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CIVILIZATIONS GO UP . . . AND THEN THEY GO DOWN

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charles darso View Drop Down
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    Posted: 31 Mar 2011 at 02:24

They experience, in other words, a life cycle. Yet, the whole human heritage as continued to progress, that is, our numbers and our cultural heritage grows and enables us to dominate the globe.

What's behind all this?

The push has long been to explain it by finding changes wrought by continued biological evolution. This has not been a resounding success. They did find we have evolved thinner leg bones and a slightly smaller brain case during the last some 40,000 years---even an ability to produce lactase and be immune to certain diseases. Big dieal!

Biologists cannot find the canse in our genes and social theory has done even worse. Sexual selection does not explain it, and both Dialectical Materialism and the “meme” theory exist only as armchair abstractions that have no predictive ability and, hence, m iserably fail the test. Yet, when you look back in our 5,000 years of history and see a series of separate civilizations that rose and fell, can't that be a life cycle process?

It is not unusual for multicellular organisms to form together into larger, social organisms. And it is of note that it is the larger organisms that then evolve in competition with others of their kind. Jellyfish, ant colonies, etc.

And we take yet another look at our history, we see that each of the civilizations was based on a single religion. There is a reason for that. We evolved through millions of years as small group primates and instinctively feel secure living in small groups. When they grow disproportionately large, we feel growing stress until the group breaks up. That is typical of small social group animals. But it means that we had to develop language into vast ideological systems in order to broaden the size of these groups and enable population to grow.

If we define these larger groups are “societies,” we have in hand the human social evolutionary unit and a single-definition term that is defined functionally. In the physical sceinces, important terms have to have and do have only one meaning. It has to be the same in the social sciences or they are not science.

Simply by making “society” scientific, history comes alive and we see huge social organisms (civilizations) that have a life cycle and even reproduce. They spinn out new and more advanced ideological systems able to bind even more people into larger and more viable cixilizations. The old ones are eventually replaced and human numbers grow, the human cultural heritage advances, and we come to dominate the globe.

But we had better get into the theory more or it could all come to an end. I've made a start in “The Last Civilization” , , ,

 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Mar 2011 at 06:12
Originally posted by charles darso charles darso wrote:

And we take yet another look at our history, we see that each of the civilizations was based on a single religion.
China wasn't. Neither was Japan. Neither was the Persian civilization. Or the Mediterranean one. Unless you're simply going to duck behind a redefinition of 'civilization' as 'based on one religion'.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Flipper Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Mar 2011 at 06:45
I usually say that all civilizations finally face "Babylon". The question is if civilizations do comebacks when they eventually fall?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Mar 2011 at 06:51
Babylon, and its communication mess, is a methaphore of multiculturalism's failure.

Edited by pinguin - 31 Mar 2011 at 07:02
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Joe Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Mar 2011 at 07:05
Populations or "Great civilizations" fall for a variety of reasons and I'm no historical expert on the subject but I feel it has a lot to do with the beliefs held by common people or "folk wisdom" changes. Like in my society I see that its especially prevalent among young people that marijuana be legalized like alcohol, racism has virtually left the scene and no longer has a "face" or a marked social order. Its just some guy or a group of guys or the occasional hecklers from each race. No longer in America is there an Idea of the white people in a sense that we look out for one another. Theres no solidarity and many americans are NOT willing to fight for their country, basic tenants of the country. Especially free speech and basic human rights. Humans even though we claim to like free speech really don't especially in the US of A. People are especially offended by certain words and many are a no no. No longer is the sentiment from Voltaire common "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it"


If I was president and was able to pass laws with out going through the political system and through out laws against certain free speech. Not a lot of people would argue, many would however but how many would march in favor of the KKK or Neo Nazis? The black panthers? The Westboro baptist church?

Lets say I go a little further and start killing groups of people arbitrarily like gangsters or child molesters.  Who would march in favor of these less than favorable groups? Not many.

