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Civilization

term, life, improvement, definition, human and civilized

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CIVILIZATION. This is a general term to designate the condition of the more advanced nations, as contrasted with those that are looked upon as barbarians or sav ages. We term the leading nations of Europe civilized; the Chinese and Tartars less so; the Red Indians, Australians, Esquimaux. least of all. "Whatever be the characteris tics of what we call savage life, the contrary of these, or the qualities which society puts on as it throws off these, constitute civilization. Thus, a savage tribe consists of a handful of individuals, wandering or thinly scattered over a vast tract of country; a dense population, therefore, dwelling in fixed habitations, and largely collected together in towns and villages, we term civilized. In savage communities, each person .Lifts for himself: except in war—and even then very imperfectly—we seldom see any joint operations carried on by the union of many; nor do savages in general, find much pleasure in each other's society. Whenever, therefore, we find human beings acting together for common purposes in large bodies, and enjoying the pleasures of social intercourse, we term them civilized." And so of other characteristics. _Dissertations by J. S. Mill, art. "Civilization." When we come to seek for an exact definition of the term C., we meet with a var iety of views, implying that there is a certain complication in the subject. The original derivation of the word points to that polish of manners that distinguishes the inhabi tants of cities (Lat. elves) from the rustic population; but the use of the word has greatly outgrown this limitation. Guizot has given a definition, which has become generally known, to the effect that we are to include in C. the improvement of man both socially and in his individual capacity. But the chief difficulty lies in settling what is improve ment. That people are far from agreed on this point is evident from the use of the phrase, "vices of civilization." how are we to distinguish its vices from its virtues? The question is very much simplified by making a distinction between aiming at the improvement of mankind and really that object. All our inventions and

discoveries, and all our new arrangements introduced into every department of life, are intended to raise us further and further above the savage condttion; nobody denies this; but there may be the widest difference of opinion as to whether any one new device is a real improvement. If we were to restrict the term C. to the changes introduced into human life with a view to improvement, the definition of it would present no difficulty, whereas the relation of this to progress, or actual improvement, must ever remain open to difference of opinion.

Leaving out of view for the present the disputable matter, C. may be explained as follows: In the first place, there are certain things bearing decidedly on human preser vation and human happiness that are to be excluded from the definition. C. is not natural advantages—such as those of soil and climate; or the goodness of the mental or bodily constitution of the race; or accidents of fortune favoring our exertions; or indi. vidual dexterity or skill that cannot be imparted. It is not necessarily happiness, which is sometimes present in a low C. and absent in a high. The permanent changes in the condition and arrangements of man's life effected by his own intelligence and exertions make up human civilization. It is the artificial half of the good we enjoy. Nature has given us so much; our own powers of contrivance give the rest. Genius (in the sense of intel lectual originality) is the cause, and C. the effect.

Such being the general definition, the enumeration of the separate departments is the enumeration of the institutions of civilized life. These may be briefly summed up under the following heads: 1. The industrial arts, or the devices fallen upon for turning to advantage the material resources and agencies of the globe. Perhaps no one will be found to dispute that these constitute real improvements.

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