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definition of civilization


The concept of civilization today is not considered a modern concept, but rather it is a very ancient concept since the history of human existence on this earth; There is no civilization without a human being, no human being without history, and there is no civilization that does not belong to history; As civilization is part of history, and every civilization has its specific history, and every person has his own. Civilization is also the face of the other human being; And through it shows the extent of his strength, weakness, and progress, What is civilization? How did it arise? What are the theories that were developed to explain its emergence? What is the difference between it and culture? That's what this article will cover.

definition of civilization
definition of civilization

definition of civilization

Civilization has been defined many definitions by anthropologists. Ralph Piddington said that the civilization of any people is nothing but a set of intellectual and material tools that enable these people to meet their social and vital needs with satisfaction and also enable them to adapt appropriately to their environment. As Edward Tylor defined civilization as the complex whole that combines within it all beliefs, values, traditions, laws, information, arts, and any habits, behaviors, or capabilities, that an individual can have in society. Civilization can be defined in the end as the material and moral heritage of man that he left in the past, on which man relied to complete his life path and his current progress, whether it was moral manifestations such as the way of life, daily living, science, knowledge, or material tools and means that remained a trace of his existence such as architecture, coins, and various handicrafts; Such as porcelain, pottery, and others.

The emergence of civilizations

The emergence of civilizations began on tribal foundations, where they drew their extensions from the strength of the bond of blood and kinship, so the tribe formed an urban area with many patterns and customs of its own that regulate the behavior of its members in a single social pattern. Then it began to develop to move from the tribal domain to the religious domain, which in turn included many tribes. Then it developed into a political sphere that contributed to the amalgamation of isolated groups with other groups. [2] Several theories have been formed throughout history about the emergence of civilizations, and we review the most important of these theories below.

environment theory

This theory determines the importance of environmental factors in the emergence and formation of civilizations, and this theory came out to the world in the fifth century BC, and many Greek thinkers spoke about it, where they said the impact of place, water, and air on man in his thinking and the nature of his creation. This theory also enumerates some of the basic conditions for the rise and growth of civilizations, their development, or their decline, including the presence of rain, the nature of the soil in terms of its suitability for cultivation, high or low temperatures, and the nature of the geographical location.

Ibn Khaldun's theory

Ibn Khaldun presented his own analysis on the emergence of civilizations and touched upon the clear impact of the environment on the biological characteristics of man, which determines its impact on his habits, behavior, mind, and decisions. He said that climate has an important and major role in the matter; If the climate in a region is hot, it will generate ideas, customs, and traditions of a solid and hot nature, but if it is mild, for example, it will result in moderate ideas and traditions, and so on. Ibn Khaldun also described the man as a civil being by nature and called for the importance of sociology and the nature of relationships between humans that lead to the emergence of systems that govern societies.

Vico's theory

The Italian philosopher Giovanni Battista Vico recognizes that there must be certain and unified laws that contribute to the formation of nations and peoples, and these laws are felt by a class of people or a class of a nation or people, without one being aware of the other. These laws do not come from reason, but rather from “common good” to “ruling without thinking.” Vico also says that there were no sane people or philosophers before civilization and the state existed, opposing by saying this the theory of rational philosophers who say that society brought it and made it wise.

Gender or race theory

This theory was brought up by Oswald Tsinglo, who interprets history according to the attic and the revealing destiny, and said that the emergence of civilizations goes through stages similar to the stages that humans go through. It is considered that the gender factor based on the biological and functional difference between males and females is the basis for evaluating the work that takes place within the community. Oswald also says that every culture and civilization has something that distinguishes it and what gives it its own character in which no one can compete with it and expresses its privacy, even if all civilizations are similar in to the world in its life cycle from barbarism to primitiveness and then to civilization, to reach the stage of origins; It is the stage that comes with the accumulation of technology, the fall of emotional and spiritual values, to finally end with a radical life stage. At the present time, this theory has proven to be useless and historically down. Where scientific research and studies have proven that the human race in terms of biological composition is one state and that the end of languages ​​for one origin does not mean the assumption of one sex. The element is not what makes civilization, but civilization arises under certain conditions, including environmental, economic conditions, and others. 

Challenge and response theory

This theory, which was brought by the British historian Arnold Toynbee, is concerned with the cultural and religious aspect, where she says that difficult circumstances are the ones that evaluate civilizations in response to harsh challenges, where civilizations do not appear as a result of a specific geographical environment nor innate talents, and biological.

Civilization and culture

Culture is generally defined as the data and concepts brought by the religious belief that dominates a society, whether that religion is heavenly or not; Where these data and concepts constitute the hidden aspects of culture, such as emotional matters and spiritual fields, as for the visible side of culture, such as literary, intellectual, and artistic production, it is greatly influenced by culture.

There are several differences between the concepts of civilization and culture, which are:

  • Culture is a will and a perception, and civilization is an end result and a tangible effect.
  • Culture is a general description of the individual, and civilization is a description specific to the nation. 
  • Civilization is shaped and clarified in many systems such as political systems, example, and in various inventions, industries and sciences.As for culture, it appears clearly in philosophies, languages, literature, and human sciences in general.


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