Civilization and culture are two constellations that lie in the same continuum. Each influences and is in turn influenced by the other. Civilization is an advanced state of intellectual, cultural, and material development in human society, marked by progress in the arts and sciences, the extensive use of record-keeping, including writing, and the appearance of complex political and social institutions. This is basically a state of affair in a society at a particular time frame. The definition above suggests the advanced state of affair… in common parlance… but civilization may be traditional or not advanced.
People say Indus valley civilization or Egyptian civilizations which are primitive civilizations. On the other hand, culture means the ways of thinking, acting, behaving that people have internalized in them and which are transformed into reality through their actions in the society. For example, respecting the elders or treating guests as the God; as in “Atithi devo bhava” are examples of particular cultural traits. Here before proceeding any further one needs to understand the various constituents of the culture.
When one studies culture, two things can not be neglected; cultural traits and cultural complexes. Cultural traits are the individual acts that defy any scientific reason but are simply followed on the basis that they are rooted in tradition. The examples of cultural traits are folding hands in front of a deity or touching the feet of elders. The inter-related cultural traits form a cultural complex.
For example while performing a “pooja” one lights an “agarvati”, chants some hymns or devotional songs, offers “Prasad” to the lord etc. All these activities constitute the cultural complex. The inter-play and interaction of the different cultural complexes form the substratum of culture. With so much of epistemological differences between culture and civilization one needs to see what separates the both. Culture refers to those intrinsic and intangible elements that engulf human whereas civilization includes all the physical objects that are the exemplification of some objective realities.
Civilization is the human creativity, intellect and volition translated into reality whereas culture is the morality and intellect that remain as the under current of human thought. Civilization progresses thorough the vehicle of knowledge and technology whereas culture thrives in human mind and proceeds through tradition. But when one says they lie in the same continuum means culture determines the civilization. For example, that society where the dominant culture is heroism and hero-worships like the Sioux Indians their substrata of civilization is based on heroism, physical prowess.
Their chief industry is making weapons for hunting and defending own clan members. And their structure of authority and leadership also hovers around this principle only. But at the same time civilization also influences culture in many ways. The technical developments and objective rationality in knowledge inquires the truth among the traditional customs. Reinterpretation of cultural complexes and superstitions from a scientific point of view makes room for reinterpretation of culture. So culture and civilization influence each other. The present write up requires an analysis if …