The concept of “civilization” in social philosophy and cultural studies is interpreted in different ways. It is translated from French as “well-mannered, civil, state, worthy behavior of a citizen, characterizing his/her high level of socio-cultural development”. As a social phenomenon, civilization has different meanings, specifically, it is understood as a stage (era) of the socio-cultural development of mankind replacing the primitive society. Civilization is a poly-ethnic integral and peculiar socio-cultural formation at the stage of social development, which follows the primitive communal system. The article comprehends the modern civilizational development of society and mankind based on the achievements of technologies widely used in social and cultural development. Civilizational development of society, technologization, and digitalization are changing traditional cultures. This is how computer art or digital art have arisen. They represent a creative human activity widely using information technologies to produce a variety of artistic images, plots, and creative works. Civilization is sometimes defined as a stage in the development of a socio-cultural system, when the creative forces of people, social groups, peoples are expended and mechanical forms of life and behavior of people alienated from the inner meaning of social existence become visible instead of their living and behavior manifestations.
In his fundamental work “The Decline of Europe”, Spengler considers civilization as the most important historical, civilizational issue, a consequence of the culture development. In civilization, culture comes to an end, dies. Civilizations are characterized by such tendencies as the birth, growth, decline, flourishing and decay.
Civilization is associated with culture, although it does not coincide with it; these concepts are not identical. The technological and technical inventions achieved by man and society, the deadening of spiritual, rational ideas and values in the material products of human activity represent the foundations of civilization. In the meantime, culture is based on the spiritual values of a person being myths, religion, poetry, philosophical and scientific ideas that become dead and turn into mechanical, automatic-electronic structures, technologies that characterize one or another type of civilization, mainly, the development of material production, productive forces, and technical achievements. The nature of culture is different from the nature of civilization, it is the result of human spirituality, which produced religious, moral-humanistic, moral-aesthetic, scientific values and principles that contribute to the development of the spiritual sphere of people’s life.
The article comprehends the modern civilizational development of society and mankind based on the achievements of technologies widely used in social and cultural development. Civilizational development of society, technologization, and digitalization are changing traditional cultures. This is how computer art or digital art have arisen. They represent a creative human activity widely using information technologies to produce a variety of artistic images, plots, and creative works.
Today, computer art is actively developing and fostering competition to traditional culture and art. It relies on works of traditional art transferring them to a digital basis, imitating the original material medium using a computer. There are emerging virtual museums, cultural centers, universities, where students study at a distance, get the corresponding professions.
These processes turn a rational person into an artificial person. Obviously, human-made robots perform their functions immeasurably better. Now there is an active process of creating artificial substitutes for the human body successfully transplanting body parts from one person to another. It is predicted that parts of the human body can be replaced with natural and artificial ones. There is an idea that modern civilizational achievements will enable to assemble a person in the same way as a car.
However, a person is still not a mannequin consisting of mechanically assembled iron and artificial parts but a living organism with a mind, speech, soul, ability to work, create, write poetry, solve problems, philosophize, dream. Man and society are formed, develop over millennia during the changeover of many generations, cultures, civilizations.
The development of culture and civilization in the modern world are the most important components of the mankind, which is experiencing acute life problems and designated to determine its present and future. Undoubtedly, modern civilizational achievements have their advantages associated with the development of the economies of different countries, enhancing people’s financial capacity, finding ways to overcome poverty, achievements in medicine, creation of information technologies and artificial intelligence, which qualitatively facilitates and improves human work. At the same time, in this context, it is important to take into account the fact that civilizational achievements have a pronounced tendency against the culture of people, as well as the suppression of spirituality, humanistic, moral and ethical values. Civilizational, technological innovations, from our point of view, disfigure a person, their soul, moral and humanistic values, culture. The analysis of these issues is an important topical socio-philosophical and cultural problem.
