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Civilizations and Its Discontents Essay

How is the term civilized misused?

A civilized nation is a nation that has managed to come through a particular set of events from barbaric times to a highly-developed country. However, a civilized country may also be a country without high achievements in science, still, a nation is a civilized one. Rodney (1973) is sure that “the fact that Europe was the first part of the world to move from feudalism towards capitalism gave Europeans a headstart over humanity elsewhere in the scientific understanding of the universe, the making of tolls and the efficient organization of labor” (p. 121). Therefore, it means that Europeans usually considered their nations as civilized one in comparison to others who failed to enter the steps of capitalism so fast. The terms civilized and civilization are not usually used properly as the domination of Europeans in the development and the speed of progress make these nations insure others in their superiority. Therefore, the right to be called a civilized part of the world belongs to Europe. However, such a vision of the situation is wrong and the term civilized is misused here.

Considering the development of relationships between Europe and African countries, for example, it is possible to see that Europe is sure of its superiority. Of course, the domination of European countries in the relationships is noticed. Being a more civilized place Europe has an opportunity to establish relationships with any country. However, it does not mean that Africa is not a civilized place. There are countries in Africa which development is constantly increasing, therefore, these nations may also be considered as civilized ones. However, due to some misunderstanding, African countries are not usually considered as the civilized ones due to their low development. Therefore, many people understand the term civilized as the one which points to the highest development in economics and science. However, the notion of civilized is more about social development, human behavior, and mode of life. Sigmund Freud is sure that civilized people are to be defined by the use of soap, not by their financial and political considerations, “beauty, cleanliness, and order occupy a peculiar position among the requirements of civilization” (Freud, 1929, p. 16). Still, to be clean and beautiful does not mean to be civilized. Cultural evolution plays an important role. Therefore, to be named a civilized country a place should possess several features, and these features are to be inherent to people who are the most important aspects in the definition of the term civilized.

What defines civilization & what are the similarities and differences between the early civilizations and now?

Civilization may be defined in several features, however, none of them can be referred to as civilization if considered individually. The meaning of civilized countries has always been similar, however, considering the civilized country before and nowadays, several differences may be noticed. So, the civilized countries in early civilizations and now have several similarities, such as the desire to be clean and beautiful. Civilized countries tended to have a particular culture with a developed understanding of arts, social life, and relationships. Civilization has always been considered for the higher development of science. Education and civilization always come together. Therefore, generally, the attitude to civilization has not changed from the appearance of the first civilized countries. However, looking at the first civilizations and the ones nowadays, it is possible to see several differences. The civilized nations of the past were defined by the opportunity to study and make some discoveries. Freud (1929) is sure that “the first acts of civilization were the use of tools, the gaining of power over fire, and the construction of dwellings” (p. 14). The development of the world created new and more demanding requirements for defining a civilized country, however, it has always been considered for hygiene, work and the level of education or knowledge required for its completion, and art. Even though much time has passed since the first nations could be defined as civilized ones, the general notions of defining such civilizations remained unchanged.

Therefore, it may be concluded that the civilized world is defined now in the way it was defined in ancient times. However, the vision has changed, the general perspective and considerations have remained. To be a civilized person means being able to use the achievements of social, cultural, and scientific discoveries of the time. Each time the civilized countries had different achievements and the level of development, however, they still were civilized. Nowadays, the political, economic, and cultural domination of one country over another one does not make one of the civilized and another one uncivilized. The misuse of the notions of civilized and civilization may sometimes confuse, however, looking at the development of history and the way how civilizations were defined in the past it is possible to consider a civilized world now.

Reference List

Freud, S. (1929). Civilizations and its Discontents. Buckinghamshire: Chrysoma Associates Ltd.

Rodney, W. (1973). How Europe underdeveloped Africa. London, Bogle-L’Ouverture Publications.

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