How Western Civilization Started and Its Outcomes for the Modern Society
The reforms that began in the Renaissance period are still relevant in the modern age. Man has evolved through time, with the Christianity and Muslim religions explaining the origin of man as God’s creation. In fact, Pico Della Mirandola exclaimed that “There is nothing to see more wonderful than man!” (Della, 1). Della is particularly awed by the magnificence of man, his closeness to the gods, and the superiority of his senses amongst other animals in the creation. Maybe, that is why humans are able to reform from one type of society, to an improved, better version of the same society through civilization, which comes with scientific inventions, commercialization, changing political landscape, growth of cities, and reformation of the agricultural practices. Civilization is a significant reform that started in the Renaissance period and continues to have undisputable implications on human life. Peter Stearns, in his work, Western Civilization in World History, revealed how commercialization was and still is an important part of reforms that have occurred in human civilization, describing it as “a form of human organization,” (Stearns, 31). Civilization is also a coherence that develops in form of “surplus populations, attractive institutions and values, shared trading systems, common institutions, and larger social patterns,” (Stearns, 32). While early modern civilization may not be highly regarded in modern society, it continues to prevail because of how it influenced trade, growth of cities, patterns of human organization, agriculture, and religion.
Civilization led to the development of cities and urban influence. Stearns argued that that civilization came as a means through which cities and urban centers developed (31). These urban centers acted as centers of economic surplus because they were mostly meeting centers for the merchants to exchange their valuables. Cities such as Mexico, which had developed during the age of reform are still upfront today and centers of economic power in their countries. For example, Hernan Cortes was writing the “Letters from Mexico” to the King of Spain informing him of the conquest that was taking place around 1521, (Cortes, 161). This shows that cities had grown out as centers of civilization during the reform period and were becoming centers of political and economic power. This trend of urbanization has continued until modern times, with cities being the centers of economic power through industrialization and manufacturing activities.
Civilization has been a reform in the human organization that has not only seen the development of cities and urban centers but also has aided the development of writing as a means of communication. The writing was a common form of expression that began in the Renaissance period and is still a reliable and sustainable method of expression. Stearns explains that “writing allows for record-keeping, promotes new ways to record knowledge and promotes new kinds of intellectual activities,” (31). Writing has emerged through the process of human civilization, especially with the advancement of religious ideas such as Christianity and Islam. For instance, Martin Luther used writing as a form of expressing his disputation, posting his “theses on the castle door at Wittenberg in 1517,” (Luther, 1). Through such writings, Luther made his philosophical ideologies and known, and can still be used to inform the modern society what happened in the early modern past. Writing is also used in teaching the Christian doctrine, like the one written by John Calvin, explaining that “the true wisdom of man consists in the knowledge of God the Creator and Redeemer,” (1194). If there were no writing civilization, there would be scant evidence of such teachings in the modern world, and religion would barely exist in the first place. Writing is still a widely used form of civilization in modern society. It is used in teaching, writing newspapers, books, periodicals, journals, among other materials. Writing is still a source of knowledge and transformation that continues to be evidenced in human society.
Civilization widely expanded the trading activities in the early modern times mostly through the merchants. Stearns explained that “commercialization was possible in part because of the merchant activity, and the distinctive place of merchants in urban life,” (81). Western civilization, for instance, copied the trading methods from the Arabs during the Middle Ages (1450-1850s). If such civilization had not existed, it would probably have been impossible to have shared trade between the nations today and the advancement of industrialization in the modern world. Civilization has also seen the rise of commercialized agriculture in countries such as Japan (Stearns, 73). Through the link to the earlier period of the activities of the trading merchants, the trading relationships were formed, which have extended up to the modern period where commercialization has intensified and continued to transform economies, cities, and the urban centers. However, the commercialization has also brought about inequalities in the social structure, leading to the emergence of the rich who have the abundance of resources, and the poor, who live in misery, and are faced with constant threats of hunger and deprivation. Such inequalities have led to the criticism of civilization, as a reform that has disrupted the human society from its original form, creating social class divisions, and spreading the economic inequalities of capitalism. Civilization has also been said to cause political disunity due to different coherences in civilization such as Chinese Civilization and Western civilization (Stearns, 33). As much as civilization has can cause harm, to society, its expansion of trading activities has more benefits to be earned.
In conclusion, it is evident that civilization has been a significant reform that has taken place in human society. There have been potential implications of the civilization process including the proliferation of the cities and the urban centers. Civilization began in the reform period when there was the establishment of cities and urban areas, which served as political centers and trading centers. An example has been given to the city of Mexico, which underwent the conquest of Spain. Such cities have grown to become notable industrial centers, opening up the economies of their countries to trading activities. Civilization is also a source of commercialization. Through the early modern civilization that saw the trading merchants exchange their goods through informal markets, and now there are shared trading agreements between nations. Such an implication may have been difficult or not have existed at all were there no trading activities in the early modern period. There has also been the commercialization of agriculture due to the civilization process. Civilization is a human reform that changes the way people live and behave. In the context of making their lives better, humans have now discovered better ways of doing commercial agriculture, which is economically rewarding. Finally, civilization is a transformation that has enhanced the learning process through the discovery of writing as a means of storing and communicating information/ Religious ideals on Christianity, Islam, and other religions that have been spread through the writing process. Civilization has acted as a reform that has been a foundation of the modern religion, the industrialization process, the growth of cities, proliferation of commercial agriculture, and a boost to the intellectual process through writing. Without these important changes that have been brought about by civilization as a means of human reform, modern achievements would have been minimal.
- Calvin, John. The Institutes Of The Christian Religion: eBook Edition. Jazzybee Verlag, 2012.
- Cortés, Hernán. Letters from Mexico. ed. by A.R. Pagden, New York: Grossman Publishers, 2001.
- Della Mirandola, Giovanni Pico. Oration on the Dignity of Man. Regnery Publishing, 1996.
- Luther, Martin. Luther’s ninety-five theses. Vol. 31. Fortress Press, 1957.
- Stearns, Peter N. Western civilization in world history. Routledge, 2008.
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