Clash of Civilizations? An Evolution-Theoretic and Empirical Investigation of Huntington's Theses

Gerhard Schurz


Huntington has argued that the world of the present time is characterized by a clash between global culturally different civilizations, such as the western-christian, the excommunist- orthodox, the islamic, the chinese and the indian-hinduist societies. In the first part I will analyse this claim from an empirical point of view, based on the findings of the World Value Survey project under the leadership of Ronald Inglehart. These findings are based an extensive questionnaires in more than sixty societies, and they give a significantly different picture than the picture Huntington draws. However, some major claims of Huntington are confirmed by these findings, for example, the existence of more-orless technically modern but yet culturally divergent societies, which contradicts the modernization thesis. In the second part I analyse these empirical facts from an evolution-theoretic point of view. In particular, I point out that Huntington's cultures are not entities which have a stable historical identity: our own western culture two or three hundred years ago is much closer to some of the present-time non-western cultures than to the present time western cultures. Huntington's cultures are synchronic snapshot of a pattern of evolutionary trends which stand under the influence of several selective forces which draw in opposite directions.


20th century philosophy; philosophy; social studies; Wittgenstein Ludwig; clash of civilizations; cultural evolution; cultural world map; modernization; postmodernization; religiosity; secularisation; world value survey

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