Midtown New York City. Cities are definitive of human
A civilization is a society or culture group normally
defined as a complex society characterized by the prac-
tice of agriculture and settlement in towns and cities.
Compared with other cultures, members of a civilization
are commonly organized into a diverse division of labor
and an intricate social hierarchy.
Civilization is often used as a synonym for the broader
term "culture" in both popular and academic circles.
Every human being participates in a culture, defined as
"the arts, customs, habits... beliefs, values, behavior and
material habits that constitute a people’s way of life".
However, in its most widely used definition, civilization
is a descriptive term for a relatively complex agricultur-
al and urban culture. Civilizations can be distinguished
from other cultures by their high level of social com-
plexity and organization, and by their diverse economic
and cultural activities.
The citadel of Machu Picchu, known as "the lost city of the In-
cas," and built by the Quechua indigenous people, has become
the most recognizable symbol of the Tawantinsuyu civilization.
In an older but still frequently used sense, the term
"civilization" can be used in a normative manner as well:
in societal contexts where complex and urban cultures
are assumed to be superior to other "savage" or "barbar-
ian" cultures, the concept of "civilization" is used as a
synonym for "cultural (and often ethical) superiority of
certain groups." In a similar sense, civilization can mean
"refinement of thought, manners, or taste".
In his book The Philosophy of Civilization, Albert Sch-
weitzer, one of the main philosophers on the concept of
civilization, outlined the idea that there are dual opin-
ions within society; one regarding civilization as purely
material and another regarding civilization as both eth-
ical and material. He stated that the current world crisis
was, then in 1923, due to a humanity having lost the eth-