the word civilization:

    I am firmly opposed to the government entering into any business the major purpose of which is competition with our citizens ... for the Federal Government deliberately to go out to build up and expand ... a power and manufacturing business is to break down the initiative and enterprise of the American people; it is the destruction of equality of opportunity amongst our people, it is the negation of the ideals upon which our civilization has been based.
    Herbert Hoover (1874–1964)

    A mountain chain determines many things for the statesman and philosopher. The improvements of civilization rather creep along its sides than cross its summit. How often is it a barrier to prejudice and fanaticism!
    Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)

    Although knaves win in every political struggle, although society seems to be delivered over from the hands of one set of criminals into the hands of another set of criminals, as fast as the government is changed, and the march of civilization is a train of felonies, yet, general ends are somehow answered.
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882)