FOR THE CONFERENCE HOMO EUROPAEUS – EAST AND WEST
HOMO EUROPAEUS – A FICTIOUS PROJECT OR VIRTUAL IMPOSSIBILITY?
(seventeen remarks on the hypothetical European ethos)
- Under the present day’s circumstances the idea of the man of Europe seems to be both archaic and anachronistic. Archaic, because it clearly resounds of the eurocentrist ideas of late humanism and early German and French enlightenment. Anachronistic, because at the moment it is being formulated in a merely political inclusivist manner and without any reference to the cultural, religious and historical “whole” which Europe was and still is. Let us recall in this connection, that one of the first authors of “United Europe”, Valentine Andreae (c.1614), was untiringly dreaming of purely protestant Europe, without Vatican and possibly even without France, while another “Euro-dreamer”, Alexandre Kojeve, was (somewhere in the forties of the 20 c.) quite seriously considering United Europe without Germany not to speak of Russia (then USSR).
- The weakest point in the idea of the not yet born Homo Europaeus is that he is seen as a project, that is, as the final result of the planned collective efforts of various institutions, well-structured and well-financed within the framework of the socio-political and economic superstructure of European Community.
- This clearly reflects the obsession of not only the chief administrators, but of leading economists and aces of political sciences, with the idea of institution, the obsession which has developed into a kind of clinically certifiable institutional thinking. I think that this psychological anomaly could be considered an outcome or rather a byproduct of “universal applicability” of general structuralist approach to socio-cultural phenomena. This illusion, exacerbated by quite normal anthropological ignorance of the modern politicians, statesmen and political scientists, renders institutions themselves unable to perform any task even slightly exceeding the narrow technical sphere of their more and more specialised functioning.
- Our task here, as I understand it, is first of all to reflect upon the idea of Homo Europaeus not in terms of general socio-political and economic structures, but from the point of view of an ethological approach which takes into consideration the real modes and manners of life of modern Europeans who, alas, have not yet become homines Europae. Still even on the basis of our observation of the ethos of modern Europeans we could glimpse at some of its essential features which may develop themselves into the future ethos of Homo
- The first feature: he is supposed to be a man of knowledge. In the first place the knowledge of history, which is the main link connecting his present ethos and the socio-cultural structures in which this ethos constitutes itself, with the whole diachrony of ethoses and structures preceding them. For only by knowing his “own” past he will be able to evaluate the exigencies of the present and thereby render himself more independent therefrom. However, the most important thing is not knowledge itself, obtainable institutionally through universities or personally, but – and this is a merely ethological phenomenon – the necessity to know which is above all special knowledge and professional expertise.
- His knowledge of the present is focused on facts and factors limiting his personal and social reactions and conditioning his responses to changes in his milieu and transformations in intersubjective space of his existence.
- He is a free-thinking person fully aware that only through his free thinking and his awareness of it – for without self-awareness and self-reflection there can be no fully-fledged free thinking – one may (no more than that) become a person.
- It is through free-thinking that he may become independent from all macro-and-micro social conditions. His social responsibility is derived from and secondary to, his independence. So one cannot be really responsible for one’s family, firm or state without being totally independent from the object of one’s responsibility. Moreover, he is independent in his free choice of objects of his responsibility. He has already realised that freedom is independence. Independence has the highest ethical value for him, be it financial independence or independence from public opinion.
- The present day’s European ethos is axiologically first and foremost culture–oriented, for it is European culture alone that has survived the complete moral degradation of the beginning of the 20-th c. the appalling cruelty and dreadful self-betrayal of the middle of the 20-th c., and today’s total institutional corruption and political opportunism. Like king Francis I of France who said (after the battle of Pavia), “all is lost but honour”, we may say now, “all is lost but culture”. Now it becomes more and more evident that no real political or economic unity is possible without culture as the only comparatively stable unifying factor in Europe. Particularly at the time, when Christian religion has lost almost all its unifying power and when the “classical” secular ethical standards are powerless before two main manias of the present day’s Europe: obsession with comfort and obsession with security.
- The man of Europe ought not to be duped by “vulgar lingo” of current pseudo-sociologists and quasi-politologists. Let us take for instance such widely spread senseless notion as European identity. There is only one real identity for Homo Europaeus – cultural identity.
- Today’s European ethos is quite distinctly marked by two chief negative factors which affect very strongly the chances of real European unity. The first is regional ethocentrist The second, and by far more dangerous, the growing influence of globalism which, even in its initial, immature and not yet reflected upon ideological postulates, is essentially anti–cultural and anti–individualist.
- The man of Europe is, in his ethos, par-excelence anti-ideological or, shall we say, “ideology-resistant”. He is fully aware that any ideology – right, left or centrist, nationalist or internationalist, secular or religious – remains the chief instrument of moral and intellectual enslavement. Let us note, in this connection, that by the end of 20-th c. there appeared quite a few surrogate–ideologies such, for example, as the conception of politically correct behaviour, which are presented as apolitical and humanist, while in fact they are directly derived from some hardcore politics.
- In his psychological attitudes the man of Europe ought to distance himself from the mass-cowardice of global pessimism and the mass- idiocy of universal optimism – both of course politically inspired and duly “scientifically” founded.
- Homo Europaeus is cosmopolitan by definition. But cosmopolitan in a purely positive way: he is aware of himself as of a mediator – for all existing cultures and ethoses. Moreover, he knows that European culture has historically become the culture of universal mediation and that it is his lot to inherit this feature of European ethos and to express it in his relations with other ethoses.
- He is essentially critical, but critical not in a merely negative sense, but in the sense of unprejudiced neutral questioning. He questions the very reasons of the socio-cultural structures which it has be fallen him to live in, he questions the politics of his state and the very foundations of his own ethos. But he questions the political, economic, and moral conditions of his life not because of his dissatisfaction with them, but because questioning constitutes one of the main building elements in the very construction of his subjectivity.
- Homo Europaeus is a man of open space. He knows that his thoughts, intentions and emotions can be real only through their expression in foro, so to speak, for only then they can return to the thinker and speaker as already formed (and we may add, as already informed and ready for other people’s use). For European culture is, by its own self-definition, the culture of transparence. That is why European ethos can not help reacting sharply, some times aggressively to all attempts to limit that open space by filling it up with institutions, and thereby encumbering the freedom of speech and movement of Europeans (still strongly desirous for exteriorisation of their speech and emotion). Wherefrom, the inborn European hostility to burocracy which can normally exists only in locked institutions and closed corporations.
- All this, however, is not to say that an ethological approach we have chosen to apply in these remarks excludes a structural methodology in an investigation of perspectives of Homo Europaeus. Simply feci quod potui, for the time being.