See my point? The Romans under Augustus weren't the same "Romans" under Justinian five centuries later. Even though yeah the linage is there and many would say under their rule "I'm Roman" but the idea of what a Roman was changed. Especially when Christianity became prevalent. Yeah many romans still saw themselves as Romans but the cultural values and mores of the Romans under Augustus and then lets say Constantine were radically different people. Maybe not in how they went about life but still the idea is different at a people level.   

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote opuslola Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Mar 2011 at 08:09
I enjoyed your post above, just plain old "Joe!"

For the rest of our viewers, just how many German, or Italian or Nipponese historians have written expansive (as well as respected) works concerning WWII?

I will right now assume that some do exist, but in what numbers compared to those historical works from England, USA, or CCCP?

You do get the drift, do you not.

Regards,
Ron

Edited by opuslola - 31 Mar 2011 at 08:15
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Parnell Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Mar 2011 at 09:38
SORRY OP I DIDN'T HEAR YOU, CAN YOU REPEAT THE TITLE PLEASE THANKS
http://xkcd.com/15/



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote charles darso Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Apr 2011 at 07:30
GCLE . . .
The one-religion-one-society and its civilization still holds...
In each case, the new religion or world-view system brought about a change in culture and a return to growth. But we have to avoid letting secular ideologies confuse the picture. What is a secular ideology?  Is ours something "new under the sun?"  Ours has two characteristics: (1) it is scientifically advanced in that it is consistent with the science of the time and (2) it has proven unable to replace the older less advanced world-view systems.  In each case its main function has been to spread across "the empire" and bring a semblence of unity.
 
So, Buddhism originated in India and spread, as our secular system has done, all across Asia. In each case it eventually merged with the older ideologies and we ended up with Shintoism, Lamaism, etc. In the Greek-Roman civilization, Greek Hellenism was the spreading secular ideology that united the Empire but it did so also without replacing any of the older ideologies. Only the adopting of Christianity replaced therm and began Western civilization.
 
Early "Persia" was a collection of various tribes which had absorbed the Babylonian world-view. The conversion to Zorastrianism can quite easily be classified as the beginning of the Persian civlization more than 1500 years ago. It lasted until the Muslim conquest. Islam only partly united them with the primitive culture of the Arabs. The Persians developed a variant of the faith in order to emphasize that distinction!
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote charles darso Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Apr 2011 at 07:34
JOE:
 
"The Romans under Augustus weren't the same "Romans" under Justinian five centuries later. Even though yeah the linage is there and many would say under their rule "I'm Roman" but the idea of what a Roman was changed. Especially when Christianity became prevalent. Yeah many romans still saw themselves as Romans but the cultural values and mores of the Romans under Augustus and then lets say Constantine were radically different people. Maybe not in how they went about life but still the idea is different at a people level."   
 
VERY GOOD! 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Apr 2011 at 08:42
Is there a point, a historical one at least, in these rambling disconnects? Even attaching adjectives to civilization such as "great" is rather pointless.
 
 
civilization
n.
  1. An advanced state of intellectual, cultural, and material development in human society, marked by progress in the arts and sciences, the extensive use of record-keeping, including writing, and the appearance of complex political and social institutions.
  2. The type of culture and society developed by a particular nation or region or in a particular epoch: Mayan civilization; the civilization of ancient Rome.
  3. The act or process of civilizing or reaching a civilized state.
  4. Cultural or intellectual refinement; good taste.
  5. Modern society with its conveniences: returned to civilization after camping in the mountains.
Of course, if one takes a contemporary point of reference, then civilization becomes the total product of human creativity and intellect and the term reaches the understanding implied by the true meaning of culture/Kultur.
Shall we have another nebulous digression such as Agriculture and civilization? Keeping in mind that even the notion of civilization is a 14th century abstraction. Alas the poor savage!


Edited by drgonzaga - 01 Apr 2011 at 08:45
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Apr 2011 at 11:16
What a bad definition. It misses the whole point. Even Wiki says it better:

The word civilization comes from the Latin civilis, meaning civil, related to the Latin civis, meaning citizen, and civitas, meaning city or city-state.

