Modern Civilization Essay

Modern Civilization Essay.

Modern Civilization revolves around Technology and the end goal of Technology is to remove the dirt from under the fingernails of Man and make him cultured. In fact, showing a great bias towards city dwellers, the word “Civilization” itself is derived from the Latin word “Civitas” which denotes the townsman who is more refined than his country dwelling contemporaries. But Modern culture and Civilization is characterized by a distancing from nature.

The tension between the nature and technology (one of the most important basis of Modern culture prevalent in the cities) forms the basis of his celebrated essay “The Metropolis and the Mental Life”.

At the outset Simmel talks about what man requires in his Life. He says “Man is a creation whose existence is dependent on differences, i. e. his mind is stimulated by the difference between present impressions and those which have preceded”. City life is characterized by concentration of a vast humanity in a limited place.

As Elisabeth Adams explains it in her aptly titled article “Alone in the Crowd: human reactions to urbanization”, “The average resident of a city dwelt in far closer proximity to other people and saw many times more members of his species in one day than his ancestors only a generation or two removed might have seen in a lifetime, and yet the city became known as a world of profoundly impersonal relationships between people.

”( Elisabeth Adams) Taking this argument forward Simmel proposes the concept of blase attitude that characterizes the city dwellers.

“This incapacity to react to new stimulations with the required amount of energy constitutes in fact that blase attitude which every child of a large city evinces when compared with the products of the more peaceful and more stable milieu. ”(Simmel 81) Though it can be argued that Simmel might have overly generalized the phenomenon, this has been observed widely enough to be given a pride of place in contemporary literature. In his short story “The Defeat of the City” O Henry speaks almost exclusively about Simmel’s arguments, though in a manner more apt to entertain than readily enlighten.

Robert Walmsley descends upon the city to claim his rightful place in the pantheon of legal luminaries and goes on to become one of the most celebrated members of its high culture societies – full of polished manners and erudite charm. He even marries the most sought after of the high society women – Alicia Van Der Pool. The description of Alicia by O Henry itself seems to justify the vast research that must have prompted Simmel and many sociologists and anthropologists since in to the perils of city dwelling.

To differentiate the natural poise of a farm boy and high society gentleman, O Henry uses one of the most apt descriptions which seem to justify the point about immunity to new stimulations – the blase attitude – formulated by Simmel. O Henry says “He was a lucky man and knew it, even though he were imitating the Spartan boy with an ice-cream freezer beneath his doublet frappeeing the region of his heart. ”(239) O Henry goes on to show the small pleasures of the village with the unique gift that he has to transform mundane things magical.

The city dwelling Alicia is seen to be silent and cool but not haughty. It is left to the imagination of the reader to know the state of Walmsley. Here he was the cool and successful member of the city’s elite sitting in the company of his not so educated Mother making polite conversation with her high society daughter-in-law about marmalade, his sister and even their family dog trying to be part of their evening conversation. It is in this setting the pride of his rural life enters Walmsley’s mind and he gets seized by it.

He, who was anxious al that while about his wife’s reactions to his native rural roots, suddenly stops to care. He knows that the consequences (as the reader can imagine) are going to be grievous. But the joyous and reckless spirit of the village engulfs him – the same spirit which has the capability to react with unadulterated joy to such small pleasures of sight, sound and smell – the same spirit which is lost in the city with all its pretenses and rigid conditions of how things ought to be.

The spirit which gives man the capability of gay abandon and the will to pursue smallest measure of happiness with a desire so robust, that it would be called crass in the highly desensitized city life. As the story goes along, the reader watches with increasing alarm, the loss of reason in Walmsley’s actions. The same reader who carries on with trepidation how Walmsley was going to hide and squirm at the rural crassness of his breed suddenly discovers that it is not his family or folks or anything that goes out of its way to show the tru color of Walmsley’s roots but Walmsley himself.

He calls for manly wrestling bouts with his brother Tom and wins most of them. He challenges the entire farm group. He dances with gay abandon and in Henry’s words “He turned handsprings on the grass that prodded Tom to envious sarcasm. And then, with a whoop, he clattered to the rear and brought back Uncle Ike, a battered colored retainer of the family, with his banjo, and strewed sand on the porch and danced “Chicken in the Bread Tray” and did buck-and-wing wonders for half an hour longer. Incredibly, wild and boisterous things he did.

