CIVILIZED OR JUST INTELLIGENT
by Mark Abraham
In the course of this philosophy we have talked much about being civilized. This is another term that has great currency worldwide, but still remains largely an ambiguous notion. This warrants an examination of what it is to be civilized and what are the criteria by which we judge being “civilized”. For example, the Webster Dictionary defines civilization to be: “1- the process of civilizing or becoming civilized, 2- the condition of being civilized; social organization of a high order marked by the development and use of a written language and by advances in the arts and science, government; etc. 3- the total culture of a particular people; period, etc. 4- the countries and peoples considered to have reached a high stage of social and cultural development 5- intellectual and cultural refinement 6- the amenities, esp. creatures comforts of civilized life.”
Often words and notions best reveal their true meaning in comparing and contrasting them with their antonyms. In this sense, the most logical opposite of civilization would be savagery and barbarism. This requires us to see how these words are defined in dictionaries. In the same above-mentioned dictionary, among other meanings, savage means; wild, uncultivated, rugged, fierce, ferocious, untamed, without civilization, primitive, barbarous, lacking polish, crude, cruel, pitiless, ferocious, ill tempered, a crude and boorish person. The Webster’s New World Dictionary defines barbarism among other things as being cruel or brutal behavior.
While this is a well-defined notion, often the use of this word in causal conversations, in different contexts, reveals that the most common public perception equates civilization to industrialization. As industrialized societies usually have written languages, are well organized, enjoy advanced arts, science, government, social and cultural development, this might be partially justified. However, one might strongly argue that while all of these are of obvious facets of civilization it is far from presenting the true value of what it is to be truly civil and civilized.
Frequently some news anchors report that the leaders of the civilized nations will hold a meeting to discuss certain matters. When you check to see what countries they are talking about, they have always been countries such as America, England, France, Germany, Japan and Russia, with being industrialized as their common denominator. Recently a few other countries are allowed to join this exclusive club.
When this notion of what it is to be civilized as an individual, often people think if one is well educated, sophisticated and appreciate art, they qualify as being civilized. In both cases, collectively and individually it boils down to intelligence being perceived as being civilized. To be sure, this is not to claim that all humans think this way, but largely this is the prevailing notion that needs to be qualified for a more clear understanding of this subject. Besides being inaccurate, an improper understanding of this subject hugely hinders larger human efforts to arrive at true...
© Copyrights 2012-13 Mark Abraham