Arnold Toynbee is a world famous historian known for his penetrating insight into civilizations of the world. In his epoch making work: A study of World History, he does not consider civilization as discrete entities but views them as a continuum. In his analysis of civilizations he has bifurcated them into Egyptian, Hellenic, Chinese and contemporary civilizations.
The Egyptian civilization was marked by the emergence of Kingship and large class of serfs. It was basically an agrarian civilization. The most significant contribution of the Egyptians was the invention of writing. Religion in ancient Egypt was polytheistic. The systematic idea of a state evolved in ancient Egypt. Another significant contribution of the Egyptians was the Pyramids. Culturally and anthropologically speaking the Egyptians were an ethnic bourgeoisie, a ruling aristocracy embedded in cultic rituals, exploiting the weaker sections of the society. The Egyptian civilization also saw the Diaspora of the Jews into Egypt. Looking at Egyptian civilization we can interpret that it was civilization canonized by monarchs, satiated in excess catharsis and stimulated by the ecumenism of a cosmopolitan culture. The Egyptian civilization is noted for its architecture. Ancient Egypt bore the semblances of a religious and cultural syncretism.
The Hellenic culture on the other side saw the emergence of art, literature, philosophy and above all democracy. The great Philosophers of Greece were Plato Socrates and Aristotle. The Hellenic gift to the contemporary world was the gift of democracy. The Iliad and the Odyssey were epic poems written by the Greek poet Homer. In ancient Greece there was a shift from a religious attitude to a philosophical speculation. Ancient Greece also laid the foundations of modern science. Athens flourished because it was democracy. Philosophically speaking Greek civilization is marked by a mental Diaspora of historicity caught up in the eclectic balance of pristine culture in the throes of evolution.
Next I would like to analyze the modern world. The modern world went through a series of world wars. The modern world also saw the emergence of two contrasting isms Communism and Capitalism. It was during this time that large parts of Africa and Asia were colonies. The modern world also saw the rise of dictatorships which paved the way for the horrendous holocaust. The modern world also saw the rise of the press. Then there developed the rise of the Cold War. There was also the development of space journeys and nuclear missiles. The television became a personalized czar at home. Artistic movements like impressionism and surrealism gave a new lease of life to individuality.
The postmodern society is quite different from earlier civilizations. It was marked by the evolution of the internet. Media became a personalized entity. There was also the emergence of multinational corporations and patent rights. There was also the rise of gay culture. The postmodern society saw the demise of communism and the bipolarization of the world. The postmodern era is also characterized by the emergence of Islamic fundamentalism. Many of the colonies of Africa and Asia were decolonized. The postmodern society also saw the breakup of the nuclear family and the rise of gay marriages. Philosophy was characterized by disintegration and fragmentation. Postmodernism promoted nihilism and anarchy. The idea of what constitutes individuality became a question mark.