He sang, he told stories that set all but one shrieking, he played the yokel, the humorous clodhopper; he was mad, mad with the revival of the old life in his blood. ”( O Henry 240) These lines are most descriptive of the difference between city life and the life away from the rigid prescription of city life. As Simmel describes the reasons behind the blase attitude of city life “It has been Money economy which has thus filled the daily life of so many people with weighing, calculating, enumerating and the reduction of qualitative values to quantitative terms” (Simmel 80)

How can you quantify the simple pleasures of spending time joking around with your family and inhaling the sweet scent of earth that you grew up on? This contradiction in Walmsley’s character goes to show that however city life might take over a man, there shall always lie a child inside every man who wants to play simple, seemingly meaningless and inconsequential games which are of no use but have the capability to give immense an purest form of pleasure. As Walmsley reveals his roots and his natural robust nature unmindful of his high society wife, she retreats to her room.

He begins to suddenly fear an encounter with her because he is sure of the nature and intensity of her reaction. “All the polish, the poise, the form that the city had given him had fallen from him like an ill-fitting mantle at the first breath of a country breeze. Dully he awaited the approaching condemnation. ”(O Henry 241) It is but natural for him to expect the heavens to come cascading down on him in reproach. But being true to his brand of “twist in the tale” O Henry, Alicia exclaims that she thought she married a man till she came to the village and found out the truth.

The ending is vintage O Henry “But I find that I have married”–was this Alicia talking? –“something better–a man–Bob, dear, kiss me, won’t you? ” The city was far away. (O Henry 241) O Henry manages to give the shape of a story to all of Simmel’s theories about the cold aloofness of city life, which is so much in marked contrast to the vivaciousness of rural life, lived in close proximity to nature –even if it means living away from the smothering affectation of city and technology.

Works cited Simmel, Georg & Kurt H Wolff. The sociology of Georg Simmel. Washington: Free Press, 1950 O Henry. Compiled by Bennett Cerf, Van Henry Cartmell. The best short stories of O. Henry. The Modern library, 1945 Adams, Elisabeth. Alone in the crowd: human reactions to urbanization. 6 December 1999. Improbable. org. accessed on 26 March 2009. < http://improbable. org/era/essays/alone. html>

Modern Civilization Essay

Geography’s Impact on Mesopotamia and Egypt Essay

Geography’s Impact on Mesopotamia and Egypt Essay.

The ancient river civilizations of Mesopotamia and Egypt were a significant aspect of our world’s development from an uninhabited planet to the cultured society known today. The geographical features of their regions heavily affected how their people lived and their relationship towards other countries. Both ancient Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt used their rivers as important sources of trade and resources. However, the ancient Mesopotamian religion and society was adapted to harsh, warring conditions whereas the ancient Egyptians believed in order and self-sufficiency.

Trade was an important responsibility for the Mesopotamian and Egyptian rivers. Both regions were unable to depend on land travel for trade because transport by land was very difficult. Animals such as the camel, donkey, and horse that could carry heavy burdens for long distances weren’t introduced until the later period of both civilizations’ histories. The ancient people had to rely on their boats and barges in order to communicate and trade with other regions. The Mesopotamians had widespread trade connections throughout the Middle East.

Goods such as wood, vegetable oil, and barley were exchanged for cedar, silver, gold, and copper as well as other materials.

Because the Tigris and Euphrates rivers traversed a wide variety of different regions, merchants were able to barter and sell their products at different canals and ports the rivers passed through. The ancient Egyptians were known for their infatuation with Nubian gold. They were able to easily access Nubia through the Nile River, which flowed from Nubia and emptied out into the Egyptian delta. Both civilizations depended on their rivers in for transport to different areas in order to trade and exchange goods.

