a positive effect on their future



History, Culture, and Civilization

April Turner

Keiser University


History, culture, and civilization are ideologies that greatly relate to each other. History is significant, and in most cases true, and this fact cannot be ignored. Culture is defined a set of beliefs, values, and norms shared by members of a particular society. The importance of history cannot be undermined, as it is through this that human beings can draw valuable lessons from past experiences that might have a positive effect on their future. Authors such as Naill Ferguson have examined different aspects of civilization and how it relates to culture. Ferguson ‘killer applications of prosperity’ and the great divergence all of which are concepts that played a key part when it came to the advancement of Europeans and some North American countries.

History, Culture, and Civilization


History is an intricate aspect of any individual or nation, and to some extent defines its characteristics. Civilization, on the other hand, relates to the advancement of a particular society to level that at the time is considered to be the highest, but as history depicts, circumstances always change. Culture is defined as a set of beliefs, values, and norms that are shared by members of a particular society. There is a relationship that exists between history, culture, and civilization. History is an inevitable part of human life and civilizations are constantly evolving affecting culture in various ways.

I am curious though on whether human being’s history influences the difference in cultural beliefs, values, and norms across the world. Civilizations are constantly evolving, and are their examples of civilization in the brink of collapse in today’s society. In the article ‘America’s ‘Oh Sh*t’ Moment’ by Naill Ferguson, states that “If you don’t know what I mean, pay a visit to Machu Picchu, the lost city of the Incas. In 1530 the Incas were the masters of all they surveyed from the heights of the Peruvian Andes. Within less than a decade, foreign invaders with horses, gunpowder, and lethal diseases had smashed their empire to smithereens (2011).”

In addition, culture is an important part of human life, and affects today’s society in various ways, for example, communication and behaviors of individuals. It is inevitable that we will at one point interact with individuals from different cultures and cultural competence is necessary to avoid conflicts. Some of the key areas in relation to history, culture, and civilization include work ethic, competition, modern medicine, and scientific revolution just to name a few (Ferguson, 2011). There are definitely certain lessons that human beings can learn from history if the facts they present are closely examined.

Importance of History

The importance of history cannot be undermined, as it is through it that an individual is able to obtain a better understanding of who they truly are (Keltner, 2017). Even though it is important for human beings to place their focus on the future as it facilitates planning, it would be irrational to forget the past as it is full of valuable lessons. Over the years though, the notion that history is important has been largely forgotten. Indifference is one of the main reasons why human beings have placed little significance to their past. It is through the examination of history that human beings can be better equipped to deal with the future as it greatly impacts their worldview when it comes to various aspects of life.

History accords human being a vast pool of information through which they can enhance their decision-making process. An example would be when an individual visits a doctor, and the medical practitioner asks this individual for a medical history; this is done so as to offer vital information on one’s conditions so that it may be used to affect any decision made from that point. This is just a simple and typical example, trying to show the importance of one’s history. History is significant, and in most cases true, and this fact cannot be ignored. An important characteristic of history is that it is fixed, which means that it cannot be altered and always remains constant.

Killer Applications of Prosperity and the Great Divergence

In his article titled ‘America’s ‘Oh Sh*t’ Moment,’ Naill Ferguson examines a series of institutional innovations that he calls ‘killer applications.’ Some examples of these killer applications include the scientific revolution, competition, modern medicine, the consumer society, and the rule of law and representative government; all of which he believed played a part in the advancement of the Western civilization (Ferguson, 2012). For example, the rule of law and representative government led to the development of political and social order, which had its basis on private-property rights as well as the representation of property owners in government. The killer applications are behind the gap that existed, and still to some extent exists between the Western nations and the rest of the world.

The great divergence is observed as a period where the Europeans and some nations in North America separated themselves from the rest of the world in terms of economic advancements (Pomeranz, 2000). One of the main reasons behind the great divergence would have to be cultural factors which are closely tied to Ferguson’s killer applications of prosperity. Other aspects that facilitated the great divergence were religious factors especially Calvinism, which urged Europeans to become concerned with materialism and to become a rational society. Culture and religion are not observed by some as being the main reasons behind the great divergence, but rather the numerous lands that the Europeans obtained in their quest for colonization of various nations all over the world.

Other individuals have placed significance of the great divergence to environmental factors, in that the Europeans possessed numerous domesticated animals and plants (Pomeranz, 2000). There is also a hypothesis that claims that the European population was more immune to most diseases as compared to other societies across the world. Environmental determinism has been denied through by most historians as being the main reason behind the great divergence, as they have argued that human behavior is an attribute that cannot be fully controlled by climatic conditions. One thing is for certain though that the great divergence still exists up-to-date, and actually, the gap had grown even further compared to when it first emerged.


History is particularly important in facilitating the decision-making process of human beings, but over humans tend to ignore its importance. Indifference is one of the main reasons why human beings have placed little significance to their past. History is significant, and it is through it that human beings can develop a better understanding of their current experiences and be better equipped to deal with the future. History accords human beings valuable lessons, and it is through irrationalism that they have sidelined its importance. Ferguson examined a concept that he referred to as killer applications of prosperity where he examined factors such as the scientific revolution, competition, modern medicine, the consumer society, and the rule of law and representative government just to name a few. Furthermore, Ferguson also examined the great divergence and the role it played in the separation of European and North American countries with the rest of the world. Some of the factors that played a key role in the great divergence include cultural, religious, and environmental aspects of West life at the time.


Ferguson, N. (2012). Civilization: The six killer apps of western power. London: Penguin Books.

Ferguson, Naill. (2011). ‘America’s ‘Oh Sh*t’ Moment

Keltner, Dacher. (2017). The Power Paradox: How We Gain and Lose Influence. Penguin Group USA.

Pomeranz, K. (2000). The great divergence: China, Europe, and the making of the modern world economy. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press.