This is the second subsection of section 4,” Introduction to human Civilization ” of Chapter 1, “Religion and life,” in the first part of “The History of Western Civilization”. I renamed it “what is the real human Civilization”. in addition to meeting the most basic conditions of social peace, stability, and sustainable development. The author believes that the highest civilization should be the liberation of human nature. Each of us declines to domineer over others, takes vanity of superiority to others as the purpose of life, and essentially achieves everyone’s equal, free and happy life. Although we cannot completely eliminate the pain, we can minimize the pain and complete our life of atonement on earth.
what is the real human Civilization
Another feeling we get from the word civilization is that everyone in society is well-mannered, well-spoken, and polite and courteous. Everyone respects each other, venerates the old, loves the young, the father is kind, and the child is filial. That is, we often say that the moral cultivation and moral level of the whole society stand very high, so morality is naturally associated with civilization. The opposite of civilization is barbarism. Civilization is the goal of every society and everyone. No one will hopefully live in a barbaric society. Therefore, morality is the most important thing in human life, and moral philosophy is also the most important content in human philosophy. It studies how to improve the moral level and moral quality of the whole society and enter into a more civilized society. Therefore, when we talk about civilization, we must involve human moral philosophy and necessarily understand the development of human moral philosophy.
Aristotle divides all science into three categories: theoretical science, including physics, mathematics, and metaphysics; practical science, including moral philosophy, politics, and financial management; and production technology science, such as technology and science related to mechanical and artistic creation (Aristotle and Plato believe that such productive technology or science continue existing). For Aristotle, moral philosophy is practical research, which is different from theoretical science and production science. All practice and productive activities, in a broad sense, pursue some kind of good. Moral philosophy is the good pursued by these productive activities. In Aristotle’s eyes, moral philosophy is to study how to obtain practical goodness. The discipline of Ethics is to study how to regulate human behavior. It can be seen how important moral philosophy is in Aristotle’s mind.①
Kant also divided philosophy into pure reason and practical reason. Practical reason equates to moral philosophy. Using moral philosophy to guide human practice is one of the two components of Kant’s philosophy.Reason occupies the most important position in Kant’s philosophy. Kant uses reason to guide practice and draws many important conclusions, such as man’s highest purpose is good, and others are not tools. These conclusions are also treasures in the treasure house of human moral philosophy. Not only the two of them but also any philosopher, thinker have to study moral philosophy because it is the most important content in human life, which regulates human behavior and enters into a highly civilized society. It is also the common goal of all humans, and it is also a problem that any philosopher and thinker have to face.②
Another definition of civilization is to regulate behavior through enlightenment. I think this is the most classic definition of civilization. Enlightenment also regulates people’s behavior and improves moral cultivation through religious commandments, precepts, rituals, and rites. It is completely different from improving civilization through moral philosophy, as we introduced in the previous chapter. Religion is the pursuit of eternal life and the eternal, ultimate world. It is the meaning of life and the truth of life for many people; these religions’ commandments, precepts, rituals, and rites are sacred and solemn. In fact, there are moral norms in moral philosophy. Therefore, for believers, these moral norms are also sacred and solemn. In religious belief, people regard the secular society as lower worlds, the ultimate world as upper worlds, and think they play a role in the divine order. These moral norms are not only sacred and solemn but also must be observed. Therefore, moral norms are deeply rooted in people’s living customs; they regulate and restrict people’s behavior naturally and strictly. At the same time, religion also has another important function: the reminder function to remind everyone to abide by these moral norms from time to time. All these are things that moral philosophy can’t gain, but religious enlightenment can achieve easily. Therefore, under the enlightenment, the moral cultivation, moral level, and civilization of the whole society are also improved.
In ancient China, people in the South were called Nanman(southern barbarians), which meant that they were short of education and lacked civilization, so They belonged to barbarians. The way to make the South break away from barbarism and access to a civilized society was to set up schools and teach Confucian classics so that everyone could be educated and polite. For example, what Han Yu did in Chaozhou was a typical representative. He donated salaries to set up schools in Chaozhou, which freed Chaozhou from barbarism and entered civilization. This is the main reason why the Chaozhou people still commemorate Han Yu. In medieval Europe, it was also believed that civilization was closely related to enlightenment. Of course, their enlightenment here refers to Christianization. Charlemagne conquered the Saxon barbarians several times in order to convert them to Christianity and become civilized people. In fact, the Franks represented by Charlemagne only converted to Christianity and became civilized people not long ago. Charlemagne conquered several times because the Saxons had strong pagan beliefs and were unwilling to accept Christianity. They repeatedly betrayed and rebelled again and again. When the Saxons completely accepted Christianity, the whole of Europe praised Charlemagne.
Similarly, the Normans and Danes in northern Europe were originally called barbarians. However, when their king accepted Christianity and the coronation of the archbishop, the whole of Europe went into raptures. This meant that the Danes and Danes had escaped from barbarism and entered the civilized society, becoming Christians and their brothers. They were no longer threats but brothers in arms.
