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Civilization has taught us to eat with a fork, but even now if nobody is around we use our fingers.

Will Rogers (1879-1935) American humorist
“Weekly Article” column (1935-01-20)
Added on 14-Sep-23 | Last updated 14-Sep-23
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People sometimes tell me that they prefer barbarism to civilisation. I doubt if they have given it a long enough trial. Like the people of Alexandria, they are bored by civilisation; but all the evidence suggests that the boredom of barbarism is infinitely greater. Quite apart from the discomforts and privations, there was no escape from it.

Kenneth Clark
Kenneth Clark (1903-1983) British art historian, museum director, broadcaster
Civilisation, A Personal View, ch. 1 “The Skin of Our Teeth” (1969)
Added on 9-Nov-22 | Last updated 9-Nov-22
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There is no document of civilization which is not at the same time a document of barbarism.

[Es ist niemals ein Dokument der Kultur, ohne zugleich ein solches der Barbarei zu sein.]

Walter Benjamin
Walter Benjamin (1892-1940) German Jewish philosopher, cultural critic, essayist.
“Theses on the Philosophy of History [On the Concept of History; Über den Begriff der Geschichte]”, Thesis 7 (1940) [tr. Zohn (1973)]

(Source (German)). Alternate translation:

There has never been a document of culture, which is not simultaneously one of barbarism.
[tr. Redmond (2001)]

Added on 26-Oct-22 | Last updated 26-Oct-22
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You think that a wall as solid as the earth separates civilization from barbarism. I tell you the division is a thread, a sheet of glass. A touch here, a push there, and you bring back the reign of Saturn.

John Buchan (1875-1940) Scottish novelist, poet, and politician; Governor-General of Canada (1935 -1940)
The Power-House, ch. 3 (1916)
Added on 29-Jun-22 | Last updated 29-Jun-22
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Whatsoever therefore is consequent to a time of Warre, where every man is Enemy to every man; the same is consequent to the time, wherein men live without other security, than what their own strength, and their own invention shall furnish them withall. In such condition, there is no place for Industry; because the fruit thereof is uncertain; and consequently no Culture of the Earth; no Navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by Sea; no commodious Building; no Instruments of moving, and removing such things as require much force; no Knowledge of the face of the Earth; no account of Time; no Arts; no Letters; no Society; and which is worst of all, continuall feare, and danger of violent death; And the life of man, solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short.

Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) English philosopher
Leviathan, Part 1, ch. 13 (1651)
Added on 22-Oct-07 | Last updated 6-Nov-20
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