Jacques-Louis David: “Napoleon Crossing the Alps” (1801)
Having established in this way the modal nuclear moment of the historical aspect of experience [ie “formative power”], we may now turn to the analogical concept of historical development. The question we asked was whether the normative contrast between progressive and regressive tendencies in the process of historical development may be grounded in the modal structure [see circle diagram in PART 1] of the historical aspect of experience. To answer this question it is necessary to examine somewhat more fully the analogical moments of meaning of this structure.
The moment of development in history refers back beyond doubt to that kind of development which we find in the biotic aspect of experience. But it does not do so directly. The cultural‐historical aspect is immediately grounded in the logical aspect, that is, the aspect of analytical distinction. Rickert assumed that the historical mode of experience is constituted by a logical category of culture by means of which, in an individualizing manner, natural reality in space and time would be related to a supra‐temporal realm of values. This cannot be right. Culture is not a logical mode of experience. Without the logical foundation of the analytical mode of distinction, however, the historical mode of experience would be impossible. And this connection between the logical and historical aspects finds expression, in the modal structure of the latter, in analogies of the fundamental logical relations of identity, diversity, implication, and contradiction. I shall refer only to the analogy of the logical relation of contradiction in the historical mode of experience. A logical contradiction takes place when an argument contains two contradictory propositions. Such reasoning is called illogical, in contrast to a logical sequence of thought. This contrast is of a normative character since an illogical argument violates a fundamental norm of logical thought.
Now it is indisputable that in all aspects of experience which are grounded in the logical [note aspects above the analytical on yellow column of chart in PART 1] an analogy of this normative logical contrast is found. This is a strong indication of the normative character of these contrasts, which means that within these experiential modes human behavior is not subject to laws of nature but to norms. I refer to the contrasts between polite and impolite, decent and indecent, and so on, which function in the aspect of human social interaction; to the contrast between linguistically right and wrong, which functions within the linguistic aspect; to the contrasts between aesthetic and unaesthetic, lawful and unlawful, moral and immoral, believing and unbelieving, which function respectively in the aesthetic, juridical, and moral aspects, and in the aspect of faith, of our experiential horizon.
The contrast, then, between progressive and reactionary movements in the process of historical development is clearly an analogy of the logical relation of contradiction [Italics FMF]. It must be grounded in the inner structure of the historical aspect, since this aspect is also founded on the logical. If it makes sense to speak of the demands of historical development – and only those who are prejudiced by the dogma that even the so-called cultural sciences should refrain from any normative judgment refuse to do so – then the distinction between progressive and regressive tendencies cannot be the result of a merely subjective evaluation [Italics FMF].
Nobody who thinks really historically will deny that from a politico‐historical viewpoint the so called counter‐revolutionary movement in the first half of the nineteenth century, which strove for a restoration of the medieval Germanic feudal regime with its undifferentiated patrimonial conception of political authority, was of a reactionary character. This judgment will be independent of the question whether or not the ecclesiastically unified culture of the Middle Ages is admired, and whether or not the memory of those times is recalled with a kind of romantic desire. But on what objective norm of historical development may this judgment be founded?
The German historical school of jurisprudence, whose philosophical conception of history was strongly influenced by Herder and Schelling, has laid particular stress on the organic character of any true historical development. Taking the natural development of a living organism as a pattern, V. Savigny and his followers supposed that every nation brings forth its culture from its own individual “folk‐mind” in a process of organic continuity connecting the present and future with the past. But in the historical tradition of a people they distinguished both living and dead elements. The former are to be utilized in further development, but the latter should be sloughed off. As long as a national mind is really productive its culture, including its political and legal institutions, is the result of natural growth and not the artificial and mechanical product of a rationalistically minded epoch. It is evident that in this view the biotic analogy in historical development is strongly stressed. Nevertheless, there can be no question here of a naturalistic misinterpretation of cultural evolution; for this is excluded by the fact that in its philosophical background this organic view of history originated in the post‐Kantian German freedom‐idealism.
In line with Schelling, V. Savigny regarded history as a dialectical synthesis of autonomous freedom and natural necessity. The latter, however, was not envisaged as a mechanical causality governed by general natural laws. After Kant the humanistic basic motive of nature and freedom underwent an irrationalistic turn. The rationalistic conception eliminated all individuality from its world‐view by reducing all individual phenomena to general laws. The irrationalistic conception, on the other hand, started from the irreducible individuality of any real whole and denied its subjection to general rules. The historical school rejected the rationalistic natural‐law view of human society with its general a priori patterns of law and state, which it thought to be applicable to any people and any age.
