S. Huntington and his concept of civilizations

The clash of civilizations as a threat to world peace. An international order based on civilizations as a guarantee of preventing a world war. Consideration of S. Huntington's model of civilization as a version of the geopolitical future of the world.

19,4 K

. ,

, , , , .



KYCHKYRUK T.V., PhD in Philosophy,

Associate Professor of the Department of Philosophy National University of Life and Environmental Sciences of Ukraine


Nowadays, the clash of civilizations is the greatest threat to world peace, and an international order based on civilizations is the surest measure to prevent world war. Huntington's model of civilization offers a possible version of the geopolitical future of the world. The researcher emphasizes that it is very dangerous to ignore the very fact of the existence of civilizations, their inherent cultural identities, value systems, interests, preferences. Interpreting civilizations as the highest cultural entities that exist much longer than states, political systems, and classes, Huntington recognized the uniqueness of each civilization and their right to self-determination. The paper attempts to investigate the concept of civilizations elaborated by S. Huntington. The author used cultural-historical and integrative approaches.

Key words: S. Huntington, civilization, clash of civilizations, culture, bipolar and multipolar world.

. Ҳ ֲ ֲ²˲ֲ.


, , , . . . , , , , , . , , , , . . , . .

: . , , , , .


A well-known American political scientist S. Huntington is the author of the numerous works in the field of political modernization, international relations, the theory of democracy and immigration. His concept of the clash of civilizations, which describes the dynamics of modern international relations through the lens of conflicts that arise on a civilizational basis, has gained the greatest popularity. In his article The Clash of Civilizations? [6] published in the magazine Foreign Affairs he posed the acute problem of the further development of relations between world civilizations and drew attention to the dangers of the global transformations in the world. S. Huntington noted that the idea of civilization was first developed by the French philosophers of the 18th century [9; 13; 14]. In the 19th century, the German philosophers opposed civilization to culture [1; 5; 12]. S. Huntington's concept is based on the idea of the plurality of civilizations, and he considers language and religion to be the most fundamental foundations of civilization.

Analysis of the studies and publications. The dramatic events of the 1980-90s were interpreted by many researchers in order to predict the future options for the development of the world civilization. For example, F. Fukuyama in his book The End of History and the Last Man [4] talks about the ups and downs of such ideologies as absolutism, fascism and communism. He assumes that human history should be considered as the battle of ideologies that reaches its goal in the universalization of Western liberal democracy. Fukuyama argues that although the goal has not been reached in the material world, the idea of the Western liberalism is becoming dominant [2]. The concept of the end of history was aimed at forming a new political and philosophical paradigm of the world in the context of the modernization approach. The opposite view was presented by J. Mearsheimer - states are rarely satisfied with the level of their influence on the world stage and always try to gain an advantage to achieve complete security, because survival is the main goal of the great powers [8].

Like F. Fukuyama, S. Huntington recognized the undoubted effect of globalization, but, in his opinion, it has caused discord rather than agreement. Like J. Mearsheimer, S. Huntington believed that soft power is a great force only when it is based on hard power, but this force is concentrated not in the certain states, but in the transnational cultural areas - the eight major civilizations. The above-mentioned differences in the understanding of the current geopolitical situation, as well as future prospects and risks of humankind necessitate an in-depth study of Huntington's ideas.

The purpose of the study. The paper attempts to investigate the concept of civilizations elaborated by S. Huntington.

Methodology. The author used cultural-historical and integrative approaches.

Research results and their discussion

According to S. Huntington, human history is the history of civilizations, and is impossible to imagine the very development of humankind in isolation from civilizations and their development. The historical process consists of the stories of generations of civilizations - from Sumerian, Egyptian, Greco-Roman and Mesoamerican to Christian and Islamic, Chinese and Hindu civilizations. Thus, civilizations represent the highest level of human identification. Studies of prominent historians, philosophers, sociologists, and anthropologists differ in their approaches, methodologies, emphases, and concepts, but they all agree on the basic concepts concerning the nature, characteristics, and driving forces of civilizations. ...a distinction exists between civilization in the singular and civilizations in the plural. The idea of civilization was developed by eighteenth-century French thinkers as the opposite of the concept of barbarism. Civilized society differed from primitive society because it was settled, urban, and literate. To be civilized was good, to be uncivilized was bad. The concept of civilization provided a standard by which to judge societies, and during the nineteenth century, Europeans devoted much intellectual, diplomatic, and political energy to elaborating the criteria by which non- European societies might be judged sufficiently civilized to be accepted as members of the European-dominated international system. At the same time, however, people increasingly spoke of civilizations in the plural. This meant renunciation of a civilization defined as an ideal, or rather as the ideal and a shift away from the assumption there was a single standard for what was civilized. confined, in Braudel's phrase, to a few privileged peoples or groups, humanity's `elite'. Instead, there were many civilizations, each of which was civilized in its own way. Civilization in the singular, in short, lost some of its cachet, and a civilization in the plural sense could in fact be quite uncivilized in the singular sense [7, p. 40-41].

