Who is "ahead" in the human race?

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by citizenzen, Sep 18, 2010.

  1. citizenzen macrumors 65816

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    #1
    In another thread someone posted the blanket statement that Africa was "uncivilized". Rather than hijack that thread, I thought I'd open that particular question up for exploration.

    Who is civilized?

    Who is uncivilized?

    What does it mean?
     
  2. obeygiant macrumors 68040

    obeygiant

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    #2
    Could you define "civilized" before this becomes a **** fight..which it will.
     
  3. keekl macrumors regular

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    #3
    I hadn't thought of human race in the competitive sense..;)
     
  4. citizenzen thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #4
    I think the definition is part of the discussion.

    But for those who want a starting line, here's one from dictionary.com...

    civ·i·li·za·tion

    1. an advanced state of human society, in which a high level of culture, science, industry, and government has been reached.

    2. those people or nations that have reached such a state.

    3. any type of culture, society, etc., of a specific place, time, or group: Greek civilization.

    4. the act or process of civilizing or being civilized: Rome's civilization of barbaric tribes was admirable.

    5. cultural refinement; refinement of thought and cultural appreciation: The letters of Madame de Sévigné reveal her wit and civilization.

    6. cities or populated areas in general, as opposed to unpopulated or wilderness areas: The plane crashed in the jungle, hundreds of miles from civilization.

    7. modern comforts and conveniences, as made possible by science and technology: After a week in the woods, without television or even running water, the campers looked forward to civilization again.
     
  5. flopticalcube macrumors G4

    flopticalcube

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    #5
    There is a tendency to view collections of peoples as "civilized" by the benchmark the observer sets by his own experiences. Someone of European descent or cultural legacy may view the Inuit or the Massai as uncivilized but then someone of Inuit descent may see the Europeans as uncivilized and the Massai as very civilized.

    In his tome Civilizations, Felipe Fernandez-Armesto gives a view of civilizations not as technically advanced sedentary cultures but as those groups who have managed to co-exist with nature and thrive in their particular environments. By this measure, most Western nations would not score as highly as many smaller tribal cultures. If a culture satisfies the basic needs of the populous, promotes the well-being and happiness of the people and engenders a compassion for nature and all living things (including man), then you can say its civilized, IMO. There is no scale or measure of such, I believe.
     
  6. citizenzen thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #6
    I agree with this.

    Right now some people in the United States are actively turning their backs to the values of "well-being and happiness of the people" and are instead embracing a more selfish and individualistic outlook despite the fact that we are becoming increasingly connected and dependent on each other.

    I'd much prefer living in a society that embraces the values your stated rather than one that did not but has 60-inch HD TVs at rock-bottom prices. Civilization has much more to do with what's in one's mind than the number and quality of toys one owns.
     
  7. CaoCao macrumors 6502a

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    #7
    So the US is very uncivilized?
     
  8. Creative One macrumors 6502

    Creative One

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    #8
    Well in what you, I, and everyone else who posts in this forum, call civilized. Africa, South America, some parts of Central America, and many people in the Middle East, would live un-civilized.

    But like stated before, whats civilized?
     
  9. flopticalcube macrumors G4

    flopticalcube

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    #9
    By Armesto's reasoning, perhaps. As I said, I don't think there is a scale or measure for that so one can't use adjectives like very. Some would point to that lack of a universal welfare or common care of well-being for all which is the hallmark of the American way of life as uncivilized. Others would point to the frequent use of the death penalty as uncivilized. Still others would point to the, until recently, lack of civil rights for minorities as uncivilized. What you consider to be uncivilized probably depends on what you yourself find comfortable and commonplace.
     
  10. CaoCao macrumors 6502a

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    #10
    I was talking about co=existing with nature actually, should have made that clear
     
  11. flopticalcube macrumors G4

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    #11
    In that aspect, most Western nations are woefully behind many indigenous but less technically advanced civilizations. We tend to fight nature anywhere we find it and try to twist it to behave in the way we think will make living more civilized.
     
  12. citizenzen thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #12
    I would also suggest that a culture that doesn't adequately educate it's young, suffers from millions of homeless, over-consumes resources and uses war as a political tool isn't as civilized as some might think.

    I would trade 50-inch High Definition TVs, 3D IMAX movies and mega malls for a little more humanity any day. But try to suggest that we should take care of each other and that just induces cries of "Communism!"

    There's a big difference between consumption and civilization. But we seem to have lost sight of that.
     
  13. BoyBach macrumors 68040

    BoyBach

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    #13

    Bolt.jpg

    The Jamaicans.
     
  14. Gelfin macrumors 68020

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    #14
    Civilization is not a specific cultural trait or behavior. Civilization is synonymous with prosperity. A culture wherein the bulk of citizens are sufficiently prosperous that daily life does not entail acts of desperation and privation, and many can afford the luxury to reflect and create and innovate, will automatically define itself as "civilized" no matter what specific cultural artifacts they associate with their "elevated" status.
     
