What Is a Civilization, Anyway? Cynthia Stokes Brown Introduction We often teach early civilizations without taking time to discuss with our students what a civilization really is. The California History-Social Science Framework does not ask us directly to analyze or define what a civilization is; rather it asks that students 'analyze the geographic, political, economic, religious and social structures of the early civilizations of Mesopotamia, Egypt and Kush.' (Standard 6.2) The National Standards in World History are more explicit; they specify that students should understand 'the major characteristics of civilization and how civilization emerged in Mesopotamia, Egypt, and the Indus Valley.' (Era 2, #1) They further specify that students should demonstrate their understanding by 'analyzing the various criteria that have been used to define 'civilization' and explaining the fundamental difference between civilizations and other forms of social organization such as hunter-gatherer bands and Neolithic agricultural societies.' For grades 5/6 they suggest: 'Create a list of the defining characteristics of a 'civilization.'
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Whether motivated by professional standards or by the standards of clear thinking, we need to begin our teaching about civilizations with some analysis and discussion of what they are. This topic is highly controversial, thus interesting. In this short article I hope to use the perspective of big history to provide sufficient background to support effective discussions at any grade level of what a reasonably value-free understanding of 'civilization' might be. Just exactly why do we seek a value-free definition of civilization? The word 'civilization' apparently first appeared in a French book in the mid-eighteenth century ( L'Ami des hommes (1756) by Victor de Riqueti, marquis de Mirabeau, the father of the French revolutionary politician). Since then, it has had close associations with the West's sense of its own superiority. In order to see the past clearly, we must try to avoid this assumption built into the word.
Create A Civilization Grapes
By examining the past in as neutral and value-free way as possible, we can see the past as it actually was; then we can use our understanding of it to make value judgments about what to do in the present. Definition of Civilization Popular usage defines 'civilization' along these lines: 'an advanced state of human society, in which a high level of culture, science, industry and government have been reached.' This definition is problematic for archeologists, anthropologists, and historians, because it contains an overt value judgment that civilization is better, more advanced, and superior to other forms of social organization. Yet we know that some aspects of civilization seem in our judgment quite negative; large-scale warfare, slavery, coerced tribute, epidemic disease, and the subordination of women may come to mind. One renowned contemporary scholar, Jared Diamond, has even called agriculture leading to civilization 'the worst mistake humans made in the history of the human race.' Serious students of archaeology, anthropology, and history use a technical definition of civilization that describes without conveying value judgments. Nvidia geforce gtx 670m driver for mac.