This sample History of Civilization Research Paper is published for educational and informational purposes only. Like other free research paper examples it is not a custom research paper. If you need help with writing your assignment, please use research paper writing services and buy a research paper on any topic.
The concept of civilization as it is recognizable today, emerged with the rise of historical consciousness in Europe in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and achieved global spread in the twentieth century. Civilization came to constitute a primary unit of historical discourse, in association with cognate terms such as culture, quite apart from its indication of certain morphological features of human society, such as urbanism. Broadly conceived, the notion of civilization has served two schemas of world history, the one universalist and evolutionist and the other particularistic and vitalist. Both notions have ideological implications, and were often deployed in conflicts between universalist-progressivist and conservative nationalist political creeds, the former laying emphasis on the normative and morphological continuities in human societies, while the latter stressing openness to historical becoming as well as societal and historical transformism. Quite apart from the normative implications of both notions, one valorizing abiding resources of particularist national and civilizational character and the other speaking for an open notion of progress, recent historical research has rendered possible the concrete and properly historical consideration of the notion of historical continuity beyond the boundaries of the ideological commitment of the two notions of civilization that have profoundly marked the categorization of historical material and historical periodization in general.
- Word and Concept
- Continuities: Relativism
- Novelties: Universalism
- Beyond Totality
The concept of civilization is inextricably connected with the conditions of its emergence, most notably with the rise of historical consciousness in Europe in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, as well as the globalization of this form of historical understanding and correlative forms of intellectual practice. The concept is complex and imprecise in its definition, but ubiquitous in its uses, and inextricably imbricated with other categories by which historical materials are organized, such as culture, nation, and race. Apart from designating certain morphological features of human society, particularly with reference to urbanism and urbanity, civilization has been a schema for historical categorization and for the organization of historical materials. Here it has generally taken two forms, the universalist evolutionist, and the romantic particularist. The latter was tending to regain, in the ascendant context of identity politics, a certain hegemonic primacy worldwide at the close of the twentieth century. In all, the concept of civilization forms a crucial chapter in the conceptual, social, and political history of history; it, or its equivalents are presupposed, implicitly or explicitly, in the construal and writing of almost all histories.
The mental and social conditions for speaking about civilization in a manner recognizable in the year 2000 were not available before the middle of the eighteenth century. Hitherto, in Europe as elsewhere, large-scale and long-term historical phenomena, which later came to be designated as civilizations, had been categorized in a static manner that precluded the consciousness of directional or vectorial historicity as distinct from the mere register of vicarious change.
Hitherto, the succession of large-scale historical phenomena, such as Romanity or Islam, had been regarded (1) typologically, most specifically in the salvation-historical perspective of monotheistic religious discourse, in which successive events are taken for prefigurations and accomplishments of each other; (2) in terms of the regnal succession of world empires; and (3) in the genre of regnal succession, which started with the Babylonian king lists and the earliest stages of Chinese historical writing, and culminated in medieval Arabic historical writing. Not even the schema of state cycles evolved by the celebrated Ibn Khaldun (d. 1406), where civilization (’umrân) was quasisociologically identified with various organizational forms of human habitation and sociality, could meaningfully escape from this finite repertoire of possible historical conceptions.
In the perspective of typology, the continuity of historical phenomena was expressed in the repetition of prophecies successively reaffirming divine intent and inaugurating a final form of order whose telos would be the end of time. Thus the Jewish prophets repeat each other and are all figures for Abraham; Jesus is at once the repetition and termination of this unique cycle of terrestrial time and is prefigured in Jewish prophecies. Muhammad is the final accomplishment and the consummation of earlier prophetic revelations, prefigured in Jewish and Christian scriptures; his era inaugurates the consummation of time with the Apocalypse. The structure of time in the Talmud, in the Christian writings of Eusebius (d. 339), of Augustine’s Spanish pupil Orosius (fl. 418), of Bernard de Clairvaux (1153), as in Muslim writings such as Muhammad’s biography by Ibn Ishâq (d. after 761), or the universal histories of Tabarî (d. 923) and Ibn Kathîr (d. 1373) is homologous.
