Civilization, Concept and History of

TitleCivilization, Concept and History of
Publication TypeBook Chapter
AuthorsAl-Azmeh, A.
EditorsSmelser, N. J., and P. B. Baltes
Book TitleInternational Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences
Year2001
Pages1903 - 1909
PublisherElsevier
Place of PublicationAmsterdam
Languageeng
ISBN Number0080430767
Notes

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Abstract

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 stressed openness to historical becoming as well as societal and historical transformism. Quite apart from the normative implications of both notions, the 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.

Unit: 
Department of Medieval Studies