The word ‘culture’ and ‘civilization’ are often used synonymously. However, they have clearly defined meanings differentiating them.
‘Civilization’ means having better ways of living and sometimes making nature bend to fulfill their needs. It also includes organizing societies into politically well-defined groups working collectively for improved conditions of life in matters of food, dress, communication, and so on. Thus some groups consider themselves as civilized and look down upon others. This disposition of certain groups has even led to wars and holocausts, resulting in mass destruction of human beings.
On the other hand ‘culture’ refers to the inner being, a refinement of head and heart. This includes arts and sciences, music and dance and various higher pursuits of human life which are also classified as cultural activities. One who may be poor and wearing cheap clothes may be considered ‘uncivilized’, but still he or she may be the most cultured person. One possessing ostentatious wealth may be considered as ‘civlilized’ but he may not be cultured’.
Therefore, when we think of culture, we have to understand that it is different from civilization. Culture is the ‘higher levels of inner refinement’ of a human being.
Humans are not merely physical beings. They live and act at three levels: physical, mental and spiritual. While better ways of living socially and politically and better utilization of nature around us may be termed as civilization. This is not enough to be cultured. Only when the deeper levels of a person’s intellect and consciouness are brought into expression can we call him/her ‘cultured’.