What is the nature of human civilisation?

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growthhormone
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What is the nature of human civilisation?

Post by growthhormone » January 4th, 2018, 12:44 am

Today, while we are taking the modern lifestyle provided by civilisation for granted, how many of us ever wonder what civilisation is? Do we really understand its nature? And what is the link between this issue and philosophy?

Burning ghost
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Re: What is the nature of human civilisation?

Post by Burning ghost » January 4th, 2018, 10:35 am

Perhaps you could start us off here? There are just so many directions in which to take this so it would be helpful if you expressed a little more about where this thought took you?
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growthhormone
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Re: What is the nature of human civilisation?

Post by growthhormone » January 5th, 2018, 2:46 am

Re: "Perhaps you could start us off here? There are just so many directions in which to take this so it would be helpful if you expressed a little more about where this thought took you"?

This was a question I asked myself 30 years ago. At that time, I had no idea what so ever because I did not know its definition. It seemed vague to me. When I looked back to the history, I became confused. It is a word that we come across everyday but still it is ambiguous. When I look at the developments like hospitals and transport, they are a part of civilisation. Barbarianism/brutality is not considered something civilised. However, with the continued development, those brutalities never stop and the causality increase. It is very confusing. Are there any rules governing civilisation?

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Greta
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Re: What is the nature of human civilisation?

Post by Greta » January 5th, 2018, 6:48 am

GH, when considering history in terms of decades, or even centuries, it seems chaotic and, as you noted, confusing. When considering millennium by millennium, or longer periods of time, the progress becomes more clear.

Meanwhile, deaths and brutality are well reported today. However, a smaller percentage of people today are dying from warfare than ever before, just that as populations become huge, small percentages translate to large absolute numbers. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2015/06/ ... er-before/

So, for clarity, I suggest considering longer sweeps of history. How much more civilised are humans than dinosaurs? How much more civilised today are modern humans than prehistoric humans, or people at the time of the Inquisition, or when Europeans invaded and displaced indigenous people from the Americas and Australiasia only a few centuries ago?

Once in my Googling travels I came across a page about ancient torture methods. If one ever needs to be cured of the "noble savage" ideal, that link will do it. The grotesquery and sadism was simply astonishing with the sustaining of people in agony over long periods apparently becoming almost an art form. Reading the link made me feel pleased with humanity for coming so far from such ugly origins.

Life on earth, and humanity itself, have come a tremendous distance intellectually and ethically; we have simply become more mature (obviously with a pretty long way to go).

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Count Lucanor
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Re: What is the nature of human civilisation?

Post by Count Lucanor » January 5th, 2018, 10:44 pm

growthhormone wrote:
January 4th, 2018, 12:44 am
Today, while we are taking the modern lifestyle provided by civilisation for granted, how many of us ever wonder what civilisation is? Do we really understand its nature? And what is the link between this issue and philosophy?
Civilization is everything that separates us from the state of nature and that arises from communal living. It has an accumulative effect and sets in motion autonomous processes that build up a sort of "second nature", even though it is enabled by our own nature. Civilization means culture and history, something that no other species is capable of doing. As Spanish philosopher José Ortega y Gasset used to say, civilization implies instability and variability: we can be what we make ourselves to be, while a tiger cannot be anything else but a tiger. And a tiger is today the same as a tiger was a thousand years ago.

Burning ghost
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Re: What is the nature of human civilisation?

Post by Burning ghost » January 6th, 2018, 2:13 am

Growth -

I guess it would be reasonable to say "civilization" is the "rules" rather than a certain object being "governed" by "rules." So one way of looking at civilization would be to say "civilization" is the discovery and application of the "idea of rules".

By this I mean that nature is governed by certain "rules." At the physical level we general call this entropy, but at the complex level of organisms in communities entropy plays out a certain pattern - animals form groups and play out certain functional roles; through entropic homeostasis (what we can refer to simplistically here as "evolution") the useful roles survive and when they fall away others fill the void. Humans are capable of recognizing these laws, seeing the position and role of individuals within a group, and then creating a theory in order to maximize productivity and general well being.

As language developed within our biology we came to establish ways of expressing the world to each other with greater and greater refinement. As we began to structure communication about the world we mirrored the structure of reality, of ourselves as part of reality, and ourselves as part of the human group. An understanding and general expression between each other of ideas of "better" and "worse" led to the development of rules and from there we discovered ourselves as playing out roles within the community and refined each other just like our biology refined the composition of the world into an applicable language to communicate among ourselves.

