Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Founder of Civilization

“The first human who hurled an insult instead of a stone was the founder of civilization” – Sigmund Freud

Sometimes this man (Freud) doesn’t leave you with any option but to admire and agree with his assertions. And I couldn’t agree more with this one.

So basically what does this sentence signify? That transition between uncivilized world and the civilized world was brought by simply a change in tool – from stone to insult.

And for what was/is this tool used?

Uncivilized man (hmmm) hurled stones on fellow men to control territory, to gain upmanship, to win women, and to become the leader of the clan.

And a civilized man (HMMM) hurls insults on fellow men to control territory, to gain upmanship, to win women, and to become the leader of the clan.

[I stopped here for almost 10 minutes not knowing what to write next… I had come across that interesting quote and thought I’d write something… and I was clueless in which direction to proceed]

Well, well, well. I just realized that I have used ‘man’ whereas the quote of Freud has the word ‘human’. I must admit that I didn’t use the word ‘man’ as synonym of ‘human’ (for non-homosexuals, it should be pretty apparent as I also used the term ‘to win women’) but I actually envisioned a man (bearded, beefy, and bare bodied) hurling stones, whereas it seems that Freud believes that it could have been a woman as well who hurled insult and started civilization!

Great, so here we have an interesting topic, who started civilization? Man or woman?

If we go by definition of Freud, whoever is more vulnerable to hurling insults, started civilization! So what do you think? A man is more open to hurling an insult or a woman?

Well, our two epics – Ramayana and Mahabharata – depicts two great wars being fought after women threw insults and men answered in uncivilized manners!

In Ramayana, SurpanakhaRavan’s sister – first tries to lure Rama and Laxman with her beauty, and when she fails to do so, she starts insulting both of them along with Sita. This results in Laxmana cutting off her nose and ears (most versions of Ramayana tell that Surpanakha had pounced upon to kill Sita after hurling insults following which Laxman acted). The act resulted in Sita being kidnapped by Ravan and ensuing war in Lanka Nagari.

In Mahabharata, Draupadi insults two men – Karna in her swayamwar and Duryodhana in the Indraprashta palace – the insult of Duryodhana sows the seed for the dice game and subsequently the Mahabharata war takes place.

So based on above two incidents, can we construe that women are more prone to hurling insults and men more prone to throwing stones? Seems unfair to womankind, isn’t it? And already liberals and feminists are against Hindu scriptures; let me not give them another reason to hate those texts. So we need a deeper analysis.

I think we might need a psychologist and sociologist to tell us what kind of person is more susceptible to throw insults rather than attacking physically. I am neither (psychologist nor sociologist) by training, but let me try.

Throwing an insult or stone, is a decision a person would take in extreme circumstances, when pushed to a corner.

I think it can be safely assumed that a person, when pushed to a corner, will try to use his best resources and skills to act or retort. How best and efficiently he or she uses the resources and skills, is a different matter. But when pushed to a corner, a person will try to give his or her best shot as he knows he might not get a second chance, or that he might be left repenting in future about not having been proactive enough at that crucial time, so better use your trump card now.

Women, on an average, have been found to be better than men in linguistic skills, and it doesn’t require an expert study to show that men are on an average physically stronger than women. So if you believe in equality of sexes on all other counts, women have linguistic skills as their best resource and men have physical strength when compared to each other.

Now to throw an insult you need linguistic skills, and to throw stone you need physical strength, isn’t it?

So I tend to believe that it was a woman who started civilization ;)

On a more serious note, one day one of my friends had argued that it was indeed a woman who started civilization. Of course, then she didn’t use the above logic.

She had argued that in uncivilized world men would kill fellow men, own territories and women, and roam around from place to place. He would not need a ‘home’. He was happier that way – untamed and uninhibited.

But for a woman, life was hell. She would live a life of being a sexual object and a second grade human being (unfortunately true in some sense even today in some parts of the world). She must have felt that if this wild man were to be tamed, her life can become a little better.

So it was a woman who convinced (brainwashed?) a man that he indeed ‘needed’ a home, where he can lead a better life, a more ‘civilized’ life. And thus she pushed through the concept of ‘home’ and ‘family’ in this world – institutions that would accord her better and safer status in the whole scheme of things.

It’s almost impossible to think of civilizations without ‘domesticated’ men. Wild men can’t give birth to civilizations. And wild men didn’t have any ‘natural’ need to become domesticated. So it was indeed a woman who created the need for men to become domesticated and subsequently gave birth of civilization, she argued.

Well, I agreed with her then, and I agree again!


  1. Interesting theory you have here. I wouldn't really agree with it completely though. Man against another man is a fairly even affair, but when it's man against an animal he is much less powerful and more vulnerable. Early man must have required to hunt and to live in groups for protection. An animal is more likely to attack a man wandering around alone than a group of men. This gregariousness combined with intelligence must have lead to delegation of work, which formed the basis of civilized society. I'm no expert, but I would be interested to hear your opinions on this.

  2. Hi Carl!

    You are right, it is indeed true that man would prefer to move in herds to protect himself from animals rather than wander alone. But I believe that herds in themselves can't form the 'basis' of civilization.

    There are many animals too who move in herds to gain control and authority e.g. wild dogs. Apparently even lions and other big cats don't attack wild dogs when they move in herds.

    I agree that moving in herds could have been 'one' of the factors, but I tend to believe that it is indeed the realization of concept of 'home' and 'family' by uncivilized men which became the basis of civilization. What say?

  3. I liked this one too, its abt the approach!! Anyways I have taken this at the lighter side, so no comments :) Keep posting..

  4. sounds quite logical to me!

    i came here through a link to you post on the new 7 wonders. i think it was quite an interesting argument. i have put up some thoughts on my blog myself. pls do feel free to check it out :)


  5. अपनी मातृभाषा में नहीं है और अपनी समझ से बाहर...

  6. Interesting read.......can't think much of it as i lack the expertise required....even though there is no harm in believing what u posted.....yes Women have been and will always be exploiting things for her benefits ...to make this world more suitable a place for her to live...this can be proved from the increase in the quality of life women tend to have now.....its always have been an upward swing....whereas men seem to have lost the plot and they are on a downhill path.....and you ask anyone today "If we are more civilized than our ancestor"....i guess everyone will agree.....so we see quality of women's life is directly proportional to the level of civilization......and it is women herself who is responsible for bringing about these changes ....there is no harm in believing what u say.....women exploited men to become domesticised so as to improve her life and thus knowingly,unknowingly starting a civilization.....

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  7. I think verbal profligacy and verbal skills need to be differentiated

  8. I think verbal profligacy and verbal skills need to be differentiated

  9. I think verbal profligacy and verbal skills need to be differentiated