Civilisation: Evolution of a word and a group of ideas

Lucien Febvre
May 25, 1929

It is never a waste of time to study the history of a word. Such journeys, whether short or long, monotonous or varied are always instructive. But in every major language there are a dozen or so terms, never more, often less, whose past is no food for the scholar. But it is for the historian if we give the word historian all its due force.

Such terms, whose meaning is more or less crudely defined in dictionaries, never cease to evolve under the influence of human experience and they reach us pregnant, one might say, with all the history through which they have passed. They alone can enable us to follow and measure, perhaps rather slowly but very precisely (language is not a very rapid recording instrument), the transformations which took place in a group of those governing ideas which man is pleased to think of as being immobile because their immobility seems to be a guarantee of his security.1 Constructing the history of the French word civilisation would in fact mean reconstituting the stages in the most profound of all the revolutions which the French spirit has achieved and undergone in the period starting with the second half of the eighteenth century and taking us up to the present day. And so it will mean embracing in its totality, but from one particular point of view, a history whose origins and influence have not been confined within the frontiers of a single state. The simple sketch which follows may make it possible to date the periods in the revolution to which we refer with more rigor than previously. And it will at least show once more that the rhythm of the waves which break upon our societies are, in the last instance, governed and determined by the progress not of a particular science and of thought that revolves within one and the same circle, but by progress in all the disciplines together and in all the branches of learning working in conjunction.

Let us clearly mark out the limits of the problem. Some months ago a thesis was defended in the Sorbonne dealing with the civilization of the Tupi-Guarani. The Tupi-Guarani are small tribes living in South America which in every respect fit the term “savage” as used by our ancestors. But for a long time now the concept of a civilization of non-civilized people has been current. If archaeology were able to supply the means, we should see an archaeologist coolly dealing with the civilization of the Huns; who we were once told were “the flail of civilization.”

But our newspapers and journals, and we ourselves, talk continually about the progress, conquests and benefits of civilization. Sometimes with conviction, sometimes with irony and sometimes even with bitterness. But what counts is that we talk about it. And what this implies is surely that one and the same word is used to designate two different concepts.

In the first case civilization simply refers to all the features that can be observed in the collective life of one human group, embracing their material, intellectual, moral and political life and, there is unfortunately no other word for it, their social life. It has been suggested that this should be called the “ethnographical” conception of civilization.2 It does not imply any value judgment on the detail or the overall pattern of the facts examined. Neither does it have any bearing on the individual in the group taken separately, or on their personal reactions or individual behavior. It is above all a conception which refers to a group.

In the second case, when we are talking about the progress, failures, greatness, and weakness of civilization we do have a value judgment in mind. We have the idea that the civilization we are talking about — ours — is in itself something great and beautiful; something too which is nobler, more comfortable and better, both morally and materially speaking, than anything outside it — savagery, barbarity or semi-civilization. Finally, we are confident that such civilization, in which we participate, which we propagate, benefit from and popularize, bestows on us all a certain value, prestige, and dignity. For it is a collective asset enjoyed by all civilized societies. It is also an individual privilege which each of us proudly boasts that he possesses.

So within a language that is said to be clear and logical, one and the same word today refers to two very different concepts which are almost contradictory. How did this come about? How and to what extent can the history of this word throw light on these problems?

Civilisation came into the language only recently. André-Louis Mazzini, on the first page of his book dated 1847, De l’Italie dans ses rapports avec la liberté et la civilisation moderne, writes: “This word was created by France, by the French spirit at the end of the century.” And that straightaway calls to mind the letter from Nietzsche to Strindberg, who in 1888 was sorry that he was not a German: “There is no other civilization than that of France. There can be no objection to this; it stands to reason; it is necessarily the true civilization.”3 As we shall see, these statements raise but do not settle a fairly important question. At least one fact is incontestable — civilisation is, in the French language, a word of recent origin and usage.

Who was the first to use it or at least to have it printed? We do not know. No one will be surprised at this confession. We are very poorly equipped, in fact we are not equipped at all to write the history of words of recent origin in our language. Apart from the series of Dictionnaires de l’Académie française (1694, 1718, 1740, 1762, 1798, 1835, 1878), apart from the classical indexes which, from Furetière to Littré, not forgetting the Encyclopédie, supplement the basic collections; and finally, apart from some useful but rather summary work on the eighteenth century — Gohin’s study (1903), of Les transformations de la langue française de 1710 à 1789, and Max Frey’s study (1925) on Les Transformations du vocabulaire français à l’époque de la Révolution, 1789-1800, we have no material at all to work on; and if I call such works summary, I am forced to do so by the facts themselves; we do not even have twenty individual lexicons of the language of Montesquieu, Voltaire, Turgot, Rousseau, Condorcet, etc., which alone could enable us to write one of the finest and newest chapters in that general history of French thought via language whose value and usefulness have been so well shown in M. Ferdinand Brunot’s monumental Histoire de la langue française.

Anybody who wants to write the history of a word which appeared for the first time in the eighteenth century is today forced to carry out random samples throughout an infinite amount of literature without the help of any indexes or catalogues. And so, for a rather chancy result hours and hours of work have to be wasted. For my part, throughout the course of long reading sessions which were conducted as methodically as possible, I have not been able to find the word civilisation used in any French text published prior to the year 1766.

I know that the use of this neologism is usually attributed to the young Turgot’s Sorbonne lectures at an earlier date. Under Civilisation Gohin’s work mentions its date of birth: “about 1752,” and there is a reference: “Turgot, II, 674.”4 Obviously this reference is not to the Schelle edition, which alone is taken as an authority, but to the Daire and Dussard edition, the two volumes of which (established on the basis of the Dupont de Nemours edition) appeared in the Collection des principaux économistes in 1844. In it we find, published, or more precisely, reproduced in vol. ii (p. 671) Pensées et fragments qui avaient été jetés sur le papier pour être employés dans un des trois ouvrages sur l’histoire universelle ou sur les progrès et la décadence des Sciences et des Arts. And on p. 674 we read: “Au commencement de la civilisation les progrès peuvent être, et surtout paraître rapides” (At the beginning of civilization progress may be, and especially, appears to be rapid). Unfortunately it was very probably not Turgot who wrote this but Dupont de Nemours who would have used it quite naturally when publishing his master’s works at a much later date.5 We do not find it in the text reproduced by M. Schelle, taken directly from the manuscripts.6 It does not appear either in the lectures of 1750, or in the letter of 1751 to Madame de Graffigny on the “Lettres d’une Péruvienne,” or in the article on Etymologie in the Encyclopédie (1756). The meaning conveyed in all these works,7 often conjures up for us the word which the Sorbonne prior is said to have put forward as early as 1750, but he never actually uses it; he does not even use the verb civiliser, or the participle civilisé which was then in current use; he always keeps to police and to policé, in short he is supposed to have written down on paper on one single occasion in his life a word which he then had no further truck with and, I add, which none of his contemporaries would have ventured to put forward for at least another ten years, neither Rousseau in his Discours which was crowned at Dijon in 1750, nor Duclos in his Considérations sur les mœurs de ce siècle (1751), nor Helvetius in his Esprit (1758); we need not go on with the list.

So the word with which we are concerned could not be found in print until 1766. At that date the firm of Rey in Amsterdam published in two forms, one quarto volume and three duodecimo volumes, the Antiquité dévoilée par ses usages, by the late M. Boulanger. In volume III of the 12mo edition we read: “Lorsqu’un peuple sauvage vient à être civilisé, il ne faut jamais mettre fin à l’acte de la civilisation en lui donnant des lois fixes et irrévocables; il faut lui faire regarder la législation qu’on lui donne comme une civilisation continuée” (When a savage people has become civilized, we must not put an end to the act of civilisation by giving it rigid and irrevocable laws; we must make it look upon the legislation given to it as a form of continuous civilisation).8 This original and intelligent expression is printed in italics. The Antiquité dévoilée is a posthumous work; the author died in 1759. So the word would go back to that date at least if we did not know that someone added to, if not rewrote, the manuscript of the late M. Boulanger, engineer of the Ponts et Chaussées, while preparing it for publication. And that someone was that great neologist in the face of the Eternal, Baron d’Holbach, who had, for instance, as early as 1773 written in his Système social: “L’homme en société s’électrise” (Man becomes electric in society), two years after the appearance in the bookshops of Priestley’s Histoire de l’électricité.9 And the striking fact is that d’Holbach used the word “civilisation” in his Système social.10 But Boulanger never does, with the exception of the sentence quoted above. I have read the Recherches sur l’origine du despotisme oriental (1761) with great care; civilisé does appear in it, but fairly infrequently; civilisation never does; police and policé are the usual terms. The example would be unique in Boulanger’s work, but not in the work of d’Holbach. In any case we have the fact we want. We have an example dated 1766 of the use of the word. I do not say that it is the first example, and of course I should like other researchers to have better luck than me and depose Boulanger, or d’Holbach, and wrest from them a claim to fame which in any case is a fairly modest one.

The word does not remain alien. Between 1765 and 1775 it becomes naturalized. In 1767 we find the Abbé Baudeau using it in his turn in the Ephémérides du citoyen,11 and stating that “la propriété foncière est un pas très important vers la civilisation la plus parfaite” (land ownership… constitutes a very important step towards the most perfect form of civilization); a little bit later in 1771 he used the word again in his Première Introduction à la philosophie économique, ou analyse des états policés.12 Raynal, in his Histoire philosophie et politique des établissements et du commerce des Europe en dans les deux Indes (1770), follows his example; the new word is used several times in his nineteenth book.13 Diderot in turn ventures to use the word in 1773-1774, in his Réfutation suivie de l’ouvrage d’Helvétius intitulé “l’Homme.”14 But it is not simply to be found everywhere. In his essay De la félicité publique and in his work on Considérations sur le sort des hommes dans les différentes époques de l’histoire, volume I of which appeared in Amsterdam in 1772, Father Jean de Chastellux uses the word police a great deal but never, so it appears, civilisation.15 Buffon, who is a purist author, may use the verb and the participle, but he does not seem to know the substantive at all in his Époques de la Nature (1774-1779). The same is true of Antoine-Yves Goguet in his book De l’origine des loix, des arts et des sciences et de leurs progrès chez les anciens peuples (1778), where one might expect to meet it. Démeunier on the other hand, in L’Esprit des usages et des coutumes des différents peuples (1776), talks about the “progrès de la civilisation16 and the word is getting less rare. As we approach the Revolution it begins to triumph.17 And in 1798, for the first time, it forces its way into the Dictionnaire de l’Académie, which had ignored it until then, just as the Encyclopédie and even the Encyclopédie méthodique had done;18 the Dictionnaire de Trévoux alone had included it, giving it simply its old legal meaning, “Civilisation, terme de jurisprudence. C’est un jugement qui rend civil un procès criminel19 (Civilisation, term used in jurisprudence. A judgment turning a criminal case into a civil case.)

So between 1765 and 1798 a term which nowadays we could hardly do without was born, grew up and imposed itself in France. But here we have another problem which can only be solved through a series of lucky finds.

If we open the second volume of Murray’s New English Dictionary and look in it for the background to the English word, which, but for one letter is a faithful replica of the French civilisation, we find a very expressive text by Boswell.20 He says that on 23 March 1772 he went to see the ageing Johnson who was working on the preparation of the fourth edition of his dictionary. And he records the following: “He [Johnson] would not admit civilisation, but only civility. With great deference to him, I thought civilization, from to civilize, better in the sense opposed to barbarity, than civility.” It is a very curious text. 1772; one knows the intellectual relations that existed at that time between the French and the English, linking the élite of both countries and it is impossible not to put the obvious question concerning origins. But who borrowed from whom?

Murray does not quote any English texts prior to that of Boswell giving civilization with the meaning of culture. The text is dated 1772; and Boulanger’s is 1766 at least — five years between them. It is not very much. But there is a text which would appear to confirm the fact that the French word preceded the English word. In 1771 at Amsterdam the French translation appeared of Robertson’s The History of the Reign of the Emperor Charles V.21 Of course I wondered about the work, which might well have been able to throw some light on the problem of origins. And in the Introduction (p. 23, French version) I found the following sentence: “Il est nécessaire de suivre les pas rapides qu’ils (les peuples du Nord) firent de la barbarie à la civilisation,” and a bit further on I met the following sentence: “L’état le plus corrompu de la société humaine est celui ou les hommes ont perdu… leur simplicité de mœurs primitives sans être arrivés à ce degré de civilisation ou un sentiment de justice et d’honnêteté sert de frein aux passions féroces et cruelles.” At once I turned to the English text to that View of the Progress of Society in Europe which opens this well known book. In both cases the word which the French translator translated as civilisation is not the English civilisation, but refinement.

