Saturday, November 10, 2007

Civilization Summary

Civilization Summary:

I would divide our discussion into two parts.

  • First Part: Defining conceptions of civilization. We agreed for the most part that a civilization was something separate and above the less complex notion of society. For example, a society could be composed of a tribe, a group of hunter gatherers, or any group of persons. I saw civilization being something more sophisticated than this, but everyone was reluctant to load down the definition of civilization with too many specifications, as to not marginalize any organizations of persons that were in fact civilizations. Some criteria that were posited by various discussion members included.
    • Sophisticated abstract division of labor separated from subsistence economies
    • Socialization at higher levels
    • Art, Language, and mythology (Thank you Rory)
    • Excess of resources and time (Thank you Rob)
    • The city as the apex of civilization
  • Second Part: The historical trace of civilization. This dovetailed nicely with the first part, as we were able to provide empirical concrete examples from history as to the beginning of civilization, particularly Western Civilization. The table expressed a lot of concern with desire to concentrate on Western Civilization, however, I felt that it would be best to concentrate on what we were most familiar with first. I got the impression from the table that they didn’t want to commit the egregious error of claiming that Western Civilization was the only viable form of civilization, as Western civilization had done historically, and I respect this instinct. Some historical things of import to civilization:
    • The agricultural revolution
    • Mesopotamia, Egypt, 10th grade world history, etc
    • Rome
    • Modernity and mass communication.

After this the discussion became more fragmented, and I don’t remember what was said. If anyone remembers what was discussed after the historical critique, please make a comment, I think we mainly ironed out our definitions further, but I’m not sure.

Love and Peace.

FP

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