The civilizations’ geography also impacted what resources they were able to access and what foods they could cultivate. Due to the limited rainfall in both areas, irrigation was a significant advancement that allowed farmers to grow certain crops and produce valuable goods. Remains of the ancient canals and other river constructions built by the early peoples are still around today as proof of the Mesopotamian and Egyptian manipulation of the river’s flow. Both civilizations used methods to cultivate the land for important resources that they could later use amongst their people and exchange the surplus for other important goods. Farmers planted crops that could withstand the soil and environment they lived in. Barley was the main cereal grain that ancient Mesopotamia produced because it could withstand the harsher climate and could feed many people.

Egypt also farmed many crops well adapted to their soil, especially after the Nile flooded its riverbanks each year. Both civilizations were heavily dependent on their main rivers for important resources such as clay and reeds, which later influenced their system of writing. Ancient Egyptian papyrus reeds were used by their scribes in order to write hieroglyphics, whereas the Mesopotamian pressed sharpened reeds into moist clay in order to write cuneiform. Clay bricks were frequently used to build walls to cities and homes due to their simple structure and wide availability. The land and rivers heavily influenced what resources the ancient Mesopotamian and Egyptian resources.

The Mesopotamian and Egyptian civilizations had significantly different religions influenced by the weather conditions and behavior of the rivers in their region. Mesopotamian people were frequently plagued by natural disasters caused by the dangerous and unpredictable rivers. They believed that their harsh and severe gods were responsible for these disasters and sought to placate them.

Geography’s Impact on Mesopotamia and Egypt Essay

Compare and contrast Egypt and Mesopotamia Essay

Compare and contrast Egypt and Mesopotamia Essay.

Egypt and Mesopotamia were the first river valley civilizations in 3500 B.C.E. They were both similar intellectually, because they both developed written language, and a similar alphabet. They were also similar religiously, because they both were polytheistic and believed their gods ruled them. Mesopotamia and Egypt were different with their achievements, because over time they gained knowledge of things that helped their civilizations, and helped them adapt to their environment.

Mesopotamia and Egypt were both intellectually similar, because they both had a written language forming.

The Egyptians had hieroglyphics, and Mesopotamia used clay tablets to draw similar pictograms. They made board games, and other fun activities. They both had greater literacy forming now that they had a written language. They have stories like The Epic of Gilgamesh and The Hymn to the Nile which were religious literature.

Both Egypt and Mesopotamia were centered on religion. In both civilizations religious leaders were given a very high status. They were both polytheistic, meaning they believed their world was ruled by more than one god.

They believed that the gods created them, and they were also responsible for good harvests. Now that Mesopotamia and Egypt were more technologically advanced, they both built religious structures. Mesopotamia built ziggurats, and the Egyptians built pyramids. The priests went to the Ziggurats and Pyramids to pray, and to make offerings to the gods.

Mesopotamia and Egypt both had major achievements. Mesopotamia was more agriculturally advanced and built irrigation systems. They invented plowing and wheels, to help them with farming. Inventions became more advanced, and more efficient for their lifestyle. They built strong mud houses, and religious buildings. By now, both Mesopotamia and Egypt formed a language and an alphabet, but Egypt started gaining knowledge in math, and science. Egypt’s application of knowledge helped them invent numbers, calendars, medicines, and they even began performing surgeries.

Mesopotamia and Egypt are similar, and different in many ways. They are similar in religion, because they are both polytheistic and rely on the gods to rule them. Mesopotamia is different than Egypt with their achievements, because they invented things that would help their civilizations, and families in their environment. And lastly, they are also similar intellectually, because they both had a written language, and formed a similar alphabet with picture like symbols.


Compare and contrast Egypt and Mesopotamia Essay

Were the Vikings Barbarians? Essay

Were the Vikings Barbarians? Essay.

Were the vikings barbarians ?First of all, we must decide what a barbarian is. A barbarian is a foreigner who is without culture, education nor manners. Somebody who is savage, uncivilized, crude and who acts like an animal would. But it is all a point of view, to today’s standards eating human flesh is a sign of barbarism but cannibals find it normal as they believe that by eating another man’s flesh, you acquire all his virtues.

The Vikings were not cannibals all though they did eat vile food: seagull, seal, walrus, whale, moose, polar bear, horse.

I don’t see anything barbarian in eating those animals as they had long winters and poor weather witch meant not much food so you ate was their was.

