civ cult paper FD

civ cult paper FD - Cliff 1 Will Cliff Professor Donald...

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Will Cliff Professor Donald Cosantino World Arts and Cultures 20 30 January 2010 Prompt #1 Over the past few centuries contrasting interpretations of the terms “civilization” and “culture” have greatly contributed to defining the structure of societies across the globe. Through human natures’ characteristics of greed and the need for power, most of our societies have consisted of a small group of people making decisions for the masses—an aristocracy. Even with today’s form of democracy—arguably the greatest socially structured system ever created by man—aristocracies have developed in the majority, if not all, of the democratic systems in place today as money continues to play a vital, yet unfair, role in the world. Significant periods of time including the enlightenment, the rise of nationalism and colonialism, the invention of anthropology and social Darwinism have all contributed to the evolving understanding of how the terms civilization and culture control our interactions between each other as human beings. As we naturally progress as a species, civilizations continue to mesh and globalize—is the preservation of original culture even possible in such a homogenizing world? In light of these influences and in the following paragraphs, a discussion comparing and contrasting how scholars and critics have used the terms “civilization” and “culture” since the 18 th century will ensue. Prior to the Enlightenment, life existed as it had always been—an aristocracy or civilization where a small group of educated elites had formed and were making the grand decisions for the masses. Versailles was the epitome of the civilization. This elite group within 1
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France beheld the civilized folk. To these people being cultured meant having proper manners, good taste in food, art, literature and sports. It was the “polishing of manners” (Williams 59). The disparity of wealth between this class and the lower peasantry class was significant and the class mobility was bleak despite the recent emergence of the bourgeoisie. Once in this upper class, the education required to continue producing civilized folk was easily accessed in an effort to keep this civilized life the way it was —yet the lower classes did not have any sort of access for this kind of education (Cosentino). As the Enlightenment broke upon Europe and the French revolution ensued, the long time idea of civilization found itself at the butt of ridicule. It was the dawn of a new period of time when civilization, as it was, began to be questioned by the ideas of reason, universalism and romanticism. In Germany, the term “ kultur, ” came about as it was the synonym for the word civilization—but this definition of kultur
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civ cult paper FD - Cliff 1 Will Cliff Professor Donald...

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