The fact is not unimportant. It certainly diminishes any role one might attribute to the Scots in introducing this new word. In France, it is true, we find it in translated works such as the Observations sur les commencements de la société by John Millar, the Glasgow professor, in 1773.22 And Grimm, who gives an account of the book in his Correspondance littéraire, takes the opportunity of putting civilisation in print.23 But by that date it is no longer the least bit surprising. We meet it in another translated work, Robertson’s Histoire de l’Amérique,24 but that dates from 1780. We also find it in Roucher’s translation, annotated by Condorcet in 1790, of Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations.25 These are only a few examples. But we cannot, on the basis of the examples found, conclude that there was any transfer of the word from Scotland or England to France. Until anything new comes to light Robertson’s text excludes the possibility.

However that may be, English usage like French usage ushers in a new problem. On both sides of the Channel the verb civiliser (to civilize) and the participle civilisé (civilized) appear in the language long before the corresponding substantive.26 The examples given by Murray take us back as far as the second third of the seventeenth century (1631-1641). In France Montaigne uses the word in his Essais as early as the sixteenth century. “Il avait,” he writes talking of Turnebus “quelque façon externe qui pouvait n’estre pas civilizée a la courtisane (he had a certain outward manner which might not have appeared civilizée to a lady of the court.27 Haifa century later Descartes, in his Discours de la Méthode, clearly set the man who was civilisé against the sauvage.28 In the first half of the eighteenth century, civiliser and civilisé continue to appear from time to time. And there is nothing unexpected about the process whereby a substantive ending in –isation is derived from a verb ending in -iser.29 How was it that nobody thought of doing so? In 1740 Voltaire, in the Avant-Propos to the Essai sur les mœurs, approved Madame du Châtelet’s method whereby she intended to “passer tout d’un coup aux nations qui ont été civilisées les premières (go straight to the nations which were first civilisées); he suggests that she should consider the whole world “en l’étudiant de la même manière qu’il paraît avoir été civilisé” (studying it in the order in which it appears to have become civilisé);30 but unless I am mistaken he never uses the word civilisation. Jean-Jacques Rousseau in 1762 in the Contrat social reproaches Peter the Great for having intended to “civiliser son peuple quand il ne fallait que l’aguerrir” (Civiliser his people when all it needed was to be hardened);31 but he does not use the word civilisation either.32 There is something surprising about this and it might give us the idea that the time was not yet ripe, and that the process whereby the substantive is derived from the verb is not simply a mechanical one.

Can we say that the words, the nouns which were in use before the appearance of civilisation, made its appearance superfluous and pointless? Throughout the whole of the seventeenth century French authors classified people according to a hierarchy which was both vague and very specific. At the lowest level there were the sauvages. A bit higher on the scale, but without much distinction being made between the two, there came the barbares. After which, passing on from the first stage, we come to the people who possess civilité, politesse, and finally, good police.

We can easily imagine that the synonymists had a lot to say about the nuances of these fairly numerous words. There was a whole category of literature full of concealed plagiarisms which set out to define the correct meaning of terms which were given ingenious psychological explanations.

Civilité was a very old word. It appears in Godefroy, together with civil and civilien, with the further guarantee of a text by Nicolas Oresme which includes policie, civilité, and communité.33 Robert Estienne does not overlook it in his valuable Dictionnaire françois-latin of 1549. He includes it after civil, which is nicely defined as, “qui sçait bien son entregent” (who knows tact) and is given as urbanus, civilis. In 1690 Furetière, in his Dictionnaire universel divisé en trois tomes (in which both civiliser and civilisé appear alongside civil) defines civilité: “Manière honnête, douce et polie d’agir, de converser ensemble” (sincere, gentle, and polite way of conducting oneself towards others and conversing with others).34 That is to say that whereas civil keeps a political and legal meaning alongside its human meaning, civilité only conveys ideas concerning courtesy; according to Callières (1693), it in fact replaced the word courtoisie, which was falling out of use at that time.35 For the subtle grammarians of the eighteenth century, civilité is in fact nothing but a varnish. In the 1780 edition of the amusing Synonymes françois by the Abbé Girard,36 which is so packed out with worldly experience and borrowed subtlety, we learn that “la civilité est, par rapport aux hommes, ce qu’est le culte par rapport à Dieu: un témoignage extérieur et sensible des sentiments intérieurs” (civilité is, as far as men are concerned, what public worship is in respect of God — an external and tangible witness of internal sentiments). Politesse on the other hand, “ajoute à la civilité ce que la dévotion ajoute à l’exercice du culte public: les moyens d’une humanité plus affectueuse, plus occupée des autres, plus recherchée” (adds to civilité what prayer adds to practice of public worship — the means of achieving a more affectionate sort of humanity, more concerned with other people, more refined). This sort of politesse presupposes “une culture plus suivie” (more intensive cultivation) than civilité, and “des qualités naturelles, ou l’art difficile de les feindre” (natural qualities or the difficult art of feigning them).37 So the conclusion was very generally that politesse was superior to civilité. It is a paradox developed by Montesquieu, when he maintains in a passage in the Esprit de lois that civilité is worth more in certain respects than politesse, the latter “flatte les vices des autres” (flatters the vices of others) whereas the first “nous empêche de mettre les nôtres au jour” (prevents us from revealing our own). But Voltaire had answered him in advance in Zaïre in the second dedicatory epistle (1736); he thinks, along with the rest of his age, that if Frenchmen “depuis le règne d’Anne d’Autriche ont été le peuple le plus sociable et le plus poli de la terre” (have since the reign of Anne of Austria been the most sociable and the most polite people on earth), such politeness was not “une chose arbitraire comme ce qu’en appelle civilité. C’est une loi de la nature qu’ils ont heureusement plus cultivée que les autres peoples” (something arbitrary like the thing people call civilité. It is a law of nature which they have happily cultivated more extensively than other people).38

But there was something that stood above such politesse — it was what the old texts called policie, a word dear to Rousseau,39 and modern texts call police. Far and away above peoples who were civils and far and away above peoples who were polis, stood incontestably those that were polices.

Police — the word embraced the field of law, administration and government. Every author agreed on this point, from Robert Estienne, who in 1549 in his dictionary translated “citez bien policées” by “bene moratae, bene constitutae civitates,” to Furetière writing in 1690 “Police, loix, ordre de conduite à observer pour la subsistance et l’entretien des États et des sociétés en général, opposé à barbarie” (police, laws, system of conduct to be observed for the subsistence and government of states and societies in general, in opposition to barbarity). And he quotes this example of the use of the word: “Les sauvages de l’Amérique n’avaient ni loix ni police quand on en fit la découverte” (the savages of America had neither laws nor “police” when they were discovered). Similarly Fénelon wrote of the Cyclops:40Ils ne connaissent pas de loi, ils n’observent aucune règle de police” (They know no law, they observe no rule of “police”). Thirty years after Furetière, Delamare, when composing his large and valuable Traité de la Police (1713) devoting Section I of Book I to the definition of “l’idée générale de la police” (the general concept of “police”), again recalled the very general sense which the word had had for a long time. “On le prend quelquefois?” he said “pour le gouvernement général de tous les Estais et dans ce sens il se divise en Monarchie, Aristocratie, Démocratie… D’autres fois, il signifie le gouvernement de chaque Estât en particulier, et alors il se divise en police ecclésiastique, police civile et police militaire” (It is sometimes taken to mean the general government of all states and in this sense it can be broken down into Monarchy, Aristocracy, Democracy… On other occasions it refers to the government of each particular state and then it is broken down into ecclesiastical administration, civil administration and military administration).41 These meanings were already old and obsolete. Delamare, who had an interest in doing so, insisted forcefully on the restricted sense. After quoting Le Bret and his Traité de la Souveraineté du Roy: “Ordinairement,” he wrote, “et dans un sens plus limité, police se prend pour l’ordre public de chaque ville, et l’usage l’a tellement attaché a cette signification que, toutes les fois qu’il est prononcé absolument et sans suite, il n’est entendu que dans ce dernier sens” (usually and in a more restricted sense, police is used to refer to the public administration in any town and usage has so tied it down to this meaning that whenever it is spoken out of context it is understood only in this latter meaning).42

Delamare was right. And yet a tendency began to show itself some years later, among writers who were more preoccupied with general ideas than with technical accuracy, to give to the word “police a more restricted meaning which was less specifically legal and constitutional. This fact is extremely important for our purposes.

Talking in 1731 in his Considérations sur les mœurs de ce temps of peoples which were policés, Duclos noted “qu’ils valent mieux que les peuples polis” (that they were of greater worth than peoples which were polis), for “les peuples les plus polis ne sont pas toujours les plus vertueux” (the peoples who are most polis are not always the most virtuous).43 He added that if among savages, “la force fait la noblesse et la distinction” (strength conferred nobility and distinction) on men, it was not the same with peoples who were policés. In their case, “la force est soumise à des loix qui en préviennent et en répriment la violence” (force is subjected to laws which forbid and repress violence) and “la distinction réelle et personnelle la plus reconnue vient de l’esprit” (the most widely recognized real and personal distinction comes from the mind).44 It is an interesting remark at that date. At the very time when administrators, purists, and technicians were endeavoring to banish “l’équivoque” (the double meaning, doubt) which made the word police difficult to use, Duclos was going quite the other way and adding a new moral and intellectual meaning to the traditional meaning of this fundamental political and constitutional word. He was not alone. We simply have to open the Philosophie de l’histoire (1736) which subsequently became the Discours préliminaire of the Essai sax les mœurs. When Voltaire wrote, “Les Péruviens, étant policés, adoraient le soleil,” (the Peruvians, being policés, adored the sun) or, “Les peuples les plus policés de l’Asie en deçà de l’Euphrate adoraient les astres” (the most policés peoples of Asia this side of the Euphrates adored the stars), or again: “Une question plus philosophique, dans laquelle toutes les grandes nations policées, depuis l’Inde jusqu’à la Grèce, se sont accordées, c’est l’origine du bien et de mal” (a question of a more philosophical nature on which all the great nations who were policées from India to Greece have agreed is the origin of good and evil),45 when, fourteen years later, Rousseau in his Dijon Discours wrote: “Les sciences, les lettres et les arts… leur font aimer leur esclavage et en font ce qu’on appelle des peuples policés” (the sciences, letters and the arts… make them love their bondage and make of them what we call peuples policés),” when, in 1756, Turgot, in his article on Etymologie written for the Encyclopédie, pointed out that “la langue du peuple policé, plus riche… peut seule donner les noms de toutes les idées qui manquaient au peuple sauvage” (the language of a peuple policé is richer… and is alone able to convey the names of all the ideas lacking in savage peoples) or upheld l’avantage que les lumières de l’esprit donnent au peuple policé” (the advantage which the light of the spirit gives to a peuple police),46 it is clear that all the men who took an active part in the life and philosophical activity of their age were searching for a word with which to designate, let us say, in terms that they themselves would not have repudiated, the triumph and spread of reason not only in the constitutional, political and administrative field but also in the moral, religious and intellectual field.

Their language did not really provide them with such a word. As we have seen, civilité was no longer possible. In 1750 Turgot still remained faithful to politesse, that same politesse which Voltaire in 1736 had said was not “une chose arbitraire, comme ce qu’on appelle civilité” (something like the thing people call civilité). Just as Madame de Sévigné had formerly complained: “Je suis une biche au bois, éloignée de toute politesse; je ne sais plus s’il y a une musique en ce monde” (I am a deer in the forest far from all politesse; I no longer know if there is any music on this earth),47 he addressed the king in solemn terms in his Tableau philosophique of 1750: “O Louis! quelle majesté t’environne. Ton peuple heureux est devenue le centre de la politesse!” (O Louis! what majesty surrounds you. Your happy people have become the center of politesse!). It was a showy phrase which was not free of a certain archaic tone.48 In fact there was no single well-adapted word to refer to what we mean today by the word civilisé. And as at the same time ideas were finally evolving in such a way as to confer superiority not merely on peoples equipped with a “police,” but on peoples that were rich in philosophical, scientific, artistic and literary culture, it could only be a temporary and rather poor expedient, when referring to the new concept, to employ the word which had for so long been used to designate the old one. Especially since, as we have seen, police, which in spite of everything governed the meaning of policé, was being given an increasingly restricted and commonplace meaning. A meaning which was dictated by the character who had such growing and formidable powers — the lieutenant of police.

So people considered using the word which Descartes had already used in 1637, giving it a quite modern meaning, and which Furetière translated by “Rendre civil et poli, traitable et courtois” (making civil and poli, tractable and courteous), but giving examples such as the following, “La prédication de l’Évangile a civilisé les peuples barbares les plus sauvages” (the preaching of the Gospel has civilisé the most savage barbarous peoples), or “Les paysans ne sont pas civilisés comme les bourgeois, et les bourgeois comme les courtisans” (peasants are not as civilisés as town-dwellers, and town-dwellers are not as civilisés as courtiers) — it is, as we see, capable of very wide interpretation.

