I’m assuming Western history and civilization is defined by the culture of Europe and North America from the time of Alexander the Great onward.
Eastern civilization, I guess, includes India and China.
Meanwhile Ancient Egypt is left in no man’s land, along with the Middle East, Latin America, and Polynesia. And African civilization, history, religion, and philosophy gets neglected entirely.
And somehow, if common logic is to be believed, none of these civilizations interacted and influenced each other. Ever.
Civilization itself is a nebulous term. Same thing with culture (I’m not including “society” here because apparently, as some academic jerk wad told me, “society” doesn’t exist. Whatever that means). Yet somehow, for some reason, we’re supposed to preserve these things because that’s what shaped our perspective on things.
I’m not saying that I disagree, I’m just asking people to interrogate these things a little further. I’ve said before that a sense of belonging is necessary to form an identity. We are who we are by our relationship with others.
But how much is culture and civilization, both ill-defined terms, a part of achieving a sense of fulfillment? I’ve heard people from all different stripes…from Conservatives, Marxists, and even libs….that this is the case, but it’s never been explained. It’s not like we have a choice in the matter, and it operates under the presumption that people are essentially blank slates and are nothing like you and me.
It’s just not true.
We’re still cavemen, meant to dwell in tribes of only a few hundred people, yet we’re faced with a constantly changing world. We have fallen into what Benedict Anderson calls an “imagined community”, where no one knows each other, not even our neighbors, but we’re supposed to believe we form some kind of community. I guess our natural instinct is to preserve what we have.
Anderson was specifically addressing the phenomenon of nationalism and how traditional political philosophy failed to account for its emergence. It’s hard for us to believe, but nationalism is a fairly recent development. It is not intrinsic to our understanding of community. But along with all the political paradigms that came before, the concept of nation state will also go away.
I’ve said it before, and we all know it, but change is the fundamental force in the universe. You can fight that, but it’s futile. Permanence is an illusion. The sense of permanent self is also an illusion: our bodies, minds, memories too, are constantly changing
Being a caveman and defining yourself against the “other” is easy. And maybe I’m wrong. But at least be honest with yourself.