All but Jewish typology is independent of ethnic origin or geographical location, and construes historically significant units as religious communities of ecumenical description. This yields the second mode of organizing historical phenomena, the regnal. Thus, the regnal categorization of long-term historical phenomena of broad extent was expressed in terms of the succession of four ecumenical world empires, succeeding one another as the central actors in world history: the Assyrio-Babylonian, the Median-Persian, the Alexandrian- Macedonian, and the Roman. This perspective was shared by the Book of Daniel and by ecclesiastical works, especially Syrian and Byzantine apocalypses influenced by it, albeit with minor variations, as in Orosius’ substitution of the Carthaginian world empire for the Median-Persian. Muslim caliphs considered their own ecumenical world empire to be the fifth and final order of world history, a conception shared by Muslim apocalypticism and, with many complications and nuances, by universal histories written in Arabic, all of which regarded dynastic succession as both prophetic inheritance and as the renewal of ecumenical imperial ambition, transferred from one line to another.
Analogously, medieval Christian polities, Byzantine as well as Frankish, subscribed to the same theory of translatio imperii by regarding themselves as being in a direct line of typological continuity with Rome, variously through Byzantium, the ‘New Rome,’ or the Holy Roman Empire. In both, Romanity was the worldly cement of Christianity. This was a conception developed by Eusebius for his contemporary overlord Constantine, and was to remain effective until the dawn of modern times. In all cases, the past was understood to have been completed at its inception, with subsequent polities reenacting the foundational event.
Finally, mention must be made of the disjunction between these metahistorical and transcendental realms of typological continuity, and the all-too-human chaos of particular histories. No movement or qualitative change is discernible in the context of these, only the predictable succession of wars, rapine, pestilence, and occasionally of praiseworthy acts, without connection with an order of reality that might transcend the events themselves and render sense unto them.
Two roughly contemporary events heralded a new conception of history that made the modern notion of civilization conceivable. Both were specifically European, but their conceptual consequences were globalized in the course of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The first was Humanism, particularly in Italy, which for the first time broke the spell of Roman continuity by construing the immediate past as an age of darkness, and by confining Roman grandeur to the republican and early imperial ages. Thus Petrarch’s (d. 1374) project of classicism counterposed to living tradition; Flavio Biondo’s (d. 1463) anticipation of division of history into the classical, the medieval, and the modern; and Lorenzo Valla’s (d. 1457) refutation of medieval documentary forgeries such as the Donation Constantini, based on an argument from anachronism: together, these laid the ground for a view of history as the domain of change rather than of repetition.
Needless to say, the notion of translatio imperii was no longer tenable in this context. It is at this point that Humanism converged with the other event foundational of the modern historical consciousness, namely, the Reformation. Criticism of the Church by Wycliff (d. 1384) and Luther, and the historiographic expression of this antitraditionalist fundamentalism in John Foxe’s Acts and Monuments (1563), were in crucial ways congruent in their conception of the past with Humanism. The identification of the Pope with the Antichrist, the designation of the greater part of the history of Christianity as a history of falsehood, and the devalorization of the immediate past as abiding tradition and its construal as degeneration, also led to the rejection of the notion of translatio imperii, and the substitution of notions of Reformation and renovation to that of transfer in continuity.
Thus the ground was prepared for notions of rise, decline, and fall – most notably the decline and fall of Rome and the reclamation of Roman republicanist models in a spirit of revivalism – that were finally to mature in the eighteenth century, with Gibbon and Montesquieu among others, spurred along with the development and ultimately, in the late eighteenth and during the nineteenth centuries, the institutional transformation of philology and antiquarianism into history as a topic of research detached from rhetoric. This was far beyond the late flowering of medievalizing typology with Bossuet (d. 1704), and it made the past tangible in its having been (Vergangenheit), most graphically represented in the establishment of museums during the eighteenth century in many European capital cities.