Who were these people? Not everyone of course. Turgot, for instance, in his Tableau, in the French text of his Sorbonne Discours and in his article on Etymologie, uses neither civiliser nor civilise. Neither does Helvetius, in the Esprit of 1758; both are faithful to policé. The same is true of a great many men of this period. But Voltaire, for instance, early on joins civilisé to policé. We gave examples above taken from 1740. In the Philosophie de l’Histoire policé occupies a very important place, but in chapter nine (De la Théocratie) we find civilisé slipping on to his page. And with it there is a remark which betrays scruple: “Parmi les peuples,” he writes “qu’on appelle si improprement civilisés” (among the peoples who are so improperly called civilisés).49 Voltaire uses that same improper word, however, once or twice more in the Philosophie de l’histoire. “On voit,” he notes for instance, “que la morale est la même chez toutes les nations civilisées” (we see that morality is the same throughout all nations which are civilisées). And in chapter nineteen we read: “Les Égyptiens ne purent être rassemblés en corps, civilisés, policés, industrieux, puissants, que très longtemps après tous les peuples que je viens de passer en revue” (the Egyptians could not have joined together, become civilisés, policés, industrious, and powerful, until long after all the other peoples which I have considered).50 It is an interesting gradation — formation of society (synoecism); refinement of moral conduct; establishment of natural laws; economic development; and finally mastery; Voltaire weighed his words and did not put them down at random. But he still uses two where twenty-five years later Volney,51 taking up the ideas set forth in the Philosophie de l’histoire in a curious passage in his Éclaircissements sur les États-Unis only uses a single one, at a time when the substance of the word civilisé has assimilated all the substance of the word policé. And this dualism enables us to see clearly the scope provided by the language of the men of the time. They were tempted to include under policé all the ideas implied by civilité and politesse,” but in spite of all, policé resisted; and then there was police lying behind it which was a considerable nuisance to the innovators. What about civilisé? They were tempted in fact to extend its meaning; but policé put up a struggle and showed itself to be still very robust. In order to overcome its resistance and express the new concept which was at that time taking shape in people’s minds, in order to give to civilisé a new force and new areas of meaning, in order to make of it a new word and not just something that was a successor to civil, poli, and even, partly, policé, it was necessary to create behind the participle and behind the verb the word “civilisation,” a word form which was a bit pedantic perhaps but which did not surprise anybody, as its sonorous syllables had long been heard to echo beneath the vaults of the Palais and above all it did not have a compromising past. It was far enough from civil and civilité for people not to have to worry about those outmoded predecessors. It could, as a new word, refer to a new concept.

Civilisation was born at the right time. I mean to say at a time when the great effort of the Encyclopédie was coming to a conclusion, having commenced in 1751 and been twice interrupted in 1752 and 1757 through the rigors of the ruling power; resumed in 1765 as a result of Diderot’s perseverance and daring, it finally ended in triumph in 1772. It was born after the Essai sur les mœurs, 1757, had flooded learned Europe with the 7,000 copies of its first edition and made an initial attempt to achieve a synthesis of the main forms of human, political, religious, social, literary, and artistic forms and to integrate them into history. It was born when that philosophy founded on the fourfold basis of Bacon, Descartes, Newton, and Locke which d’Alembert saluted in his Discours préliminaire as the final conquest, the coronation of modern times,52 was beginning to bear its first fruits. Above all, it was born at a time when, emerging from the entire Encyclopédie, the great concept of rational and experimental science was beginning to make itself felt, constituting a whole in its methods and procedures whether it was concerned in the manner of Buffon, to put the Bible completely on one side and conquer nature, or in the footsteps of Montesquieu, to classify the infinite variety of human societies. Someone put this in words: “Civilization is inspired by a new philosophy of nature and of man.”53 It was right to put it in that way, even if it was going a little ahead in time to add: “Its philosophy of nature is evolution. Its philosophy of man is perfectibility.” In fact the fine work done by Henri Daudin on Lamarck and Cuvier showed this; evolution took more time than one might think to be conceived in its true sense and in its modern spirit.54 But it is none the less true that “the recent attitude of enlightened man to explored nature” had a powerful role to play in modifying the conceptions of thinkers at the end of the eighteenth century.55 Lending their ear as they did to the suggestions and advice of science meant that they were moving along the path that led to the future, and putting the fanaticism of hope in place of the nostalgia for times gone by. We should fail to understand the birth and quick spread in our language of the word which conveyed the concept of civilization if we overlooked the tremendous revolution which took place in people’s minds as a result, firstly, of the work and discoveries of Lavoisier, who, from 1775 onwards published the famous notes summed up in the Traité élémentaire de chimie of 1789, and, secondly, at a later date, all the research work and organizing work done from 1793 onwards at the Museum “that vital central point for all the sciences,” as the Décade philosophique56 put it when it first appeared expressing its pleasure at seeing it make, “by presenting it with the facts, an important contribution to the true education of a free people.” Facts. The Décade was right and expressed the great aspiration of the men of the age. It reminds us of Fourcroy who in 1793 also produced the fifth edition of his Éléments d’histoire naturelle et de chimie (the first dating from 1780) and felt himself obliged to explain to his readers that he was having a very hard time of it to truly follow the extremely rapid revolution in chemistry from one edition to the next; “All we are really doing,” he explained, “is to extract simple results from a large number of facts. We only accept strictly those things given us by experiment.”57 It is the definition of experimental science in revolt against speculation, whether we consider the phlogiston overcome by Lavoisier or those “cosmogonic romances” written by Buffon and bitterly denounced around 1792 by the young naturalists of the Museum.58 A method of this sort was of course valid for the natural sciences but not only for them.

For the analysts of humanity and the analysts of nature had both very early on had a healthy respect for fact and it became more and more apparent in both as the eighteenth century came to its close. The former were no less eager than the second, and the attempt to base their work on facts had something heroic and moving about it. Were they concerned with the present? The eighteenth century was, as far as political and constitutional problems were concerned, the century of memoirs; in the economic and social sciences it was the century of the birth of statistics and figures; in technology it was the century of investigation. Every question whether theoretical or practical, concerning population, wages, supplies or prices, any questions concerning the initial efforts of the first “scientific” farmers or the promoters of modern manufacturing processes, automatically brought forth written works in dozens — books, booklets, detailed surveys, and works by independent individuals, learned associations, and royal officers. We only have to call to mind the provincial Academies, agricultural societies and inspectors of factories whose attempts to establish stocks of fact seem to us today so remarkable. And were Europeans concerned with the past, or rather with that enormous part of the contemporary world which seemed to go back to a remote age, when, at the end of the eighteenth century, they compared other continents with their own — here too there were abundant facts and they were not to be left on one side; is there any need to say that though the Encyclopédie was something more besides, it was first and foremost, and it set out to be, a compendium of all known facts around the year 1750,59 a vast collection of documents taken straight from the work of the great scholars of the previous hundred years or from the written accounts of innumerable journeys that extended the intellectual horizon of civilized white men right to the shores of the Far West, America and, very soon, the Pacific? And when Voltaire expresses his aversion to hazardous attempts at systemization and shows his sharply focused, lively interest in the particular and the individual, what is he doing if not establishing and grouping firmly controlled facts?

Only such harvests are not to be gathered in a single day. About the middle of the eighteenth century and at the time when civilisation was born, the world was not yet known in its entirety, far from it — that is, the present world, and the past was even less well known. The science of the men who were most careful in gathering and criticizing historical or ethnological facts capable of leading to overall views of humanity and its development remained full of holes, gaps and obscurity. Apropos of such facts we too should say, thinking of ourselves and our own disciplines, what Henri Daudin formerly said when he wondered, in connection with a remark made by Lamarck and Cuvier, “how a science of observation whose object is a very complex and highly diversified concrete reality, and which is still only at a very rudimentary stage in cataloguing and ordering that reality, can possibly manage to find its way along and achieve any real results.”60 But both for ourselves and for him, I mean the historians and sociologists who were groping their way along in the second half of the eighteenth century and the naturalists whose methods he studies and one might say dissects, it is quite certain that “facts could not be taken in by the intellect in their pure state or independently of all psychological contingencies.” It was on the other hand quite natural “that verification of the preconceived idea should itself to a large extent be under the dependency of the preconceived idea.”61 So should we be surprised if an absolute concept of a single, coherent, human civilization grew up and not a relative concept of highly particularized and sharply individualized ethnic or historical civilizations?

Here too we should bear in mind the conceptions of the naturalists of the age, the vitality and outward manifestations of that “series” concept which they place in conjunction with the concept of a “natural order” that found its justification within itself.62 When Lamarck, around 1778, sought to obtain some idea of that “natural order” he conceived of it as a gradual, steady progression. And when at the beginning of the nineteenth century, after a long excursion into the fields of physics and chemistry, he came to publishing his naturalist views, the main argument and guiding doctrine which he set forth above all others in his lectures and books was that of a single, graduated series of animal societies.63 Of course we should not go too far here — but it would be doing violence to the true historical spirit to overlook connections of this nature. Do they not help us to understand how, at the top of the great ladder whose bottom rungs were occupied by savagery and whose middle rungs were occupied by barbarity, “civilisation” took its place quite naturally at the same point where “police” had reigned supreme before it?

So the word was born. And it spread. A word which was to survive, make its way and have enormous success. As soon as it appears we are only too pleased to clothe it with the rich mantle of ideas which the years were to weave for it. And our haste is somewhat laughable. Let us just look for texts and read them without preconception. For a long time, for a very long time, we will search and find nothing, I mean nothing that really justifies the creation of a new word. This new word comes and goes, rather at sea between politesse, police, and civilité. Certain efforts to define it better and ascertain, in particular, its relations with “police” do not lead to very much,64 and very often we have the clear impression that this neologism, even for those who used it, did not yet correspond to a definite need.

Of course, there was discussion on certain points. Or, more precisely, ideas were expressed which went different ways. How did “civilisation” operate? D’Holbach replied in 1773: “A nation becomes civilized through experiment.” The idea is not to be derided. He develops it a little further on: “Complete civilisation of peoples and the leaders who govern them and the desired reform of governments, morals and abuses can only be the work of centuries, and the result of the constant efforts of the human spirit and the repeated experiments of society.”65 Opposed to this broad but somewhat confused doctrine are the theories of the economists. The physiocrats also had their doctrine; we may recall Baudeau’s early text in 1767: “Land ownership, which attaches man to the land, constitutes a very important step towards the most perfect form of civilization.” For Raynal commerce is what counts. In 1770 he writes: “Les peuples qui ont poli tous les autres ont été commerçants” (The people who have poli (polished) all others were merchants),66 and here we can actually see that uncertainty of meaning which we noticed just now; for poli in Raynal’s text means quite precisely civilisé, since he writes a little further on, this time using the newer word in place of the older one: “Qu’est-ce qui a rassemblé, vêtu, civilisé ces peuples? C’est le commerce” (What gathered these people together, clothed them and civilized them? It was trade).67 It is a utilitarian theory; it was to be used by the Scots, Millar for example, for whom in the Observations sur les commencements de la société (translated version, 1773)68 civilization was “cette politesse des mœurs qui devient une suite naturelle de l’abondance et de la sécurité,” and Adam Smith was in the same way to bind wealth and civilization tightly together.69 On the other hand Antoine-Yves Goguet, who, so it seems, did not know the word civilisation, seems to be making a direct answer to Raynal when he states in 1778 in his book which bore the title De l’origine des lois, des arts et des sciences et de leurs progrès chez les anciens peuples, “La politesse ne s’est jamais introduite dans une contrée que par le moyen des lettres” (Politesse never entered a region except through literature).70 This is the doctrine of all those who were so numerous at that time and who thought, along with Buffon, that “sur le tronc de l’arbre de la science s’est élevé le tronc de la puissance humaine” (on the trunk of the tree of knowledge grew the trunk of human power), or who, along with Diderot, looked for the source of civilization in the progress achieved in human knowledge and looked upon it as a sort of ascent towards reason: “Instruite une nation, c’est la civiliser; y éteindre les connaissances, c’est la ramener à l’état primitif de barbarie… L’ignorance est le partage de l’esclave et du sauvage” (Instructing a nation is the same as civilizing it; stifling learning in it means leading it back to the primitive state of barbarity… Ignorance is the lot of the slave and the savage).71 Later Condorcet in a famous passage in the Vie de Voltaire was to echo the author of the Plan d’une université pour le gouvernement de Russie: “Ce n’est point la politique des princes, ce sont les lumières des peuples civilisés qui garantirent à jamais l’Europe des invasions; et plus la civilisation s’étendra sur la terre, plus on verra disparaître la guerre et les conquêtes, comme l’esclavage et la misère.” (Not the policies of princes but the enlightenment of civilized people will forever protect Europe against invasion; and the more civilization spreads across the earth, the more we shall see war and conquest disappear in the same way as slavery and want).72 In practical form divergences do not go very far. At least they do not change the essential thing. For all these men, whatever their individual tendencies may have been, civilization remains first and foremost an idea. To a very large extent it is a moral idea. “Nous demanderons,” Raynal asks, “s’il peut y avoir de civilisation sans justice?” (We shall ask whether there can be any civilization where there is no justice?).73

