THE RELIGIOUS-PHILOSOPHICAL DIMENSIONS OF CULTURE
dramatic challenge on the threshold of the IIIrd Millennium of Christ
Culture in Oswald Spenglers interpretation — a product of human spirit, as well as any concept has a philosophical foundation underneath and reflects a certain perception of ones own place and role in the world history.
These values gave birth to Christian culture that produced the unique human achievement in all spheres remarkable not only for its unprecedented scale and diversity but for its universal ethic and moral integrity. The interpretation of supreme power as service developed a different perception of the rights and obligations of the ruler who at least in the doctrine became an incarnated duty and ethic ideal contrary to the ancient quod licet jovi non licet bovi. The idea of identity of sin and crime became the ethics of legal conscience and corpus lei as following the moral judgement of religious canons. In the economics the ethics of sufficiency — not profit determined the accepted incentives for labour and riches — forbidding usury as in The Scripture.
The artistic conscience gave birth to the canons of art and literature — beauty and ugliness, harmony and distortion, melody and cacophony, elegance and bad taste, etc. — all proclaiming and proving that criteria of good and evil in terms of art and culture — are not relative. It is the painful passionate struggle in the human soul of its free will between good and evil that produced the great European culture with hero as the incarnated duty. It is the ardent desire to express this fight that produced the diversity and riches of genre and style. Where was the apogee and what is the reason of the rise and decline of culture along with «progress» and with more Freedom? What was Renaissance contrary to the common beliefs?
Renaissance as being «progress» certainly brought Western thinking more to materialistic terms and declared the autonomy of a human being from God thus affecting the perception of freedom. After the Enlightenment through attributing more and more importance to the outer tangible aspects of freedom — one of the most important and precious but delicate categories of Christian perception of the human individual and unique personality — the liberal philosophy gradually neglected the metaphysical criteria of inner freedom. Hence, it was inevitably loosing the quest for the spiritual highs and ideal still inherent to the early humanism. Liberal thinking was gradually betraying the features of some third-estate libertarianism — the creature of the Reformation and the usurer himself, the latter becoming the graft dominating in the hybrid.
While emptying his own soul the individual was idolising his earthly nature. The idea of human likeness in relation to God was distorted to the equality. The most admired character of the Renaissance and Enlightenment was the legendary Prometheus challenging God. The theme was explicitly perfected by young twenty four years old J.W.Goethe in his «Prometheus»:
«Bedecke deinen Himmel, Zeus, mit Wolkendunst
Und ьbe, dem Knaben gleich, an Eichen dich und Bergeshцhn
Muss mir meine Erde doch lassen stehn,
und meine Hьte die du nicht gebaut st…
und meinen Herd, um dessen Glut du mich beneidest!».
— This ideal of material comfort becomes the sace of modern man…
The focus on outer freedom inevitably emphasised and romanticised the material tangible needs of an individual, while inducing a scepticism towards the highest values — religious, national, honour, love, sacrifice — all of which become relative leading to the relativism of good and evil — what Dostoyevsky called the loss of responsibility for the destiny of the world. The alienation emerged to become a subject for the Western philosophy and eventually the main dimension of the European culture.
But it had not appeared before the post-Renaissance individual lost the metaphysical links of his divine soul. The first manifestations can be found in J-J. Rousseau.
The XX century promoters of the liberalism declared «the absolute sovereignty of views and inclinations in the life of a human individual no matter how specific it were» (HAYEK 1990). That statement is an obvious departure from the basic Christian notion of the inherent sinfulness of human nature surmountable solely through relentless and conscious spiritual ascetic effort, comprising first and foremost a voluntary taming of ones own pride — «Blessed are the poor in spirit…(MAT.5.3)
The result of the loss of absolute criteria for good and evil, for beauty and ugliness, for canons was: beauty, harmony — norm are declared commonness and boredom. Distortion, deviation from the norm — is sophistication… There is no more indecent — that is, immoral behaviour- it is only incorrect — this word contains no absolute moral judgement, its meaning is relative
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