Civilization is a sophontilogical term for the collected behaviors that a highly intelligent lifeform, or sophont species, uses to survive, prosper, manipulate their environment, organize socially, and both create and master increasingly sophisticated technologies.
Just as sophontdom is ultimately about technology, civilization is about culture, folkways, and society. It is about societal and sociological organization. It is about attitudes, outlooks, and ways of life. Some Imperial researchers have tried to create a catalogue of cultural universals, but these can vary widely for any one sophont species depending on the nature of the lifeform, their environment, and a bewildering number of other factors.
Historical Cycles & Constant Change
Civilization, like any successful species, must undergo change and both evolve and adapt to challenging conditions. The Imperiums are an evolving civilization attempting to achieve a state of aeonic stability. Previous Imperiums have fallen under various societal pressures and threats, both from internal and external sources. The Emperor of the Third Imperium is striving to create a civilization capable of perpetual stability and prosperity before the next great challenge. History teaches that all great civilizations rise and fall, who do not study and master the civilizational and technological cycle.
- Psychohistory & Macrosocietal Manipulation: Psychohistory is just one of the sciences and technologies being explored used to try and solve this age old challenge.
- Aeonic Stability: History teaches us that all empires fall, but hat if one finally figured out how NOT to fall. What if a civilization figured out how to achieve Aeonic Stability?
Civilization, much like the sophonts who create them, does not exist in a vacuum. Most civilizations exist in competition and inherit increasing sophistications from their predecessors. And most sophont species go through multiplicities of civilizations as social revolutions and paradigmatic technological change occurs, disrupting previous ways of life.
Standard Polity Growth Sequence
- Proto-Society → Band Society → Tribal Society or Chiefdom → City-State → Nation-State → World-State → Pocket Empire → Interstellar State → Intergalactic State → Final State → Singularity
- Creature Existence
- Sophontic Civilization
- Ascendant Civilization
- Transcendent Civilization
|1.||Pre-existence||TL-Negative||None||Not much is known about the origin of life, which is conjectured to be abiogenesis, or life arising from where there was none. In this environment, no conventional life is theorized to have existed, but A-life, or pseudo life, is thought to have pre-existed conventional life.|
|2.||Creature Existence||TL-Negative||None||The first life is thought to have been exceedingly simple, probably acellular, pre-DNA, and almost unnoticeable. But it was conventional life, and later life built upon it. More sophisticated life evolved from these humble origins into sophisticated multicellular creatures. However, these creatures lack higher intelligence, civilization, and technology.|
|3.||Proto-civilization||TL-0||Proto-Society||The very first creatures to evolve multiple hallmarks of sophonce become known as Proto-sophonts, and they develop Proto-civilizations, recognizable by later sophonts as early societies with basic but fundamental technology. Proto-sophonts are classified as: TL–0.|
|4.||Sophontic Civilization||TL:1-27||Band Society → Tribal Society or Chiefdom → City-State → Nation-State → World-State → Pocket Empire → Interstellar State → Intergalactic State||Sophonts are sophisticated, highly intelligent technology-using species. They develop advanced technologies, cultures, societies, and civilizations. They actively seek to master themselves and their environment. They use a variety of technologies: (TL-1 to 27).|
|5.||Transcendent Civilization||TL:28-30||Final State||Transcendents have begun the transition to the Singularity. They control advanced technologies (TL-28 to 30) and have cultures and societies paradigmatically different from less advanced sophonts. Many such societies begin to explore alternate dimensions and pocket universes.|
|6.||Ascendant Civilization||TL:31-33||Final State||Ascendants are working towards an active transition to the Singularity. They control the most sophisticated technologies imagined by sophontdom (TL-31 to 33). In nearly every practical way but not in every effect, they have achieved omnipotence. The key technologies defining transcendents are temporal technology, reality manipulation, chronotaxis (time travel), and manipulation of time itself. Their powers are near limitless. Some lesser sophont species call them "space gods." They have goals and motivations near incomprehensible to less advanced beings.|
|7.||Singularity||TL:34+ Post-Technological Period (PTP)||Singularity||The Singularity is a very nebulous term for both black holes and a hypothetical condition of life beyond technology, civilization, and life itself as confusing as that may sound. Some call it the afterlife while others call it the Post-Technological Period. Some even think that it is a future stage of life when sophont and machine merge. There is scant evidence for it, but many thinkers hypothesize that it exists.|
- Lester Smith. Milieu 0 (Imperium Games, 1996), TBD.
- David Thomas. 101 Governments (BITS, 1998), TBD.
- Jon F. Zeigler. First In (Steve Jackson Games, 1999), TBD.
- Martin Dougherty. Societies and Settlements (Mongoose Publishing, 2015), TBD.
- Traveller Wiki Editorial Team
- Author & Contributor: Lord (Marquis) and Master of Sophontology Maksim-Smelchak of the Ministry of Science