This is true even of the philosophers who, following Rousseau on to his own ground, applied themselves with varying degrees of conviction to the problem of value raised in 1750 by the Dijon Discours, The new word, so it seems, was just what was needed to help in discussing Rousseau’s paradoxes. It served as a handy term to apply to the enemy against which he had risen up with such violence — in the name of the primitive virtues and the unspoiled holiness of the forests — but without using the word, a word he seems never to have known. And so there were very animated discussions which went on a long time, long after the death of Rousseau and right into the middle of the nineteenth century. At the end of the eighteenth century these discussions never led to any critical study of the very concept of civilization. People simply approved or disapproved of the thing — that ideal civilization, that perfect civilization which all the men of the age bore to varying degrees in their heart and mind like a sort of compulsion but not as a clear concept. And it was a thing which in any case no one yet wanted to limit or particularize in its universal scope. There was alive in men an idea which was not the subject of the least doubt, yet it was the absolute and single concept of a human civilization which was capable of winning over little by little every ethnic group and which had already won over from savagery all peoples who were policés including the most outstanding ones, even the Greeks, who, Goguet depicts for us “in heroic times” as having neither morals nor principles and having no more terms with which to describe justice, probity and most of the moral virtues” than the savages of America.74 People believed in a single series, a continuous chain linking peoples together; d’Holbach stated in the Essai sur les préjugés, “that a chain of successive experiments leads the savage to the state in which we see him in a civilized society, where he concerns himself with the most sublime sciences and the most complicated branches of learning,75 and this is not only countered by Raynal when he noted that “all the peoples who are policés were savage and all savage peoples left to their natural impulses were destined to become policés,”76 but by Moheau as well when he wrote quite serenely: “It should not surprise us that man in his brute and savage state was inclined to adore man in his civilized and perfected state.”77

However universal and moving it might be, a consensus of this sort did not lead very far. In order to get out of that vague optimism, what was needed above all was a sustained attempt to formulate all the component parts of a coherent and valid concept of civilization. But to do that it was necessary not only to break up the old single world and finally arrive at the relative concept of “state of civilization then soon after that to the plural, “civilisations” which were more or less heterogeneous and autonomous, and conceived of as the attributes of so many distinct historical or ethnic groups. This stage was arrived at between 1780 and 1830, which are fairly broad dates, as a result of a series of progressive steps and, as d’Holbach would have said, as a result of experiments. The history we are dealing with here is not simple. How could it be when the very concept of civilization is, when all is said and done, a synthesis?

Let us take a jump ahead beyond the Revolution and the Empire. We come to Lyon in the year 1819. A book appears with a title which gives its date away, Le Vieillard et le jeune homme, written by Ballanche, full of all sorts of ideas, in his usual disorder, just re-edited with a commentary.78 If we take the trouble to read the fifth of the Seven Conversations which the work consists of we twice come across a remarkable innovation, though it might well remain completely unnoticed to contemporary readers. “L’esclavage,” Ballanche writes on page 102 of the Mauduit edition, “n’existe plus que dans les débris des civilisations anciennes” (Slavery continues to exist only in the remains of ancient civilizations). And a little further on (p. in) he shows religions in the Middle Ages gathering “l’héritage de toutes les civilisations précédentes” (the legacy of all previous civilizations). Was this the first time that “les civilisations” was substituted for “la civilisation in a printed text by a French author, thus setting aside a fifty-year-old usage? I should refrain from saying that it was as I do not claim to have read everything that was written in France between 1800 and 1820 with the intention of tracking down the appearance of an “s” on the tail of a substantive. But I should be very surprised if any uses of “civilisations” were found much before that date and before the example which good fortune brought before me (not without some assistance). The importance of the fact needs no emphasis. Ballanche’s plurals marked the end of a long patient search for information and the culmination of reasoned investigation.

We mentioned above the taste which the historians of the eighteenth century and, generally speaking, the promoters of the future social sciences, showed for fact on every occasion. This taste was as definite in them as it was in the naturalists, physicists, and chemists who were their contemporaries. We only have to look at the Encyclopédie. We know how, at the end of the century, the great sailors, especially the travellers who went on voyages of discovery in the Pacific, and the many accounts which they published everywhere in French and in English, which very quickly moved from one language to the other, satisfied all the curiosity aroused by supplying new stocks of evidence on man, or rather on men, and on their manners, customs, ideas and institutions. All this was soon gathered, compiled and classified by workers who resumed the task of men like Démeunier and Goguet79 and tried to make records as full and detailed as possible of the “savage” peoples who were coming to light. “I am a traveller and a sailor, that is to say a liar and a fool according to that class of lazy, arrogant writers who, in the darkness of their study philosophize till kingdom come on the world and its inhabitants and subject nature to their personal imagination.” That is how Bougainville sharply put it in the account of his Voyage autour du monde en 1766, 1767, 1768 et 1769, that same Bougainville who caused people to write and say so much about him.80 But the indoor scientists whom he was laughing at, “those dark speculators of the study room,” were, little by little, in their turn, to have their faith in the firmness of the great unitary structures shaken as a result of “the very great differences” which they were to notice, in the wake of sailors, “in the various regions” where they were taken in descriptions of voyages.81 The author of the Voyage de La Pérouse, Milet-Mureau, went on complaining twenty years later that the accounts written by explorers still allowed some to assert, “by making a pretentious comparison between our customs and habits and those of the savages, the superiority of civilized man over other men.”82 The fact that he takes to task all those who still held, even at that time, to the old prejudices (which a man like Démeunier long before had already attacked) at least shows that he himself was free of such prejudices and that all the facts and documents collected by La Pérouse and his fellows were beginning to inspire new thought. Taken simply by itself a work such as Volney’s shows over and over again that the minds of men were at work. We shall come back to his overall conception of civilization. But when in the Ruines he speaks of the “abortive civilization,” of the Chinese, when in particular in the Éclaircissements sur les États-Unis he speaks of the “civilization of the savages” I am prepared to admit that he is still giving the word civilization the meaning of a moral process, but all the same the expressions seem to have a new ring to them.83 Some years later, this is truer still in the cause of Alexander von Humboldt. “The Chaymas,” he writes for instance in his Voyage aux régions équinoxiales du nouveau continent (the first folio edition of which dates from 1814), “have considerable difficulty in grasping anything to do with numerical relationships… Mr. Marsden observed the same thing among the Malays of Sumatra, although they had had more than five centuries of civilization.”84 Further on he speaks of Mungo Park, “that enterprising man who on his own penetrated to the center of Africa to discover there in the midst of barbarity the traces of an ancient civilization.” Or, in connection with his Vues des Cordillères et monuments des peuples indigènes du nouveau continent: “This work,” he says, “is intended to throw light on the ancient civilization of the Americans through studying their architectural monuments, their hieroglyphics, their religious cults and their astrological fancies.”85

In fact here we are not far from the concept of “civilisations” in the plural, both ethnic and historical dividing the huge empire of “civilisation” into autonomous provinces. We should note that in the wake of geographers and the precursors of modern sociology the linguists in their turn accepted this new concept gladly. It is well known that Alexander von Humboldt owed much to his brother, whom he often quotes, referring readily to his ideas (which we shall return to) on civilization, culture, and Bildung. Probably as a result of his brother’s work, in the Cosmos he speaks of Sanskrit civilization as being conveyed to us by language.86 In France it was in the Essai sur le Pali by Burnouf and Lassen that I found (dating from 1826) a new example of the word civilisation used in the plural. This language, so the authors state, “tightens the powerful link which, in the view of the philosopher, joins together in a sort of unity peoples who belong to such diverse civilizations as the heavy and coarse mountain-dweller of Arakan and the more policé” inhabitant of Siam. The link here is the religion of Buddha.” We should have a look at some of Burnouf’s subsequent works; in them all we shall find everywhere quite modern usage of the word “civilisation” whether he is talking about the “origin of Indian civilization” or the originality of the Véda in which “nothing is borrowed from any previous civilization or from foreign peoples.”87 However scattered these texts may be they do suffice to show the role played by travel, the exegetists of travel and the linguists of the end of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth centuries in establishing what Nicefore calls “the ethnographical conception of civilization.” Is it necessary to add that the evolution of their ideas might have or must have been helped along by a no less swift and decisive parallel evolution which was taking place at the time in the natural sciences?

Luckily we have two texts by one and the same author, precisely dated (one is from 1794 and the other from 1804) which enable us to gauge with rigorous precision the transformation that took place, between these two strictly defined time-limits, in the most fundamental conceptions of scientists. And although I have quoted them already elsewhere,88 I ask you to bear with me if I recall at least the essential passages. In the first, which appears at the head of volume five of Éléments d’histoire naturelle et de chimie,89 Fourcroy when speaking rather contemptuously of the classifications founded for convenience’s sake on “the differences of form which animals show from one to another,” at once observes “that such sorts of classifications do not exist in nature and that all the individuals created by nature form one uninterrupted and unbroken chain.” The argument is well known, it is the one which all the scientists of the age set forth here, there and everywhere, whereas historians and philosophers for their part sing the monotonous epic of civilization making steady progress from savage peoples to “peuples policés” and from primeval man to the contemporary of Diderot and Rousseau. In the year XII, 1804, Fourcroy wrote the introduction to Levrault’s Dictionnaire des sciences naturelles. And this time, exactly ten years later, he wrote:

Famous naturalists (Cuvier and his disciples) deny that it is possible to form this chain (the uninterrupted and unbroken chain of living creatures) and maintain that there is no such series in nature; that nature has formed simply groups which are separate from one another; or rather that there are thousands of independent chains which are continuous in themselves in their own series but which do not join up with one another at all or which cannot possibly be brought together.

Quite clearly, there is an abyss between the two statements. It was a revolution which started in the Muséum, led by Cuvier and which, in the space of a few years gave the most level-headed men conclusions which were radically opposed to the old ones. It represented, for natural scientists, the beginning of the long specialization process and the great relativist development of the “universelles” ideas of the eighteenth century, which was to take place, in parallel fashion, in the fields of history, ethnography and linguistics.

A historian could hardly fail to observe the extent to which political events or, in a word, the Revolution acted in support of this evolution. We noted above that the word civilisation triumphed and won a place for itself during the years of torment and hope experienced by France, and along with France, by the whole of Europe from 1789 onwards. It was not just a matter of chance. The Revolutionary movement was necessarily a movement of optimism entirely orientated towards the future. Behind this optimism there was, supporting it and justifying it, a certain philosophy — the philosophy of progress and of the infinite perfectibility of human beings and the creatures that depended upon them — each stage along this path marking some new piece of progress as it was completed. We should not dismiss as insignificant or meaningless Barere’s statement when he writes: “For the philosopher and for the moralist the principle that lies behind the Revolution is progress in human enlightenment and the need for a better civilization.”90 This is what lies behind all the heated discussion and violent refutation in the period of Rousseau’s arguments negating progress and pronouncing anathema on civilization.91

But little by little the Revolution evolved and produced its effects. It founded a new order — but only on the ruins of the ancient order; and an enterprise of that sort cannot fail to produce a marked state of anxiety and instability in a good many men. What the initial consequences were, on the one hand for letters, and on the other hand for those travellers who had no choice but to travel — “émigrés” — we can find out by turning to a book by Fernand Baldensperger.92 And we, for our part, find it very hard to overlook the effects of such travel whether forced or otherwise on the thought of the men of the age. It at least prepared them for a better understanding and better assimilation of the experiences of all those sailors and discoverers of unknown societies and all those naturalists too, who were the faithful companions of the ethnographers, who drew their contemporaries” attention to the rich variety of human manners and institutions.93 Should we perhaps take note of the fine text by Talleyrand in his first memorandum to the Institute on 15 Germinal in the year V, concerning his journey to America: “The traveller passes successively through all the stages of civilization and industry going right back to the log cabin made of newly felled trees. A journey of that kind is a sort of practical and living analysis of the origin of peoples and states… One seems to be travelling backwards through the history of the progress of the human spirit.” But there are other texts as well.