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of the study is to establish the features of modern cultural and civilizational development in the context of the correlation of civilizational achievements and their impact on the cultural and spiritual development of man and society. At the same time, it is important to consider and reverse the impact of culture on civilizational processes.
General scientific research methods such as analysis, synthesis, generalizations, the principle of historicism and a systematic approach enable to consider the problem under study as a system of interrelated phenomena. Cultural and civilizational processes taking place in societies and different countries with their individual features are interconnected, have common processes that facilitate their unity and difference.
Russian philosopher Stepin (2011) believes that the concept of “civilization” is used in many senses. There are three main types of civilizations. The first type is associated with the achievements of mankind, which distinguish it from the animal world revealing its ascent through the stages of sociocultural development based on technical and technological innovations associated with the invention of the wheel, writing, steam engine, automobile, the creation of a market and money, an aircraft, the development of electricity, nuclear power, energy, biotechnology, the establishment of human rights. The second meaning of civilization is as follows: a special type of society that arose at a certain stage of historical and cultural development and associated with the transition from the primitive state to the first rural and urban civilizations of antiquity. The third type of civilization is this modern civilization called posthumanity and described by Fukuyama (2008) in his work “Our Posthuman Future”.
In this regard, some theoretical considerations expressed by Spengler (2009) are rather interesting: Civilization is an inevitable fate of culture. Civilization is those very extreme and artificial states that the highest species of people is capable of realizing. They represent completion; they are like death after life, immobility after development, mental old age and petrified city after village and sincere childhood, which appears above Doric and Gothic. They are the inevitable end, and yet they are always appealed to by inner necessity. (p. 141)
According to Spengler (2009), civilization is the completion, stop, death of culture. He believed that modernity was a phase of civilization, not culture.
From the point of view of Pitirim Sorokin, some organized social groups go through only one cycle of emergence and existence being death, while others go through several waves of growth and decline, prosperity and decay, and some temporarily disintegrate in order to be reborn later (Erasov, 1999).
Stepin (2011) considers civilization to be technological and technical inventions achieved by mankind, when culture represents the basic values and state of the human spiritual world, which are lost due to the emergence of various types of civilizations. Thus, he links civilization with the development of material production, productive forces associated with technical achievements, which, as K. Marx wrote, change the material and bodily existence of a person reproducing his biological organization, adapting him to natural environment (Stepin, 2011). Culture has a different nature; it is endowed with human spirituality, religious, moral and humanistic values and moral, aesthetic, scientific principles contributing to the development of the space of its spiritual sphere.
Toynbee (2011) reveals the dynamics of civilization noting its breakdown and decay. In his opinion, in the 20th century the world should have been united, but this did not happen because two world systems, specifically, capitalism and socialism, were formed. Socialism was a powerful challenge to the capitalist system. And it was not socio-technological but ideological. Toynbee (1996) believed that there was a struggle for influence on the vast majority of mankind, which is neither communist nor capitalist, neither Russian not Western but living in a disturbing world, on no man’s land between two warring strongholds of opposing competing ideologies. According to Toynbee (2011), socialism in the form of a social system was a danger, because it revealed the shortcomings of the West, namely the powerful technological progress accompanied by the democratic liberalization of society and allowing the West to naively believe that “history is over”. And the same position was stated by Fukuyama (2008), an American futurologist who worked in the US State Department. In his book “The End of History and the Last Man” he writes that in recent centuries humanity has lived in the era of 16th century modernity, which was associated with the Reformation, which led to the end of the papal religious monopoly in Europe. The main stages of the modern era are the decomposition of feudalism, secularization, the industrial revolution, etc. The fierce struggle of the capitalists for world markets led to the First World War, which killed 10 million humans. The Second World War, which arose due to the aggressive policy of Germany aimed at redistributing the world, was marked by more significant and cruel victims. It killed more than 71 million humans (Wiki, 2020).