With Voltaire and other eighteenth-century figures like Volney and Chardin, another notion crucial for speaking of civilization was developed. The notion of qualitative societal and cultural difference (les moeurs) – quite apart from the dynastic and the religious – was now available in the eighteenth century, as Europe was accounting for her differences from the Ottomans, the Persians, the Chinese, and tribal peoples in the Americas.
Whereas previously the notion of historical senescence may have been used in a tragical and rhetorical sense, the new notion of decadence required the correlative notion of progress and amelioration. These notions are the very conditions of possibility for conceiving of civilization as the accomplishment of a continuous line of historical development in which origins and beginnings are transcended rather than repeated.
Word and Concept
The terms civilization and culture are intimately related in their reference, and in many instances are used almost interchangeably, according to national and linguistic conventions. Both are terms of ancient vintage, which underwent a gradual lexical expansion until, in the eighteenth century, they came to designate meanings that are recognizable in 2001.
In the course of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the meaning of the term culture expanded, in English, French, and German (as Kultur) from a medieval sense indicating the cultivation of land and of the religious cult, figuratively to denote the maintenance and cultivation of arts and letters. This figurative sense was further extended in the course of the eighteenth century to encompass the nonmaterial life of human societies in a very broad sense encompassing the refinement of manners no less than intellectual and artistic accomplishments associated with the Enlightenment – the former sense still persists in terms such as haute couture and Kulturbeutel (vanity case).
The term was used both locally and in contrast to societies adjudged still living in a state of nature, although in German the accent had been on an esthetic of the lofty and the sublime as distinct from the crassly material, in association with a correlative emphasis on cultivation, Bildung, both individual and collective. In this way, the term was opened up to impregnation by the emergent notion of progress, the progress of individual societies as of humanity in general regarded both as a process natural to human society and as a principle of normative ranking among societies.
Not dissimilarly, and in imitation of ‘culture,’ in the eighteenth century the term civilization underwent – especially in France and somewhat later in England – a figurative expansion in its lexical reference from the Latin civilis, life under reputable forms of government, to the broader designation of order, civil, and governmental. This order befitted developed societies that might regard themselves as civilized in contradistinction to other, barbarian or savage, yet-to-be-civilized societies. The contrastive connotations of ‘civilization’ were far more accentuated than those of ‘culture,’ which was more commonly used in Germany, a land then with little or no experience of the world outside Europe. ‘Culture’ also came to be used in France and more saliently in England, as in Germany, decidedly to signal social distance and social distinctions within particular countries.
In all cases, these two terms increasingly came to be associated with a developmental perspective on history: not only the linear and cumulative course traversed by historical phenomena in time but also of languages, geological layers, plant and animal species, and human societies generally (and later, races), toward greater differentiation, complexity, and accomplishment. Correlatively, the meanings conveyed by these terms were implied by other terms or by none at all, as, for example, with Rousseau and Voltaire.
The nineteenth century witnessed a complicated relationship between ‘culture’ and ‘civilization’ whose fields of connotation and denotation shade into each other in a manner that has not helped the distinctive clarity and definition of either. The crucial player here was Germany, where Kultur took a decidedly romantic-nationalist turn in the early nineteenth century, dwelling on national uniqueness and individuality, and buttressed by the emergence of Kulturwissenschaft as a discipline and by studies of folklore.
The further developments of this politicocultural impulse toward the end of the nineteenth century led not only to the profuse discourses on decadence, Entartung, (‘disnaturation’) but also to the extension to France of this particularitic understanding of culture – and of civilization – under the influence of de Joseph de Maistre and the Catholic Counter- Enlightenment. As a result of Franco-German conflicts and of the severe stresses within France, a battle was waged between the advocates of ‘culture,’ upholders of national particularism, and of ‘civilization,’ champions of Enlightenment universalism accused by their detractors of crass materialism, a battle that reached its apogee during the First World War in the polemics between Romain Rolland and Thomas Mann.