Later, civilization came to be understood as the highest form of cultural- historical community and the broadest level of cultural identification (except for what distinguishes human beings from the other species). Civilization is defined by general objective elements - language, history, religion, customs, social institutions, and self-identification of people. People identify themselves on different levels: a Roman can feel like a Roman, an Italian, a Catholic, a Christian, a European, and finally a representative of the Western culture. Thus, the civilization to which he/she belongs is the highest level that helps them to clearly identify themselves. As Huntington stated, civilizations are the biggest we within which we fell culturally at home as distinguished from all the other thems out there. Civilizations may involve a large number of people, such as Chinese civilization? Or a very small number of people, such as the Anglophone Caribbean. Throughout history, many small groups of people have existed possessing a distinct culture and lacking any broader cultural identification [7, p. 43]. Civilizations do not have clearly defined boundaries and exact dates of birth and death. Civilizations have been changed over time as the cultures of different peoples interact with each other. The level of similarity or difference of certain civilizations also varies greatly. Their unique and particular essence is their long historical continuity. Civilization is in fact the longest story of all. Empires rise and fall, governments come and go, civilizations remain and survive political, social, economic, even ideological upheavals [7, p. 43].

S. Huntington writes that during the Cold War the world was bipolar, it was divided into two blocs - on the one hand, the United States and the other prosperous states, and on the other - the Soviet Union and its socialist allies. The third bloc, which was not an independent player in the geopolitical arena, consisted of so-called third world countries - poor and politically unstable states. With the fall of the USSR, ideological conflicts have moved to a new plane. Though the world has overcome the conflict situation of capitalism - communism, this does not mean the end of the conflicts at all, because the conflicts always accompany human actions within civilizations. Thus, civilizational differences will lead to a new round of violence, upheaval and war. After the end of the Cold War, there were significant changes in the identification of peoples, for whom cultural identification has become much more important than class, political, legal identification. The world and global politics have become multipolar and polycivilized. According to S. Huntington, in the world of the future, the most important boundaries that divide humanity and the deep sources of conflict will be determined by culture. The sharpest conflicts which cannot be resolved as they are conflicts of values will unfold between the different nations and the representatives of the different civilizations. These conflicts are almost impossible to resolve, except for a while, because it is very difficult for people to give up their life principles, spiritual values, and individual mythologies [11]. The rejection of the basic values is perceived as a rejection of the own I. A frontal attack on the existing system of values often causes the same frontal defense, which generates a spiral of conflicts [10]. clash civilization huntington geopolitical

Civilizations as the highest cultural entities exist much longer than states, political systems, and classes. However, they also have their own specific cycles of existence. Civilizations arise, reach the stage of maturity at which a state, a system of cultural values, an economic order, the legal norms, the advanced sciences and arts are formed. But gradually civilizations decline, riots and conflicts begin, which can lead to their disintegration, although a civilization can avoid this situation, be reborn and become even more powerful.

According to S. Huntington, there are the following civilizations in the modern world: Sinic, Japanese, Hindu, Islamic, Orthodox, Western, Latin American, African (possibly) [7, p. 45]. S. Huntington recognized the uniqueness of each civilization and their right to selfdetermination, although many readers accepted his article Clash of Civilizations? as a xenophobic call to arms, as an opposition of the Western and non-Western cultures. After the book was published, it became clear that the author sought the opposite - he tried to counteract the escalation of tensions between civilizations into open war, arguing that the West's belief in the universality of its own culture is false, immoral and dangerous, and the spread of the Western values does not contribute to peace as far as universalism inevitably leads to imperialism. S. Huntington considered the preservation of the diversity of cultures to be the wiser alternative in order to maintain the security of the world.