Every nation [V. Savigny held] brings forth its own law and political constitution from the full individuality of its collective mind. It does so in autonomous freedom in the process of historical development and in an individual way. History lacks general laws. There is, nevertheless, a hidden law of providence (or “Schicksal” [“Destiny”, “Fate”, “Doom”] in a more pagan version) which directs this process in such a way that it also shows an inner natural necessity elevated above all human arbitrariness. This hidden law of the historical process, already to be found in Fichter’s philosophy of history, could not fail to assume an irrationality normative sense. And it was the Lutheran legal philosopher and statesman Fr. Julius Stahl who openly accepted this consequence. In his opinion all that has come about in a long process of historical development, under the influence of incalculable and inscrutable forces, without the interference of rational human planning, ought to be respected as a manifestation of God’s guidance in history, in so far as it does not contradict God’s revealed commandments.
This conception of God’s guidance in history was quite in line with the conservative mind of the Restoration. Apart from its romantic‐quietistic formulation, it had a great influence on the so-called Christian historical theory of the nineteenth century. The latter accepted the new historical mode of thinking as a powerful ally in the conflict with the principles of the French Revolution.
Meanwhile this ascription of a normative sense to God’s guidance in history was open to serious objections. These objections were amply set forth in a remarkable [break in text] this is defended in 1911 at the University of Leyden by A.C. Leendertz. From the theological viewpoint this author argued that God’s guidance embraces all that happens, both good and evil. For this reason this guidance pertains to God’s hidden counsel and cannot imply any norm for human behavior. From the philosophical viewpoint Leendertz attacked the normative conception of God’s guidance in history with the Kantian argument that empirical facts and norms belong to different worlds. If the factual course of history is elevated to a norm this is tantamount to a continuous acceptance of the “fait accompli”. If a governing dynasty is supposed to be justified by the fact that it had maintained its power over a long period of time, then a revolution overthrowing this dynasty is also justified after the lapse of time by a successful maintenance of its position.
This philosophical critique must fail inasmuch as it started from the Kantian separation between empirical facts and norms, which is a dualism, grounded in the dialectical humanistic motive of nature and freedom in its critical conception. It overlooked the consideration that historical facts are not given in the same way as natural events and that in the normative aspects of human experience [note aspects including and above the analytical on the yellow column of the chart in PART ONE] no single fact can be established without making use of a norm. It could not do justice to the view of the historical school since that latter did not mean to elevate any merely factual course of events to the level of a historical norm. The concept of organic historical development cannot have a merely factual content apart from a normative criterion whereby to establish what is and what is not in keeping with it. Savigny’s distinction between living and dead components in the historical tradition implied a rejection of any factual attempt to revive that which has lost its historical significance in the organic development of culture. It implied, in other words, a distinction between progressive and regressive movements in history. Thus it was manifestly based on a normative criterion.
But what was this criterion? In the ultimate issue it was derived from the individuality of the national mind, viewed as the true source of national culture and as a gift of Divine Providence having value in itself. It was supposed that organic continuity in cultural development was guaranteed only by the directive potency of the “Volksgeist” [“Spirit of the People” = “National Genius”, “National Character”] which operates in conformity with the hidden law of Providence. This irrationalistic view of the norm of historical evolution can lead to very dangerous consequences, especially if it is accompanied by a historicist view of the norms of law, morality, and faith. The Nazi movement in Germany was only too ready to welcome these consequences, as was apparent from Hitler’s assertion that Divine Providence had destined the German people to be a nation of rulers.
The subjective individuality of a national character can never be a cultural norm in itself [Italics FMF]. It will always show both good and bad traits, apart from the fact that it is very difficult to establish the characteristic traits of a particular nation as a whole. And even though it is considered a gift of God, it is certainly not left unaffected by sin.
If it be asked whether the historical school has not at least provided us with a clear criterion whereby we may distinguish between progressive and reactionary tendencies in the cultural process, the answer must be in the negative. The reason is that its conception of historical development clings exclusively to biotic analogies in the modal structure of the historical aspect [see circle diagram of Historical Aspect including analogies of all remaining aspects in PART 1]. Since this aspect is definitely grounded in that of organic life, these biotic analogies cannot fail to reveal themselves in the modal sense of the historical idea of development. Cultural movement and evolution are inherent in cultural life, and consequently V. Savigny’s distinction between living and dead elements in the historical tradition of a nation is well founded. The historical sense of this distinction is qualified by the nuclear moment of the historico‐cultural mode of experience. Living elements are those which have as yet formative power in a human community, whereas dead elements are those which have definitely lost this power, and have for the future only a folkloristic or merely theoretical historical importance.