Yet ‘civilization’ itself had been increasingly more receptive to particularism and nationalism, most specifically in historical writing. Books on the civilization of France, Germany, Europe, Italy, and England, emerged from the second quarter of the nineteenth century, and in certain ways, the very currency of the term made it open to divergent uses. Toward the end of that century, the term came to be used under the influence of the German notion of Kultur, a term often rendered as ‘civilization’ in French translations of German works. One additional but decisive factor was English anthropology, with the appearance in 1871 of Edward Tylor’s Primitive Culture (1958), and the subsequent predominance of the term ‘culture’ to designate a condition, on a ladder leading from savagery to barbarism and finally to civilization, in Anglo-Saxon anthropology. With the discovery and mystique of classical Greece toward the end of the eighteenth century, of the unity of the ‘West’ from Greece, through Rome, on to the Romano-Germanic peoples in the Middle Ages, culminating in modern European civilization, was to become the locus classicus of this notion of civilization.
In the later part of the nineteenth century and throughout the twentieth century, both the terms and conceptions outlined were subsequently taken over and became crucial instruments of historical categorization in India, China, and the Arab countries and elsewhere. In Arabic, thaqafa, an equivalent to the German Bildung, came to stand for culture, normally taken to designate intellectual and artistic life in a manner strongly elitist in character, and hadara was used for civilization, taken as a more general concept indicating the entire life of society including material life.
Linear developmentalism had, in general, underlain the entire body of diverse discourses on civilization and of its sister concept of culture. This developmentalism bifurcated along lines that may be characterized broadly as German and French in original inspiration.
Of the two, the former had been more intimately associated with romantic national and, the latter, with civilizational particularism, producing a natural history of human groups regarded in analogy to organic species. These human groups were thus conceived of as self-subsistent, continuous over time, largely impermeable, essentially intransitive, and according to many representatives of this view, almost congenitally given to conflict and war.
Originating in conservative reactions to the Enlightenment, with a strong anti-Gallic political impulse, this theory of historical and social development was associated with figures such as Johann Gottfried Herder in Germany and Edmund Burke in England, although it did have a strong representation in France among royalist, Catholic, and other antirevolutionary (1789, 1848, 1871) currents represented by figures such as de Maistre, Gobineau, and Gustave Le Bon. The principal conceptual feature of this antimechanistic concept of history was insistence on individuality in the histories of different nations, races, and civilizations – terms often conflated in various combinations, in analogy with biological organisms, and perhaps best captured in the capacious semantic field of the German word Volk. In this sense, one may speak of continuity with pre-Enlightenment concepts of a social organism modeled upon the integrated somatic unity of the human body, as had been previously thought in medieval Arabic historicopolitical writings and in medieval European conceptions from the time of John of Salisbury (d. 1180). The fear of decline and decadence, conceived as a breakdown of a natural order, was the specific point at which continuity with medieval organismic concepts of the historicopolitical order made itself evident and conceptually formative. This was at a time when the idea of progress – and in contrast to it – had become a genuinely historical category, involving a consequential conception of change, of evolutionism, of the temporality specific to events (Verzeitlichung), and of a distanciation correct between human and natural histories.
The course of a particular history was seen to reside in a number of essential features, which Herder termed Kräfte, resulting in a history which, increasingly elevated and evolutive in the course of time as it may be, was still governed by principles that were, in essence, changeless, principles that imparted individuality upon these intransitive histories.
Whereas the Enlightenment provided, and the nineteenth century elaborated, a notion of genetic development along an axis of cumulative time to which civilizations and other historical masses are subject, the organismic, particularist notion conceived of a civilization as bound to a self-enclosure inherent in its origins. Although this did not necessarily lead to a historical cyclism, it constituted its conceptual condition of possibility, and facilitated culturalist notions of nationalism that spoke in terms of ‘revival.’
It was a cyclical notion of the history of cultural and civilizational circles, Kulturkreise, according to Ernst Troeltsch (1920) that was made conceivable by the manifold discourses on decadence, malfunction, and historical pathology, notions that implicitly involve a measure against a more consummate state of organic health and well-being implicit in the foundations of each. It was the systematic elaboration of the decadence/normalcy structure that led to great schemas of world history, divided into intransitive civilizations, of Oswald Spengler’s Untergang des Abendlandes (Spengler, 1922) and of the Spenglerian heresy represented by Arnold Toynbee’s A Study of History (Toynbee, 1934–1959).