If we open the conversations between Le Vieillard et le jeune homme by Ballanche, which have already provided us with a valuable text, we will find certain lines at the very beginning which are highly illuminating on this point.94

“Looking around you,” [the wise Nestor said to his catechumen] “You have seen ancient society in its death agonies. You say all the time: “What will become of the human race?” I see civilization moving every day further and further, deeper and deeper into an abyss in which I perceive nothing but ruin. And then you say, “History teaches me that societies which became policées perished, and that empires ceased to exist, that dark eclipses for centuries covered the whole of humanity. And at the present time I observe similarities which make me fear the worst…”

Here let us leave the inflated, whining prose of Ballanche; we shall not quote any more of it. The men who lived through the Revolution and the Empire learned one thing which their predecessors had not known when they brought the word civilisation into circulation about the year 1770. They learned that civilization could die. And they did not learn this simply from books.95

Is that all? Above we referred to a state of anxiety and instability; and we mentioned to support our argument the large numbers of émigrés, refugees, and travellers of every type and every situation. But they were all aristocrats and isolated individuals. In fact it was the “nation,” as people were beginning to call it, the whole nation which felt far more profoundly the effects of a crisis which caused “vague unrest” and “doubt and uncertainty” of course, and something else besides — very precise economic disorders and social upheavals. And the outcome was a very strange thing — Rousseau’s pessimistic theory, which the Revolution had, when intoxicated with itself, seemed to annihilate by its very success, was suddenly revived by that same Revolution as a result of the disorders which it had itself engendered, the thought to which it had given birth and the situations which it had created or helped to create — and we find other men, once the great crisis was over, taking up Rousseau’s theory on their own account, of course with a quite different emphasis. “Great men of all the ages, Newton and Leibniz, Voltaire and Rousseau do you know what you are great in? You are great in blindness… for having thought that civilization was the social destiny of the human race…? Who is this belated orator lending his rather superfluous assistance to Rousseau? The article bears the title “Harmonie universelle”; it appeared in the Bulletin de Lyon on 11 Frimaire in the year XII, and its author was a Besançon shop assistant by the name of Charles Fourier.96

All you learned men [he goes on] behold your towns peopled by beggars, your citizens struggling against hunger, your battlefields and all your social infamies. Do you think, when you have seen that, that civilization is the destiny of the human race, or that J.-J. Rousseau was right when he said of civilized men, “They are not men.” There has been some upheaval the cause of which you cannot “penetrate.”

Thus the father of societarian Socialism was writing his preludes whereas Mme de Staël felt the need to defend the system which upheld human perfectibility “which had,” she said, “been the system of all enlightened philosophers for the past fifty years.”97 In fact something had changed in the minds of men. And, with the combined efforts of the scientists, travellers, linguists and all those whom we have to call, for want of a more precise name, the philosophers, the concept of civilization which had been so simple when it had first appeared, had taken on a good many new features and shown some quite unexpected facets.

A more precise definition then became necessary. It was not sought by one party alone. In the Restoration, which was in essence a period of reconstruction and reconstitution, theories of civilization which varied in precision and scope sprang up on all sides. We need only mention a few names and works. In 1827 an old work, Idées sur la philosophie de l’histoire de l’humanité,98 appeared in the bookshops translated and equipped with an introduction written by Edgar Quinet. In the same year the Principes de la philosophie de l’histoire were published in Paris, being a translation of G.-B. Vico’s Scienza nuova, preceded by an introduction on the author’s system of thought and life written by Jules Michelet.99 In 1833 Jouffroy gathered together in his Mélanges philosophiques a large number of articles from the years 1826 and 1827 (especially two lectures from a course on the Philosophie de l’histoire delivered in 1826)100 which dealt partially or directly with civilization.101 But there is one man in particular who puts his finger, one might say, on the very concept of civilization and its historical interpretation and it is François Guizot, who, in his “Tableau philosophique et littéraire de l’an 1807,” which appeared in the Archives littéraires de l’Europe in 1808 (vol. xviii), had already written: “The history of men should only be looked upon as a collection of material gathered together for the great history of the civilization of the human race.”102 We know what the subject of his lectures was when he took his chair again at the Sorbonne in 1828; he dealt successively in 1828 with La Civilisation en Europe and in 1829 with La Civilisation en France;103 undertaking a methodical and one might say systematic analysis of the very concept of civilization he provided his contemporaries not only with a remarkable survey of existing ideas, but also with a perfect example of one of those great, typically French constructions in which, with great mastery (and a few expert touches), he presents us with a synthesis of the most diverse points of view and (naturally not without certain rather daring simplifications) a way of unraveling, clarifying and rendering attractive and appealing the darkest obscurities and the most inextricable complexities.

Civilization, Guizot started by saying, is a fact, “a fact like any other” and capable, “like any other of being studied, described and explained.”104 It is a somewhat enigmatic statement but it is explained straightaway by a historian’s reflection: “For some time there has been a lot of talk, quite rightly of the need to enclose history within facts.” And immediately one thinks of the remark made by Jouffroy, in his article in the Globe of 1827 on “Bossuet, Vico, Herder”: “What stands out in Bossuet, Vico, and Herder, is contempt for history — facts give way under their feet like the grass.”105 So Guizot’s rather surprising concern (and one which Gobineau was later to reproach him for in lively but rather artificial fashion) is easily understood. He wants to be seen as a historian and does not want to be called an ideologist simply because he intends to deal with general and not with particular facts. But the “fact” which, “like any other,” the general fact, “hidden, complex and very difficult to describe and explain, but there none the less,” which belongs to that category “of historical facts which cannot be excluded from history without its being mutilated,” is known by Guizot, as he says a little further on, to be “a sort of ocean which is the whole wealth of a people and which contains all the elements in the life of a people and all the forces that operate in its life.106 It is strange to note that he at once adds that even though facts “which really speaking cannot be called social facts but which are individual facts which seem to concern the human spirit rather than public life, such as religious beliefs and philosophical ideas, the sciences, letters and the arts,” can and should be looked upon “from the point of view of civilization.” It is a fine text for anyone wishing to assess the conquest of sociology with any precision and judge the differences in tone which an interval of a hundred years can make in certain words looked upon as clear and explicit.

From these prolegomena at least we can draw two conclusions. One is that Guizot chose the nation or rather, as he puts it, the people as the framework of his studies. True, he does talk of European civilization. But what is Europe other than a people to the power two? And does not Guizot study European civilization via France,107 that superlative creator and propagandist? Thus he adopts Jouffroy’s point of view and speaks of “each” people, “each” civilization, while it is quite clearly understood that there are “families of peoples” in existence;108 and the whole is under the shade of “that tree of civilization which must, one day, cover the whole earth with its foliage.”109 This is the solution proposed by Guizot to the problem of establishing “whether there is such a thing as one universal civilization of the human race, one common human destiny, and whether the peoples have handed something down to each other from century to century that has not been lost,” and, we should add, whether there is such a thing as “general progress.” Guizot replied, “For my part I am convinced that there is such as thing as the general destiny of humanity, and the transmission of humanity’s assets and, consequently, one universal history of civilization which needs to be recorded and written about.”110 Further on, “The idea of progress and development seems to me to be the fundamental idea contained in the word civilization.”111 So we see a delicate question solved by means of a skillful synthesis. There are such things as civilizations. And they need to be studied, analyzed and dissected, in themselves and on their own. But above these there is indeed such a thing as civilization with its continuous movement onwards, though perhaps not in a straight line. Civilization then, and progress. But progress of what, exactly?

Guizot said on this point that civilization was basically the product of man and a certain development in the social condition of man and a certain development in his intellectual condition. These are rather vague terms, and he endeavored to give them a more precise definition. On the one hand we have the development of the general external condition of man, and on the other hand the development of the internal and personal nature of man, in a word, we have the perfecting of society and the perfecting of humanity. Guizot in fact insists that these two factors are not merely added to one another and placed in juxtaposition, but that both elements, social and intellectual, occur simultaneously, are intimately and swiftly bound together, and act upon one another reciprocally in a process which is indispensable to the perfection of civilization. If the one shows too much advance on the other, there is unrest and anxiety. “If major social improvements and major progress in the material well-being of man manifest themselves in a people without going together with some great movement of intellectual development and some similar progress in the minds of men, then the social improvements seem to be precarious, inexplicable and practically unwarranted.” Will it last and spread its influence? Ideas alone are able to make light of distances, traverse seas and make themselves everywhere understood and accepted”; and in any case “social well-being remains somewhat subordinate in character as long as it has not borne any fruit other than well-being itself; it is a curious statement to find on the lips of a man who some years later was to be denounced by his opponents as the cynical high priest of wealth.112 Conversely, if some major development of the intellect breaks out somewhere and no social progress appears to go with it then the result is surprise and uneasiness. “It is as if a beautiful tree were bearing no fruit… ideas are held in a sort of contempt… when they do not lay hold of the external world.”

We know the course of Guizot’s argument after that. The two main elements of civilization are, then, intellectual development and social development and they are intimately linked together. Perfect civilization is achieved where the two elements join together and take effect simultaneously. So a rapid review of all the various European civilizations was sufficient to show him in England a civilization almost exclusively orientated towards social perfection but whose representatives proved to be lacking in the talent required “to light those great intellectual torches which illuminate whole eras.” Conversely, German civilization was powerful in its spirit but feeble in its organization and in its attainment of social perfection. Was it not true to say that ideas and facts, intellectual order and material order were almost entirely separate in that same Germany where the human spirit had for so long prospered to a far greater degree than the human condition? On the other hand, there was a country, the only one, able to pursue the harmonious development of ideas and facts, of the intellectual and the material order — that country was of course France, the France in which man had never lacked individual greatness, and where individual greatness had never failed to bring consequences that contributed to the public weal.113

Here too, the synthesis was skillfully engineered. Difficulties vanished without a trace. The concept of material well-being and the efficient organization of social relations, the concept “of a more equitable distribution among individuals of the power and well-being thus produced” by human groups — the very things which Fourier, as early as 1807, had blamed civilization for neglecting, were included by Guizot among the various elements which any civilization worthy of the name should display to any observer. And, putting an end to an old debate he showed that “police and “civilité” conspired together to produce such civilization. More precisely, we might say that his breadth of view in making room within his attractive and admirably proportioned construction not only for the means of power and well-being in human societies and for the means of developing and personally and morally enriching man and all his faculties, feelings and ideas, but also for letters, the sciences and the arts, those glorified images of human nature,”114 his particular brand of tolerant comprehension, was entirely apposite in preventing the completion in France of a serious divorce, the very divorce which did occur in Germany in that period and which certain individuals may well have had in mind in France — I mean the divorce between “culture” and “civilisation.”

No work has been done on the concept of culture in France. I would say of course not” if a certain brand of off-hand irony were appropriate when observing such monstrous gaps in our knowledge. But however little I may know about the history of the concept of culture I can at least say that it does exist, that it would be well worth while retracing it and that it is a subject of considerable importance.

Let us stick to the essential points. It is not for me to research into the history of ideas in Germany, to discover the date when the word Kultur115 first appeared and the circumstances in which it appeared. Or to raise the question of origins. I note simply that in our Dictionnaire de l’Académie in the 1762 edition culture in French is said to be used in the figurative sense, “of the cultivation of the arts and the mind” and two examples are given: “la culture des arts est fort importante; travailler à la culture de l’esprit” (“culture” of the arts is very important; to work on the “culture” of the mind). It is a rather flimsy definition. It will probably get fuller as time goes on. In the 1835 edition of the same Dictionnaire, we read: “se dit figurément de l’application qu’en met à perfectionner les sciences, les arts, à développer les facultés de l’esprit” (is used in the figurative sense to refer to the application with which one perfects the sciences and the arts and develops the faculties of the mind). True, this is a paraphrase rather than a meaningful explanation; but even put in this way the concept is a long way off the rich definition given on the other side of the Rhine by Adelung’s dictionary in the 1793 edition of the word Kultur: ennoblement, refinement of all the spiritual and moral powers of a man or a people. I would recall as well that Herder, Quinet’s Herder, attributed to the same word a whole string of very rich meanings including the following: aptitude for domesticating animals; clearance and occupation of the soil; development of the sciences, the arts and commerce; finally “police.” We often come across ideas of this sort expressed in our own language. But I would note in passing, we should not be too hasty in thinking that such concepts were borrowed and it is striking that in France such concepts are always classified under the heading civilization.116 Thus, for Mme de Staël, “la multitude et l’étendue des forêts indiquent une civilisation encore nouvelle” (the vast number and extent of the forests point to a civilisation which is still new); culture in this sentence would indeed have had a puzzling effect.117 A word once more enables us to observe that the ideas of Herder are more or less identical with those of Kant, who associated the progress of culture with that of reason and saw universal peace as the ultimate effect of both.118

But there is no doubt that these ideas were known, at least in bits and pieces, in France. Without doing any lengthy research we only need to think of that Germanized Frenchman, Charles de Villiers, who developed such a strong passion for the German thought of his age. The ideas of Kant did not go unnoticed by him. The only evidence needed is the little octavo booklet of forty pages which made the Idée de ce que pourrait être une histoire universelle dans les vues d’un citoyen de monde accessible to French readers; Kant’s essay had appeared for the first time, unless I am mistaken, in 1784 in the Berlinische Monatsschrift; the translation bore the date 1796. In it there was a lot of talk about “l’état de culture” (state of culture) which “is nothing other than the development of the social worth of man;119 and the translator, taking the floor on his own account, explains to his readers (page 39) that they had already emerged step by step from the “savage” state, from that of complete ignorance and “barbarity” and had entered the period of “culture”; the era of “morality” still remained before them. Elsewhere in his Essai sur l’esprit et l’influence de la Réforme de Luther (1804) and in his Coup d’œil sur l’état actuel de la littérature ancienne et de l’histoire en Allemagne (1809), Charles de Villiers drew the attention of Frenchmen to the growth of a cultural history, Histoire de la culture, Kulturgeschichte, which the Germans created by presenting “the effects of political history, literary history and the history of religions in their relations with civilization, industry, well-being, morality and the character and way of life of men” and which, as he put it, brought forth in them “profound and remarkable writings.”120 All that was still fairly vague, so it seems, and rather confused. In any case there does not appear to be any clear opposition between culture and civilisation.

