World Civilization What are the major defining characteristics of a civilization? How has the defining characteristics of a civilization in the past been evolved to better peoples lives today? Many factors have been used to develop a civilization. Some have been more effective than others have. Throughout this paper, I plan on analyzing the factors that perennial civilizations before our time used to become effective and prosperous. I will also describe what factors they had and how some of those factors became very important to todays society.
Most of the perennial civilizations have been revolutionized throughout the years to enhance the way of life even today. Many people have debated if civilization was evolutionary or passed down progressively with people learning from their mistakes.Some people claim other reasons for civilization to be far greater than the others. Other people claim that all of the reasons in the coming about of civilization played a balance part . I really dont know which reason were more influential than the others, but I do know that all these theories are hard to be proven flawless. Civilization represents the highest level of human organization. But, how did civilization get to be the impressive and astonishing way it is today? I will use the most prominent civilizations of the past to evaluate what the important characteristics were that helped design society as it is today and made the evolution process of civilization smoothly and successful.
I will use Article #11(written by John Pfieffer, Horizon, fall 1972; Article #9 (written by Jared Diamond, Discover, June 1994); and Article #39 (written by David Landes, History Today, January 1984) to shed light on my topic. Article #11, How Man Invented Cities, talked about the rise of urbanizations in civilizations. Webster defines civilization as a relatively high level of cultural and technological development and/or the culture characteristic of a time or place. Many people use the word civilization to mean urbanization or sophistication. The word is often applied to ones own group; by implication, other groups are denigrated as less civilized or as civilized barbarians.Pfieffer depicted urbanization, a key to prominent civilizations, as unplanned and arose from a combination of population pressures and plentiful local food resources.
This theory is very logic. It might have been very coincidental, but it was a very significant and important coincidence in the world of civilizations. The transition from nomadic life to urbanization took a mere five or six millenniums, practically overnight on the evolutionary time scale. It occurred so swiftly and widespread that man hardly had a chance to get use to it, but they were able to handle it and make the best of it.Urbanization gave people a chance to interact with each other, unlike the previous nomadic lives in tribes.
This made people working together a more important role, in contrast to everyone taking care of themselves in early civilizations. Trade, agriculture and other commerce ignited monopolies due to the rise of urbanization. The rise of urbanization brought change that people accepted because everyone, especially society, wants to be civilized. Most of the time society is misguided, but in this situation society played an important role in establishing urbanization and the rise of civilization with civilized people.Most importantly urbanization led to communication. Even though the communication was nothing close to todays communication with technology, but it was based on literacy.
In Article #9, Writing Right, literacy is considered one of the hallmarks of civilization. Without the craving for civilization (people wanting to be civilized), literacy would have never came to part. Civilized people have always considered literacy as division between themselves and barbarians.
This perception is used even in todays society because it has been passed down in different forms with the same meaning as it did years before.When you see someone that doesnt look educated, you look down upon him or her as if you were superior to them. Most written language reflects the precise reflection of the speech of the language, while others (like English) are a complete mess. Jared Diamond, the author of this article, even poses the question: Is this alphabetical evolution or just the unequal application of logic to literacy? Personally, I think that English is such a mess because it was invented through a melting pot. A lot of different people have came and put their input on the language of English and brought the rules of their native language along with them.
There are three basic strategies that underlie writing systems. The strategies differ in the size of speech unit denoted by one written sign : either a single basic sound, or a whole syllable, or a whole word. The most widespread strategy in the modern world is the alphabet is the alphabet, which ideally would provide a unique sign-a letter- for every basic sound, or phoneme, of the language. Alphabets spread along with urbanization as an idea diffusion.Another widespread strategy employs logograms, written signs that stands for whole words. Before the spread of alphabetic writing, systems heavily dependent on logograms were common and included Egyptian hieroglyphs, Mayan glyths, and Sumerian cuneiform. Logograms continue to be used today, which shows the passing down through generations. Logograms are notable in Chinese and kanji, the predominant writing system employed by the Japanese.
