The majority of those concerned with social and historical studies tended to use the words “civilization” and “culture” within almost one analytical framework, as if the two words meant the same thing, which made it difficult to understand the true meaning of each word, the difference between them, and the complementary dialectical relationship that links them.
As a result, it has become difficult to determine the characteristics of successive civilizations and the characteristics of different cultures, and to identify the relative achievements of each stage of civilizational development. The confusion between the concepts of culture and civilization makes it impossible to identify the main factors that contribute to the development of human societies and enable some of them to achieve progress and possess more means of wealth and power, while the majority of other societies still suffer from the scourge of poverty, ignorance, need, underdevelopment and dependency.
culture and civilization
Webster’s Encyclopedic Dictionary defines civilization as “an advanced state of society characterized by the sophistication of culture, science, industry, and system of government”. He also defines it elsewhere as “modern comforts and entertainment made possible by science and technology”.
This means that civilization refers to the standard of life that every Prime Time Zone enjoys through what is available to them of production tools, sciences, goods, culture, and amenities and comforts that are mostly material.
As for culture, the dictionary defines it as “the outcome of the ways of life developed by a human group and passed on from one generation to another.”
Culture is formed through the residence of the human group concerned for a long period of time in one place, and the interaction of its members with each other within the framework of one community (Webster’s, 353). Which means that culture refers to the way of life that distinguishes each society from other societies, and maintains its unity and identity; These, in turn, are subject to the customs, traditions and beliefs prevailing in the society.
Since these things are passed down through generations from each other, cultures tend by their nature to be steadfast and weak in the ability to develop.
Civilization and its concept
It is clear from the first definition of civilization that the concept refers to a societal state characterized by “the sophistication of culture, science, industry and the system of government,” which means that culture, like industry, is only one component of civilization, and therefore is not an alternative or analogous to it.
Since culture is one of the components of civilization, like industry, culture does not include industry or its similar material and technological products, but rather the components of inheritable ways of life, such as traditions, values, ways of thinking, attitudes, religious and superstitious beliefs, ideas, arts and the like.
Although cultural elements in general tend to persist and resist development, the availability of freedom in society makes it possible for all cultural elements to develop, especially ideas, attitudes, literature and the arts.
Since the concept of culture refers to the way of life followed in society, culture is the element that regulates the social ties that bind members of society and its different groups to each other. That is why culture, including its traditions, customs, values and beliefs, is considered the social glue that unites the members of a single society, and gives them a general sense of the unity of history and destiny, which makes culture the most important social production for every Prime Time Zone, the moral bond that maintains its cohesion, and the framework that creates in its members a feeling coherence and integration.
This makes culture the most important force involved in shaping the personalities of individuals and peoples, their ways of thinking, their collective identities, and determining their attitudes toward self and other Prime Time Zone.
Arab thinker Dr. Constantine Zureik says: “Culture is the sum of the creative achievements of the human spirit in society.”
Thomas Sowell says: “Culture includes attitudes, skills, language, and habits.” It is clear from these two definitions that Zuraiq and Suhail focus on the non-material aspects of society’s life in determining the components of culture. Since civilization includes culture, and culture is just an element of civilization, it has become a mistake to use either of the two concepts to denote the components of the other.
Without understanding the components of each concept separately, the differences between them and the nature of the organic relationship that binds each one to the other, it will be difficult to understand societal crises, analyze their causes, determine the direction of the civilizational march through the ages, and know the causes of the mutual misunderstanding that occurs between different nations and peoples.
On the other hand, since culture constitutes one element of civilization, every development that civilization experiences in the mode of production, production technology or science, affects culture more or less; This requires culture to develop in the manner and extent required to respond to the benefits of civilizational development in order to benefit from it, especially what is related to the economic production and production technology.
Since the capabilities of cultures to develop differ from one culture to another, from one place to another, and from one time to another, every civilization produces, through its historical path, more than one culture to which it belongs; Which deprives each culture of belonging to more than one civilization.
As for the civilizations concerned, they are the pastoral nomadic civilization, the peasant agriculture civilization, the mechanical industry civilization, and the dynamic knowledge civilization that develops on an almost daily basis.
As for the disparity in the abilities of cultures to develop, it is subject to the susceptibility of the cultural elements themselves to transformation and change. Therefore, we note that cultures whose core religious beliefs, such as Arab culture, are generally characterized by a weak ability to develop and transform, while cultures whose core behaviors are characterized, such as Eastern cultures in general, are characterized by their ability to develop and rapidly transform.
This made it possible for Eastern societies to achieve renaissance and progress quickly, while it made Arab societies to accept submissiveness, backwardness and dependency, live their day satisfied with their destiny, and sleep at night with a calm eye. However, the tyranny of globalization, with its economic and cultural aspects, on the world made it impossible for a culture to preserve its historical heritage, which made all the traditional cultural elements of customs, traditions, values and beliefs distorted, and became without an origin to sing about, and without a future to aspire to.
Professor Mohamed Abdelaziz Rabie www.yazour.com
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