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.
Famous quotes containing the word civilization:
“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 worlds total population of farmers, weavers, fisherpersons, and pediatric nurses.”
—Barbara Ehrenreich (b. 1941)
“All our civilization had meant nothing. The same culture that had nurtured the kindly enlightened people among whom I had been brought up, carried around with it war. Why should I not have known this? I did know it, but I did not believe it. I believed it as we believe we are going to die. Something that is to happen in some remote time.”
—Mary Heaton Vorse (18741966)
“Everybodys an artist. Everybodys God. Its just that theyre inhibited. I believe in people so much that if the whole of civilization is burned so we dont have any memory of it, even then people will start to build their own art. It is a necessitya function. We dont need history.”
—Yoko Ono (b. 1933)