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:
“There may be an excess of cultivation as well as of anything else, until civilization becomes pathetic. A highly cultivated man,all whose bones can be bent! whose heaven-born virtues are but good manners!”
—Henry David Thoreau (18171862)
“Our civilization survives in the complacency of cowardly or malignant mindsa sacrifice to the vanity of ageing adolescents.... In 1953, excess is always a comfort, and sometimes a career.”
—Albert Camus (19131960)
“A German immersed in any civilization different from his own loses a weight equivalent in volume to the amount of intelligence he displaces.”
—José Bergamín (18951983)