In medieval Europe, the concepts of Western society and Eastern society were gradually formed. Perhaps today, people will wonder why Western society is used to represent the widely distributed countries such as the United States, Britain, Canada, and Australia. In fact, if you carefully observe these countries, you will find that these countries were originally Christian countries. In medieval Europe, Western society referred to the region that believed in Christianity because they are in the West of Europe, and Eastern society In the east of Europe referred to the area outside Christianity., the West represents civilization, and the east represents backwardness. In their eyes, civilization is inseparable from Christian enlightenment, and civilization was Christianization. Later, the West is endowed with a concept of culture, which represents a Christianized and highly civilized country.It should be pointed out that I use Christianity instead of Catholicism here because Catholicism is a concept only after the emergence of Protestantism. There was no Catholicism in medieval Europe, but only the difference between Christianity and Orthodox Church. Therefore, in order to respect history, I use Christianization instead of Catholicization. Western historians generally believe that civilization is Christianization. Although sometimes it is not expressed directly, it can be easily felt between the sentences. There is a book called “gate of West”, which tells the history of Hungary. Although Hungary located in the middle of Europe, it is on the edge of the Christian world in Europe. Further east, there were countries that believed in the Orthodox Church. Though I have only read the introduction of this book, not the specific content, I feel that the title of the book well reflects the original concept of the West, so I’m impressed. Western historians represented by Gizo also think that civilization is Christianization. His works, such as “the history of the Roman Empire” and “the history of French civilization”, obviously cheer for every Christian victory and lament every Christian setback. Civilization is Christianization, which is rooted in their subconscious.③
Enlightenment is closely related to civilization. The degree of enlightenment is the degree of civilization. Enlightenment is the most effective, powerful, and common way to improve moral cultivation, moral level, and social civilization for thousands of years. Why is that? We will elaborate slowly below and only introduce them here for the time being. The main purpose is to make everyone know that humans have two ways to improve their moral level and moral cultivation: secular moral philosophy and religious enlightenment. The discussion come here, you may find that moral philosophy and enlightenment may realize the real civilization. After accepting moral philosophy and enlightenment, society can be cultivated, polite and calm, less tyranny, war and conflict, more peace and rationality. The wealth,production created by society can be completely maintained, and civilization can continue. The greedy degeneration of human nature makes humans naturally tend to use force and violence. The strong always exploit, oppress others forcibly, bully and squeeze them violently, and seize all wealth, land, and women to themselves through force and violence. The powerful always hope that they can simply and quickly solve conflicts and disputes through force and violence, completely conquer others, make their opponents completely submit, become their slaves and tools. So humans involve in the vortex and rapids of various conflicts and have bloody wars all the time. They competed for land, wealth, women, face, the hegemony of the world forever, and so on.The most terrible thing is the peasant uprising in the eastern society and the great fighting of the Dynasty change. At the end of each Dynasty, the bureaucratic class madly used force and violence to exploit and squeeze farmers ruthlessly. In order to survive, the retaliatory rebound of these oppressed farmers is also extremely cruel, not to mention after the collapse of the Dynasty, to compete for the throne of the emperor, every side fought till the bitter end to Dynasty change. After each change of Dynasty, China’s population was greatly reduced by more than half, the production and social wealth were significantly damaged, and the civilization was interrupted and destroyed again and again. Therefore, the first condition for the inheritance of civilization is that the society has a very high degree of civilization, the whole society has a very high moral level and moral cultivation. People solve problems, solve conflicts and disputes in a civilized and rational way, rather than the frequent use of force and violence. Such a society is close to what I think of civilization.
However, the real civilization in my mind is also the civilization to be described in this book. It is not only about moral philosophy but also about enlightenment. It is not only to solve conflicts and disputes in a civilized and rational way but also to liberate the relationship between people and the complete liberation of human nature. Everyone can enjoy the happiness of freedom and equality. Due to the greed and degeneration of human nature, we always use the talent, whether physical or intellectual, given by God to conquer our own kind, and pursue our greatest enjoyment, whether spiritual vanity or material pleasure. Therefore, we naturally tend to completely conquer the same kind and use them as slaves and tools. We use whip chains and brainwash to domesticate them to be slaves willingly, to be tools willingly, to create wealth, and provide pleasure for us willingly. We exploit and squeeze the same kind, squeeze their last drop of oil, and then abandon them, withered and shriveled, in the dark corner of society to wait for death. We bully and humiliate our own kind physically or intellectually and find the most pleasure of being superior to them in their desperate and humiliating faces. The greed and degeneration of human nature brought about these evils. The greed and degeneration of human nature are also the reason for the persistence of human slavery, the widespread existence of feudal hierarchy so far, and the long-standing existence of oriental despotism that the officials superior rank crush the inferior. In my opinion, the real civilization of humans is to enable everyone in society to get rid of this greed and degeneration of human nature as much as possible, liberate from these unequal relations between people, and move towards freedom and equality, enter into a new life full of brotherly love and floating laugh. There is no exploitation and oppression, and everyone lives freely, equally, and happily; I think these are the real civilization, the meaning of human social existence, and the truth of life. Perhaps because of the inherent sin of humans and the greed and degeneration in human bones, we may never have pursued this kind of life. Still, I hope humans can always walk on the road of pursuing this real life, but perhaps even such a hope is only a good wish. The historical process of humans has never been one-way, linear, but tortuous; it is often repetition, significant retrogression, regression, or even massive destruction. This book wants to describe the process of Western society pursuing this kind of real civilization, describe their twists and turns in the process, the battle between the ideal, faith, and the greed, degeneration. I think western society has been in a state several times very close to the ideal society and the highest civilization of humans. Still, then there is a significant retrogression and regression, always tortuous and repeated. Maybe this is human destiny. What we came to the earth is to accept the endless suffering of purgatory.
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