Diversified composition of European culture Compared
with other continents, Europe accommodates many ethnic groups and intricate languages in a relatively small area, which makes the historical evolution of the region appear more complicated and the culture presents the characteristics of multi-integration.
Europe has a population of 728 million in a geographical area of 10.16 million square kilometers. There are more than 160 large and small ethnic groups, and more than 40 languages are spoken. It is one of the regions with the most concentrated ethnic groups and the most abundant language types in the world. Although the languages in Europe belong to the Indo-European language family, they include more than ten different language families such as Romance, Germanic, Slavic, and Greek, and there are countless dialects in different regions. This diversity of nationalities and languages leads to two results: on the one hand, European culture presents the characteristics of diversity and inclusiveness, and the cultures of various nationalities blend with each other and learn from each other’s strengths; Differences and tensions in cultural identities have caused Europe to be in a state of separation of states for most of its history, and eastern-style unified regimes have rarely emerged.
The reason is that the diversity of European nations and cultures is influenced to a considerable extent by its geographical environment. From a geographical perspective, Europe is macroscopically a large peninsula surrounded by the sea on three sides. The tortuous coastline stretches for nearly 400,000 kilometers. There are many peninsulas, islands and harbors in the territory, which is very conducive to maritime trade and colonial activities. From the perspective of geographical structure, Europe is adjacent to Asia and Africa, and it has convenient exchanges with major ancient civilizations. The Mediterranean coast has always been a battleground for the strong, and it has become an important stage in world history. very frequently. From the perspective of topographical distribution, Europe’s topographical changes are rich, and it has cultivated ethnic groups and cultures with different physiques and mentalities. In addition, the European continent is dominated by plains, and there is no natural barrier between it and the Asian interior, which is conducive to national migration and cultural dissemination. Therefore, The continuous integration of foreign ethnic groups, such as Celts, Huns, Mongolians, etc., has made the ethnic groups in Europe more diverse. In short, compared with the major civilizations in Asia (such as China and India), the geographical environment of Europe is characterized by an openness and diversity, which makes its historical development more variable, and the multi-ethnic competition and integration process Different cultures have been created, and the inherent differences between these cultures have led to the long-term use of “fen” as the keynote of history in Europe.
The core concept of European culture and its historical evolution
However , the development of European culture continues to play the movement of “combination” on the basis of “differentiation”. Although each nation has different cultures, they all tend to affirm a certain common core value. These values became the basic symbols of “European identity”. These core values are rooted in the ideological creation of the “Axial Age”, and new civilization achievements have been continuously derived in the historical evolution.
From the perspective of civilization history, European culture is the product of the combination of “Double Greek civilizations”. The ancient Greek civilization injected the factor of “rationality” into it, and the ancient Hebrew civilization injected the factor of “faith” into it. Opposing and complementing each other, they jointly shaped the basic character of European culture. The rational spirit of the ancient Greeks was manifested in the logical “scientific spirit” and the individual-based “democratic spirit”: they established the methods of geometry and logic in cognition, trying to represent the whole world in a clear and concise form; at the same time, in practice It gives every citizen the right to participate in city-state politics, and regards the pursuit of reasonable order and social justice as a personal sacred duty. With the support of the Roman Empire, the religious beliefs of the ancient Hebrews gradually became the life support of every European. The doctrines of monotheism, original sin, the eschatology and the ideal of the kingdom of heaven advocated by Christianity have deeply influenced the European culture for more than a thousand years. Political systems, customs, literature and art, and the spiritual life of prayer to God have become important aspects of European culture. These seemingly opposite aspects interact in historical evolution. On the one hand, scientific methods have demonstrated religious doctrines and constructed a set of rigorous and detailed theological theoretical systems, so that God’s presence is not only manifested as a mystery experience, and become a universal truth that can be thought, spoken, and understood through reason; on the other hand, religion’s stipulation of ultimate reality provides a basis for the existence of the empirical world and the possibility of scientific exploration, “all men are equal before God” ‘s beliefs further strengthened the idea of equality and the sense of democracy. In the wonderful interweaving of “reason” and “faith”, Europeans have formed a basic character that is rigorous and orderly, yet has the courage to explore, yearns for the sublime and fears.