We do not find such an opposition, formulated in any systematic way by Alexander von Humboldt either. He often uses the word Kultur in his writings, together with Zivilisation, and without bothering, so it seems, to define these terms in relation to one another.121 But he does like to refer, on the other hand, to his brother Wilhelm, the linguist122 — and he for his part, had very clear ideas on the matter which he was able to formulate. In his famous study on the kawi language,123 he explains them at length. He shows how by means of a very clever but rather artificial gradation, the curve of progress rose from man who was gentle and humanized in his behavior to man who was learned, artistic and lettered, finally reaching Olympian (I am tempted to say, Goethean) serenity, as the man who was completely formed. Those were the steps which constituted Zivilisation, Kultur, and Bildung. For Wilhelm von Humboldt civilization, when all is said and done, annexed the domain of “police in its ancient form — security, order, established peace and gentleness in the field of social relations. But gentle people and people with good police are not necessarily cultured in the intellectual sense; certain savages may have the most excellent private manners and yet be still totally unaware of anything pertaining to the cultivation of the mind. And the reverse is true. Hence the independence of the two spheres and the distinction between the two concepts.

Did these ideas make much headway in France? We should simply note that they were capable of strengthening or supporting a certain intellectual attitude of which an example is given us by Volney very early on, an excellent example. Intent on refuting Rousseau’s ideas on the perversity engendered in man by the development of letters, the sciences and the arts — like so many of his contemporaries, as we have already said — he in fact proposed a radical method intended to do away with civilization altogether, by taking drastic action to clear the ground if necessary.124 Rousseau could have, so he said, and should have, realized and stated that the fine arts, poetry, painting and architecture were not “Integral parts of civilization and sure indications of the well-being and prosperity of peoples.” There had been plenty of examples, “taken from Italy and Greece,” which proved incontestably that they could blossom in countries which were subject to military despotism or fanatical democracy, both of which were equally sauvage in nature.” True, they were like decorative plants; “to cause them to blossom it was enough for a temporarily strong government of any kind whatsoever to encourage and reward them”; but to over-cultivate them was dangerous: “the fine arts, encouraged by the tribute paid by the people to the detriment of the more practical basic arts, can very often become a way of misusing public funds and consequently have a subversive effect on the social state of men and on civilisation.” Rousseau, revised, corrected and rectified by Volney, thus becomes something fairly puerile, when all is said and done. Guizot, in his broad synthesis, had the distinct virtue of maintaining among the essential elements in the concept of civilization “the development of the intellect.”

It was a virtue that was not always recognized. When in 1853 Gobineau, in his book De l’Inégalité des races humaines, attempted in his turn to define the word civilisation,125 he began by attacking Guizot with some vigor. Guizot had defined civilisation as un fait (a fact). “No,” said Gobineau, “It is a series, a chain of facts.” Guizot was not unaware of this, and he says so; the truth was that Gobineau had read him rather quickly. But what he blames the author of l’Histoire générale de la civilisation en Europe for above all was that he had not ruled out the concept of “governmental forms.” On examining Guizot’s ideas one quickly saw, as Gobineau asserted, that before a people could claim that it was civilized it had to “enjoy institutions which temper power and freedom at one and the same time, and through which material development and moral progress are precisely coordinated, so that government and religion are confined within clearly defined limits.” In short, he concluded with some malice, it was easy to see that according to Guizot, “the English nation was the only truly civilized one.” He was cocking a snook and would in fact have done far better not to take up so many pages with his quibbles. Gobineau’s position was in fact a rather curious one. He reproached Guizot for having continued to include “police as one of the fundamental elements in the concept of civilization. One feels sorry for the concept and sorry for Guizot. Some called upon him to throw overboard literature, science and the arts, in fact everything that constituted culture; others wanted him to jettison political, religious and social institutions. He did neither and, in his way, he was not wrong.

But he still had certain misgivings. He expressed them in his Histoire générale de la civilisation en France in a remarkable passage.126 Formerly he points out, “in the sciences which are concerned with the material world,” facts were badly studied and little regard was had for them; “people simply went where their hypotheses led them and followed a risky path without any other guide than their own deductions.” Nevertheless, in politics and in the real world, “facts were omnipotent and were held to be legitimate more or less by their very nature; it would have been out of place to expect, an idea in the name of mere truth, to play any part in the affairs of this life.” But over the previous century (which brought Guizot’s reader to the beginning of the reign of Louis XV), a reversal had taken place. “On the one hand facts have never played such an important part in science; on the other hand ideas had never played such an important part in physical reality.” This was so true that the opponents of the civilization of the time were always complaining about it. They spoke out against what they thought of as the sterility, pettiness and triviality of a scientific spirit which “debases ideas, freezes the imagination, removes all that is great from the intelligence, particularly its freedom, and shrivels and materializes it.” On the other hand, in politics and in government of societies they saw nothing but fanciful notions and ambitious theories — attempting the same feat as Icarus would only bring a fate similar to the one he suffered. Hollow complaints, Guizot said. That was how things should be. Man, faced with the world which he neither created nor invented, is first a spectator and then an actor. The world is a fact and man studies it as such; he exercises his mind on facts; and when he discovers the general laws which govern the development and life of the world, even those laws are simply facts which he observes. And then the knowledge of external facts develops in us ideas which dominate these facts. “We are called upon to reform, perfect and regulate all that is. We feel able to act upon the world and to extend throughout it the glorious empire of reason.” That is the mission of man — as a spectator he is subject to facts; as an actor he remains master in imposing upon them a more regular and a purer form.

It is a remarkable passage. Of course there had been a conflict. Between two attitudes, two methods, and two sorts of preoccupations. There had been a conflict between the spirit of research and enquiry, the positive scientific method founded on the study and compilation of facts from purely disinterested motives — and the spirit, we might say, of intuition and hope and of the imagination which precedes and anticipates facts, the spirit of social improvement and pragmatic progress. And it is all very well to want, as Guizot did, to settle the quarrel on paper and to place intellectual progress and social perfection in harmony with one another. But how were things in practice? Both were very powerful gods, and how could one be subordinate to the other or — a rather naïve notion — how could they be made to exist side by side?

In fact, what had taken place when Guizot wrote these words and when he was giving his lectures in 1828 and 1829? In the first instance experimental scientific methods had not penetrated very far into those branches of learning which from then on were to be called the moral sciences. And why not? Rather, what complex combination of heterogeneous factors was responsible for the situation? To show this would require an enormous amount of labor. And in order to do so we should have to give our attention to the problem of the origins, causes and spirit of Romanticism, and that is a problem which is nowhere near being solved with any degree of unanimity.

And there was another thing. Civilization did not appear to Guizot’s contemporaries simply as an object of study. It was a reality in which they were living. For better or for worse? Many would reply for worse. Now, from the standpoint which we have taken up in this study, this fact is very important. For the complaints of the “opponents of civilization,” as Guizot calls them, the complaints which are taken up and formulated endlessly by every school of social reform, the same complaints which were to inspire something more substantial than books and essays, may in fact have been preparing the ground for future, scientific criticism of any concept of civilization that implied a value judgment, making such criticism easier and more desirable in advance. In other words we may ask the question whether all these complaints were not conspiring to bring about that dissociation which we support and which was finally completed over the last fifty years of the nineteenth century, the dissociation of the two concepts, the scientific one and the pragmatic one, of civilization; the one finally leading to the view that any group of human beings, whatever its means of material and intellectual action on the universe may be, possesses its own form of civilization; the other, even so, maintaining the old concept of a superior civilization carried along and transported by the white peoples of Western Europe and Eastern America and taking shape in facts as a sort of idea.

For our part we do not need to follow the divergent trails of these two concepts throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. We are sketching the history of a word. We have taken our sketch to the point where civilisations appears in current use alongside civilisation. Our task has been completed. It was simply a preface. We should simply note that the practical, radical and, in itself incontestable view which asserts the existence of each individual people and each individual civilization does not prevent the old concept of a general human civilization remaining alive in people’s minds. How can we make the two concepts agree? How are we to conceive of their relation with one another? It is not my job to do that. My job was simply to show how the terms of the problem emerged little by little and made themselves clear for us in our very language throughout a century and a half of research, meditation and history.


