The introduction level of classical civilization in the book World civilizations: The Global experience the author mainly emphasizes on people-society interactions as the main characteristics distinguishing this era. Most of the information discussed by the author on this chapter encompasses cultural, social, economic and political aspects of history (Stearns, 1999). The author considers cultural and social aspects the key factors that contributed to classical civilization. According to Stearns the classical world civilization era was mainly characterized by the integration of regions consisting of people from diverse groups.
Thus according to the author classical civilization was a result of political cultural systems overarching (Stearns, 1999). In describing the world civilization during the classical era the author in addition explores historical issues such as intellectual issues and class. From the authors perspectives human agency and inequality during this era played a key role in classical civilization. In this paper other than identifying the characteristics discussed by Stearns that he considers the distinguishing characteristics, I will also develop a personal stand on whether I agree or disagree with his characterization.
The author analyses world civilization during the classical era using themes from great civilization of India, the Mediterranean and China regions. According to the author some of the characteristics that can be associated with world civilization during this era include decline of religious power in politics, decline and fall of classical empires, the developed of new world’s religions and increased global connections (Stearns, 1999). This according to the author resulted to emergence of a new phase of world’s history.
Expansion and integration the main themes that are associated to classical civilization were as a result of territorial expansion. In addition, according to the author during this period there were some government’s efforts to integrate the people of different regions which resulted to the formation of new territories (Stearns, 1999). In his discussions on Classical civilization Stearns (1999), argues that integration which later contributed to the global civilization during this period was as a result of two factors; promotion of social unity and development of new strategies for governing the new territories.
While classical era is mainly considered to have had a huge impact in the Mediterranean, China and India regions, there were also other minor developments in other regions of the world which shared similar characteristics during the classical era. In Northern Europe as a result of need to increase food security new territories were developed which extended to Northern Asia (Stearns, 1999). Thus the theme of integration was evident in other regions as well.
In some regions poor governance and need for liberation according to the author promoted integration with states that were already undergoing civilization. The author uses Japan as an example that in order to improve their political structure they had to develop contacts with China resulting to integration. The author uses other examples to show that world civilization shared a common historical course which during the classical period was as a result of social cohesion and integration.
According to the author during classical era nomads and other primate societies were only agents of contacts (Stearns, 1999). The author considers these social groups to have slowed the civilization process during this period especially because they posed threat to trade, religion, technology advancement and other factors were considered to promote integration. According to the author in order for the societies he considered to have played role in classical civilization to succeed, they had to battle with nomad and other societies he considers to have created hostile environment for civilization.
His argument however contradicts those of other authors who consider these social groups to have promoted classical civilization process mainly by helping to promote trade. While some of there practices inhibited free integration the social groups mainly promoted political integration. In addition, these social groups contributed in the development of cultural characteristics which is considered part of classical civilization heritage in most parts of the world. These cultural characteristics are still part of modern culture several decades after the end of classical period.
Other characteristics that the author considers to represent the classical era include sexual value characteristics (Stearns, 1999). Some of civilization characteristics such as sexual beauty and behaviors such as homosexuality have their origin during the classical era. Stearns argues that these civilization characteristics developed as need for social expansion and integration. For instance, as a result of integration new rules were developed on fidelity mainly to lower the dangers of excess sexual exposure. However, the regulation resulted to the development of Confucianism on sexual matters especially toward homosexuality.
In addition, as a result of civilization sexuality topics became open discussion a civilization characteristic that is evident up to date. Despite the fact that the distinguishing characteristics that the author uses to describe civilization in classical period are relevant, I do not agree that these were the only characteristics that could be used to describe this era. In his writing the author has used a restrictive perspective which is only able to cover certain societies that were deemed as civilized during this period.