The political scientist focuses on the modern strengthening of the non-Western cultures. In particular, he notes such factors as the decline in the already small percentage of the world's population, which accounts for the share of the Western and Japanese countries (15 % at the time), reduction in the number of Englishspeaking people abroad, nationalization of higher education, widespread revival of non-Christian religions, etc. S. Huntington emphasizes that modernization does not necessarily mean Westernization. The fact that the non-Western cultures share a Western culture of consumption does not mean that they are happy to share the Western values such as social pluralism, the rule of law, the separation of church and state, individualism, and elected and re-elected government. In other words, S. Huntington saw the problem where Fukuyama found its solution. The escalation of the conflict between civilizations can be avoided only by renouncing universalism, respecting the right of the non-Western cultures to exist without interfering in the conflicts of the non-Western civilizations. This noninterference, according to the political scientist, is the main condition for peace. Not to change the other civilizations according to the Western ideals, but to preserve, protect, renew the unique qualities of the Western civilization is the main responsibility of the Western leaders. Representatives of all civilizations need to find points of intersection, disseminate values, institutions and practices that are common to all [3]. This will limit the clash of civilizations and also strengthen Civilization as a civilized life. Conceivably modernization and human moral development produced by greater education, awareness, and understanding of human society and its natural environment produce sustained movement toward higher and higher levels of Civilization. Alternatively, levels of Civilization may simply reflect phases in the evolution of civilizations. When civilizations first emerge, their people are usually vigorous, dynamic, brutal, mobile, and expansionist. They are relatively unCivilized. As the civilization evolves it becomes more settled and develops the techniques and skills that make it more Civilized. As the competition among its constituent elements tapers off and a universal state emerges, the civilization reaches its highest level of Civilization, its golden age, with a flowering of morality, art, literature, philosophy, technology, and martial, economic, and political competence. As it goes into decay as a civilization, its level of Civilization also declines until it disappears under the onslaught of a different surging civilization with a lower level of Civilization [7, p. 320321].


The future of both the world and Civilization depends on the mutual understanding and cooperation between the political, spiritual, and intellectual leaders of the major world civilizations. Nowadays, the clash of civilizations is the greatest threat to world peace, and an international order based on the civilizations is the surest measure to prevent world war. Huntington's model of civilization offers another possible version of the geopolitical future of the world. The researcher emphasizes that it is very dangerous to ignore the very fact of the existence of civilizations, their inherent cultural identities, value systems, interests, preferences. Humankind is facing growing conflicts between different types of cultural communities, which must be prevented as much as possible. To do so, we need to sit down at the negotiating table and recognize the principle of different but equal. In the world of different civilizations, the way to peaceful coexistence is the rejection of universalism, the recognition of diversity, and the active search for common values.


1. Botz-Bornstein, T. (2012). What is the Difference between Culture and Civilization? Two Hundred Fifty Years of Confusion. Comparative Civilizations Review, 66, 10-28.

2. Danylova, T. V. (2016). The Desire for Recognition in the Context of Francis Fukuyama's Universal History. Anthropological Measurements of Philosophical Research, 10, 69-77, doi 10.15802/ampr.v0i10.87303.

3. Danylova, T. V. (2017). Eastern Mysticism and Timothy Leary: Human Beyond the Conventional Reality. Anthropological Measurements of Philosophical Research, 11, 135-142, doi 10.15802/ampr.v0i11.105498.

4. Fukuyama, F. (2006). The End of History and the Last Man. Free Press. 464 p.

5. Herder, J. G. (2016). Outlines of a philosophy of the History of Man. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.

6. Huntington, S. P. (1993). The Clash of Civilizations? Foreign Affairs, 72(3), 22-49.

7. Huntington, S. (2011). The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. Simon&Schuster Paperbacks, 367 p., P. 40-41.

8. Mearsheimer, J. (2014). The Tragedy of Great Power Politics. W. W. Norton & Company. 592 p.

9. Mirabeau, de Riquetti V. (2009). L'ami des hommes, ou Trait de la population. University of Michigan Library.

10. Shynkaruk, L. V., Salata, H.V., Danylova, T. V. (2018). Dialogue of Cultures: E. Hall and F. Kluckhohn. National Academy of Managerial Staff of Culture and Arts Herald, 3, 128-133.

11. Shynkaruk, V. D., Salata, H.V., Danylova, T. V. (2018). Myth as the Phenomenon of Culture. National Academy of Managerial Staff of Culture and Arts Herald, 4, 17-22.



  • Language picture of the world, factors of formation. The configuration of the ideas embodied in the meaning of the words of the native language. Key ideas for Russian language picture of the world are. Presentation of the unpredictability of the world.

    [17,2 K], 11.10.2015

  • What is meant by Kants "Copernican Revolution"? What is the "Transcendental Aesthetic" about? Explain what Kant means by intuition, pure intuition, empirical intuition; concept, pure concept, empirical concept; transcendent.

    [23,0 K], 09.04.2007

  • Confucianism as the creation of a harmonious society in the ancient pattern, in which every person has a function. Creativity and the ability of a person to self-renew as a guarantee of human constancy. Methods of constructing harmonious society.

    [14,0 K], 10.01.2014

  • Fr. Nietzsche as German thinker who lived in the second half of the Nineteenth Century. The essence of the concept of "nihilism". Peculiarities of the philosophy of Socrates. Familiarity with Nietzsche. Analysis of drama "Conscience as Fatality".

    [15,3 K], 09.03.2013

  • The thesis of the challenging and potentially important "Clash of Civilizations" is that the growing threat of violence arising from renewed conflicts between cultures and countries that base their traditions on religious faith and dogma.

    [22,3 K], 27.09.2006

, , ..