Described by Claude Chaunu (1984 as ‘a samsara of historical forms,’ these vitalist theories of the rise and inevitable decline of civilizations constitute a naturalistic morphology of historical becoming. From this perspective, civilizations were seen as historical phenomena that are perpetually in conflict with one another, each endowed with a particular ethos or animating principle. Such were Spengler’s (1922) Magian culture (the Perso-Islamic) and Promethean culture (the European). Such were also Toynbee’s (1934–1959) Syriac and other civilizations, although with this latter author the inner definition of civilizations was less clearly predetermined, and founded on a firmer and far more scrupulous empirical foundation than with Spengler. Nevertheless, Toynbee does characterize civilizations in terms of particularistic impulses, such as the estheticism of Greek civilization, the religious spirit of the Indian, and the mechanistic ethos of the West. Each of these is an integrated pattern of daily life, on attitude toward the holy, a style of jurisprudence, a manner of government, an artistic style, and much more.
With both authors, the historical phenomena, respectively, designated as ‘cultures’ and ‘societies,’ obey an iron law of rise and decline, of glory and senescent atrophy, the terminal phases of which Spengler, in keeping with German usage of the day, derisively termed ‘civilization.’ It is noteworthy that this morphology of historical masses, be they called civilizations, cultures, or societies, that this monocausal description in terms of basic traits such as the Promethean or the esthetic, was congruent with certain developments in anthropology, particularly in American anthropology in the first half of the twentieth century (Franz Boas, Alfred Kroeber, Ruth Benedict, and Edward Sapir), which identified separate societies according to self-consistent and intransitive personality profiles that they ostensibly gave rise to. This had a decisive influence on the introduction of organismic thinking into the human sciences in general. After a long period of disrepute, the ‘culturalized’ notions of human collectivities, of self-enclosure, and of continuity have come back to center stage at the close of the twentieth century, correlatively with the politics of identity worldwide.
The organismic and vitalist notion of civilization was, and still is, extremely effective in the writing of history and in the late twentieth century has had a certain political salience in terms of Samuel Huntington’s ‘war of civilizations’ and the mirror-image riposte in terms of the ‘dialogue of civilizations.’ It denies the possibility of a general human history, which it regards, in the words of Ernst Troeltsch (1920), as being ‘violently monistic,’ and construes the task of a history of civilizations as separate histories of Europe, China, India, Islam, Byzantium, Russia, Latin, and Protestant Europe, and others, in various possible permutations and successions, as separate cultural and moral spheres that are merely contiguous in space. Correlatively, this constituted the conceptual armature of certain forms of violently particularistic history that was mirrored or endogenously paralleled, among others in India, for instance (Savarkar, 1969), or in the writings of radical Muslim ideologues.
The deficit in historicity evident in romantic and vitalist historism, with its emphasis on organic continuity, was to a great extent made up in the more consistently evolutionist accounts of historicism. It was this conception of history, at once evaluative, evolutive, and vectorial, which bore the burden of the universalist notion of civilization. Whereas in historism the bearers of civilization – or rather of ‘culture’ – were particular peoples or individual historical itineraries, such as the West or Islam, the whole of humanity partook of the development of civilization, which, in the historicist perspective, was universal and continuous.
Several versions of this were in evidence, of which two are of particular note due to their wide conceptual incidence and the social and political influence they exercised through worldwide social movements, both revolutionary and gradualist, inspired by the Enlightenment. According to this conception of a universal civilization, human societies pass through a uniform series of progressive developments, which result in intellectual and moral elevation. They also result in superior social, economic, and political levels of development, marked by a higher and wider order of rationality, social differentiation, and control over nature whose instrument is science.