They left beautiful buildings, longships, chain-mail and swords. They were good craftsmen. They were able to meld different metals, to sow sails and to build cities. This shows that they weren’t only able to copy but that they also could invent.

Cruelty is a sign of barbarism. The Vikings are not famous for being very merciful. They would go to a monastery kill monks, take the surviving ones and sell them as slaves, raid the monastery, burn it down and then only would they leave. That is barbaric as there is no need to burn the monastery and also slaves show that the Vikings weren’t in highly evolved society.

They were organized as they had Chieftains and Kings and had to go on long sea journeys. The village life was organized as they were the craftsmen and the farmers. In the craftsmen you would find weathers, blacksmiths, the carpenters. You would also find a harbor and a smoke house. This shows that there is a community working together⇢communism not barbarism.

The conclusion that I draw from this is that the Viking had a barbaric behavior with their enemies but were nether the less a civilized society that could make profit from other peoples riches and work. They were not inhuman as they cared for their close and dearest ⇢ funeral ceremonies, weddings …

They were hard cruel men as they were born in a hard cruel world. They were born in family of warriors or as poor peasants. They were used to not having everything they wanted. The mentality of somebody who is born in a place were their isn’t much food nor resources is different from somebody who is born in a wealthy prosperous society. This is what made the hard Vikings look as barbarians. They weren’t barbarians but just tough men.


A school book called Living History 1. New Edition, by Collins, Henry and Tonge.

You may also be interested in the following: essays vikings, were vikings barbarians

Were the Vikings Barbarians? Essay

Effects of ancient civilization’s achievments Essay

Effects of ancient civilization’s achievments Essay.

Many civilization’s achievements have had a lasting effect on both the world and the future world. Some very good examples of this are the early civilizations of Egypt Mesopotamia and the people of the Indus river valley. Through the building of pyramids by the Egyptians, the invention of the plow by the Mesopotamians and the installation of pluming systems by the people from the Indus river valley. Ancient river valley civilizations have left their mark on modern times. Society today benefits because of the achievements of those ancient river valley civilizations.

There were many civilizations that made lasting effects on the world, one of them was Egypt. The pharoses of Egypt had great pyramids built to keep them safe after they had died. These pyramids were huge triangular things that always were made out of limestone and met at point at the top. They would impact Egypt in away that were as big as them. Pyramids housed dead pharoses, there imitate family and there worldly possessions.

Also in the present time the Pyramids attract tourists which mean a better economy. Over all the pyramids have had a positive impact on Egypt.

Another civilization whose achievement has impacted the world was that of Ancient Mesopotamia. Witch was where the people invented the farming plow. The plow was a great invention it could plow fields deeper and quicker than ever before. So in turn this gave Mesopotamia a food surplus. Also more food equals more trade so Mesopotamia hade more trade too. Before the industrial revolution farming was the main industry and Mesopotamia help get more food out of that industry. So Mesopotamia’s farming plow had a big impact on both the ancient past and middle past.

One more ancient civilization that had a big impact on the world because of the achievement was the people of the Indus river valley. Those great people installed a pluming system in there city. Pluming was good for the people in the Indus river valley because it helped prevent disease. Also in the future it gave way for a better system and there Ancient pluming helped it along the way. So another helpful invention was pluming systems.

So you can see how the Achievements of Ancient civilizations impact the present. The Egyptians built pyramids, Mesopotamians invented the plow and people in the Indus river valley installed pluming systems. Those Ancient people might have known that these things would effect there civilization, but they probably didn’t know that they would impact future societies. Society benefits today because of yesterdays achievements

Effects of ancient civilization’s achievments Essay

Greece and Rome: Comparison Essay

Greece and Rome: Comparison Essay.

In comparing Greece and Rome, I will start by pointing out that both Greece and Rome started out as city-states. Rome looked to Greece as a model while acquiring its foundation as a city-state. This fact makes it both simple, and hard to give a comparison essay of the two city-states. It is simple because they are much alike in political structure, family, and religion. However, hard because Rome outgrew its regards to its Greece political views of family, state, citizenship, and political participation.