But these biotic analogies are of a retrospective character. They refer backwards in order of time to an earlier aspect of our experiential horizon which lacks a normative character [note aspects BENEATH the analytical on yellow column of chart in PART 1]. Development in the modal sense of organic life, which is grounded in physico‐chemical processes, is not ruled by norms, but by biotic laws of nature. In the biotic aspect of time the development of a multi‐cellular living organism displays only the natural phases of birth, ripening, adolescence, age, and decline. But in historical development a normative human vocation reveals itself, a cultural task committed to humankind at the Creation. This task cannot be fulfilled except in the anticipatory direction of time, in which the historico‐cultural aspect of the temporal order depends (sic) [‘defends’? displays? fulfills? expresses? – FMF] its modal meaning by unfolding its anticipatory moments in referring forwards to post‐historical aspects.
Therefore the nuclear moment of the cultural [ie “historical”] mode of development, namely, formative power, itself has a normative sense, since it implies a normative cultural vocation, as is apparent from the Divine cultural command to subdue the earth [Gen 1:28]. Even the most terrible misuse of power in our sinful world cannot make power itself sinful, nor can it detract from the normative sense of man’s cultural vocation.
Until the cultural aspect of a human community discloses the anticipatory moments of its meaning, it shows itself to be in a rigid and primitive condition. The same holds good for those normative aspects which are grounded in the cultural [‘historical’, ‘formative power’ aspect], namely, the linguistic aspect of symbolic signification, the aspect of social interaction, the economic, aesthetic, juridical, and moral aspects, and the aspect of faith. Primitive cultures are enclosed in small and undifferentiated communities which display a strong tendency towards isolation. As long as such primitive communities maintain their isolation in history there can be no question of cultural development in the sense in which it is taken in historiography proper.
They display a totalitarian aspect, since they include their members in all the spheres of their personal life, and the temporal existence of the individual is completely dependent on membership of the family or sib respectively and of the tribal community. There is not yet room for a differentiation of culture in the particular sphere of [“historical”] formative power, those, namely, of science, the fine arts, commerce and industry, politics, religion, and so on. Since such undifferentiated communities fulfill all the tasks for which, on a higher level of civilization, particular organizations are formed, there is only one single undifferentiated cultural sphere. A rigid tradition, deified by a pagan belief, and anxiously guarded by the leaders of the group, has the monopoly of formative power. The process by which such cultures are developed shows, in fact, only biotic analogies of the phases of birth, ripening, adolescence, age, and decline. The duration of their existence is dependent on that of the small popular or tribal communities by which they are sustained. They may vanish from the scene without leaving any trace in the history of mankind.
The situation in the historical development of opened‐up cultures is quite different. From the ancient cultural centers of world history, such as Babylon, Egypt, Palestine, Crete, Greece, Rome, Byzantium, essential tendencies of development passed over into medieval and modern Western civilizations. They fertilized the Germanic and Arabian cultures and this fertilization has given rise to new forms of civilization. This opened‐up cultural development has been freed from rigid dependence upon the living conditions of small popular or tribal communities. It does not move within the narrow bounds of a closed and undifferentiated cultural community, but, like a fertilizing stream, it is always seeking new channels along which to continue its course.
The process whereby a culture is opened up always occurs in a conflict between the guardians of tradition and the propounders of new ideas [Italics FMF]. The formative power of tradition is enormous, for in a concentrated form it embodies cultural treasures amassed in the course of centuries. Every generation is historically bound to former generations by its tradition. We are all dominated by it to a much greater degree than we realize. In a primitive closed culture its power is nearly absolute. In an opened‐up culture tradition is no longer unassailable, but it has the indispensable role of guarding that measure of continuity in the cultural development without which cultural life would be impossible.
In the struggle with the power of tradition the progressive ideas of so called molders of history have themselves to be purged of their revolutionary subjectivity and adjusted to the modal norm of historical continuity. Even Jacob Burckhardt, who was strongly affected by the historicist relativism, held to this norm of continuity as a last guarantee against the decline of all civilization. It is, of course, nothing but an illusion to imagine that a cultural revolution can destroy all bonds with the past and begin with the revolutionary year one.
