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2022年5月 1日 (日)

Why was European history a scandal?

 The following text is taken from the following book.
Seki Hirono, "Why Capitalism was Born in Europe -Rethinking the History of the West and Japan-," NTT Publishing, March 2016.

I think it is an important text, but it is an argument with a very large scope, so I cannot decide for myself whether it is right or wrong. Therefore, I thought I would publish it as a blog post on the Internet as a resource for you to think about it. I hope that you will take the opportunity to think about it with me.  ※All English text below is translated by DeepL.

※ see   Why was European history a scandal? (2): 本に溺れたい

This book, pp. 37-42

◆Why European History Has Become a Scandal?

By the way, why did European history become a series of scandals?
Was there no element of scandal in the history of China, India, the Middle East or the Inca Empire, for example? Human history everywhere has basically been a history of the weak and the strong, where the evil of those who hold wealth and power have flourished. This is a fact of history, not a scandal. A scandal is always about power, the revelation of the hidden, ugly true nature of power. But the Chinese emperors, in sending their armies to the West to defeat the enemy, did not pretend that military rule was the high road. Islam in Muhammad's time knew that their wars could not be holy wars for the conquered people.

And the Russia of Ivan the Terrible and Peter the Great was also an ordinary empire. However, the former Soviet Union, created by the Bolsheviks inspired by European ideas, became the greatest scandal of the 20th century. European civilization is characterized by the fact that the insatiable pursuit of power and hegemony has been intellectually justified in the name of truth, ideals, and universal justice. Violence is latent in this civilization, but it is violence structured in knowledge. The atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki are examples of such violence.

The series of scandals began with the Edict of Milan issued by the Emperor Constantine in the fourth century, which made Christianity official in the Roman Empire and eventually became the state religion. As I mentioned earlier, Rome transitioned to imperial rule without abolishing the republican system. So, while the emperor had the power of life and death over his subjects, he called himself "PRINCEPS," meaning "PRIMUS INTER PARES," which is a scandal in itself. This is a scandal in itself, but the foolish policy of those in power who made Christianity the state religion has further deepened this division between the construction and the reality.

This is because this meant forcibly joining Greek philosophy and Israelite monotheism. This is mixing water and oil. The ideological pillars of Rome's wealthy aristocratic ruling class were consistently Greek philosophy. Among them, they adhered to the Stoic philosophy that prevailed in the Hellenistic world, and at the core of this philosophy was the doctrine of free will. There is no word for "will" in ancient Greek. So, for example, Aristotle, in his "Nicomachean Ethics," discusses in detail the conditions under which an individual can be held responsible for his actions, but the word "will" does not appear in his discussion. The idea of "will" arises from the conflict between freedom and necessity in Stoic philosophy. While Stoicism inherited from Socrates and Plato that virtue is knowledge and that man can improve and become a morally happy being through the "paideía " of philosophy, Stoicism drew its deterministic view of the universe from Greek natural science. He argued that one becomes internally free by recognizing through philosophy that the Logos that governs the universe is also divine providence, and by living according to nature.

◆Water and Oil Conflict - Christian Civilization in Western Europe

This theory that man, even in the condition of a slave, could become internally free through philosophy, was welcomed in Rome. The emperor Marcus Aurelius, a Stoic philosopher, was an example of this, for in Rome even the emperor was a slave bound by slavery. The idea of free will was based on a society of slavery. In the Jewish Bible, on the other hand, all events in the world are predetermined by God. And when Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the tree of wisdom, man was expelled from paradise, and man thereafter cannot know the divine will that schedules and moves all events in the world. Man can only pray and hope for God's grace and deep care, submitting without second thought to the law that God has ordained.

Thus, Greek philosophy and the Jewish Bible are water and oil as ideas. However, this contradiction was not a serious problem in the Roman Empire. For them, religion was merely a political tool to deceive and manipulate ignorant fools. Therefore, even after Christianity became the state religion, the emperors were still indulging in intrigues and schemes, and not a single one of them behaved like a Christian.

However, problems began to surface when, after the fall of the Roman Empire, a medieval Christian civilization emerged in the uncivilized West north of the Alps, building on the legacy of the empire. What in Rome was the product of the opportunistic policies of the power elite became here the ideological foundation of a new civilization. As a result, Christian civilization suffered constant confusion, division, and crisis because Greek philosophy and Hebrew monotheism are water and oil. Water and oil do not melt together. Thus Europe would suffer from the contradictions and conflicts between knowledge and belief, reason and revelation, Thomas Aquinas' realism and Occam's materialism. In modern times, it is repeated as the conflict between Erasmus' theory of free will and Luther's theory of slave will during the religious wars of the sixteenth century, or the division of reason into theoretical reason (knowledge) and practical reason (belief) in Kant's philosophy.

And already in the time of the Roman Empire, the conflict between faith and knowledge was a problem and a constant controversy within the Christian Church. The second century Roman Protector of Africa, Tertullian, who was the first to use the term "Trinity" and is considered the founder of the theology of the Western Christian Church, said of the incarnation of God in Christ, "It is worthy of belief because it is a contradiction."

The focus of controversy on this issue of free will and divine intention was the doctrine of original sin. The fourth-century Celtic Protector Pelagius seems to have leaned toward free will theory, arguing that man is free to obey or not obey God, that man is capable of moral improvement on his own, and that God only assists him in this. This naturally leads to a repudiation of the doctrines of predestination and original sin. With this refutation of Pelagius, St. Augustine laid the foundation for the theology of later Catholic and Protestant schools. He countered that without the grace of God, man is but a sinner, even a saint. Later, Luther argued the same thing vehemently, which led to religious wars. To most Japanese, it would seem that Pelagius had more reason and common sense. In Europe, however, heretics have always been accused of Pelagianism, which denies original sin.

◆Theology of the Industrial Revolution, Marxis

This conflict between philosophy and the Bible is the root cause of the history of Europe becoming a series of scandals. And Christian civilization, after all, has never gone beyond Tertullian's "It is worth believing because it is a contradiction." Incidentally, Marx's theory of revolution was also born out of the Jewish-German Marx's attempt to forcefully merge philosophy and the Bible, Athens and Ierusalem.

As I will discuss later, Hegel dissolved philosophy into historical philosophy. So Marx, who was a Hegelian leftist, seemed to be able to integrate Hegelian philosophy with the Jewish idea of God's redemptive plan hidden in history. The background was the rapid transformation of the world in the nineteenth century due to the Industrial Revolution. In Marx, the development of productive forces and the logic of class struggle play the role of a hidden divine will that governs history. Marxism is, so to speak, the theology of the industrial revolution. Marx replaced the persecuted divine elect of the Hebrews with the industrial proletariat. He described the painful fluctuations of industrializing societies as the thorny path by which mankind would reach the promised land of communist society.

This doctrine brought comfort and hope to a people at the mercy of social upheaval, similar to what Christianity gave to the Roman slaves. This is not a theory but a matter of psychological compensation for trauma. So even after the Russian Revolution created the Gulag Archipelago, communists repudiated reality, insisting that this was due to Lenin and Stalin's perversion of Marx's scriptures. And the Soviet Communist Party's dogmatic adherence to this theology as doctrine led to the devastation of Russian culture and land on an unprecedented scale. In this respect, Marxism may well have been Europe's greatest scandal involving the world. So how did Marx's revolutionary theory become such a global scandal?

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