World Cosmopolitan History
Philosophical reflection on history reveals some basic principles that help us to reconstruct a certain meaning of it. Understanding the meaning of history is fundamental in order to recognise the direction it is moving in today. Indeed, history is not something from the past, as the term might suggest, but it is our own present, which, in the moment we say it, has already passed and therefore become ’history’. (Im deutschen Text: „wie der Begriff fälschlicherweise den Eindruck vermitteln könnte“)
Augustine of Hippo expressed this concept in his work ’Confessions’ through his famous theory of time. (Im deutschen Text: „Bekenntnisse“, also den Namen des Werks in Anführungszeichen. Und eventuell eine Quellenangabe, falls es eine gibt?) According to this theory, the past no longer exists, since it is definitely obsolete as such; it only exists as the ’present of the past’, as the present memory that we humans have of it. The future does not yet exist, since it has not yet happened; what exists is only the present idea of what may happen in the future, so that it exists only as the ’present of the future’.
Both the past and the future are reduced to their respective present in the thinking of the human being in the present moment, which is thus the only dimension of time that really exists. This is what we could define as the ’present of the present’, i.e. the awareness that human beings have of themselves, the awareness of the fact that they are thinking, reflecting, remembering, imagining, programming and so on, here and now. In other words, the consciousness that a human being has of the extension of their thinking into the dimensions of the past and the future. (Im deutschen Text: „...sich etwas/Dinge vorstellt...“)
This present, however, disappears in the moment we think about it, it immediately is part of the past, so that the whole existence is ultimately limited to the punctuality of the present moment. (Dieser Satz im deutschen Text: „Diese Gegenwart jedoch verschwindet in dem Moment, in dem wir darüber nachdenken, sie ist sofort und unmittelbar vorbei, sodass sich die gesamte Existenz letztlich auf die Pünktlichkeit des gegenwärtigen Augenblicks beschränkt“.) It is the immediate consciousness, the ’now and here’ of thought, which has the extraordinary ability to extend backwards into a past without limits (what was there before the world existed?) and forwards into a future equally unlimited (what will happen when the world ends?).
In short, time is the consciousness of thought in its infinite extension, both temporal and spatial, where space is nothing but the product of time, of becoming.
If we now, after having considered Augustine and his concept of time, return to the concept of ’history’, we can conclude that it corresponds to the logical reconstruction of the past, which people have made and are still making by trying to interpret historical documents. (Im deutschen Text: „auseinandergesetzt“ statt „konfrontiert“) The principles of history are the essence of what can be concluded from a logical point of view after having read the most important works of historiography.
The first principle is that history has evolved and continues to evolve from countless original prehistoric communities scattered throughout the world to the approximately 200 states currently existing on planet Earth. So the number of human communities has gradually decreased and at the same time their size has increased, both in terms of the number of people who belong to them and the geographical space they occupy. (im deutschen Text: „und gleichzeitig haben die Gemeinschaften ihre Größe erhöht“) While the first human communities occupied a limited area and moved as nomads, today’s human communities are settled and occupy enormous areas compared to the original prehistoric communities. (Im deutschen Text: Das erste Wort „Während“ statt „Wenn“) The number of communities has therefore decreased and their size has increased.
This phenomenon is not yet over, but it continues. From this perspective, the process of European unification can be seen as the development of a European continental state from the national states of this continent. It is not yet clear which national states will become part of it, as some are leaving and others are joining, but the meaning of current European history is clearly that we are evolving from a multitude of national states into a single state, regardless of the final form it will take (federation, central state, etc.). (Im deutschen Text: „...einige treten aus, andere kommen herein...“)
Since there is no good reason to believe that this evolution from innumerable original small and isolated communities to the large communities of today will cease, as the process of European unification demonstrates, it can be concluded that the meaning of history seems to be primarily the creation of a global community that all people on planet Earth belong to. It is therefore logical to believe that the number of states currently represented on Earth will be further reduced in the coming decades and centuries, leading to continental state formations which, in the course of further development, will find it useful to unify and coordinate their policies within a single human global community.
The philosophical ideal of the single world state, which Toynbee described as the only possibility for serious thought on how to master and solve the environmental and social problems, as described on the introductory page to this platform, is therefore not a utopia or the product of the imagination of a single visionary thinker, such as Kant, who formulated it in his work "Zum ewigen Frieden" (1795), but the immanent meaning of history, its intrinsic purpose. History is moving towards the world state, this seems to be a main lesson of philosophical reflection on history.