The more consistently universalist of these versions – exemplified, among others, by Jean Marquis de Condorcet, Auguste Comte, and Herbert Spencer, and in the evolutionist anthropology of Tylor (1958) – saw the whole of humanity as being predisposed to this upward movement. Nevertheless, according to this view some peoples may still subsist in a condition that others (Europe) had already surpassed, being still captive to superstition, to a weak organization of society and the economy, and to undeveloped political institutes (despotism, as in the case of Orientals, or otherwise various forms of acephalic organization, as is the case with primitive societies). The only caveat here is that many theorists of the evolution of human societies did not see human improvement as uniform in developed societies themselves, but that developed societies were not only internally differentiated in the levels of accomplishment attained by different social groups, but also liable to fall far below the moral ideals that development makes possible. Nevertheless, much writing on the history of universal civilization, especially in countries influenced by Marxism, such as the Soviet Union or the People’s Republic of China, saw the historical itineraries they led as crucial and exemplary steps in the development of humanity at large. In this way, the histories of Russia and China come to recuperate and tap world history at large by acting as the vanguard and exemplar of its future consummation.
Correlatively, the other conception of universalism, and this is one of profound conceptual and political importance, recognized the past contributions of various civilizations – the Mesopotamian, Egyptian, and Islamic, and in some instances the Indian and the Chinese as well – to the course of human civilization, which eventually lodged itself in Europe, defined as the abode of Romano-Germanic history, or even in small parts of Europe, such as France or Prussia. This writing of universal history, much in evidence in the plethoric literature of universal histories both popular and learned, was expressed in what is perhaps its most accomplished general formulation by Georg Hegel (1956) in the nineteenth century, and by Karl Jaspers (1949) in the twentieth – the latter is little read today, but he is the one who, nevertheless, captures this notion with special clarity.
Not infrequently, this second type of universalist history is allied to an important element derived from the romantic theory of the history of civilizations treated in Section Novelties: Universalism, namely, the presumption of very long-term individual continuity. Thus the point is habitually made, with varying shades of emphasis and nuance, that universal civilization made Europe its eventual home because of some abiding characteristics possessed ab initio by ‘the West,’ such as rationality, the spirit of freedom, vigor, and dynamism. This changeless West is counterposed to an eternal East, such as Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Islam, which, their relative erstwhile merits apart, constitute, in a categorical degradation, a mere prehistory to fully developed civilization. East and West – not to speak of Islam, the name of a religion transmuted into an atopic location – are metageographical notions that do not allow, except with anachronistic violence, for projection into the antique and late antique worlds. However, this does not disturb the ideological coherence of this notion of civilization.
Writing about civilization according to the manners outlined contained both large-scale abstraction and a great deal of precise empirical historiography. Under the influence of Marxism, acknowledged as such as well as implicit, historical scholarship, and most specifically social and economic history in the traditions of Max Weber and of the Annales school, produced specifications regarding material and other aspects of civilization that allayed, to a considerable degree, the rhetorical force of thinking civilizations in terms of purely moral and ideological continuities, betokening exclusive sociohistorical groups. The notion of a Judeo-Christian civilization, as distinct from textual typology within the Bible, is an excellent illustration of this, having been born and expanded in specific circumstances following the Second World War.
In this way, civilizations for contemporary historical writing have come to comprise the total historical conditions that exist in a specific place and time: functional and organizational forms of the state; the longue durée of demographic, agricultural, economic, social, urban, ecological, climatic, and other forces underwritten by geographical structures and relations; and non-material culture, such as arts, letters, cognitive structures, and religions. The possibilities of a total history of a civilization is, it must be stressed, an expansion of a previous and more limited form of the cultural history of a particular epoch, exemplified by Jakob Burckhardt’s studies of Constantine and Renaissance Italy (Burckhardt, 1955: Vols. 1 and 3).
As a result, since about 1950 it has become possible historically to specify the material elements that constitute the history of a civilization; however, its temporal and geographical boundaries may be defined. Correlatively, it has become possible to conceive of the specific differences between histories – China and Europe for instance, as in the work of Jacques Gernet (1988) – beyond a discourse on immobility and other immanent characteristics ascribed to this history or that, and to think of specificity in proper historical terms, such as the relative weight of various elements of the rural economy, the relation between state and the economy, the impact of metallurgy, and much more.