The third strategy uses a sign for each symbol.Such syllables were common in ancient times, as exemplified in the Linear B writing of Myceneaean Greece. Diamond intentionally termed these three approaches strategies rather than writing systems because no actual writing employs one strategy exclusively. As a group, alphabets have undergone nearly 4,000 years of evolution. Hundreds of alphabets have been adapted for individual languages, and some of those alphabets have now had long separate evolutionary histories.
The result is that they differ greatly in how precisely they match signs to sounds. Through literacy, people were able to take civilization to another level.Without literacy there would be no way to write one of the most important inventions in the history of the technological world as it stands today. Clocks: Revolution in Time, explains how the mechanical clock was the key machine in the great Industrial Revolution. The mechanical clock, an influential form technology from the Middle Ages, differentiated Europe from the rest of the world until the idea diffused to other parts of the world.
Article #39,All of this was there in germ with the oscillating controllers of the first mechanical clocks. Little did the builders of the those clocks know that invention of clocks would bring more inventions to enhance not only technology but to upgrade the meaning of civilizations to another level as well.The modern clock was invented in Europe after many other attempts and remained a European monopoly for some five hundred years. This European monopoly built a civilization organized around the measurement of time. These critical factors brought upon the differentiation of West from Rest, the definition of modernity, and the definition of civilization as it stands today. The mechanical clock with its regularity came to stand for all other machines – the machine of all machines, the essence of mans work in the image of God; and clock-making became the school for all other mechanical arts. But as Landes perceives, no one has said it better than Lewis Mumford in Technics and Civilizations: The clock, not the steam engine, is the key-machine of the modern industrial age.
..In its relationship to determine quantities of energy, to standard- ization, to automatic action, and finally to its own special product, accurate timing, the clock has been the foremost machine in technics; and at each period it has remained in the lead: it marks a perfection toward which other machines aspire. Personally, I think that the greatest invention that mechanical clocks have led to is computers, perhaps the greatest invention in todays society. Although, I think that mechanical clocks did more for their society than computers probably will. Through my extensive research, I have concluded that the major defining characteristics for developing civilization as to the way it is today were urbanization; literacy; complex economic, political, and social systems; and an advanced technology. You can look these characteristics and see how they have effected todays society.
The presence of cities, writing, and the science and technology of metals are indications of this accomplishment. Civilization represents the highest level of human organization. Historians and other scholars who deal with the past use the word civilized in a neutral, descriptive way.Many historians have defined civilization in terms of urbanization. In Article #11, Pfeiffer describes urbanization as unplanned, caused by the need to feed increasing populations and plentiful local food sources.
Cities were, thus, born independently around the world. The first cities appeared in the Fertile Crescent and Egypt about 3000 B.C.
as a result of developments in agriculture that began in those regions after about 10,000 B.C.Humans began to acquire food with much greater efficiency and regularity, and in greater quantities, than had been possible during the earlier, hunting-gathering stage. Larger groups of people could thus live from the produce of less land than had previously been possible. As the food production increased, so did population and consequently population density.
More efficient food production led to a surplus that allowed some people to engage in specialized occupations. Trade developed as a result. These advances changed the human condition so significantly that they are collectively termed the Agricultural Revolution and later on the Industrial Revolution revolutionized the world of industry forever. Most early civilizations began in big river valleys: the Tigris-Euphrates in Mesopotamia, the Nile in Egypt, the Indus in India, and the Huang Ho in China.However the Amerindians of Mesoamerica and south America developed advanced civilizations not along Major river valley but in tropical jungles, in hot arid highlands and coastlands, and in cool plateaus and uplands. Rules concerning the Preconditions for civilization are thus not universally applicable. In the opinion of many great scholars, no matter how urbanized and how technologically, culturally, and artistically advanced, a culture must have a system of writing to be termed civilized.
Applying this criterion to Amerindian cultures, the Maya and the Aztecs were civilized and the Olmec and Incans were not. In Article #9, Diamond is analytical about the evolution of writing and finds three main strategies (alphabets, symbols for entire words and symbols for parts of words). Altogether the articles I used were accurate for what they said, but they could have had more information that would have been valuable to my research.
The Infusion of Diffusion as a Resolution History Essays.