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What are the Five Civilizations?

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We are using the word "civilization" in a different way than most historians and civilizational scholars do. Most (including Arnold Toynbee) associate a civilization with a society that existed in a certain time and place - for instance, the Minoan civilization on Crete in the 3rd and 2nd millennia B.C. In contrast, the scheme of history presented in this web site sees civilization as a worldwide cultural entity. It is a stage in the development of human society as it progresses from embodiment in small tribal communities to the type of society we have today.

Civilizations are types of culture which emerged in successive epochs of world history. Each was associated with a communication technology which became dominant during that time. Each civilization also featured an institution of power that had recently developed. Four of the five civilizations have now reached maturity. The fifth civilization, associated with computer technology, has appeared on the horizon but is too new to have a history.

Our basic approach to world history and to civilizations is presented in a page titled Civilizations and Historical Epochs (13,055 words) www.civepochs.html. This is the first chapter of the book, Five Epochs of Civilization. It places this theory of history in a context with other theories.

See another summary of this scheme, "World History in Five Epochs of Civilization". www.worldhistory.html - 5 foreign languages


Click here for a description of -

Civilization I (564 words)  www.description1.html  - 5 foreign languages             Longer description (1642 words) www.r&fcivI.html - 5 foreign languages

Civilization II (602 words)  www.description2.html - 5 foreign languages             Longer description (2110 words) www.r&fcivII.html - 5 foreign languages

Civilization III (569 words)   www.description3.html  - 5 foreign languages         Longer description (2084 words)  www.r&fcivIII.html - 5 foreign languages

Civilization IV (536 words)  www.description4.html  - 5 foreign languages       

For longer narratives of each civilization, go to summary page “A Pyramid of History”.    www.pyramid.html - 5 foreign languages     
 

Click here for headline events:

in the history of Civilization I (474 words) www.events1.html - 5 foreign languages

in the history of Civilization II (500 words) www.events2.html - 5 foreign languages

in the history of Civilization III (395 words) www.events3.html - 5 foreign languages

in the history of Civilization IV (438 words) www.events4.html - 5 foreign languages
 

With respect to the two keys used to identify civilizations, we have the following scheme in tabular form.

name of  civilization communication technology   institution of power
     
Civilization I    ideographic writing imperial government
Civilization II   alphabetic writing world religion
Civilization III   printing commerce and education
Civilization IV electronic recording  and broadcasting popular entertainment
Civilization V computers the Internet & ?

 

Pointing the way to the future -

How past civilizations indicate the future of government (5445 words) www.predictlstciv.html - 5 foreign languages

How past civilizations indicate the future of religion (6894 words) www.predict2ndciv.html - 5 foreign languages

How past civilizations indicate the future of commerce & education (8065 words) www.predict3rdciv.html - 5 foreign languages

The history of the fifth civilization lies mostly in the future. Click here for brief speculation on how computers might affect important institutions in society:

Civilization V (411 words) (This is the computer civilization) www.fifthciv.html - 5 foreign languages

Geeks and Nerds, personality types of the new civilization (592 words) www.geeks.html - 5 foreign languages

Some may wonder when these successive civilizations appeared in chronological terms. The time line is roughly:

Civilization I - 3000 B.C. to 550 B.C.

Civilization II - 550 B.C. to 1450 A.D.

Civilization III - 1450 A.D. to 1920 A.D.

Civilization IV - 1920 A.D. to 1990 A.D.

Civilization V - 1990 A.D. to present

But, in fact, the different societies on earth entered these civilizations at different times. Civilizations are a cultural complex whose development is not set chronologically but by an organic process of growth and decay.  

 

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