Term Paper: Civilization We Live in Is the Result

Pages: 8 (3423 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 2  ·  Topic: Evolution  ·  Buy This Paper

¶ … civilization we live in is the result of the constant evolution of the human kind. It represents a process of evolution and change of the human being, of its environment, and of the society he built and helped transform along the centuries. However, the most important aspect of the history of the world relies in the constant evolution of the individual, from its natural status of the Neolithic to the full establishment of his being as a dweller of the ancient city. Therefore, it is essential to compare and contrast the way in which the human being has evolved under the various influences of history in order to have a proper assessment of the degree of development of the world as a historical process. At the same time, one may consider from the perspective of the ancient man that the human being achieved a developed status once the great empires of the world, the Greek and the Roman ones, attained supremacy on the European continent and on the territories discovered to that point.

The history of the human king entangles several periods of evolution. These are differentiated by the condition of the human being in relation to the surrounding environment. Therefore, the history of human kind started with the Paleolithic era, continuing with the Neolithic, and the emergence of the ancient civilizations of the Middle East and Greece.

The Paleolithic era can be considered to be the basic period for the evolution of the human kind (Berstein and Milza, 1994). The name comes from the basic tools people at that time used, as "lithos" accounts for stone in ancient Greek, and "palaios" for old. However, there are several distinguished features of the human being that characterizes the period. These are strictly related to the three stages considered by archeologists to have represented the evolutionary stages of the human being.

There are certain theories that consider the evolution of man as being an evolution of a species of an animal, more precisely the chimpanzee. Darwin advanced the theory of the evolution of species that considers the fact that the human being is an evolved individual of an animal. However, there is a clear distinctive physical feature that contradicts this thesis. In this sense, "chimpanzees are unable to extend their knee-joints to produce a straight leg in the stance phase" (Stanford University, n.d.) unlike the biped human. Therefore, it can be stated from the beginning that the human being is in fact the result of a historical evolution.

The first stage can be defined as that of the homo habilis. During the Paleolithic period which is considered to have been the longest period in the history of human civilization the model of homo habilis was described as being the one which introduced the concept of agriculture. More precisely, he was not a productive being, but rather one that consumed the existing resources and the ones available through the work of land. Therefore the essential trait of this period relates to the fact that the human being, due to its inferior evolutionary status, was totally dependent of its environment. In this sense, they consumed plants, algae, fruits, and all their derivates which did not require additional cultivation methods.

Concerning the physical aspect of homo habilis, it was deeply influenced by the environment. In this sense, it "qualifies as a human almost solely by skeletal anatomy, which is quite like our own. Very little is known of its life or mental capabilities." (Washingotn State University, n.d.) Therefore, it can be stated that the human being, taking into account that he did not use his judgment in his activities, was not mentally developed.

In terms of the activities they were engaged in, these included hunting and fishing. However, it is clear that they relied on the natural resources for their survival. This is largely due to the fact that their tools were limited in usefulness and rudimentary. However, in relation to the surrounding environment, homo habilis were superior to the animals existing at the time, such as buffalos, or bears. Another important element for the human during the Paleolithic period was the use of fire. However, their knowledge was limited to supporting the fires that were caused by nature. Again, it can be underlined the total dependence of the human being on the environment.

The life the Paleolithic man lived was limited in its activities as well. In this sense, "he was a hunter and fisher; his habitation was a cave or a rock shelter; his implements were in the main roughly shaped flints; he had no domestic animals save possibly the dog and the reindeer; he was practically ignorant of the art of making pottery; he had no belief in a future life, at least we have no evidence that he buried his dead after the manner of those folk who have come to hold such a belief" (Myers, 1904).

The social construction of the time represented either a patriarchal or a matriarchal society. More precisely, taking into account the fact that the Paleolithic man could not live alone but had to be in small groups that would have enabled him a better position in his hunting quests, the structure was based on a leading role, that of the man. However, there are areas especially in Africa where hunter and gatherers tribes were led by women (Berstein and Milza, 1994).

Homo erectus is the next step in the human evolution. In terms of physical appearance, "homo erectus is a large brained species, with adult brains ranging from 900 to 1200 cc. This size range means that the larger brained individuals of this species exhibit a fifty-percent increase in brain size over the older Homo habilis. The largest brain sizes of H. erectus fall within the range of modern humans, although the H. erectus brain is configured somewhat differently than our own" (Washington State University, n.d.). The main differences in the evolution of the human appear at the level of the activities he underwent. In this sense, hunting became the basis of survival, while the use of fire and stone tools were essential for everyday life (Stanford University, n.d.).

Finally, homo sapiens is viewed by most as being the ancestors of present day human beings. Along the time, the development of the brain as well as a proper definition of the skeleton showed the evolution of the individual. Therefore, the environment determined the evolution of the human from its ancient origin to its present day.

The next period in the evolution of the human kind is represented by the Neolithic period which accounts for a considerable improvement of the evolution of man. In this sense, the Neolithic is often considered to be a revolution in the history of the human kind. This is largely due to the fact that the period saw an increase in the way in which tools came to be used and further developed to such an extent that agriculture and the idea of producing rather than consuming came to be the cornerstone of the human activities.

Until the Neolithic, humans were direct consumers and relied on natural resources. During the Neolithic however, their main activity became a productive one. More precisely, "the Neolithic Revolution was a fundamental change in the way people lived. The shift from hunting and gathering to agriculture led to permanent settlements, the establishment of social classes, and the eventual rise of civilizations" (Watkins, 2003). From this point-of-view, it can be said that the change in the basic activities of the human beings influenced the environment and gave rise to a social framework, and ultimately to inequality.

The Neolithic period is considered to be the starting point of what we see today as civilization. More precisely, it represents a society having a surplus of economic wealth which leads to a division of labor and to the development of a social hierarchy having significant inequalities. Taking into consideration the evolution of the human kind, it is clear that once the diversification of the activities was established as a proper means for insuring survival in the Neolithic, the social classes and inequalities would appear.

The first element to be underlined is the division of labor inside a social circle. Aside from the hunters and gatherers, humans dedicated their time to agriculture, an activity which differentiated them from the hunters. However it was created a certain sense of interdependence inside the society. In this sense, while some of the people engaged in hunting, other worked the land and provided the basic necessities for human life. At the same time, different additional activities such as pottery making or clothes manufacturing became essential for the conduct of life in larger groups. This in turn led to the establishment of the social environment because it allowed individuals to form reliable and stronger, more organized inter-human relations. Moreover, it ensured the human being the sense of belonging to a community, a more peaceful existence, favoring the creation of a sedentary and spiritual life… [END OF PREVIEW]

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