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Are Humans Civilized Intrinsically?

  1. Jun 8, 2008 #1
    The common perception is that due to constant evolutionary process, human beings are becoming more and more civilized gradually. Is this really so?

    The question is: Can human beings remain civilized when their basic physiological and psychological needs remain unfulfilled? Like hunger, freedom, sex and protection etc.

    Another question is, which may be considered the part of question 1: What is exactly meant by a 'normal' human?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 8, 2008 #2
    Humans aren't becoming more civilized, it is just that the higher our capacity for logical and rational thinking the easier it is to ignore our base emotions and instincts. So I think if evolution leads us to having larger frontal lobes, then our societies as a whole will be more 'civilized'.

    Can we remain civilized in extreme situations? Well, certainly. However hunger and the like are very powerful mechanisms and when it comes to life or death, instincts would normally win out...

    Your last question really depends on how you would define the word normal and what parameters you would use to measure it. This question is really open to interpretation.
  4. Jun 8, 2008 #3
    Yeah that's what I actually want, i.e to have as many views and interpretations of 'normality' as possible.
  5. Jun 8, 2008 #4
    Well ok, I think you can break it down in to two variables, whose combinations would give an equation:

    Variable 1: Parameters of Measurement
    i.e. personality types, social view points, religious standings, political views, brain organization, intelligence, types of intelligence, ect...

    Variable 2: Method of Measurement
    i.e. average, median, statistical analysis, ect...

    So that many pairings of V1 with V2 are possible, yet each gives an approximation.
  6. Jun 8, 2008 #5


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    Staff: Mentor

    You need to define what you mean by "civilized". It means something different to everyone.

    Please post you definition or the thread will be locked.
  7. Jun 8, 2008 #6
    Watch the movie, "One flew over the cuckoos next". A good indication between the boundaries of insanity and being "normal".
  8. Jun 8, 2008 #7


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    The movie was cr@p compared to the book. The book was not like the movie.
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2008
  9. Jun 8, 2008 #8
    Is the book really good?
  10. Jun 8, 2008 #9


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    The book is excellent. Much better than the movie.
  11. Jun 8, 2008 #10
    Are you actually asking about humans or about people. Humans are elements of an abstract and distant group viewed from afar. People are like the people you know a bit better. The point being, there's no reason to talk about humans. They aren't people.
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2008
  12. Jun 12, 2008 #11
    Sorry for the late reply, but I was busy.

    Alright, let's first try to agree on the definition or at least the concept of civilization and civilized humans.

    Civilization may be defined as a society of human beings living according to, more or less, defined pattern or social, cultural and possible religious doctrines. And people who do lead their lives according to this set pattern would be considered in the circle of civilized beings.

    Here, by the social and cultural patterns I mean the generally accepted ones in our modern world. That won't include the cultures of pirates or savages etc. (For they also do have culture)

    I hope that gives at least a bit of concept and I would like people to add more in this.

    Now we are generally considered to be living in a civilized world and humans beings in our world civilized. My question is: Are we intrinsically civilized? Even when our very basic needs are not fulfilled?
  13. Jun 12, 2008 #12
    These are my point to point opinions on the matter;

    Hunger, no I don't think many would remain "civilized" and calm after lacking food for a long time.

    Freedom, yes, in the short run atleast, people do quite well under command.

    Sex, obviously yes, :tongue:.

    Protection, I'm not certain what you mean here. Protection against uncivilized "things" maybe?

    A lack of a combination of these I think makes things much worse. I mean there was a buddhist monk who set himself on fire in protest against the vietnam war, his needs of survival obviously not being fulfilled he didn't move, so he was "civilized" (as far as that concept goes for a person on fire) whilst not having one of the most basic needs fulfilled.

    Perhaps I'm dodging your question about humans being intrinsically civilized, I'll have to come back to you later.
  14. Jun 12, 2008 #13
    Dolphins are kind of like this as well. I've never heard of a rogue dolphin that goes around attacking other dolphins and people in lethal ways. And they're kind of friendly and social....civilised. The only thing is that they haven't got arms and legs.

    Humans aren't civilised intrinsically. There are all kinds of people in the world, and not all of them are 'civilised'.....so we can't even begin to include the word 'intrinsically' here, because not all humans are civilised anyway.
  15. Jun 12, 2008 #14
    quiz: Where does the western concept of 'civilized' come from and how does it persist today considered as superior to uncivilized.
  16. Jul 5, 2008 #15
    Greek/Roman civilisation as opposed to the barbarians.
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