  15. rasmasyean macrumors 6502a

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    #15
    I would answer that definition by saying that...
    A state which is powerful and growing is more "civilized".

    I don't agree with some of the ideas that "citizen well-being" is the determining factor of civilization. The whole concept of a civilization goes beyond individual people...rather, it's the "collective power" of the people forming ONE entity. I guess in a sense, "The Borg" from Star Trek is "civilized" even as their units may suffer from lack of individual well-being or independance. For a real example, the Roman Empire was one of the most advanced civilizations in history, yet there was mass brutality and slavery among it's citizens...aspects that some may consider "barbaric" from a human rights perspective.
     
  16. likemyorbs macrumors 68000

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    #16
    A society that watches people die terrible deaths as was done in the colosseum, in my eyes, is uncivilized.
     
  17. Iscariot macrumors 68030

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  18. citizenzen thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #18
    Yeah... I'd hate to think that merely being able to impose one's will makes for a civilization... any more than being able to dominate someone makes you civilized.

    It doesn't work for me on a personal level... or on a national scale.
     
  19. rasmasyean macrumors 6502a

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    #19
    You're interpreting "advance techonology" as something that is "unnatural". By the same extrapolation, making a spear by combining stone and wood is also "unnatural". The technology we see today is only an extreme form of "co-exisiting with the envoronment". The very machine you are using now operates at it's core from a piece of rock with tiny carved structures into it combined with metal. You know one day some future people will consider us "cavemen" too.
     
  20. flopticalcube macrumors G4

    flopticalcube

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    #20
    Not really. I never said technolgy was unatural, I just don't see it as necessary to be part of a civilized society. We will always be viewing these things from our own frame of reference. In 1000 years, many will see our era as uncivilized but probably not because of our backward technology. The Romans were very advanced technically for their age but many posters here view them as uncivilized because of their actions.
     
  21. rasmasyean macrumors 6502a

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    #21
    That’s because you’re placing yourself into the mind of the oppressed. It doesn’t work exactly like that. It’s much bigger than your little body. The coliseum served as a propaganda tool to glorify battle and conquest...a necessary element to recruit people to engulf the surrounding regions and turn them “civilized”. The Roman think tanks knew that the life of individual people is irrelevant. It’s the movement of the whole nation that counts and you have to sacrifice some puny humans in order to achieve a greater goal.

    By assuming that what they did was not “civilized”, you are taking for granted that they very words you type are because of them. And a HUGE amount of modern culture and principle of the entire West is owed to the blood they shed. Even the East was like that…but more near the other body of water so they turned out to be a bit different from us.

    It continues today. Iraq, Afghanistan. Same crap…different time. All part of “advancing civilization”.
     
  22. citizenzen thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #22
    Without the Romans I'd use different words.

    BTW, I haven't for one moment assumed that Rome was not a civilization. The only thing I've questioned is the notion that the mere act of being dominant makes one that.

    There is more to civilization than being able to invade and conquer... or else we might want to consider bacteria the greatest civilization on the planet.
     
  23. rasmasyean macrumors 6502a

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    #23
    Ah…that’s a great point you bring up!

    It’s not the individual bacteria that is the “civilization”, but the colony of it. The story if life as we “non-religious school” kids know is that “bacteria”, etc. formed groups ever so larger and larger with specialized bacteria we now call “cells”. And what happened after that? These groups of cells merged and swallowed other groups of cells to become bigger and bigger and more adaptive to their environment. That looks like “conquest” to me! Bacteria! That's the first "civilization" as we know it!
     
  24. Abstract macrumors Penryn

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    #24
    The word 'civilised' ranks up there, along with 'cultured', on the list of words people use that have no real meaning, and yet is used to indicate that one form of society is better than another. The problem is that there are no clear goalposts, so like flopticalcube said, there are lots of groups who feel that they're civilised for one reason or another.
     
  25. rasmasyean macrumors 6502a

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    #25
    I agree with your assessment when people used that definition toward other people. It's highly subjective and often "Americans" especially are very guilty of not recognizing diferent "manners" that exist across cultures....prolly much due to the fact that the American standard has had much influence over the modern world that some of it's citizens feel others need to also live up to that "standard".

    That's why I think to answer the OP's question, we have to move beyond the individual citizen's personal state of being (both physically AND mentally) and focus on the group as a whole.

    The history of civilizations is ripe with governments thinking they are the hottest and assimilating a lesser civilization. And those governments who resist normally perish under the ensuing struggle if they didn't produce a strong civilization themselves. The reason why is mostly because one government has "advanced" to a point where the combined force of it's citizenry can crush another in competition for resources, prosperity, etc. This is how humans co-exist with the environment (and eachother) to survive and thrive. So that human group which is "ahead" has the best chance to survive and thrive in the world of limited resources...barring natural disasters like drought etc, which can potentially wipe out even the strongest civilization of course.
     

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