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World Civilisation


Submitted By braduero
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Definition of key terms
As we begin this course, it is crucial to first discuss our understanding of the concept ‘civilization’. This is a comparative term which is usually applied in comparison to such words as ‘barbarian’ ‘savage’ and ‘primitive’. In classical antiquity the Europeans used the word ‘barbarian’ to refer to a foreigner who was regarded as inferior (Ogutu and Kenyanchui, An Introduction To African History, 1991 p33). Do you think this is still the way we use the word barbarian?

The Latin speakers referred to hunters, food-gatherers as savage. In the 17th century this term ‘savage’ referred to a person without art, literacy, or society who lived in fear of existence and death. ‘Primitive’ on the other hand, in Latin meant ‘the first or original’. Europeans used these words interchangeably when referring to non-Europeans while the word civilization was preserved to describe historical developments of European people (ibid). Now the term civilization is no longer confined to the above development but also extends reference to non-European communities.

Attributes of civilization includes observance to law, belonging to an organized society, having a society of literate people with advanced developments in urbanization, agriculture, commerce, arts and technology. The French thinkers of the 18th century referred to a person of the arts and literature as cultured. But at the present the term is used to cover more fields than just the arts and literature.

Sometimes, therefore the words ‘civilization’ and ‘culture’ are interchangeably applied. In this unit, however, more use is confined to the word ‘civilization’ especially in reference to human developments over time and in all continents.

Another term that requires discussion at this

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