The term “civilization” is often used to describe an advanced stage of human life. It is contrasted with barbarism and chaos, and it is seen as a necessary part of human progress. It has also been seen as a means to increase the overall level of human happiness. Big historians are skeptical of these claims, but they do find that civilization provides many benefits and is generally desirable.
Civilization is not a single place or time; rather, it describes a way of life that includes cities, shared methods of communication and administration, and a division of labor. Most important, it involves a complex interplay between politics and religion. These two forces create and reinforce a set of rules that determine how and to what extent society can be expected to function. This is why the word civilization has come to mean a particular type of human community, as opposed to a specific culture or nation.
Early civilizations arose around the world, although they developed differently from one region to another. The most common feature was the presence of cities. Initially, the cities were small and surrounded by countryside where people hunted and gathered for food. Later, however, the emergence of agriculture allowed cities to expand. This expansion led to a division of labor that enabled people to specialize in food production, building and other specialized jobs. It also encouraged the development of religious institutions that could unite a city-based population.
The development of these institutions, in turn, led to the growth of complex political and economic structures. These helped to define social hierarchies based on wealth and status. In addition, they made it possible for political and religious leaders to make decisions that impacted the entire population. As the complexity of the societies grew, some became powerful empires that required large armies to maintain.
In order to sustain these developments, cities and states needed a steady supply of food. They also needed to be able to trade with other communities. This led to the creation of long-distance trade networks. Finally, they needed a system of writing in order to maintain trading agreements. This is how a civilization began to be defined as a complex interplay between politics, religion and economy.
Civilization is a triumph of the human mind over the animal instincts that are the basis for most human behavior. Consequently, it is impossible to understand humanity without also understanding the concept of civilization. The most essential aspect of civilization is its relationship to culture. The word culture is derived from the Latin civis, meaning “citizen.” It is a synonym for humankind. It refers to the unique qualities that distinguish us from other animals and that allow humans to build cities, state and nation-states, and to knit continents together in huge organizations of political, social, commercial, and financial interdependency that the savage cannot imagine or conceive.