What is "Western Civilization" and how do we define it? Where does the West begin and end? And what qualifies as civilization? These are the questions that historians have tried to answer of the years. Because history is often both biased and subjective, our definition of Western civilization is bound to be relative to how we see ourselves today.
The saying "history is written by the victors" does seem to be the case often enough. Because of this it can be difficult to filter out a clear and accurate account of events from one cultures' point of view. And yet, the victor's slant is important too. After all, they are the ones who will now make their mark on history and the "West" as it were. Their views of the events of their time, though bias, give us some insight on how they saw the world. Are we not the cultural descendants of these victors?.
Defining what is Western and what is not can be even more challenging. Partially because what we consider to be the West today, is the result of westward expansion from the Near East. So I believe that we must follow our civilizations' history back to it origins in the East. That's not say the Sumerian and Egypt are part of the West or Western civilization today, but that they contributed largely to what Western civilization is today, regardless of geography. In my opinion, the difference between Western and Non-Western civilization would be based on direct influence. The Far East, which has no direct influence on ancient Western civilization, would be Non-Western in my opinion. Asian civilization grew up independently of Western influence for many, many years. And because of this Westerners and Easterners seem so alien to each at times. .
I believe the question of what is civilization and what is not, is a much easier to define. Civilization as I understand it, is people living together as a group, contributing to the well fair of the group, and depending on each other as a group to succeed.