Civilization is asocciated with societies based on cities! All the rest is baloney.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Apr 2011 at 20:48
 
Originally posted by charles darso charles darso wrote:

GCLE . . .
The one-religion-one-society and its civilization still holds...
Butwhat you are doing in each case is redefining a 'civilisation' as something that only has one religion/ideology. You can split the ancient middle east at any point in time into geographical segments by the prevalent religion in each area, and you can call each segment a 'civilisation'. But for most people it is a single civilisation.
 
That's what I meant by redefining your way out.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Apr 2011 at 06:27
Originally posted by pinguin pinguin wrote:

What a bad definition. It misses the whole point. Even Wiki says it better:

The word civilization comes from the Latin civilis, meaning civil, related to the Latin civis, meaning citizen, and civitas, meaning city or city-state.

Civilization is asocciated with societies based on cities! All the rest is baloney.
 
The above is not a definition but etymology! No one is discussing "citizenship" when they use the term civilization. When one employs the term Culture they are not talking about religious rites or soil tilling even though the term comes from the Latin cultura, cultus. No one is talking about grapes when they discuss Chilean culture (if there is such a beastie) nor does anyone pretend that they are talking about citizenship when speaking of Roman civilization. So spare all of us this faux erudition.  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote fantasus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Apr 2011 at 07:07
Originally posted by charles darso charles darso wrote:

CIVILIZATIONS GO UP . . . AND THEN THEY GO DOWN
 What a mystery? How can it be they do´nt go to the left or rigth, or the 5th dimension?
    
Originally posted by charles darso charles darso wrote:

They experience, in other words, a life cycle. Yet, the whole human heritage as continued to progress, that is, our numbers and our cultural heritage grows and enables us to dominate the globe.
What is this "progressive heritage" all about? Could it be an idea the number of a certain two-legged species equals the number of intelligent beings? A risky hypothesis!

Originally posted by charles darso charles darso wrote:

What's behind all this?
 A conspiracy?

Even ancient writers had ideas comparing peoples with "organisms" that were "born", matured and grew "old". that is not the same that it is an "old truth" or "old wisdom".


Edited by fantasus - 02 Apr 2011 at 07:08
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Apr 2011 at 12:05
Civilizations fall because structural problems, not because they follow a destiny. For instance, several Mayan kingdoms falled because exaustion of the environment. The same happened in Easter Island. The Spanish Empire falled because it was bigger than what it could be sustainable for such country. The Inca empire, and many others, falled because they were invaded.  The Soviet Union falled because economical problems. etc.

Now, falling is something relative with respect to other civilizations that a given time are more dynamic.



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Apr 2011 at 13:46
One can not speak of either Spain nor the Soviet Union as "civilizations". Even with respect to both the Maya and the Inca, when addressing them one has to resort to a greater setting if one is to employ the term civilization hence the resort to geography: Andean Civilization, Meso-American Civilization. The need is clear because if one is to speak of the cultural and the customary the shared links are unavoidable. Just try to convince a scholar that there is such a beastie as "British Civilization"!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote opuslola Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Apr 2011 at 14:28
Ditto!

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Joe Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Apr 2011 at 15:52
Originally posted by drgonzaga drgonzaga wrote:

One can not speak of either Spain nor the Soviet Union as "civilizations". Even with respect to both the Maya and the Inca, when addressing them one has to resort to a greater setting if one is to employ the term civilization hence the resort to geography: Andean Civilization, Meso-American Civilization. The need is clear because if one is to speak of the cultural and the customary the shared links are unavoidable. Just try to convince a scholar that there is such a beastie as "British Civilization"!


Thats a great example and I really liked it. I think the thread is in the metaphysical not concrete terms.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 Apr 2011 at 00:49
Indeed. Mr. Gonzaga is right. I should have applied the term "Empire" or "Society" rather than "Civilization" above.
So, the whole thread is badly defined. We shouldn't talk about rise and decline of civilizations but we should rather speak about the rise and decline of societies.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote David Greenwich Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Jul 2012 at 11:11
It's like the life and death of the individual - something will get you in the end: accident or disease or suicide or murderous assault.  Only with societies, there is not the regular ageing process, so some last a long time and others only a few decades.

