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#265006 - 11/12/13 12:31 AM Re: Is civilization artificial? [Re: benjammin]
tomfaranda Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 02/14/08
Posts: 301
Loc: Croton on Hudson, NY
The Barbarians were certainly civilized. They had commerce, an infrastructure, governance, currency, etc, etc, etc.

Their problem was that they lost to the Romans, and the winners write the history books.

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#265010 - 11/12/13 04:25 AM Re: Is civilization artificial? [Re: benjammin]
Pete Offline
Veteran

Registered: 02/20/09
Posts: 1372
"So based on your premise, our current civilization should be dominated by strong, virile members who are natural fighters and respectable leaders.

Sorry, but our current version is anything but. In fact, I would say our current civilization is the antithesis of your model. I believe all of the pathologies you allude to are in full function today. "

I would agree that we've got a problem today. I wouldn't go so far as to say our leaders need to be strong, virile fighters - although maybe that helps. But I would say that our leaders definitely need to address the real problems facing the group and take care of them. real needs of the group must be satisfied - real problems have to get solved. it is dysfunctional when leaders somehow believe they exist for their own purposes. if you look at the old "primitive" group structure - they did indeed require strong virile leaders. why? because ineffective leaders got knocked off by younger ones who were more effective. there was no way to "buy" leadership. you either delivered the goods or you didnt.

Pete2


Edited by Pete (11/12/13 04:25 AM)

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#265011 - 11/12/13 06:15 AM Re: Is civilization artificial? [Re: Pete]
Am_Fear_Liath_Mor Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 08/03/07
Posts: 3078
Quote:
so ... your theory is that the Romans got all grimey, couldn't wash, and their girlfriends refused to give them sex?? so they gave up on Northern Britain.

I wish I'd read more history books written by you Am Fear - I might have stayed awake in high school history classes :-)

Pete2


I think that the Romans Centurions had other things to worry about trying to keep their heads attached to the their torso's especially in this gore fest of a movie. They certainly liked their plumbing and hot baths though, but they didn't really have time to build them to keep the chilly weather at bay when operating in FOBs down range. laugh

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QHGKsIkGRF4

Looks like there was even a Roman SERE school as well as they run away, run away live to fight another day over the Scottish Cairngorms much like Bears Grylls action man figures. wink

Most Empires like to consider themselves as civilizations who then consider their enemies who they subjugate or invade to expand the Empire as Barbarians or sub humans especially when things aren't going so well even in Tacitus's day.

And now for the boring factual historical Archeology bit

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D69ljCIx9uI





Edited by Am_Fear_Liath_Mor (11/12/13 06:16 AM)

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#265013 - 11/12/13 07:43 AM Re: Is civilization artificial? [Re: hikermor]
benjammin Offline
Rapscallion
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/06/04
Posts: 4020
Loc: Anchorage AK
So as I defined it, civilization would consist of three conditions, infrastructure, centralized government, and structured commerce. This goes beyond simple organization, and while some barbarians may have approached civilized society, none of them quite made it.

From a scientific perspective, then, we have been civilized for a far shorter period in human history than barbaric.

Interestingly, I think civilization was a result of moving from a nomadic hunter gatherer culture to agricultural models. In this way, it became easier for individuals to amass a regular surplus of food stores and exchange them for other items of value, thus creating a form of wealth, and eventually a powerbase. This allowed for the provisioning of standing armies used for both invasion and conquest as well as for defense.

The structuring of classes develops in civilizations, resulting in eventual oppression. Physical attributes are insignificant for effective leadership, being usurped by politics and guile. In this way, I consider civilization to be artificial in how it deals with the true nature of man. Yes, we adapt, we become smarter, but without a reliable means of validating intent, we are stuck having to choose leadership based on intangible traits that have little to do with real ability. Over time, this flaw becomes increasingly dominant, until we have what the Romans finally ended up in, or where we are now in our own downward spiral.
_________________________
The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools.
-- Herbert Spencer, English Philosopher (1820-1903)

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#265014 - 11/12/13 08:09 AM Re: Is civilization artificial? [Re: benjammin]
Bingley Offline
Veteran

Registered: 02/27/08
Posts: 1436
Guys, why reinvent the wheel? These questions have been thought carefully already. By many learned people. In many different ways. Sure, I know we're just having fun, pushing our amateurish pet theories, punctuated by funny Youtube videos. But isn't it also fun to see what the experts might have to say?

What Is a civilization, anyway?