His mode of argument limits the possibility of one being able to compare these characteristics using any other society other than the ones he has analyzed-China, India and societies in the Mediterranean region (Lockard, 1995). Thus these characteristics of this era raise more questions on whether the author already had his own perspective of the kind human nature which existed during this period and thus used it to develop these characteristics. The author tends to overlook differences that are attributed to classical civilization such as a result of governance traditions, religion, artistic structure and even everyday life.
Arguing that classical civilization was mainly as a result of similarity in the global perspective on governance, religion and technology advancement is incorrect. The author should have provided a different perspective of describing the characteristics that can be used to describe this period especially aspects contributed by societies outside the Eurocentric conception of classical civilization. There are social identities outside the ones described above which also contributed greatly in the classical civilization process.
For instance, the nomads played an important role in the development of trade networks which later promoted the civilization integration process. The author mainly uses some of the factors that resulted to society integration thus according to him integration to only depicted a stage of primitiveness in some societies. Rather than viewing some forms of integration such as hunting, gathering and nomads which played a key role during this era’s civilization as means of production he describes it to have marginalized the civilization process during this are.
I don’t to agree with his argument because based on other authors production during this historical time had a big impact in the process of civilization. Unlike the author who seemed to marginalize some forms of production such as hunting, nomadism which he considers to have interfered with other aspects that contributed to civilization such as political and economy, I believe these aspects had a big role to play especially in civilization in the production era (Lockard, 1995). The characteristics that author used to describe classical civilization can only be considered to be based on racial aspects.
His mode of describing civilization during the classical era tends to overlook contemporary social identities which contributed to classical civilization. The author in order to be able to integrate the two main characteristic for this period into all social groupings should have used the aspect that describes how various groups contributed to civilization during this period as a result of integration and need of expansion. The aspect of having fixed aspects on which social identities resulted to civilization during this era lowers the strength and the positive impact interaction of various societies had in the civilization process.
However, most authors argue that the nomads had a key role to play in classical civilization mainly because they catalyzed the invention of new military tactics and materials associated with this era such as the Gunpowder which was developed in China to counter nomad’s threat. The author considered sexuality as another unique characteristic that was used to characterize this era. According to Stearns (1999) during the classical era gender integration played a key role in promoting civilization. Most of the integration by different societies resulted due to intermarriage especially during developed of trading systems.
It is during this period that religious institutions such as the Indian system started spreading to other parts of the continent. As a result, most religions started striving to develop a signature identity that would divine them. These religious institutional characteristics are also considered to distinguish the civilization process during the classical era (Lockard, 1995). The author associates some of the society’s characteristics associated with this era to have resulted from integration of sexual values by various social groups. As a result they were a new approach on gender that was established during classical civilization.
Some of these approaches which the author considers to characterize civilization during this era include development of an artistic sexual beauty expression, and development of certain sexual behaviors such as homosexuality. Conclusion During the classical era the author of World civilization: Global experience describes integration and expansions as the main distinguishing characteristics for this period. According to the author the need to improve the political structure, economy, technology and even every day life in India, China and the Mediterranean region greatly impacted the civilization process.
The author considers some of the social aspects such as development of new sexuality behaviors that are associated with this era to have originated from the actions of people in these regions. Despite the fact I agree with the author on the distinguishing characteristics of this era, I disagree with his arguments mainly because he tends to overlook other social identities such as nomads who played an equal important role in promoting classical civilization especially by acting as the agents of promoting social integration.
In addition, their every day activities contributed in the expansion of the social structure resulting in formation of new territories (Lockard, 1995). The author should have also included how some of the contributions by these groups which he considers primitive social identities resulted to classical civilizations. Including other social identities in his discussion would have erased the notion that he had already developed a particular concept about human nature during this period.
In addition, the author should have described in details the classical empires collapse which can be considered another characteristic for classical era. References Lockard, C. (1995). Integrating Southeast Asia into a framework of world History: The period before 1500. Vol. 29. Society of History education press. Stearns, P. N. (1999). World Civilizations: The Global Experience Vol. 1. MA: Addison Wesley Longman press.
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