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«Наука через призму времени»

Апрель, 2018 / Международный научный журнал
«Наука через призму времени» №4 (13) 2018

Автор: Щученко Элла Владимировна, Магистр
Рубрика: Культурология
Название статьи: Culture and Civilization

Статья просмотрена: 290 раз
Дата публикации: 22.03.2018

УДК 008


Щученко Элла Владимировна

студент, магистр

Белгородский Государственный Национальный исследовательский университет, гелгород


Аннотация. Существует несколько концепций понимания культуры и цивилизации. Среди наиболее знаковых концепций стоит отметить концепции А. Тойнби, П. Сорокина, О. Шпенглера. Цель данной статьи – рассмотрение соотношения понятий «культура» и «цивилизация», а также подходов к определению цивилизации различными культурологами и философами. В работе ставятся следующие задачи: рассмотрение теории «локальных цивилизаций» А. Тойнби, изучение типологии цивилизаций П.А. Сорокина, выделение основных позиций понимания соотношения культуры и цивилизации О. Шпенглера.

Ключевые слова: культура, цивилизация, культурология



Shchuchenko Ella

Student, Belgorod, master, Belgorod State national research University


Annotation. There are several concepts of understanding culture and civilization. Among the most significant ones concepts of A. Toynbee, P. Sorokin, O. Spengler should be mentioned. The purpose of this article is to examine the correlation of the concepts "culture" and "civilization", as well as approaches to the definition of civilization by various culturologists and philosophers. The following tasks are set in the article: review of A. Toynbee's theory of "local civilizations", scrutiny of the typology of civilizations of P.A. Sorokin, highlighting the main positions of understanding the correlation of culture and civilization of O. Spengler.

Key words: culture, civilization, cultural studies.


Throughout the history of the world, there emerged and developed a great number of different cultures, and each one was original and unique. Along with the cultures there are also various civilizations, that have their own unique features and characteristics. The problem of the correlation of civilization and culture is multi-faceted and the matter of its comprehension and understanding is very acute at the moment.

Modern cultural studies understand civilization as a certain stage of development. Scientists believe that primitive in primitive cultures there were no those norms of communication, which later became known as civilization norms.

Civilizations appeared approximately 5 thousand years ago in some regions of the Earth and they had discrepant organizational and communicative principles. Civilization implies a high level of culture development, creation of values of both spiritual and material culture.

The term "civilization" comes from the Latin root, meaning "civil." The concept of civilization appeared in the Ancient times as a definition of the qualitative difference between the ancient society and the barbarian environment. Later, in the era of the Enlightenment and in the 19th century, the term civilization was also used as a characteristic of the higher stage of socio-cultural development ("savagery-barbarism-civilization").

There are three meanings of this term:

1)         civilization is based on technocratism and is opposed to organic culture, that is characteristically to traditional cultural philosophy, originating from German romanticism;

2)         the movement of the world from the divided to the unified;

3)         pluralism of separate isolated civilizations.

In order to form a more precise concept of civilization, it is worthwhile to study a number of certain cultural and philosophical phenomena that N. Danilevsky calls cultural and historical types, O. Spengler - developed cultures, A. Toynbee - civilizations, P. Sorokin - metacultures.

It should be mentioned, that these social and cultural supersystems do not coincide neither with the nation, nor with the state, nor with any social group. They go beyond geographic or racial boundaries and are a part of the civilizational scheme.

In the majority of scientific and reference literature civilization is understood as a certain stage of development of society, which is associated with a particular culture and has a number of features that distinguish it from the pre-civilized stage of society development. So the following signs of civilization can be picked out:

1.         availability of the state - a certain administrative structure, that coordinates various spheres of society's life;

2.         availability of written language;

3.         availability of a written fixed legislative system, since the written law is a distinctive feature of a civilized society;

4.         a certain level of humanism.

Thus, a lot of nations transferred to the civilizational stage along with the expansion of religion, based on the humanistic moral values of Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.

Morphological doctrine of cultures identifies two theories: theory of the stadial development of civilizations and theory of local civilizations. The first one is represented by the American anthropologist F. Northrop, A. Krober and P. Sorokin, the second one - by N. Danilevsky, O. Spengler and A. Toynbee.

Stadial theories study civilization as a single process of progressive development of mankind, when certain stages that began in primitive times and continue till now can be singled out. Stadial theory highlights universal laws of development common to all mankind.

 The theories of local civilizations are aimed to studying large historically established communities that occupy a specific territory and have specific features of social-economic and cultural development. The leading role in the theory of local civilizations is played by the individual.

A. Toynbee (1889-1975) is among the most prominent representatives of the theory of local civilizations. In his monumental study "A Study of History" (1934-1961) he puts forward the theory that "local civilizations" should be the primary area of historical analysis.

The growth of the civilization of Toynbee is not only connected with the geographical expansion of society. The scientist indicates, that "the growth of civilizations is a progressive movement... Civilizations are developed by the impulse that draws them from a challenge through an answer to a further challenge; from differentiation through integration and again to differentiation. This process has no spatial coordinates, because the progress, which is called growth, is a cumulative translational movement, and its cumulative character is manifested both in the internal and external aspects "[5, 213].

According to Toynbee, civilizations start to decay when they lose their moral fibre and the cultural elite turns parasitic, exploiting the masses and creating an internal and external proletariat. So they meet a Challenge. A challenge that is successfully met produces a change in society that can be called growth. For example, in Western civilization, which Toynbee calls Western Christendom, an early challenge to the scattered and disorganized society that existed after the collapse of the Roman Empire was the pressure of barbarians to the north and east of Western Europe, and the response that was created was the set of social, political, and military institutions that we call feudalism. The feudal system remained in place until further challenges provoked further innovations by Western Christendom, which in turn constituted further growth.