That may be a very long winded way of putting it, but I believe it has a number of points to mull over and look further into. Basically I see civilization as existing due to the human discovery and application of the idea of "rules" and then "roles." In nature the role of the male and female varies, but for mammals it is generally the role of the female to bear offspring and nurse them, there are hierarchies in all social animals that are more apparent to us because we've come to learn how to refine these rules and roles because our communicative abilities are more advanced as a social tool with with to apply and express theoretical ideas.
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Jklint
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Re: What is the nature of human civilisation?

Post by Jklint » January 6th, 2018, 5:45 am

All in all, the infrastructures, physical, political and spiritual created in consequence of living together en masse. As such it cannot be measured solely or perhaps even mostly by the cruelty of its punishments which further implies that "civilization" doesn't necessarily mean "civilized" as we currently imagine it to be.

growthhormone
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Re: What is the nature of human civilisation?

Post by growthhormone » January 7th, 2018, 12:40 am

Thank you all for all the information and efforts. This is a topic that took me more than 30 years of researching :).

Burning ghost
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Re: What is the nature of human civilisation?

Post by Burning ghost » January 7th, 2018, 3:30 am

growthhormone wrote:
January 7th, 2018, 12:40 am
Thank you all for all the information and efforts. This is a topic that took me more than 30 years of researching :).
And what is your conclusion then? Or rather what have you uncovered as being relevant to this line of questioning?
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Jklint
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Re: What is the nature of human civilisation?

Post by Jklint » January 7th, 2018, 5:41 am

growthhormone wrote:
January 7th, 2018, 12:40 am
Thank you all for all the information and efforts. This is a topic that took me more than 30 years of researching :).
There are no specific answers to the question but if you want to get close to one far beyond anything written here, read Spengler.

Burning ghost
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Re: What is the nature of human civilisation?

Post by Burning ghost » January 7th, 2018, 9:03 am

Jklint -

It would've been more helpful to say more than read X or Y. Show an example of what he said in terms of what "civilization" means.
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Greta
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Re: What is the nature of human civilisation?

Post by Greta » January 7th, 2018, 9:59 pm

BG, it seems Spengler was more focused on the competition between civilisations and their longevity/durability than the notion of human civilisation per se, which he sees as an ossified form of culture. It would seem that the scope of his major works more considered civilisations in terms of being akin to organisms than the progressive empowerment, knowledge and potential of the "ecosystem" that they form.

Burning ghost
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Re: What is the nature of human civilisation?

Post by Burning ghost » January 7th, 2018, 10:07 pm

Greta wrote:
January 7th, 2018, 9:59 pm
BG, it seems Spengler was more focused on the competition between civilisations and their longevity/durability than the notion of human civilisation per se, which he sees as an ossified form of culture. It would seem that the scope of his major works more considered civilisations in terms of being akin to organisms than the progressive empowerment, knowledge and potential of the "ecosystem" that they form.
Maybe that was what Jklint meant? Who knows? I just find it annoying when people make lackluster posts like that one.

I have a feeling he was referring more to his theory of how "culture" and "civilization" interact (which is interesting.) Spengler look at "culture" as inward development and "civilization" as outward development (I am simplifying here though.)
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Greta
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Re: What is the nature of human civilisation?

Post by Greta » January 7th, 2018, 10:23 pm

I expect we'll find out soon enough.

It seems that the point of the OP was raise Spengler's ideas, although the latter did not have the benefit of knowing about advances made - technologically, ethically and socially - in the century since. It was no doubt easy to be a cultural pessimist at the time of the world wars.

growthhormone
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Re: What is the nature of human civilisation?

Post by growthhormone » January 8th, 2018, 1:43 am

Burning ghost wrote:
January 7th, 2018, 3:30 am
growthhormone wrote:
January 7th, 2018, 12:40 am
Thank you all for all the information and efforts. This is a topic that took me more than 30 years of researching :).
And what is your conclusion then? Or rather what have you uncovered as being relevant to this line of questioning?
Thanks for the question. The study of the nature of civilisation has been being ignored and I am not aware any one raise this question. It is a very interesting topic. I will put my conclusion for discussion here when every things are ready. Please excuse me, but it is not quite ready yet. I agree with someone said here and the definition depends on at what level you look at and the ultimate level is at the level of philosophy.

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