This common cultural character, as an internal cohesion, integrates many ethnic groups in different regions and languages in Europe into a unified cultural community, which is different from other cultural forms in the world. In the historical evolution of more than a thousand years in Europe, although a truly unified empire has rarely appeared, the emerging nations and countries have been infiltrated with the academic traditions of ancient Greece and Rome to a certain extent, and basically all converted to Christianity and respected Rome. The authority of the church, using Latin as the common official language of the church. The once prosperous Macedonian Empire, Roman Empire, Charlemagne Empire, Napoleon Empire, etc. all tried to shape the unified territory of Europe, accelerated the integration of nationalities and cultural exchanges within Europe, and made them in the mode of production, political system, ideological culture and religion. Faith and other aspects reflect increasing commonality. Therefore, we can see that under the surface of political division, the historical evolution of Europe contains many common values and cultural identities.
The Modernization of
Europe and the Rise of Nation-States
If the Middle Ages in Europe was a “Millennium Kingdom” shrouded in Christianity, then its modern times were manifested in the disintegration of this Millennium Kingdom and the rise and independence of various nation-states. The general trend of culturalization is to seek autonomy and individuality under the theme of “fen”, and also to explore the integration and reconstruction of culture in the process of “fen”.
The “Renaissance” that began in the 14th century showed the dawn of modern Europe. This ideological emancipation movement that lasted for nearly three centuries clearly advocated “individuality”. The aspect highlights the self-tradition of each nation and rediscovers a more local national identity. The cultural elites no longer respected the Pope’s oracles and the church’s conventions, and used their own national dialects to replace the church’s Latin for writing, thus laying the foundation for the establishment of a new nation-state language identity.
The ensuing “Religious Reformation” further exacerbated the separation of nation-states. After this profound faith liberation movement, the content and organizational forms of Christianity were constantly innovated. Different denominations challenged orthodox Catholic teachings and converted them to religion. Protestant emerging countries have their own independent belief identification methods, and the Protestant ethic formed by them promotes the establishment of the capitalist mode of production. At the same time, the Reformation further promoted the process of secularization of European society initiated by the Renaissance. Since then, religious belief has gradually become an individual’s inner pursuit, and each person’s rational ability can determine his own actions instead of following the church’s instructions. Similarly, the action decisions of various nation-states are no longer the Holy See’s lead, and European countries have won independent political authority and development space.
The “Enlightenment Movement” launched in the 17th and 18th centuries pushed the ideological process of European modernization to a climax. As the German philosopher Kant pointed out, the core of the Enlightenment spirit is “to have the courage to use one’s own reason”, and the purpose is “to get rid of the ignorance state imposed on itself by human beings as a whole”. Enlightenment thinkers’ promotion of scientific spirit, criticism of political legitimacy, and the design of democratic systems provided theoretical weapons for the bourgeois revolution of various nation-states, which led to the establishment of capitalist systems and industrial revolutions in European countries one after another. competing interests.
If the core concept of the Enlightenment was to affirm the absolute authority of “reason”, then the Romantic movement that arose in the 18th and 19th centuries tried to affirm the important position of “emotion”. At the same time, this cultural movement that originated in Germany gave birth to a far-reaching “nationalist” trend of thought, the core of which is to emphasize that the existence of the individual depends on a specific “nation”, which is based on common racial characteristics , blood relationship, geographic territory, language, historical memory, customs, religious beliefs, and lifestyles, etc., “nationalism” emphasizes the priority of the above-mentioned ethnic identity for individual existence, and highlights the unique nature of one’s own nation to distinguish it from others. Other ethnic groups even adopt xenophobic ways to maintain this national identity. This kind of “nationalism” played an important role in consolidating nation-states, but in many cases it also showed conservatism and exclusivity, which further aggravated the trend of modern European differentiation and turned the competition of interests among nation-states into military confrontation .