The theory of "local civilizations" promoted by A. Toynbee was not supported by all researchers.

The most sharply his position was criticized by P. Sorokin (1889-1968). In contrast to Toynbee, he notes several trends in the process of modern civilizations development. The first one is a shift in the center of creativity.

Another tendency is connected with the permanent decline of sensational culture, which is based on the belief that there is no reality, no values beyond the evidence of our senses. Having superseded the spiritualistic culture (based on faith in the kingdom of God), sensationalistic culture spread throughout Europe and dominated during the XV-XXth centuries.

According to P. Sorokin, the beginning of the XX century is characterized as a period of destruction of values of the sensual type of cultural development. The sensual super-system has reached its peak point of development. The most important are material values that are ahead of spiritual perfection. Truth is not an absolute any more, everything is relative, and it began to be considered only from the point of its usefulness.

The loss of absolute values influenced the position of present-day humans. The reason for the crisis state of culture and society was that humanity entered a transition period from one form of culture to another. This transition began at the end of the 19th century, but a new form of culture is only being formed.

Many culturologists and philosophers define the concept of P. Sorokin as a cyclic one. However, the author himself believed that his theory is the theory of "undulating movement of cultures."

According to Sorokin, history does not repeat itself, but repeat only central themes of cultures that exist in the most diverse cultures, depending on various states of the psyche or religion.

P. Sorokin defined the historical process as an endless fluctuation of these cultures. But, unlike other representatives of the cyclic theory, considering progress as a characteristic of one of the phases of the "cycle" (the phase of "flowering" of civilization), P. Sorokin denies historical progress. He says that any old culture is equivalent to a new culture and we cannot speak about an ascending development of history. The historical fluctuation of cultures is like a transition of water from one state into another: from solid to liquid and then to vapor.

Great contribution to the development of the theory of civilization was made by Oswald Spengler (1880-1936). In 1918 was published O. Spengler's book "The Decline of the West" (Russian edition - "The Decline of Europe").

The dialectic of the development of each culture is in the cultural and historic accord of the same stages of the development of any living organism: childhood, adolescence, maturity, wilting. All cultures go through these stages what makes the periods of development of all cultures absolutely identical, the duration of the phases and the period of existence of the culture itself - metered, unbreakable.

According to Spengler, “Each Culture has its own possibilities of self-expression which arise, ripen, decay, and never return. There is not one sculpture, one painting, one mathematics, but many. Each is in its deepest essence different from the others, each limited in duration and self-contained....” [8].

Spengler opposes the idea of a single "universal" historical process, a single line of evolution of mankind, which passes through consistent stages of development, i.e. translational motion, which, using social, epistemological and other criteria, historians have so far defined as progress.

To the theory of the unity and continuity of the process of world history as a general picture of the development of mankind, Spengler opposes the doctrine of a plurality of civilizations ("cultures") that are complete, disunited in space and time, equivalent in terms of the fullness of the possibilities realized in them and the perfection of expression and language of forms achieved.

The soul is the heart of every culture, and culture is the symbolic body, vital incarnation of this soul. The opposite of culture and civilization is the main axis of all Spengler studies. Culture is:

-                   the powerful creativity of the maturing soul,

-                   the birth of a myth, as the expression of a new feeling of God,

-                   the flowering of high art filled with a deep symbolic need,

-                   the immanent action of the state idea among a group of peoples united by a uniform world-feeling and the unity of the life style.

Civilization is the old age of culture, its gradual dying. Symptoms of this dying, according to Spengler, are materialism and atheism, social revolutions and the spread of scientific views.

Spengler has nothing against the conveniences and achievements of civilization, but he warns against a civilization that supersedes true culture: "Culture and civilization are the living body of spirituality and its mummy."

The transfer from culture to civilization is, according to Spengler, the transfer from creativity to infertility, from becoming to ossification, from "heroic deeds" to "mechanical work." Here, literature and art are no longer needed, but only bare technicalism is needed.

Going into civilization, culture freezes, dies: “The Civilization is the inevitable destiny of the Culture. Civilizations are the most external and artificial states which a species of developed humanity is capable. They are a conclusion, the thing-become succeeding the thing-becoming. They are an end, irrevocable, yet by inward necessity reached again and again” [8].

Civilization, according to Spengler, is "the inevitable fate of culture", its logical consequence, completion and outcome. Civilization as "become" is the inevitable end of culture as "becoming."

In conclusion, we can say that civilization is first of all the achievements of culture. And culture is able to outlast states and dynasties. Sometimes one civilization is attributed to different states succeeding each other for millennia, as was in the case with the civilizations of the Near East. Any civilization can spread by capturing more and more people and nations. Civilization, as a definite society with a certain system of elements of culture, can disappear, transferring its cultural achievements to other civilizations. Sometimes two civilizations, different from the point of view of some researchers, unite in one single civilization (for example, in the Greco-Roman civilization). Civilizations can exist in parallel, simultaneously, and can arise one after another. But in any case, the history of civilizations is the history of culture. The study of civilization is the study of its culture.


Список литературы:

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  7. Spengler, Oswald. The decline of the West / An abr. ed. by Helmut Werner ; Engl. abr. ed. prep. by Arthur Helps ; From the transl. by Charles Francis Atkinson. - Repr. - New York : Random house, Cop. 1962.
  8. Stockton, Donald. The Oswald Spengler Collection: Biographical Essay; Extracts From The Decline Of The West; The Hour Of Decision // URL: http://www.jrbooksonline.com/PDF_Books/DeclineOfWest.pdf (дата обращения: 13.03.2018)


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