Posted: November 27th, 2013
The Word “Civilization”
The Oxford Dictionary of Word defines civilization as the “stage of human social development and organization, which is considered most advanced. It is the development of human cultures, which become complicated daily. The development of science and technology affects civilization. The concept of civilization is central to the historical theories identified by Arnold J. Toynbee. Toynbee described history as the process of the rise and decline of civilizations. Civilization is also central to the political beliefs of Samuel P. Huntington who argues that the defining characteristic of the 21st century will be the interaction and conflict between civilizations (Lord Kenneth Clark). Civilization has many positive and negative impacts on culture.
The civilization movement has been there for many centuries. Lord Kenneth Clark notes that, “From a native European Christian ethnocentric viewpoint, human history is the history of progress.” This view contributed to the development of civilization as represented by the European Christian culture. This was associated with the European colonialism, and with the relation of Europeans and Americans with the indigenous people such as the Native Americans. Unlike before, where progress was seen from a Christian perspective, other viewpoints hold that “there are and there have been many advanced civilizations in human history and that no one culture is inherently superior.” The role of civilization on culture has been an integral part of colonialism. The Europeans were the major colonizers in human history and wherever they went, their main agenda was to introduce Christianity as one of the ways of introducing civilization, they considered their culture superior and they sought ways of introducing it to the people they colonized. Civilization has however not been confined in the early European viewpoint. According to C. H. Hacksins, “The one who contemplates the reason modern science and technology have taken giant steps and advanced to the present state would certainly agree that it is due to Islamic civilization, which transmitted and introduced vast amounts of knowledge and produced many scholars.” The advancement of the Islamic faith was instrumental to bringing civilization and defining the progress of humanity.
Positive Effects realized through Civilization
One of the most important benefits of civilization has been technology. Technology has been introduced in all aspects of human life and it has changed the way things used to be done. The internet is one of the major achievements of technology. This was made possible by the advancement of computer technology. The internet was first used by a few individuals when it was first introduced. Nowadays almost everybody in the world has access to the internet. It is practically impossible to imagine life without the internet. As Bill Gates noted, “Today, the internet is far from obscure-it is the center of attention for business, governments and individuals around the world. It has spawned entirely new industries, transformed existing ones, and become a global cultural phenomenon. but, despite its impact, today’s internet is still roughly where the automobile was during the era of Henry Ford’s Model T. we have seen a lot of amazing things so far, but there is much more to come. We are only at the dawn of the internet age. No industry can survive without the internet today. It has greatly contributed to civilization because it has caused progress. People have however fully utilized its use and for progress to be fully achieved, the internet has to be utilized fully.
Negative Effects Realized through Civilization
Despite the many and obvious benefits of civilization, there are still those who assert that it has caused negative effect on people’s lives. Most of the arguments are based on the bad effects of civilization on technology. Other negative effects of civilization have been noted on a health basis where opponents argue that civilization had a role in the increased number of bacteria and germs. Junji Takano questions the role played by civilization in the health sector. He alleges that, “It is true that civilization creates bacteria and viruses. It means that more diseases are surfacing to the world. Civilization created thousands of modern sufferings as you can see in medical books of the world. What did civilization do to us? Who did it? Is it not scientists of today? Are they facing to right direction? Are they not leading us to wrong world?” Although many diseases were eradicated, the human race has been faced with more diseases such as Alzheimer’s, which were not known previously. Takano also notes that civilization has also had an affect on the quality of food. “Pork, beef, chicken, and even fish are cultured artificially in a cage. Fruits you eat are no longer the taste we knew several decades ago. Vegetables at supermarkets we buy are all house cultured without soil. It is very difficult to find meats and vegetables grown in the wild. Food itself has no power of immunity from bacteria and other foreign diseases.” The use of chemical herbicides, fertilizers and pesticides affect the quality of food and makes them unhealthy and non-beneficial for human consumption. Foods grown in natural habitats add more benefit to humans because they are full of nutrients.
Civilization has, and continues to play a big role in human life. It is not limited to one culture and no culture can be seen as more civilized since civilization entails many things. It has had both negative and positive effects. The positive benefits of science and technology have especially been instrumental in improving living standards and conditions of people. Civilization has contributed negatively especially in the health sector. Despite all this, the positive effects realized through civilization outweigh the negative.
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