The integration process of
Having experienced the baptism of blood and fire in two world wars, modern Europeans are generally aware of the existence of the crisis: between the two superpowers of the United States and the former Soviet Union, Europe must win its own right to participate in international affairs, so countries can no longer In their own way, they must unite to “speak with one voice”, which started the process of integration in post-war Europe.
European integration in the true sense began with the “Paris Treaty” concluded by the six Western European countries in 1951. On the basis of the Treaty, the “European Coal and Steel Community” was established, which stipulated that this organization should be based on a common market, common goals and common institutions. as the basis. In 1957, the six countries signed the “Treaty of Rome”, established the “European Economic Community” and the “European Atomic Energy Community”, and set out to establish a customs union for industrial products and a common agricultural market. In 1965, the six countries signed the “Brussels Treaty”, which merged the above three organizations into the “European Community”. It was formally established on July 1, 1967 and headquartered in Brussels, Belgium. Since then, the member states of the European Community have gradually increased to 12. . The Maastricht Treaty officially signed by 12 countries in 1992 further established the European monetary union and political union. The treaty came into effect the following year, marking the official establishment of the “European Union”, with the twelve-star flag as the flag of the union. , with “Ode to Joy” as the Union song. In 2002, the European Union issued the euro to replace the national currencies of member states, completing the integration of economy and currency. In 2009, the 27 EU member states signed the “Lisbon Treaty”, which is equivalent to the EU constitution, and elected the permanent president of the EU Council and the high representative of foreign affairs and security policy. Since then, the EU has its own “President” and “Foreign Minister”. Economic entities in turn become political entities.
After the war in Europe, while the economic and political integration was gradually realized, the issue of “European identity” at the level of cultural concepts was also prominently put on the agenda. In the intellectual group, the thinking on the “European spirit” has not been interrupted. The more concentrated discussion appeared after the United States launched the Iraq War in 2003. The famous German and French philosophers Habermas and Derrida jointly published an article to propose the construction of The idea of ”core Europe” and the reconstruction of “European identity” caused a debate in the European intellectual circle for a while. Well-known scholars such as Eco, Vattimo, and Ulrich Baker wrote articles in response, and even the United States on the other side of the Atlantic responded. Philosopher Rorty also participated in the discussion. Habermas profoundly revealed the predicament of European cultural self-identification: Western culture originating from Europe has spread all over the world with the process of modernization and globalization, and to a considerable extent has become a “modern culture” in the general sense, then European culture What else is there that is unique to itself and cannot be transplanted? He went on to ask: What role does Europe play in the Western world dominated by the United States? What are the fundamental characteristics of European culture that distinguish it from other cultures (especially American culture)? Habermas summarizes “Europeanness” as: strict separation of church and state, confronting the duality of technological progress, global ethics over individual privilege, acknowledging the limited power of government and vigilance against potential state violence, and an attitude of introspection In the face of the marginalized disadvantage derived from “decolonization”, these are different from American culture.
It can be seen that this sense of anxiety among European intellectuals is fundamentally aimed at the unilateral foreign policy and discourse hegemony pursued by the United States. Obstacles were constantly erected in the process, the dollar and the euro competed against each other in the international monetary system, and American values were continuously promoted culturally. Just as the current intensifying European debt crisis, in addition to the problems of European countries themselves, American factors have also contributed to this. An integrated Europe hopes to deal more actively with its own and international affairs, and more actively rebuild the cultural identity that reflects its own characteristics. How to handle the relationship with the United States has become a key issue.
So far, the “European Romance” about division and integration has been talked about from ancient times to the present. Europe is such a complex and magical place. Since the beginning, its history has been unfolded in the stalemate of “divide” and “integration”. , to create its culture, and it will inevitably move towards the future in this interweaving of divisions and integrations.
Diversified composition of European culture Compared