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Civilization vs. Barbarism vs. Culture

UnStupendousMan
Posts: 3,475
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4/9/2012 8:39:03 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
First of all, MY 2,000th POST FTW!!! I decided to make it count.

***

I was wondering about what DDO would think about this statement:

"There is no civilized or barbaric peoples, only different cultures."

Which is obviously, in context, trying to weed out the libertarians from the rest of us. Anyway, it is a very interesting statement. It requires us to understand several questions: Is there a difference between civilization and barbarism? If so, what is it and is it controlled by our cultural backgrounds? And what are the concepts of "civilization," "barbarism," and "culture" anyway?

I am going to tackle the last question first, because I want to know what we are talking about before we actually talk about it. So, I went to a populour purveyor of definitions, dictionary.com, and pulled up these three definitions:

Civilization: an advanced state of human society, in which a high level of culture, science, industry, and government has been reached. http://dictionary.reference.com...
Barbarism: a barbarous {GAH! word defined in definition!} or uncivilzed state or condition http://dictionary.reference.com...
Culture: the behaviors and beliefs characteristic of a particular social, ethnic, or age group http://dictionary.reference.com...

So, it's pretty clear cut, right? Civilization is a natural antonym of barbarism. One could even describe civilization as the lack of barbarism and barbarism the lack of civilization. However, we must now venture into the inevitable grey area; the debatable, vague, and ultimately subjective line between civilization and barbarity.

One example is a man who not only united divided peoples under his control, but also adopted a national script and a policy for religious tolerance(!), and established a code of law for his new nation. But when one thinks of Gengis Khan, one thinks of the guy who said, "The greatest happiness is to vanquish your enemies, to chase them before you, to rob them of their wealth, to see those dear to them bathed in tears, to clasp to your bosom their wives and daughters." http://en.wikipedia.org...

So, is it all just culture? The Greeks thought that all people who did not speak Greek were barbaric. However, the Persians, who were pretty civilized themselves (More religious freedom anyone? http://en.wikipedia.org... ), would be considered "barbaric" to them also. And the Romans, who threw people to lions for God's sakes, had roughly the same criteria for barbarity, except that it was anyone who was non-Roman. Fast forwarding a few centuries, the Spaniards had the Inquisition, which all of us know how happy and wonderful that was who wasn't Christian. </sarcasm>

So, is there civilized and barbaric peoples? Or is it all different cultures? I would like your input.

-USM

{InB4 FREEDO says it's all imaginary constructs that we create in order for us to make sense of the world.}
UnStupendousMan
Posts: 3,475
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4/9/2012 8:46:29 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
Which is obviously, in context, trying to weed out the libertarians from the rest of us.

Okay: context is in politicalcompass.org's political compass test. I forgot to put that in.
Lordknukle
Posts: 12,788
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4/10/2012 10:37:25 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
Barbarianism is subjective.

We view Africans are barbaric. I'm sure they view us as barbaric..

This is a redundant question.
"Easy is the descent to Avernus, for the door to the Underworld lies upon both day and night. But to retrace your steps and return to the breezes above- that's the task, that's the toil."
OMGJustinBieber
Posts: 3,484
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4/10/2012 3:02:10 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 4/10/2012 9:54:54 AM, royalpaladin wrote:
Civilization and culture are just constructs that we use to make the world easier to classify.

So is language.

Anyway, I answered "yes" to the aforementioned question. Any culture that denies women's rights, executes homosexuals, and demands its citizens live according to the literal dictates of an ancient mythological text I have no better word for than "barbaric." I would think someone heavily interested in women's rights would not shy away from these labels.
jat93
Posts: 1,440
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4/10/2012 3:16:31 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
So cultural relativism, basically. But by that logic, would you say the Nazi government's worst criminals weren't evil, just different?