In this context, civilizational continuities came to be reconsidered in terms of historically determinant factors of a predominantly geographical nature, not so much in the spirit of geographical determinism as described by the German school of Friedrich Ratzel (1895), but with a greater degree of temporal specification, mediated by Lucien Febvre’s (1925) consideration of historical geography and culminating in Fernand Braudel’s study of the Mediterranean (1972–73). By the same token, it has become possible squarely to face the nominalist caution required in thinking about civilizations, and to think of their constitution, specification, and collapse in terms of the concrete historical investigation of demography, economy, and society without recourse to the metaphysical rhetoric of decline (Tainter, 1988).
These specifications apart, it remains true that the construal of civilizational intransitivity, with Braudel as with others, still needs to resort to a new redaction of the rhetoric of permanence, most particularly with regard to nonmaterial culture, now underscored and almost overdetermined by considerations of relief, soil, water supply, and means of transport – all of which are undeniable factors, albeit ones that modern technology and economy, most poignantly the postmodern economy, have rendered questionable.
Nevertheless, recent historical research has made it concretely possible to tap the genial formulations made by Marcel Mauss in 1930 (Febvre et al., 1930) concerning the categorization of historical masses: of civilizations as a ‘hypersocial systems of social systems,’ as transsocietal and extranational units of historical perception and categorization. These are conceived of in opposition to specific social phenomena, and this conception of civilization valorizes the distinction between civilization, society, and culture, freeing the first of the deterministic and totalizing rhetorical glosses of metahistory, and making possible a veritable history of civilizations. Civilization may thus be considered as at once a particular instance of historical becoming, and a specific ideological redaction of the past whose relation to historical reality can be questioned and rendered historical. In this context, the historian may also be able to valorize the extremely expansive longue durée implied by such theories as Dumézil’s (1958) Indo-European trifunctionalism without recourse to organismic and totalizing figures of particularity and continuity (Le Goff, 1965). A historian may be similarly able to valorize recent studies that stress the occurrence and communicability of recurrent phenomena of the imaginary order across vast spaces, cultures, histories, and times, as instanced by Carlo Ginzburg’s study of the European witch hunts (Ginzburg, 1990). Finally, given the accent on complexity, one might be able to take the precise and nuanced study of levels and modes of socio-economic, political, institutional, ideational, and other instances of complexity – rather than criteria of simple continuity – as crucial to the delimitation of historical phenomena that one designates as ‘civilizations.’
- Allawi, A.A., 2009. The Crisis of Islamic Civilization. Yale University Press, New Haven, CT.
- Auerbach, E., 1984. Figura. Auerbach E Scenes from the Drama of European Literature. University of Minnesota Press, MN.
- Bénéton, P., 1975. Histoire des Mots: Culture et Civilisation. Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques, Paris.
- Braudel, F., 1972–73 (S. Reynolds, Trans.). The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II, 2 vols. Collins, London.
- Braudel, F., 1993. Grammaire des Civilisations. Flammarion, Paris.
- Burckhardt, J., 1955. Renaissance Italy. Gesemmete Werke, vols. 1 and 3. Schwab, Basle, Switzerland.
- Chaunu, P., 1981. Histoire et Décadence. Librairie academique Perrin, Paris.
- Collingwood, R.G., 1946. The Idea of History. Clarendon Press, Oxford, UK.
- Dumézil, G., 1958. L’idéologie Tripartie des Indo-Européens. Collection Latours, Bruxelles, Belgium.
- Enciclopedia Einaudi, 1977–84. G. Einaudi, Torino (s.v. ‘Cultura materiale’, ‘Civilit’).
- Encyclopædia Universalis, 1968. Encyclopædia Universalis France, Paris (s.v. ‘Civilization’ ‘Culture et civilization’).
- Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, 1980. T and T Clark, Edinburgh, UK (s.v. ‘Civilisation’).
- Febvre, L., 1925. A Geographical Introduction to History. Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., London.