The opening‐up process of culture is characterized by the destruction of the undifferentiated and exclusive power of primitive communities. It is a process of cultural differentiation which is balanced by an increasing cultural integration. It is affected by the bursting of the rigid walls of isolation which have enclosed the primitive culture and by submitting the latter to fruitful contact with civilizations which have already been opened up.
Since Herbert Spencer the criterion of differentiation and integration has been accepted by many sociologists for the distinction between more highly developed and primitive societies. The process of differentiation was viewed as a consequence of division of labor, and an attempt was made to explain it in a natural scientific manner. But I do not understand the term “cultural differentiation” in this pseudo‐natural scientific sense.
Much rather I have in mind a differentiation in the typical structures of individuality of social relationships. In the cultural‐historical aspect of these relationships this process of differentiation finds expression in the rise of a rich diversity of typical cultural spheres, each of which is characterized by a leading function of a distinct normative modality belonging to a post‐historical aspect of experience [note aspects above the Historical on yellow column of chart in PART 1]. Differentiated cultural spheres, such as those of science, the fine arts, commerce and industry, politics, religion, and so on, can be realized only on the basis of the opening‐up process of history. But this does not mean that the typical structures of their individuality are themselves of a variable historical character. Since these structures determine the inner nature of the differentiated relationships of society and their typical cultural spheres, they must belong to the order of creation in its temporal diversity which is also the order of our experiential horizon. It is only the social forms in which they are realized that vary in the process of historical development.
The irrationalistic trend in historicism started from the absolute individuality of any socio‐cultural community. But this trend overlooked the typical structures of individuality which determine the inner total nature of these communities and which, as such, cannot be of a variable historical character, Nevertheless it is true that the process of cultural differentiation and integration is at the same time a process of increasing individualization of human culture, in so far as it is only in a culture which has been opened up and differentiated that individuality assumes a really historical significance. It is true that in primitive closed cultural areas individuality is not lacking. But in consequence of the rigid dominance of tradition this individuality retains a certain traditional uniformity, so that from generation to generation such closed cultures display in general the same individual features. It is for this reason that historiography in its proper sense takes no interest in these cultural individualities.
As soon, however, as the process of differentiation and integration commences, the historical task of individual cultural dispositions and talents becomes manifest. Every individual contribution to the opening up of the cultural aspect of human society is a contribution to the cultural development of mankind which has a world‐wide perspective [Italics FMF]. Accordingly the individuality of cultural leaders and groups assumes a deepened historical sense.
It is the opening‐up process of human culture also which alone can give rise to national individualities. A nation viewed as a socio‐cultural unit should be sharply distinguished from the primitive ethnical unity which is called a popular or tribal community. A real national cultural whole is not a natural product of blood and soil, but the result of a process of differentiation and integration in the cultural formation of human society. In a national community all ethnical differences between the various groups of a population are integrated into a new individual whole which lacks the undifferentiated totalitarian traits of a closed and primitive unit of society [Italics FMF].
Example of SPATIAL RETROCIPATION sequence
(Lingual Aspect to Sensory Aspect)
(Click to enlarge)
It was, therefore, an unmistakable proof of the reactionary character of the Nazi myth of blood and soil that it tried to undermine the national consciousness of the Germanic peoples by reviving the primitive ethnic idea of “Volkstum” [“ethnicity”/ “national characteristics” etc]. Similarly, it is an unmistakable proof of the retrograde tendency of all modern totalitarian political systems that they attempt to annihilate the process of cultural differentiation and individualization by a methodical mental equalizing (“Gleichschaltung” [enforced conformity]) of all cultural spheres, thereby implying a fundamental denial of the value of the individual personality in the opening‐up process of history.
The counter‐revolutionary political movement in the first half of the nineteenth century which strove for a restoration of the feudal regime in its broader sense, with its undifferentiated patrimonial conception of political authority, was doubtless also of a reactionary character. It wished to restore a political system which was incompatible with the national integration and the idea of the state. For this reason it was doomed to disappear as soon as the progressive line of politico‐historical development of the latter were realized. In the opening‐up process of history any undifferentiated particularism in political power formation should be overcome since it contradicts the norm of politico‐historical differentiation and integration. This norm, however, is not of a merely modal historical character since it is oriented to the typical structural principle of the state as a res publica [“Public Thing/Affair”, “Republic” (French “république”, from Middle French “republique”, from Latin “respublica”, from “res” thing, wealth + “publica”, feminine of “publicus” public. Merriam-Webster)] which in its historical aspect implies a monopolistic organization of the power of the sword serviceable in the public interest of the body politic.
