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February 5, 2016


Previously, I wrote What is culture? What is Coptic culture? And what is the threat to Coptic culture? The reader can return to it for a detailed study of the meaning of culture. Today, however, I would like to give a simple definition of culture and civilisation: culture is what makes our minds, and civilisation is what is made through our minds. The two are linked, and the link is our mind.

One has to avoid mixing brain and mind here: mind is taken in this context to mean the element of a person that enables them to be aware of the world and their experiences, to think, and to feel; the faculty of consciousness and thought.[1] What gets into the mind of a man, of beliefs, values, knowledge and feelings, makes him: they determine how he thinks, behaves, acts and reacts. They, too, through man’s mind, create his own civilisation: how he lives, what he does, what he creates, what rules he follows and enact. When we talk about folks, one considers the common things that create the collective mind of the group; and a folk’s civilisation is what is created by them through that collective mind. Within that collective culture and civilisation, however, one finds sub-cultures and sub-civilisations by smaller groups and even individuals, but the collective mind of a people or nation that is produced by their culture and through which their civilisation is created is the most powerful.

All individuals, groups and nations have their unique culture and civilisation – whether it is high or low culture and civilisation is a matter of judgment.

Bear this simple definition in mind, and it will enhance your understanding of humans and their societies.

[1] Oxford English Dictionary.

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