1 Let it be said in parenthesis that the fact that no teacher of history has ever suggested and no young historian has ever himself conceived the idea of undertaking a detailed study of the history of these words or of writing a doctor’s thesis on such a subject, well illustrates a lack not of material but of spiritual organization — which the study of modern history still suffers from. Studies of this sort have been done on ancient history and have proved to be extremely valuable and instructive as we know. Of course they would not be easy to write. We should need for that purpose historians with a very solid philosophical background — aves rarae. But there are some; and if there are not, then perhaps we should think about producing some.
2 A. Nicefore, Les indices numériques de la civilisation et du progrès, Paris, 1921.
3 Texts quoted by Albert Counson, Qu’est-ce que la civilisation? (Published by the Académie de langue et littérature française, Brussels, 1923.) By the same author La civilisation, action de la science, sur la loi, Paris, Alcan, 1929, pp. 187 and 188, footnote.
4 Counson, op. cit., p. 11.
5 As M. Schelle has clearly shown Dupont de Nemours was always doing it; he took very great liberties with Turgot’s texts.
6 But it is included in vol. i, p. 214, of the Œuvres de Turgot (Paris, Alcan, 1913), in a summary at the beginning of the Tableau philosophique des progrès successifs de l’esprit humain; the summary is by M. Schelle.
7 They will be found assembled in vol. i of the Œuvres de Turgot, ed. Schelle.
8 Book VI, ch. 2, p. 404-405 of vol. iii of the 12mo ed.
9 Cf. Système social, London, 1773, vol. i, ch. 16, p. 204; Histoire de l’électricité, Paris, 1771.
10 Cf. vol. i, p. 210, ch. 16: “Complete civilization of peoples and the leaders who govern them can only be the work of the centuries.” In the same work, civiliser, civilisé are used currently; similarly, in the Système de la nature, 1770, in which I could not find civilisation.
11 February 1767, p. 82. Quoted by Weulersse, Les Physiocrates, ii, p. 139.
12 Ch. 6, art. 6 (Coll. des économistes, p. 817): “in the present state of civilization in Europe.”
13 Cf. the Geneva edition, 1781, vol. x, Book XIX, p. 27: “The liberation or, what amounts to the same thing under a different name, the civilization of a state is a long and difficult process… The civilization of States has rather been a product of circumstances than of the wisdom of sovereigns.” Ibid., p. 28, on Russia: “Is the climate of this region really favorable to civilization?” and p. 29: “We shall ask the question whether there can be any civilization without justice?” Cf. also, vol. i, p. 60: “A mysterious secret which held back… the progress of civilization.”
14 Œuvres, ed. Toumeux, vol. ii, p. 431: “I think also that there is a purpose in civilization, a purpose which is more in conformity with the happiness of man in general.”
15 He quite naturally and frequently uses civilisé and civiliser: Introduction, p. x: “What are civilized men?”; vol. ii, ch. 10, p. 127: “Do you applaud the fact that Czar Peter began to civilize the Hyperborean regions?”
16 In the Avertissement, cf. Van Gennep, Religions, mœurs et légendes, 3rd series, Paris, 1911, p. 21 et seq.
17 Numerous texts. Some examples: 1787, Condorcet, Vie de Voltaire: “The more civilization spreads throughout the earth, the more we shall see war and conquests disappear.” 1791, Boissel, Le Catéchisme du genre humain, 2nd edition, according to Jaurès, Histoire socialiste, la Convention, vol. ii, p. 151 et seq. 1793, Billaud-Varennes, Éléments de républicanisme, according to Jaurès, ibid., vol. ii, p. 1503 and p. 1506. 1795, Condorcet, Esquisse d’un tableau historique des progrès de l’esprit humain, p. 5: “The first state of civilization in which the human species has been observed”; p. 11: “It is between that degree of civilization and the one we can still observe in savage people”; p. 28: “All the epochs of civilization”; p. 38: “Peoples who have reached a high degree of civilization,” etc. 1796, Voyages de C.P. Thumberg au Japon, traduits per L. Laigles et revue per J.-B. Lamarck, 4 volumes, volume i, Paris, year IV (1796). Préface by the editor: “It [the Japanese nation] has retained a degree of freedom acceptable in its state of civilization.” Finally, the word had come into such current usage that on the 12 of Messidor in the year IV (30 June 1798), on board the Orient, on the eve of the landings in Egypt, Bonaparte, in his proclamation wrote: “Soldiers, you are going to carry out a conquest the effects of which are incalculable for civilization and the commerce of the world.” We have tried to take examples from all the different categories of writings of the age.
18 Littré thus makes a serious mistake when in his Dictionnaire, under the article on civilization (which is in fact a very indifferent one), he asserts “that the word only appears in the Dictionnaire de l’Académie from the 1835 edition onwards and has only been used to any extent by modern writers when public thoughts began to center on the process of history.”
19 Dictionnaire universel français et latin, nouvelle édition, corrigée, avec les additions, Nancy, 1740. The 1762 edition of the Dictionnaire de l’Académie had added a large number of words which did not appear in the 1740 edition (5,217 according to Gohin) and showed a considerable extension of the concept of the dictionary. It is all the more noteworthy that civilisation did not appear in it. The 1798 edition contained 1,887 new words and especially testified to a new orientation: it does honor to the philosophical spirit of all the progress made in language; it is not limited simply to recording usage; it judges usage. The 1798 definition is however very simple if not poor: “Civilization, action of civilizing or state of that which is civilized.” All the dictionaries take it up until we read in the Dictionnaire général de la langue française du commencement du XVIIe siècle à nos jours, Hatzfeld, Darmesteter and Thomas, Paris, undated (1890): “By extension, neologism: progress of humanity in the moral, intellectual and social spheres, etc.”
20 J.A.H. Murray, A New English Dictionary, vol. ii, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1893, verso Civilization: 1772. Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson, xxv.
21 The first English edition of The history of the reign of the Emperor Charles V dates from 1769.
22 Préface, p. xiv: “L’influence des progrès de la civilisation et du gouvernement.”
Section II of ch. 4, p. 304, bears the title: “Des changements produits dans le gouvernement d’un peuple per ses progrès dans la civilisation; similarly section II of ch. 5, p. 347, bears the title “Des effets ordinaires de la richesse et de la civilisation relativement au traitement des serviteurs.”
23 Ed. Tourneux, vol. x, Paris, 1879, p. 317, November 1773: “The successive progress of civilization… the first progress of civilization.”
24 Vol. ii, p. 164.
25 The translation is based on the fourth edition. Cf. vol. i, ch. 3, p. 40: “Les nations qui… semblent être arrivées les premières à la civilisation furent celles à qui la nature avait donné pour patrie les côtes de la Méditerranée.”
26 At least in the cultural sense for, in English as in French, civilization is an ancient word in the legal sense (that given in the Trévoux Dictionary). Murray gives some examples for the beginning of the eighteenth century (Harris; Chambers, Cyclopaedia, etc.).
27 Essais, Book I, ch. 25, “Du Pédantisme.
28 Œuvres de Descartes, ed. Adam, vol. vi, Discours de la Méthode, part 2, p. 12: “Thus I imagined that those peoples who formerly were semi-savages and civilized themselves only gradually producing their laws only when they were forced to as a result of the disorders caused by crime and conflict, could not be as well policez as those who had observed constitutions created by prudent legislations right from the start of their group life.” A little further on there is another text which defines the barbarian and savage as being without reason: “Having recognized that all these peoples which have sentiments very much opposed to our own are not simply because of that, barbarians or savages, but that many of them make use of their reason as much or more than we do.” These texts were pointed out to me by M. Henri Berr.
29 Especially since precisely in the eighteenth century verbs in “-iser appeared in great numbers, M. Frey has made a great list of them for the revolutionary period in his book, already referred to, on the Transformations du vocabulaire français a l’époque de la Révolution, p. 21 (centraliser, fanatiser, fédéraliser, municipaliser, naturaliser, utiliser, etc.). But M. Gohin had already given for the preceding period another list of similar verbs attributed to the Encyclopedists: among them we find barbariser.
30 Œuvres de Voltaire, ed. Beuchot, vol. xv, pp. 253, 256.
31 Contrat social, ch. 8 of Book II.
32 The word does not appear either, according to the check I made, in the Dijon Discours of 1750 (Si le rétablissement des sciences et des arts a contribué à épurer les mœurs). In it Rousseau only uses police and policé, just like Turgot in the same period in the Tableau philosophique des progrès successifs de l’esprit humain (1750), or Duclos in the Considérations sur les mœurs de ce siècle (1751), or a good many more of their contemporaries.
33 Dictionnaire de l’ancienne langue française, Paris, 1881. Nicolas Oresme’s Éthiques are also referred to in the article on “Civilité,” by Hatzfeld, Darmesteter and Thomas in their Dictionnaire général.
34 Civiliser is defined by the same Furetière: to make civil, and poli, amenable and courteous, e.g. “The preaching of the gospel has civilisé the most savage barbarian peoples.” Or, “Peasants are not civilisés in the same way as townsfolk, and townsfolk are not civilisés in the same way as courtiers.”
35Courtois and affable,” F. de Callières says (Du bon et du mauvais usage dans les manières de s’exprimer, Paris, 1693), “are hardly used any longer by those who move in society and the words civil and honnête have taken their place.” Bossuet points to the fact that civilité has lost all its political meaning, in a passage in the Discours sur l’histoire universelle, part III, chapter 5, in which he sets the way in which it was used by the ancients against that of the moderns:
The word “civilité” did not only signify for the Greeks the gentleness and mutual deference which makes men sociable; a man who was civil was nothing more than a good citizen, who always looks upon himself as a member of the State, who allows himself to be governed by the laws and conspires with them to bring about the public weal, without engaging in any act that may be harmful to any other person.
Tuscan usage of the word retained for civiltà a little more of the legal meaning, which in France was only retained by the word civil, if we are to go by the Vocabolario degli Accademici della Crusca; in the meaning of “costume e maniera di vivre civile (Latin civilitas),” it added that of “citizenship.”
36 The edition revised by Beauzée. The first edition of Girard’s work dates from 1718 (La justesse de la langue françoise, ou les sinonimes); the second, from 1736 (Les Synonymes français); the third, revised by Beauzée dates from 1769; re-ed. in 1780.
37 Op. cit., vol. ii, § 112, p. 159.
38 Op. cit., Book XIX, ch. 16. He is referring to the Chinese who, desirous “of helping their people to live peaceful lives,” have “extended the rules of civilité as widely as possible.”
39 Contrat social, iii, ch. 8: “The places where the labour of men produces only that which is necessary should be inhabited by barbarous peoples: any politie would be impossible there.” Cf. ibid., iv, ch. 7: “The result of this dual form of power has been perpetual conflict in jurisdiction which has made any good politie in Christian States impossible.” Godefroy gives as the medieval forms of the word, policie, pollicie, politie, and records the short-lived substantive, policien, meaning a citizen, as used by Amyot.
40 (Odyssey, IX).
41 Op. cit., vol. i, p. 2. Sixty years later, Fr.-Jean de Chastellux, in his book De la félicité publique ou Considérations sur le sort des hommes dans les différentes époques de l’histoire, vol. i, Amsterdam, 1772, notes that “still today, Police can be used to refer to the government of men” (ch. 5, p. 59).
42 La Bret’s definition, which is also a professional definition, was not yet limited to a town situation. “I call police,” he wrote (iv, ch. 15), “the laws and decrees which have always been published in well-ordered States to control commerce in foodstuffs, to curb abuses and monopolies in commerce and in the arts, to prevent the corruption of morals, to curb wanton luxury and to banish unlawful sports from the town.”
43 Œuvres complètes, ed. 1806, vol. i, p. 70. Duclos further states: “Among barbarians, the laws should shape morals; among peoples who are policés, morals should perfect the laws and sometimes supplement them.”
44 Considérations, ch. 12 (Œuvres, 1806, i, p. 216).
45 Voltaire, Oeuvres, ed. Beuchot, vol. xv, pp. 16, 21, 26.
46 Œuvres de Turgot, ed. Schelle, vol. i, p. 241 et seq.
47 Letter dated 15 June 1680. It is strange to note that people spoke of “being far from politesse, and returning to politesse,” just as we say: “returning to civilization.”
48 Œuvres de Turgot, ed. Schelle, vol. i, p. 222.
49 Ed. Beuchot, vol. xv, p. 41.
50 For these last two quotations, cf. Beuchot, ed., vol. xv, pp. 83 and 91.
51 Volney, Éclaircissements sur les États-Unis (Œuvres complètes, Paris, F. Didot, 1868, p. 718):
By civilisation we should understand an assembly of the men in a town, that is to say in an enclosure of dwellings equipped with a common defense system to protect themselves from pillage from outside and disorder within… the assembly implied the concepts of voluntary consent by the members, maintenance of their natural right to security, personal freedom and property: … thus civilisation is nothing other than a social condition for the preservation and protection of persons and property etc.
The whole passage, which is an important one, is a criticism of Rousseau.
52 See the second part of the Discours sur l’Encyclopédie as a reasoned dictionary of the sciences and the arts: “These are the principal masterminds which the human spirit should look upon as its masters,” d’Alembert concludes.
53 Counson, Discours, op. cit.
54 Cuvier et Lamarck, “Les classes zoologiques et l’idée de série animale (1790-1830),” Paris, Alcan, 1926, passim and particularly vol. ii, ch. 10, vol. v and “Conclusions,” p. 254 et seq. See also Lucien Febvre, “Un chapitre d’histoire de l’esprit humain: les sciences naturelles de Linné à Lamarck et à Georges Cuvier,” Revue de Synthèse historique, vol. xliii, 1927.
55 Counson, Discours, op. cit.
56 Vol. i, year II, 1794, pp. 519-21; cf. H. Daudin, op. cit., vol. i, p. 25, n. 4 and generally, the whole of § II of ch. 1 of Paris one: le Muséum.
57 Op. cit., Paris, Cuchet, 1793, vol. i, Avertissement, p. ix.
58 Millin in particular. Cf. H. Daudin, op. cit., vol. i, p. 9 and n. 1. The about-turn was in fact a very rapid one as far as Buffon was concerned. Cf. ibid., p. 38, n. 3.
59 On all this refer to the work done by René Hubert, Les sciences sociales dans l’Encyclopédie, Lille, 1923, in particular the first part, p. 23 et seq., and “Conclusions,” p. 361 et seq.
60 Op. cit., “Conclusions,” Vidée scientifique et le fait, p. 265.