- Febvre, L., Mauss, M., Tonnelat, E., Nicophoro, A., 1930. Civilisation. Le Mot et l’Idée. Renaissance du Livre(Premire Semaine internationale de Synthèse, Fascicule 2), Paris.
- Fehl, E. (Ed.), 1971. Chinese and World History. The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong.
- Ferguson, N., 2011. Civilization: The West and the Rest. Penguin Press, New York. Gat, A., 2006. War in Human Civilization. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
- Gernet, J., 1988. A History of Chinese Civilization (J.R. Forster, Trans.). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.
- Ginzburg, C., 1990. Ecstasies: Deciphering the Witches’ Sabbath. Hutchinson, London.
- Hegel, G.W.F., 1956. Philosophy of History (G. Sibree, Trans.). Dover, New York.
- Herder, J.G.von, 1968. Reflections on the Philosophy of History of Mankind (Abridged by F. Manuel). University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London.
- Herder, J.G.von, 1969. J.G. Herder on Social and Political Culture (F.M. Barnard, Ed. and Trans.). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.
- Jaspers, K., 1949. Vom Ursprung und Ziel der Geschichte. Artemis Verlag, Zrich, Switzerland.
- Kemp, A., 1991. The Estrangement of the Past. A Study in the Origin of Modern Historical Consciousness. Oxford University Press, Oxford and New York.
- Khaldun, Ibn, 1958. The Muqaddimah: An Introduction to History (F. Rosenthal, Trans.). Pantheon Books, New York.
- Kosellek, R., Widmer, P. (Eds.), 1980. Niedergang. Studien zu einem geschichtlichen Thema. Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart, Germany.
- Kroeber, A.L., 1963. An Anthropologist Looks at History. University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles.
- Kroeber, A.L., Kluckhohn, C., 1952. Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions. The Peabody Museum, Cambridge, MA.
- Le Goff, J., 1965. La Civilisation au l’occident médieval. Arthaud, Paris.
- Lewis, M.W., Wigen, K.E., 1997. The Myth of Continents. A Critique of Metageography. University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles.
- Marrou, H.I., December 1938. Culture, civilization, décadence. Revue de Synthèse 133.
- Nasr, S.H., 2003. Islam: Religion, History, and Civilization. HarperSanFrancisco, San Francisco.
- Ratzel, F., 1895. Anthropogeographische Beitrage. Duncker und Humblot, Leipzig, Germany.
- Rsen, J., Gottlob, M., Mittag, A. (Eds.), 1998. Die Vielfalt der Kulturen. Erinnerung, Geschichte, Identität, 4. Suhrkamp, Frankfurt am Main, Germany.
- Savarkar, V.D., 1969. Hindutva: Who Is a Hindu?, fifth ed. Veer Savarkar Parakashan, Bombay, India.
- Schlanger, J.E., 1971. Les Métaphores de l’Organisme. Vrin, Paris.
- Searle, J.R., 2010. Making the Social World: The Structure of Human Civilization. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
- Solomon, S., 2010. Water: The Epic Struggle for Wealth, Power, and Civilization. Harper, New York.
- Spengler, O., 1922. Der Untergang des Abendlandes, 2 vols. W. Braumller, Vienna and Leipzig.
- Tainter, J.A. (Ed.), 1988. The Collapse of Complex Societies. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.
- Toynbee, A., 1934–1959. A Study of History, 12 vols. Oxford University Press, London.
- Troeltsch, E., 1920. Der Aufbau der europäischen Kulturgeschichte. Schmollers Jahrbuch für Gesetzgebung, Verwaltung, und Volkswirtschaft im Deutschen Reiche 44 (3), 1–48.
- Tylor, E.B., 1958. Primitive Culture, 2 vols. Harper, New York.
- Wells, S., 2010. Pandora’s Seed: The Unforseen Cost of Civilization. Random House, New York.
- Zureiq, K., 1969. Nahnu Wa’t-tarikh. Dar al- Ilm lil-Malayin, Beirut, Lebanon.