The equation between one religion and a civilisation is absurd. The Roman Empire lasted on some definitions for 2000 years, as both a pagan and a Christian civilisation and when pagan, there was on the ground a huge proliferation of religions.

What is past is not necessarily settled.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Jul 2012 at 12:38
Some people say the Roman Empire is still alive today, transmuted in the organization of the Catholic Church... 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guest Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Jul 2012 at 14:29
Originally posted by gcle2003 gcle2003 wrote:

Originally posted by charles darso charles darso wrote:

And we take yet another look at our history, we see that each of the civilizations was based on a single religion.
China wasn't. Neither was Japan. Neither was the Persian civilization. Or the Mediterranean one. Unless you're simply going to duck behind a redefinition of 'civilization' as 'based on one religion'.
 
China never really has had a unified religion, now it's all into pieces of tradtional Taoism, Confucianism, Zen Buddhism, Shamanism, and many others, but there are also groups that are blends, like Taoist Confucian Shamanism, which is often called the Chinese folk religion. Japan, however, has many different religions, Shinto, and Zen Buddhism. I doubt that any naion has only one religion throughout the entire population. People just arent like that.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote David Greenwich Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Jul 2012 at 23:36
Since it retains the office of Pontifex Maximus, the clothing and the music, there's a grain of truth in that.
What is past is not necessarily settled.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ralfy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Aug 2012 at 05:23
One is reminded of multiple factors involved, as expressed in books like Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel.



Edited by ralfy - 02 Aug 2012 at 05:24
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guest Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Sep 2012 at 23:54
Originally posted by Lao Tse Lao Tse wrote:

China never really has had a unified religion, now it's all into pieces of tradtional Taoism, Confucianism, Zen Buddhism, Shamanism, and many others, but there are also groups that are blends, like Taoist Confucian Shamanism, which is often called the Chinese folk religion. Japan, however, has many different religions, Shinto, and Zen Buddhism. I doubt that any naion has only one religion throughout the entire population. People just arent like that.
It is our secular ideal of "equality" that leads us to assume all religions are equal (that is, old, and "spiritual"). Religions are ideologies that consist of a relatively rigid closed system of thinking which, however, does manage some adaptations as the need changes. Look at Marxism, for example, it is not called a "religion" because it is not "spiritual". So only old ideologies are called "religions!" Notice how Marxism has changed. It still has most of the same rigid doctrines, but it works with words to rationalize momentous adaptations such as its adaptation to capitalism. Or note how Hellenism (the philosophy of the Greek elite) became a secular ideology that helped unite the Roman Empire. Our secular Humanism has done the same with our "world economic empire." Scholars like to claim our civilization began with Greece because we like to identify with its culture. But notice how little we have resembled either Greece or Rome. For example, did the Midieval Manors and Monastaries resemble anything the Greek-Romans ever had?
 
The common people of China still believe in the ancient faith, an ancestor-worship system that goes back more than four thousand years. I have seen the many-headed, many-armed gods of this religion in their temples. Taoism, Chinese Buddhism and Confusianism are only sects of this ancient faith. Its most vivid visual evidence is of the little shrines in Chinese homes and the reason they do not envite friends to dinner but instead take them to inns. Their homes are their "temples." The Chinese have no name for their religion because they have no world for "religion."
 
Japan adopted Buddhism in a Japanese form which is called "Shintoism." Buddha would be totally unable to recognize it.  He would be similarly unable to recognize Lammaism in Tibet.
 
Ideologies serve the purpse of uniting people so they can cooperate with each other and solve common problems. To continue their function in the Egyptian and Babylonian civilizations, their ideology added new doctrines with each barbarian conquest and managed to recover. This was always in the form of either a new sect or as a sort of secular modification such as we had done with the religions in modern times. But with both Egypt and in Mesopotamia, the ideology as a whole survived for over three thousand years.
 
 
 
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