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#265015 - 11/12/13 10:06 AM Re: Is civilization artificial? [Re: benjammin]
Phaedrus Online   content
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 2728
Loc: Big Sky Country
There's plenty of oppression in unstructured societies/groups, too. Civilization is just the shadow cast by human nature. The good parts of humans are magnified along with the bad.
_________________________
“I'd rather have questions that cannot be answered than answers that can't be questioned.” —Richard Feynman

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#265016 - 11/12/13 02:49 PM Re: Is civilization artificial? [Re: benjammin]
Pete Offline
Veteran

Registered: 02/20/09
Posts: 1372
"So as I defined it, civilization would consist of three conditions, infrastructure, centralized government, and structured commerce. This goes beyond simple organization, and while some barbarians may have approached civilized society, none of them quite made it."

OK Benjammin ... here's your challenge for today. I'm going to pick two societies. you tell me if they were "civilizations". the first is the Mongol society under Genghis Khan. No need to explain that they grew numerous and powerful - dominating a large part of Asia and some of Europe. The second is the Comanche society of Native Americans in the early USA. At one time, due to superior horsemanship skills, the Comanches extended their influence across the southern Great Plains, all the way down into Mexico, and eastwards across large parts of Texas. In their heyday nobody could beat them - no-one could equal their speed and fighting methods on horses.

So my two examples are "breakout" societies who took a quantum leap in speed of transportation and competitive ability. they really didn't develop a lot of infrastructure themselves ... they just captured land and cities from other people. so do these societies qualify as civilizations??

Pete2


Edited by Pete (11/12/13 02:51 PM)

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#265018 - 11/12/13 03:30 PM Re: Is civilization artificial? [Re: benjammin]
MDinana Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/08/07
Posts: 2196
Loc: Beer&Cheese country
The problem with civilization is that you need an agreed upon definition.

-- Does it depend on population size (2? 2 million?)?
--Certain style of living (migratory, stable, agrarian...)?
--Certain attributes (eg, infrastructure)?
--Does it depend on a certain level of self-awareness (how many animals live in schools, pods, herds, etc ... why are they not civilized?)?
--development of a certain set of behaviors/cultures/traditions?

I don't think it's necessarily "artificial," as it seems to be a byproduct of people associating with each other. Past a critical size, people realize the need to cooperate, maintain order, etc, and a group mentality emerges. And since most people tend to want attention, one wonders if any given couple could constitute it's own civilization.

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#265039 - 11/13/13 05:17 AM Re: Is civilization artificial? [Re: Pete]
benjammin Offline
Rapscallion
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/06/04
Posts: 4020
Loc: Anchorage AK
At best, the Mongols and the Comanche were Chiefdoms. They were LARGE Chiefdoms, but never achieved a civilization status.

For all the more esoteric and nebulous definitions cited in the link posted earlier, you can still boil all that down to the same three criteria I use.

Barbaric does not mean stupid either. There were lots of uncivilized societies led by very intelligent people. For whatever reasons, they just never advanced (could mean evolved) their culture. Neither the Comanche nor the Mongols were known for their agricultural developments, though I am sure they had some modicum of it going. Agriculture seems to be the "seed" for civilization to properly develop. Land development precluded seasonal migration. Irrigation provided adequate crop water and roads to move produce and livestock were required to get agriculture beyond the subsistence level. Structured commerce established suitable trade practices and security to make going to market a profitable effort worth the risk of transport. This wealth could buy protection from barbarians, who would just take from the farmers what they needed otherwise. A person who could organize a protection force could enforce rules that favor farmers and inhibit the barbarian from raiding, or looting. Such a person would be able to collect a fee from the farmers for this enforcement.

Infrastructure, centralized government, and structured commerce. These are what drive a society into civilization.
_________________________
The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools.
-- Herbert Spencer, English Philosopher (1820-1903)

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#265042 - 11/13/13 05:37 AM Re: Is civilization artificial? [Re: benjammin]
Bingley Offline
Veteran

Registered: 02/27/08
Posts: 1436
Originally Posted By: benjammin
At best, the Mongols and the Comanche were Chiefdoms. They were LARGE Chiefdoms, but never achieved a civilization status.


??? Not sure about the Comanche, but the Mongols were excellent administrators. They set up the most efficient postal system the world had seen. When they realized they needed written records to govern their vast empire, they threw together a committee and invented a writing system. They also had pragmatic priorities, promoting science, medicine, engineering, technology -- areas that the established elite of the "civilized" kingdoms they conquered often neglected because these were regarded as lowly crafts. Unlike the "civilized" peoples they conquered, the Mongols did not kill or burn people at the stake just for believing in a different god. They enforced religious tolerance, and even encouraged interfaith dialogues. Pax Mongolica wasn't a pax for nothing.

"Infrastructure, centralized government, and commerce"? Yeah, the Mongols had all those.

The killing and burning they reserved for war, and they did that very well, too. That's how they got their reputation.


Edited by Bingley (11/13/13 05:38 AM)

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