Discrepancies came about in many elements of the social structure. Women and citizenship were two of the main discrepancies. In Greece, women were viewed as property and had very few civil rights; often if, a child was born a female, she would be left to die. They were also not allowed to live public lives. A Greek woman could not be found roaming the streets of Greece without a particular reason. Women were viewed very differently in Rome.

In Rome women had the choice to live a public life and make there own decisions. Marrying in Roman culture was considered “compassionate.” Rome was not viewed as a male-only world. Rome, unlike Greece, would extend citizenship to expand their empire. Greece was content with there position as a city-state and did not believe in inviting strangers into their civilization.

In Rome and Greece, religious practice was considered different as well. Though Greece and Rome both believed in the supreme gods, Rome was more concerned with the society it created. As to where Greece was concerned with both its practice and the effects of the society. In Rome as well as in Greece, women participated in the practice of religious calibrations. These celebrations were a large part of their public life.

There were many differences between Greek and Roman civilization, even though the Roman culture was vastly influenced by the Greeks. Because the Romans had practiced different qualities, Rome developed an empire. Though the Roman Empire did not last, the key elements of its society can still be seen in the ever-enduring Greece civilization.

Greece and Rome: Comparison Essay

Comparison and contrast of Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley Essay

Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley civilizations

Comparison and contrast of Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley Essay. Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley civilizations have long been compared throughout history and were both some of the earliest civilizations in the world. Mesopotamia, also known as, ‘the land between the rivers,’ was named for the triangular area between the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers. This area has been extended and now covers modern day Iraq, adding ancient Assyria and Babylonia to that land. The Indus civilization is often referred to as the Harappan civilization from the first city discovered called Harappa.

Comparison and contrast of Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley Essay.

The Indus civilization existed in the vast river plains of what are now Pakistan and northwestern India between the Indus and Ganges rivers from about 2800 BC to 1800 BC. Though these two territories had many things in common due to their surrounding geographies, they also differed in some fundamental ways such as economy, government, and social system.

The economy of Mesopotamia was mainly agricultural, but also included wool, hair, and leather. The domestication of animals, painting of pottery, and most importantly, agriculture spread to Greece from Mesopotamia.

Comparison and contrast of Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley Essay.

This agriculture was being jeopardized from the progressing salinization (treating of salt) of the soil, and the weakening of the dikes. This necessitated constant watch employed by the temple and the palace. Silver was used in the Babylonian period, and it was being hoarded as treasure by the palace and the temple. There were three kinds of trade going on in Mesopotamia, one being inner city trade. The second kind was an ongoing trade between foreign cities and trading outposts. The last was the export of industrial goods to sights such as Al Mina at the mouth of the Orontes River in Syria. Items that were exported include textiles made by serfs(servant required to perform labor for his/her lord) and the importing of metal, stone, lumber, spices and perfumes.

The economy of the Indus civilization was similar to Mesopotamia in that both had an agriculture based on irrigation and fertility by silt bearing floods. Cereal crops were also similar, the two main ones being wheat and barley. Trade was a large part of this civilization, but they were not as reliant on trade as Mesopotamia was. They traded with their neighbors to the West items such as metal ores for crafts. Trade may have been conducted by private merchants as there is substantiation of caravan routes. Some routes linked Northwest India with Mesopotamia, while others lined the sea route along the Persian Gulf. Part of every farmer’s crop was paid into the granary. These granaries were massive for the time, and are supposedly the equivalent of a state bank or treasury. The level of grain present would have represented the level of public credit. In Mesopotamia there were state and temple grain stores, but because of the size and architectural importance of those at the Indus sights, they are believed to have a greater value.

A centralized government ruled the state in Indus civilization. The regular planning of Indus towns and cities was made such that each was built as a whole by an authority with total control. As a result of the consistency over such a large area, the entire Indus area was a unified state. The two main sights were Harrapa and Mohenjo-Daro, and they were the commercial and administrative centers. It is unlikely that there were two equal rulers, more likely a combined military and religious power. There weren’t temples that dominated the area like at Mesopotamia, only a few shrines have been found in the Indus territory. The nature of the authority there isn’t known, whether it was ruling priests or kings but it is known that the ruling privileged had religious practices of ritual cleaning through bathing.