61 Ibid., pp. 269-270,
62 On its origins and developments throughout the eighteenth century, cf. the first of the three volumes by H. Daudin: De Linné à Lamarck: méthodes de la classification et idée de série en botanique et en zoologie (1740-1790), Paris, Alcan, 1926.
63 Daudin, Cuvier et Lamarck, ii, pp. 110-11.
64 See in Fr.-J. de Chastellux, De la félicité publique ou Considération sur le sort des hommes dans les différentes époques de l’histoire, his attempt to set all that was particular in political constitutions in police against all that was universal in “the greatest possible happiness” — a concept which is obviously confused in his mind if not in his vocabulary (the author does not know the neologism) with that of civilisation. (Cf. in particular op. cit., vol. i, p. xiii: “All nations cannot have the same government. All the towns and all the classes of citizens in one and the same customs. But all may generally lay claim to the greatest possible happiness.”
65 Système social, London, 1773, vol. i, ch. 14, p. 171.
66 Histoire philosophique et politique des établissements et du commerce des Européens dans les deux Indes, 1770; ed. Geneva, 1781, vol. i, p. 4.
67 Ibid., p. 4.
68 According to the 2nd ed., Amsterdam, 1773; Préface, p. xviii. Section 11 of chapter 15 of the book is called “Des effets ordinaires de la richesse et de la civilisation relativement au traitement des serviteurs” (p. 347).
69 Recherches sur… la richesse des nations, translated from the 4th ed. By Roucher, annotated by Condorcet, vol. i, Paris, 1790, p. 3. (Introduction): “Chez les nations riches et civilisées au contraire, etc.” 70 Vol. iv, Book VI, p. 393.
71 Œuvres, ed. Assezat, vol. iii, p. 429 (Plan d’une université pour le gouvernement de Russie, about 1776?, published for the first time in 1875).
72 The idea that peace and generally speaking the civilization for which it seemed to be the main pre-condition does not depend on sovereigns or on their power is often expounded throughout the course of these years. See e.g. Raynal, Histoire philosophique, ed. Geneva, 1781, vol. x, p. 31: “Though soldiers may defend the provinces they do not civilize them.”
73 Histoire philosophique, vol. x, p. 29. See also ibid., p. 28: “Is it possible that barbarian peoples can become civilized without developing morals?”
74 De l’origine des loix, Paris, 1778, vol. iv, Book VI, p. 392.
75 Essai sur les préjugés (1770), ch. 11, p. 273.
76 Histoire philosophique, vol. x, Book XIX, p. 15.
77 Recherches et considérations sur la population de la France, Paris, 1778, p. 5.
78 Ballanche, Le Vieillard et le jeune homme. New edition, with introduction and notes by Roger Mauduit, Paris, Alcan, 1928. See our account in the Revue critique, 1929.
79 Démeunier’s book, L’esprit des usages et des coutumes des différents peuples, ou Observations tirées des voyages et des histoires, was published in 1776. It was translated into German in 1783 (Über Sitten und Gebräuche der Völker) by M. Hismann, Nuremberg. Cf. Van Gennep, Religions, mœurs et légendes, Paris, Mercure de France, 3rd series, 1911, p. 21 et seq. The Avertissement is quite clear: “Although there have been so many books on man, there has been no attempt to bring the morals, customs, habits and laws of the various people together. The intention is to repair this omission.” But he added: “We have endeavored to follow the progress of civilisation.
80 New edition, enlarged, Part I, Neuchâtel, 1772, Discours préliminaire, p. 26.
81 Letter from M. Commerson to M. de la Lande, from the Isle de Bourbon, 18 April 1771, following the Voyage by Bougainville, p. 162.
82 Voyage de La Pérouse autour de monde, Paris, Plassan, 1798, vol. i, p. xxix.
83 Cf. for the quotations, Œuvres complètes, F. Didot, 1868, p. 31 (Ruines, chapter 14); p. 717 (Éclaircissements). Together with these texts we should take an extract from the Discours sur l’étude de la statistique by Peuchet (at the beginning of Statistique élémentaire de la France, Paris, Gilbert, 1805); he mentions the peoples of Africa “always at war with the neighboring peoples, so that their civilization makes but slow progress.”
84 I quote the Voyage from the 8 volume edition, Paris, 3 vols., 1816-1817. Cf. on the Malays, vol. iii (1817), p. 301; on Mungo Park, p. 50.
85 Voyage, vol. i, 1816, p. 38. Previously, p. 35, Humboldt analyses his Essai politique sur le royaume de la Nouvelle Espagne which, he says, provides consideration concerning “the population, the morals of the inhabitants, their ancient civilization and the political division of the country,” and in which he examines “the quantity of colonial foodstuffs needed by Europe in its present state of civilization.”
86 Cosmos, essai d’une description physique du monde, translated by Faye, Paris, Gide, 1847, vol. i, Considérations, p. 15.
87 The Essai sur le Pali appeared in Paris in 1826. (Cf. p. 2). Cf. also the opening address at the Collège de France by E. Burnouf, “De la langue et de la littérature sanscrites”; it appeared in the Revue des deux mondes of 1 February 1833 (see in particular p. 12 of the special edition). See also by the same author, the Essai sur le Véda, Paris, 1863, pp. 20, 32, etc. These are only samples.
88 Lucien Febvre, “Un chapitre d’histoire de l’esprit humain,” Revue de Synthèse historique, vol. xliii, 1927, pp. 42-43.
89 5th ed., Paris, Cuchet, year II, 5.
90 Réponse d’un républicain français au libelle de sir François d’Yvernois, text quoted by Counson, Discours, op. cit., p. 8, n. 1.
91 We find them not only in books intended for an educated public (cf. in the Éclaircissements sur les États-Unis by Volney, Œuvres, p. 718 et seq., his long, interesting discussion intended to show that if there are vice-ridden and depraved peoples, “the reason was not that formation into a society brought out vicious tendencies, but that they were transferred there from a savage state, which is the origin of every nation and every form of government” — and that, moreover, one could reject the argument that fine arts and literature were “integral parts of civilization” and “sure tokens of the happiness and prosperity of peoples.” Little propaganda booklets were also full of such points (cf. the Catéchisme du genre humain by Boissel, 2nd ed., 1791; Boissel’s argument is in fact a curious one in so far as he counters Rousseau who bases himself “on consideration of the original foundations of civil society whose disastrous faults made him prefer an uncivilized way of life” [!], with the law and those principles which should today (1791) serve as a basis and as a foundation for civilization,” but of which Rousseau was of course unaware.
92 Le mouvement des idées dans l’émigration française, vols. i and ii, Paris, 1924.
93 American and French thought or more generally European thought from 1718 to about 1850 would make the subject of a fine book. A history book, I mean, and a philosophical book. Sociology would find out a lot about its origins in such a work. We are a little bit too hypnotized by the literary example of Chateaubriand; there is much that is more worthy of study and analysis than the Natchez; we should be surprised I think at the mass of ideas, reflections and forecasts which an attentive look at the civilization of the United States aroused in alert minds, from Volney (to mention just one) to Alexander von Humboldt, and Michel Chevalier, Lettres sur l’Amérique du Nord (1834-1835) or Tocqueville, La Démocratie en Amérique (1835). There would of course be counter-evidence. We need hardly mention Ballanche, whose Palingénésie took no more account of America than Bossuet’s Histoire universelle — it is well known that Auguste Comte, justifying Bossuet for having “limited his historical view to the sole examination of a homogeneous and continuous series which can none the less be fairly called universal,” was setting on one side what he called “the various other centers of independent civilization whose evolution has, for various reasons, been blocked until now and kept in an imperfect state”; and by this he was referring not only to America but to India, China, etc. It is true that he added (somewhat platonically): “unless a comparative examination of such accessory series is able to throw some light on the main subject” (Cours de philosophie positive, vol. v, containing the historical part of social philosophy, 1841, p. 3 et seq.).
94 p. 48 et seq. (premier entretien). The text dates from 1819. Two years later Saint-Simon’s Système industriel appeared with its address to the king: “Sire, events are aggravating more and more the crisis in society not only in France but in the whole great nation made up of the various western peoples of Europe.”
95 Much later, J. A. de Gobineau was to write in Book I, ch. 1 of the Essai sur l’inégalité des races humaines (1853): “The fall of civilizations is the most striking and at the same time the most difficult to understand of all the phenomena of history.”
96 Cf. Hubert Bourgin, Charles Fourier, p. 70. It appears that previous to Fourier’s protests and his theory of civilization, seen as a system of free competition and deceitful anarchy, there had been a sort of Spartan-like condemnation issuing on all sides from a number of very dissimilar spirits: cf. texts such as this one which is by Billaud-Varennes (Éléments de républicanisme, 1793, quoted by Jaurès, Histoire socialiste: la Convention, ii, p. 1503 of the original edition): “Who does not know that as civilization plunges us all like Tantalus into a river of sensations, the enjoyments of the imagination and the heart make the purely animal enjoyments quite secondary.” Cf. also a text by Chamfort, Maximes et Pensées (before 1794):
Civilization is like cooking. When you see light, healthy and well-prepared food on the table you are very pleased to realize that cooking has become an art; but when we see juices, jellies, and pâtés with truffles we curse the cooks and their art for producing such wretched results. We can conclude, by the way, Chamfort did not have Brillat-Savarin’s stomach.
97 De la littérature considérée dans ses rapports avec les institutions sociales (Œuvres complètes, vol. iv, p. 12). We should note a little further on (p. 16) the remark which reveals a very different attitude from that of Auguste Comte’s which we mentioned above: “Every time a new nation such as America, Russia, etc., makes progress towards civilization the human species is becoming more perfect.
98 Strasbourg, Levrault, 3 vols. reprinted in 1834. On the fortunes of the book, cf. Tronchon’s doctoral thesis (Sorbonne), La fortune intellectuelle de Herder en France, Paris, 1920.
99 Paris, Renouard, 1827. The other sciences [Michelet said in his Discours (p. xiv)] are concerned with directing man and perfecting him. But none has yet attempted to find out the principles of civilization on which they are based. Any branch of science which revealed these principles would be putting us in a position to measure the progress of peoples and their decay, and we should be able to calculate the ages in the lives of nations. Then we should know the means by which any society could raise itself or return to the highest degree of civilization of which it is capable; then theory and practice would be in harmony.
100 Published under the title “De l’état actuel de l’Humanité” (Mélanges philosophiques, p. 101); in the same series which appeared in Paris, Paulin, we should also point out in particular, p. 83, an article from the Globe (11 May 1827) and bearing the title “Bossuet, Vico, Herder.”
101 Between 1832 and 1834 a Revue sociale was even seen to appear. Journal de la civilisation et de son progrès. Organe de la Société de civilisation (six numbers, 1832-1834, pointed out by Tronchon, La fortune intellectuelle d’Herder en France, bibliographie critique (thèse complémentaire), Paris, Rieder, 1920, p. 28, no. 265).
102 Tronchon, op. cit., p. 431.
103 The two courses became two books: Cours d’histoire moderne, Histoire générale de la civilisation en Europe, Paris, Pinchon and Didier, 1828, and Histoire de la civilisation en France, Pinchon and Didier, 1829. These works have often been reprinted.
104 Civilisation en Europe, p. 6.
105 Mélanges philosophiques, Paris, 1833, p. 88.
106 Civilisation en Europe, p. 9.
107 Ibid., p. 5: “There is hardly any great idea or any great principle of civilization which has not first passed through France before being diffused everywhere.”
108 “For instance although the civilization of Russia is a far cry from that of France or of England it is easy to see that the Russians are engaged in the same system of civilization as the French and the English… They are the younger children of one and the same family, the less clever pupils in one and the same school of civilization.” (“De l’état actuel de l’humanité,” Mélanges, 1826, p. 101).
109 “Du rôle de la Grèce dans le développement de l’humanité,” Mélanges, 1827, p. 93.
110 Civilisation en Europe, p. 7.
111 Ibid., p. 15.
112 All these texts are from La Civilisation en France.
113 Guizot thus takes up and particularizes, quoting the peoples to which he refers, the general and impersonal argument contained in La Civilisation en Europe (pp. 12-13).
114 Civilisation en Europe, p. 18.
115 Cf. the information given by M. Tonnelat.
116 Cf. Buffon, Époques de la nature, p. 101: “The first characteristic of man beginning to civilize himself is the control he develops over animals.”
117 This is an effect we should watch out for. When for instance we read in Condorcet’s Vie de Voltaire “that when one extends the space within which culture flourishes, commerce is secure and industry thrives, one is unfailingly increasing the total amount of enjoyment and resources available to all men,” we might in the first instance think that the word culture is being used with the German sense of Kultur and fail to realize that it simply means agriculture.
118 This was Condorcet’s idea, in his Vie de Voltaire (1787): “The more civilization spreads throughout the earth the more we shall see war and conquest disappear together with slavery and want.”
119 Op. cit., pp. 13, 23, 25, etc.
120 Coup d’œil, p. 118, note. On Ch. de Villiers, see L. Wittmer, Charles de Villiers, 1765-1815, Geneva-Paris, 1908, (Geneva thesis), and Tronchon, Fortune intellectuelle de Herder en France, passim.
121 See Voyage aux régions équinoxiales, ed. 8 volumes, 1816-1817, vol. iii, p. 287: “Intellectual culture is the thing that contributes most to the diversifying of human characteristics.” Ibid., p. 264: “I hesitate to use the word sauvage because it suggests that there is between the Indian who has been réduit (reduced) and is living in a mission, and the free or independent Indian, a difference in culture which is often belied by the observed facts.” Ibid., p. 260: “The barbarity which reigns in these regions is perhaps less due to an actual lack of any civilisation than to the effect of a long decline… Most of the tribes which we describe as savage are probably the descendants of nations that were formerly more advanced in their culture.”
122 Cf. in the Cosmos, translated by Faye, vol. i, Paris, 1847, p. 430 and note.
123 Wilhelm von Humboldt, Über die Dawi-Sprache auf der Insel Java. Cf. Einleitung at the beginning of vol. i, Berlin.
124 Œuvres complètes, ed. Didot, 1868, p. 718 et seq. (Éclaircissements sur les États-Unis).
125 Book I, ch. 8: Definition of the word civilisation.
126 Op. cit., original ed., pp. 29-32.

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