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HST 111: The West and the World, Pt. I (Dimock): Home


This is a research guide for your study of societies and cultures from the Renaissance to the present, with emphasis on connecting ideas and events of the past to understand our current world. The tools and strategies in this guide will assist you in locating and evaluating resources for your annotated bibliography.  If you have any questions, please contact me or another BCC Librarian at a campus library convenient to you.

Western Civilization


"Civilization (from Latin civilis, ‘belonging to a society’) is an ambiguous term. In its contemporary usage it refers to a unified social system, and is invested with notions of technological advances and cultural complexity characterized by hierarchical organization. The notion of civilization has, therefore, been used both to measure the sophistication of a society, and as a stick to beat those who seem to be less civilized.

Among the evolutionists of the 18th and 19th centuries, civilization was considered the summit of human achievement, the prerogative of Western culture. Although ancient civilizations in Mexico, China, Egypt and India were recognized, the word acquired its ambiguity when used by evolutionists to talk about Western civilization. However, as Mahatma Ghandi wryly pointed out, the notion of a West that was civilized was "a good idea," but it had certainly not been attained."

Civilization. (1993). In K. McLeish (Ed.), Bloomsbury guide to human thought. London, UK: Bloomsbury. Retrieved from

Image Source: Lensnmatter. Resurrection of the Parthenon. (2015, March 22).

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