In Search of Civilization: Remaking a Tarnished Idea

Front Cover
Allen Lane, 2009 - Civilization - 196 pages
2 Reviews

'With the possible exception of God, Civilization is the grandest, most ambitious idea that humanity has devised. If we could get to the heart of civilization and uncover its secret meaning, we would understand something deep and important about ourselves and the human condition of urgent present relevance.'

Today, the debate around civilization and its meaning has almost disappeared. If talked about at all, it will be as part of a different discussion about the political tensions between different parts of the world, about colonial history, or about developments in science. Yet the promise of civilization is greater: if considered in its full meaning civilization can be a way of reconnecting grand, societal forces - economic liberty, social freedom - with the more intimate and deeper needs of life and a flourishing of culture.

In Search of Civilization John Armstrong argues cogently and passionately that our sources of wisdom, maturity and happiness are rapidly drying up. Only by reviving a conversation about civilization can we put in place the conditions for our renaissance.

'an engaging and persuasive writer with a very non-technical approach to theoretical issues... he has some fine turns of phrase... His aesthetic sense seems strong and reliable.' Sunday Telegraph

'In a passionate and often very personal defence of its qualities, John Armstrong argues that the concept of civilisation still has specific meaning... it is underscored with the fragments of a memoir that, in part, explain Armstrong's choice of topic, the book's considerable charm and it's spirit of innocent longing.' Financial Times

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - vpfluke - LibraryThing

This is a gracefully written book in which John Armstrong shows his yearning for a more civil society. He looks at four different ways as to how civilization is perceived: a sense of belonging, a ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - dazzyj - LibraryThing

A disappointingly rambling and banal discussion of what makes a person civilised. Read full review


Bridgets Question
Wider Still and Wider
The Clash of Civilizations

29 other sections not shown

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2009)

Associate Professor John Armstrong is Philosopher-in-Residence at Melbourne Business School and Senior Advisor to the Vice-Chancellor of Melbourne University. Born in Glasgow and educated at Oxford and London, he has lived in Australia since 2001. He is the author of several internationally acclaimed books, including The Secret Power of Beauty, Conditions of Love and Love, Life, Goethe.

Bibliographic information