The 20th century was the apogee of the modern era marking the birth of the Soviet socialist project, as well as American global capitalism with the American dream. These systems proclaimed the further development of mankind and the achievement of general prosperity as their major goals. However, they did not achieve them. The development of global capitalism has led to a crisis of its existence, which is associated with a powerful increase in inequality between the rich and the poor. The crises of global capitalism (sanctions, trade wars, economic confrontation between countries and other indications) occur at an increasing pace every year. Numerous political parties and movements in the capitalist world are powerless to offer understandable, reasonable ideas to the peoples of states and the world. The demands of anti-globalization, non-systemic forces that move to the streets of different countries of the world are growing.
French yellow vests are a prime example of this. If a hundred years ago workers went on strike putting forward clear socialist ideas, today people in Europe are against the increase in fuel prices and everything bad, they demand to improve their lives. Another feature of modern protests is that the protesters do not have clear leaders, there are interconnected and coordinated through social networks, the Internet. In such a postmodern situation, there are no people who could come up with new ideas. Today, the masses create heroes from individuals who are unable to offer something new.
Modern society is declassed, disunited. It has broken up into numerous social groups and strata. Common cultural values that united people and social groups ceased to exist. Emotion, style, effect, populism, flash mobs control the situation and social processes, which are considered to be the measure of success. Simulacra and virtual situation are replacing objective reality.
Society of the late 20th – early 21st century is characterized as postmodern; it is multivariate, illusory, it is distinguished by some randomness, denial of authorities, rejection of integrity, fundamentality. To paraphrase Jean Baudrillard (2017), it is impossible to find the absolute real level, since there is an imitation of political problems, hyper-simulation or aggressive simulation. Being a transitional era, postmodernism must result in something but it is hard to imagine or say what it will be. As you know, the transition period lasts long, for hundreds of years.
Fukuyama’s (2008) conclusion about the “end of history” made in connection with the collapse of the socialist system and the alleged establishment of the beginning of the uncontested domination of the socio-cultural principles of Western liberal-bourgeois values, should be recognized as incorrect. Brzezinski (2018) also drew attention to this, believing that “the United States is not only the first and only superpower on a global scale, but, most likely, the last one” (p. 282). There is no doubt that the United States as a superpower, a specific civilization has its end, but it is difficult to say definitely what it will be, but something else is important. This state in the modern conditions of the multipolar development of the world will be dominant, subjugating civilizational systems.
The metaphor “the end of history” is meaningful only in the sense that in the 20th century the history of autonomous civilizational systems finally ended, but in reality, at the level of everyday experience of billions of people, a new stage in the world history of mankind called posthumanity began. Fukuyama (2008) again predicts the future of mankind based on the analysis of the rapid development of medicine and biotechnology. He is trying to understand the possible social and political consequences of using the results of modern genetic engineering and human cloning. He expresses the fear that the posthuman world may be full of social conflicts, where the concept of “universal” may be lost. In his opinion, “we should not be slaves to the inevitable technological progress if this progress does not serve human purposes” (Fukuyama, 2008, p. 65).
Having gone through various stages of its development, modern human civilization has reached the level where social transformations largely depend on modern scientific, technical, biotechnological achievements transforming people’s lives, their state and political structures. Civilizational achievements direct people, peoples, governments towards a more successful solution of the problems of freedom, social justice, perfect social order, towards overcoming social, financial and economic crises, cultural crises and challenges.
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23 December 2022
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Akaev, V. K., Ismailova, L. M., Machukaeva, L. S., Akaev, A. V., & Dzhamirzaev, S. M. (2022). Modern Cultural And Civilizational Development: Historical And Theoretical Aspects. In D. K. Bataev, S. A. Gapurov, A. D. Osmaev, V. K. Akaev, L. M. Idigova, M. R. Ovhadov, A. R. Salgiriev, & M. M. Betilmerzaeva (Eds.), Knowledge, Man and Civilization- ISCKMC 2022, vol 129. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 78-83). European Publisher. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2022.12.10