Civilization

Civilization, the sixth book of Korean Conceptual History Series, introduces the traditional concept of civilization, and summarizes what conceptualization intellectuals in each country have pursued in the face of the introduction of the western concept of it. Western civilization had expanded its meaning in close relation to the development of urban life and society. Consequently, it covers modern European values and institutions, especially the philosophy of enlightenment and the theory of social revolution which have developed since the 18th century. Meanwhile, in Sinocentrism, civilization refers to an ideal, Confucian edification, which a state and ruling class should try to realize. With the introduction of the new concept of civilization, the dichotomy of 'civilization vs. barbarism' and different understandings about modern change of society among various political and social powers appeared. Generally, the concept of civilization was understood as nearly identical with that of the West since the mid-1890s when the theory of civilization came into full-fledged development. 'Civilization' came to integrate the West in its entirety. It was on this account that the acquisition of civilization began with the imitation of the West. The attempt to divide civilization into material and spiritual suggested a crack in the West-centered awareness of civilization where the West corresponded to civilization. Since the Gabo-year reform, advocates for enlightenment insisted the edification of custom, while innovative Confucian scholars put emphasis on the acquisition of Western learning and the wealth and power of a nation. Since the Japanese annexation of Korea, the attempt to pursue Western material civilization grew strong and there also appeared a striving for adopting Confucian values into Western spiritual civilization.
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