Nature of Civilization
In contrast to the non-material nature of culture, civilization is material. It included material or concrete things used by man, such as house, household commodities, different kinds of apparatus, instruments, weapons, pots and means of conveyance etc.
According to J. L. Gillin, and J. P. Gillin, civilization is a more complex and evolved form of culture. A. W. Green has written, “A culture becomes a civilization only when it possesses written language, science, philosophy, a specialized division of labour and a complex technology and political system.” Ancient cultures did not possess all these elements and would consequently be considered as having no civilization.
Franz Boaz, Ogburn and Nimkoff also treated civilization as a state which follows culture. Ogburn has written that “Civilization may be defined as the latter phase of super organic culture.” According to Weber, civilization includes useful material objects and the methods of producing and using them whereas culture consists of the ideals, values and the mental and emotional aspects of a group.
Murton, Richard Thurnwald and many other sociologists have subscribed to this opinion. P. A. Sorokinhas opposed it. But this is the opinion most widely prevalent among the sociologists today.
Components of civilization
Thus the components of civilization are generally physical, biological and technological. Technique is a part of civilization. Civilization attempts at attaining physical adjustment with the environment. It represents the external structure. It involves techniques of human adjustment with Nature. It is the result of processes of natural selection and social selection. The components of civilization are thus external and objective. The study of a civilization includes the study of housing, means of communication, dress, industries and weapons etc.
Relation of culture and civilization
While studying a group, modern anthropologists and sociologists study both the material civilization and the non-material culture, since the two are closely related. Both have been developed by the same human processes. Both are complimentary to each other. Culture needs civilization for further growth, civilization needs a culture even for its vital force and survival. The two are therefore interdependent.
Life is the most severe and most necessary test of the superiority of a culture. Existence is the first law of human life. A civilization cannot survive without strong stimulus and motive, however high may be its achievements in science. Man is still a struggling unsuccessful hero in this world. A culture which claims any greatness should help man in this upward effort. It should inspire the terrestrial endeavours of man.
It should give him “a force for development and a will to live.” It should help in the “greatness and growth of the race on earth.” It should result in a strong and successful organization of life. All this depends on the close relation of civilization and culture.
As Sri Aurobindo points out, “The
Infinite can only be reached after we have grown in the finite, the eternal grasped only by man growing in time, the spiritual perfected only by man accomplished first in body, life, and mind.” No culture can claim an integral value unless it leads to survival, growth and perfection of the community.
As Sri Aurobindo puts it, “While the first value of a culture is its power to raise spirit, its soundness is not complete unless it has shaped also his external existence and made it a rhythm of advance towards high and great ideals.”
Sociologists are not unanimous in their opinion concerning the relation between culture and civilization. Some important views in the connection are as follows:
1. Civilization is the developed form of culture
According to J. L. Gillin, and J. P. Gillin, civilization is a more complex and evolved form of culture. A. W. Green has written, “A culture becomes civilization only when it possesses written language, science, philosophy, a specialised division of labour and complex technology and political system.
Ancient cultures did not possess all these elements and would consequently be considered as having no civilization. Franz Boaz, Ogburn and Nimkoff also treat civilization as a state which follows culture. Ogburn has written that “Civilization may be defined as the latter phase of super organic culture.”
2. Weber’s Opinion
According to Weber, civilization includes useful material objects and the methods of producing and using them whereas culture consists of the ideals, values and the mental and emotional aspects of a group. Murton, Richard Thurnwald and many other sociologist s have subscribed to this opinion. PA. Sorokin has opposed it. But this is the opinion most widely prevalent among the sociologists to day.
3. Opinion of Maclver and Page
According to Maclver and Page, civilization includes all those things by means of which some other objective is attained, such as typewriters, press, lathe, motor, etc. In civilization are included both basic technology which means the authority of man over natural phenomenon as well as social technology or model which control man’s behaviour.
On the other hand, culture comprehends such elements as religion, art, philosophy, literature, music etc., which bring satisfaction and pleasure to man. In the words of Maclver and Page, “It is the expression of our nature in our modes of living and of thinking, in our everyday intercourse, in art, in literature, in recreation and enjoyment.”
Difference between Culture and Civilization
According to Maclver and Page, culture and civilization differ in the following respects:
1. Civilization has a precise standard of measurement but not culture
The universal standard of civilization is utility because civilization is a means. Culture has no similar qualitative or quantitative standard of measurement because culture is an end in itself. The elements, ideals, values and thoughts, etc., of culture change in accordance with the time and place.
2. Civilization is always advancing but not culture
The various constituents of civilization, e.g., machines, means of transportation and communication etc., are constantly progressing. But concerning culture, it cannot be asserted that the art, literature, thoughts or ideals of today are superior to those of the past.
3. Civilization is passed on without effort, but not culture
Objects comprehended by civilization have utility and are connected with the external life of man. Hence, they can be easily adapted from one generation to another or from one country to another but culture is not communicated and adopted with equal facility because it is related to an inner tendency and can be adopted only after the appropriate inner development.
In the words of Maclver, “Culture is communicated only to the like-minded. No one without the quality of the artist can appreciate art, nor without the ear of the musician can one enjoy music. Civilization in general makes no such demand. We can enjoy its products without sharing the capacity which creates them.” Civilization can be adopted without effort. The adoption of culture depends upon personality and nature.
4. Civilization is borrowed without change or loss, but not culture
When civilization is borrowed by a country or a generation other than its originator, it does not suffer any deterioration or loss or damage. Railway, motor, aeroplanes, machines, etc., are borrowed as they are but the elements of culture such as religion, art, literature, thoughts, ideals, etc. can never be borrowed in their original character. For example, the Indian Christians are found to possess many elements, borrowed from the Hindu and Muslim religions, which are not to be found in their Western counterparts.
5. Culture is internal and an end while civilization is external and a means
Civilization is inclusive of external things, culture is related to internal thoughts, feelings, ideals, values, etc. Civilization is the means for the expression and manifestation of culture. It is the body and culture the soul.
Qualitative and Quantitative Measures
Two types of measures can be employed for the determination of cultural progress:
1. Quantitative measures
New elements are always being introduced into culture while the older ones keep vanishing. If the number of new elements introduced is greater than those which have vanished then there is progress. If the latter exceed the former then there is deterioration and if the two are equal then there is immobility. Invention is a measure of the progress of culture.
2. Qualitative measures
Culture would be said to be progressing when the newly introduced elements are superior in quality to the existing ones, and would be said to be deteriorating if they are inferior. The element of continuity is always to be found in a progressing culture.
But many difficulties are encountered in the application of these measures in the cultural sphere, and it is also difficult to form an ultimate criterion of them because thinkers of all times and in all places would not concur in their respective opinions in this connection.