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:

    Our civilization survives in the complacency of cowardly or malignant minds—a sacrifice to the vanity of ageing adolescents.... In 1953, excess is always a comfort, and sometimes a career.
    Albert Camus (1913–1960)

    The word “civilization” to my mind is coupled with death. When I use the word, I see civilization as a crippling, thwarting thing, a stultifying thing. For me it was always so. I don’t believe in the golden ages, you see.... Civilization is the arteriosclerosis of culture.
    Henry Miller (1891–1980)

    It seems to me that there must be an ecological limit to the number of paper pushers the earth can sustain, and that human civilization will collapse when the number of, say, tax lawyers exceeds the world’s total population of farmers, weavers, fisherpersons, and pediatric nurses.
    Barbara Ehrenreich (b. 1941)