(Dieser Absatz im Deutschen: „Das philosophische Ideal des Weltstaates, das Toynbee als einzige Möglichkeit bezeichnet hat, ernsthaft über die Beherrschung und Lösung der Umwelt- und Sozialprobleme nachzudenken, wie auf der Einleitungsseite zu dieser Plattform beschrieben wurde, ist daher keine Utopie oder das Produkt der Einbildungskraft eines einzelnen visionären Denkers, wie z.B. Kant, der es in seiner Schrift „Zum ewigen Frieden“ von 1795 formulierte, sondern der immanente Sinn der Geschichte, ihr intrinsischer Zweck. Die Geschichte geht in Richtung Weltstaat, das scheint eine Hauptlehre der philosophischen Reflexion über die Geschichte zu sein.“)
The second principle concerns the mode of this development, i.e. the means by which people in the past and still today achieve the overcoming of the isolation of their own community and the union with other communities in a larger community that includes them. In his lectures on the philosophy of history, Hegel refers to war as such a means. It is the differences between local communities that led to wars over territory and thus constituted the first point of contact. These wars, however, sooner or later led to peace treaties and to mergers or associations, i.e. the two or more communities, after their fights found a way of reconciliation both as annexation of the lost community by the winning community and as an equal association. Here, the example of Europe is instructive as well: national states that have been at war with each other for centuries and they found the way to unification after 1945.
(Dieser Absatz im Deutschen: „Das zweite Prinzip betrifft den Modus dieser Entwicklung, d.h. mit welchen Mitteln die Menschen in der Vergangenheit und auch heute noch die Überwindung der Isolation der eigenen Gemeinschaft und die Vereinigung mit anderen Gemeinschaften in einer größeren Gemeinschaft, die sie einschließt, erreichen. Hegel weist in den Vorlesungen über die Philosophie der Geschichte auf den Krieg als ein solches Mittel hin. Es sind die Gegensätze zwischen den lokalen Gemeinschaften, die zu Kriegen um das Territorium führten und den ersten Kontaktpunkt darstellen. Diese Kriege führten jedoch früher oder später zu Friedensverträgen und zu Fusionen bzw. Vereinigungen, d.h. die beiden oder mehr Gemeinschaften fanden, nachdem sie bis zum Tod gekämpft hatten, doch einen Weg zur Versöhnung, entweder als Annexion der verlorenen Gemeinschaft durch die gewinnende Gemeinschaft oder auch als gleichberechtigte Vereinigung. Auch hier ist das Beispiel Europa aufschlussreich: Nationalstaaten, die sich seit Jahrhunderten im Krieg miteinander befanden, fanden nach 1945 den Weg zur Vereinigung.“)
So, paradoxically, war leads to peace and then to unification. This seems to be another fundamental principle of history. However, after 1945 and after the atomic bomb, this principle can no longer be applied. The period of the ’Cold War’ between the ’capitalist’ and the ’communist’ part of the world has made the impossibility of war in today’s world even more obvious. The US and the USSR would have liked to wage war against each other in the 1950s and 1960s and got very close to it several times, but nobody took the first step. The reason is very simple: nobody was sure of victory because the technological power of the enemy was so strong that for the first time in history there was the threat of a war without winners but only with losers. So why go to war with each other?
After 1945, the principle of war as a means of creating larger human communities is still in effect locally but it can no longer work globally, between powerful, semi-continental states like those of today. (Im Deutschen: „...zwischen halb-kontinentalen, sehr mächtigen Staaten wie denen von heute.“) If we want to continue the historic process of enlarging human communities, it can only be done with peace, reason and democracy, ultimately with philosophy. Only if we understand the importance of uniting to overcome the difficulties of life on Earth, the human community can continue to develop as it has done until now and advance to higher units, to larger communities. The path of war is no longer viable (fortunately, of course).
The third principle of history concerns the qualitative aspect of human life. In the course of history, human communities have not only grown larger and thus have become fewer, but they have also become freer, in the general sense of the word "freedom". If we can imagine the primitive human as being dependent on his own instinctive needs, living in fear of not being able to satisfy his vital needs, on the constant search for food and other goods absolutely necessary for survival, in other words, also as the slave of other, stronger people who have subjugated him by making him a slave, the modern world guarantees a series of rights enshrined in national constitutions which are based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights from 1948 and which guarantee a dignified, that is, free life. (Korrektur von zwei Teilen dieses Satzes im deutschen Text: „von der Furcht, seine lebenswichtigen Bedürfnisse nicht befriedigen zu können...“ und „die sich an der Allgemeinen Erklärung der Menschenrechte von 1948 orientieren und ein würdiges, also freies Leben garantieren.“)
Certainly, not all states apply this declaration in their local constitutions yet, but that is the meaning of history, so that there are people fighting to extend freedom to those states where it is not yet guaranteed. But there is no fight for the opposite, i.e. there is no tendency in the states that guarantee freedom to curtail or abolish it and return to forms of dictatorship and despotism or even slavery. There may, of course, be a temporary crisis of freedom, but then sooner or later the people will rise up and restore freedom. Freedom seems to be an irresistible force that cannot be permanently suppressed in any way.
In summary, history has a double meaning:
- On the one hand, history evolves to create ever larger communities, with the world community as the ultimate goal;
- On the other hand, communities are created that guarantee freedom for the individual to the point of freedom for all people.
If we unite these two main principles, we can say that the meaning of history is a world community of all free people.
If we consider that this perfect form of government cannot be achieved by war, as it was the common way until 1945, we can conclude that only peace, that is the conscious decision of the people, that is, philosophy, can lead people to this decisive step in their history.
History must therefore be completed by philosophy, and this platform should be precisely the means to achieve this goal, this meaning of history.
WORLD HISTORY - ROOMS and INTERPRETATION
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