The government and rule of the Harappan civilization tied in with their social structure. In this hierarchy system, the Brahmans (priests) were at the top, followed by the Kshatriyas (warriors), the Vaisyes (commoners/merchants), the Sudras (artisans and laborers) and finally a sort of sub-class, the Untouchables. The only difference between this system and other ancient systems is that as per Hinduism, you cannot change class. You stay into the class you were born into. This ties in with the religious belief of reincarnation and that you must lead a good life in order to have good Karma and be born into a better caste. Each class lived a different lifestyle. They had certain occupations that other classes don’t follow, they ate different types of food, they had different family customs, and so forth. The Brahmin were the judges and priests who held important positions in government and had the most wealth and power.

In Mesopotamia the ruling powers were both divine and royal. The Sumerians had a belief that people were created by gods to labor for them. The temple and its land belonged to the god Ningirsu and his wife Baba, and their family. The land owning upper classes included ruling princes and their families, leading priests, and palace officials. The political function was not separated from the religious function for much of Mesopotamia’s history. In old Babylonian times a town or a precinct mayor led a group or council of elders. Nobility formed the upper house of elders, and also land-owning commoners met in a popular assembly to make important decisions.

Together they managed dealings such as appointing governors, and choosing kings to be temporary military commanders in times of crisis. Eventually there was a separation of the kings from the temple, and the soldiers were kept in the king’s palace. The king with his increasing power, acted not only in the name of his city god, but also in that of justice, the sun god Utu. Because of the divine and the royal interest in justice, the people felt safe and secure that injustices would be punished.

In the social structure of Mesopotamia they had skilled people that knew about medicines and they also had physicians. Documents from old Babylonian periods state that they used herbs and animal parts. Mesopotamia had a great slave population, including different kinds of slaves. There were slaves which private persons kept, and those belonging to the palace and the temple, called serfs. City people did not usually own slaves though. The family units here were small, with one wife, except in old Babylonia sometimes a man could take a second wife. There were other associations shown in society such as religious care for the souls of the dead, and professional groups of highly trained people in exorcism and divination techniques.

There were brewers and craftsmen whose success depended on the relationship of the palace and the temple. Often in Mesopotamia there existed a tension between it and surrounding country, which caused a lack of political stability. The temple and palace made income from taxes or rent or income from agricultural holdings. They also collected the offerings from worshipers of god. The relationship between the king and his subjects was complete obedience on the same level as worshipping gods. The upkeep of roads was the royal responsibility, and certain privileges were also ensured by the city, which all took place inside the city walls, much like the city walls of Indus areas.

Mesopotamia had its Golden Age during 2900-2700 BC. Kish, a city in the north of Babylonia, is the first postdiluvial (post-flood) city mentioned in the Sumerian King Lists. After the great Flood, the `kingdom lowered again from heaven’. It was the age when `the four quarters of the world’ lived in harmony. According to excavations, Kish was an important city in Mesopotamia. It was the center of the of the first Sumerian dynasty and discoveries point to a specialization in labor and craftsmanship. Golden daggers and other artifacts were found in tombs and in Kish, archeologists found the first monumental building that was a palace, rather than a temple. This signifies that the King was in power and not the high priests.

The ‘King of Kish’ title was an important title and prestige went along with it but its importance was not merely superficial. Kish was situated in the north of the plains of southern Mesopotamia on a critical spot at the Euphrates River. A breakthrough of the river to the lowlands in the direction southwest would have meant that a whole system of irrigation channels would be without water supply. The control of the Euphrates in the neighborhood of Kish thus was of vital importance to the rulers in the south of Mesopotamia. The title `king of Kish’ could have indicated the ruler that exercised this control.

The Indus Valley and Mesopotamian civilizations were similar in some aspects due to their state as river valley civilizations; they did differ in some essential ways. While these two civilizations have long since gone, they still influence modern culture. The 60-minute hour, 60-second minute, and 360 degrees in a circle are results of Mesopotamia while the chariot peoples probably had their most lasting effect in India, where they set many of the basic patterns of Indian life and belief, patterns that remain firm and powerful even to the present day.

Comparison and contrast of Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley Essay