Since the opening‐up process of the cultural‐historical aspect occurs in the anticipatory or progressive direction of the temporal order, it must be possible to indicate the anticipatory moments in which the dynamic coherence of meaning between this aspect and the subsequently arranged normative modes reveals itself. To begin with, the progressive opening‐up process of history is characterized by the manifestation of a linguistic anticipation. The linguistic aspect of our experiential horizon is that of communication by the medium of signs which have a symbolical meaning. In the opening‐up process of historical development facts assume a historical significance which gives rise to a symbolical signifying of their historical meaning.
Hegel and Von Ranke held that history proper did not start before the need arose to preserve the memory of historical events by means of chronicles, records, and other materials. The so called Kulturkreislehre [something like: “Science of the Field of Culture”] in ethnology, which seeks to trace genetic continuity in the cultural life of mankind from the so called primeval cultures of pre‐history on to civilizations at the highest level of development, has denied that the presence of memorials can be of any essential importance for the delimitation of the historical field of research. As Frobenius has said, history is action, and in comparison with this how inessential is its symbolical recording!
The truth is, however, that such a depreciation of the rise of historical memorials as regards their significance for the historical development of mankind testifies to a lack of insight into the modal structure of the opening‐up process of culture. For the rise of such memorials is an unquestionable criterion of the historical opening up of a civilization. It cannot by inessential that in primitive societies historical memorials, or at least reliable oral historical information, are lacking and that only mythological representations of the genesis and development of their culture are found. The relatively uniform course of their process of development has not yet given Mnemosyne any material worth recording as memorable in a really historical sense. An as yet closed historical consciousness clings to the biotic analogies in cultural development and inclines to a mythological interpretation of its course under the influence of a primitive religion of nature.
The manifestation of symbolical or linguistic anticipation in the opening‐up process of the historical aspect of experience is indissolubly linked to a manifestation of cultural interaction between different nations which are caught up in the stream of world history. Cultural interaction in this international sense is an anticipatory moment in history referring forwards to the opening up of the modal aspect of social interaction with its specific norms of good breeding, courtesy, and so on. A manifestation of such cultural interaction means that a national culture is opened up to the formative power of foreign cultural activity, so that there is a continuous mutual exchange of cultural life between the nations. Since without such a free cultural exchange the historical opening‐up process cannot make headway, any attempt by a totalitarian regime to impede or exclude this free cultural contact must be considered reactionary. The normative criterion lying at the foundation of this judgment is not of a merely subjective character since it proves to be grounded in the modal structure of the historical opening‐up process. This may be verified by observing the consequences for a highly developed nation of cultural isolation. It is for this reason that such reactionary measures of a totalitarian regime cannot be sustained in the long run.
Since the process of cultural differentiation leads to an increasing typical diversity of cultural spheres, there is a constant danger that one of these spheres may try to expand its formative power in an excessive manner at the expense of the others. Indeed, since the dissolution of the ecclesiastically unified culture which prevailed in medieval Western civilization there has been a running battle between the emancipated cultural spheres to acquire the supremacy over each other.
In the opening‐up process of history, therefore, the preservation of a harmonious relationship between the differentiated spheres of culture becomes a vital interest of the entire human society. But this cultural harmony can be guaranteed only if the process of historical development complies with the normative principle of cultural economy which forbids any excessive expansion of the formative power of a particular cultural sphere at the expense of the others [Italics FMF]. Here the aesthetic and economic anticipations in the historical aspect [note green “aesthetic” and “economic” anticipatory moments in circle diagram in PART 1] reveal themselves in their unbreakable inner coherence.
Both principles, that of cultural economy and that of cultural harmony, appeal to the inner nature of the differentiated cultural spheres as determined by the typical structures of individuality of the circles of society to which they belong. It is my conviction that these structures of individuality are grounded in the order of creation, whereby due bounds are assigned to every temporal entity in accordance with its inner nature. In the opening‐up process of human culture, as soon as these bounds are ignored through an excessive expansion of the formative power of a particular cultural sphere, disastrous tensions and conflicts arise in human society. This may evoke convulsive reactions on the part of those cultural spheres which are threatened, or it may even lead to the complete ruin of a civilization, unless counter‐tendencies in the process of development manifest themselves before it is too late and acquire sufficient cultural power to check the excessive expansion of power of a particular cultural factor.
It is in such consequences of the violation of the principles of cultural economy and harmony in the historical opening‐up process that a juridical anticipation in history comes to light. At this point we find ourselves confronted with the Hegelian utterance: “die Weltgeschichte ist das Weltgericht” [“The history of the world is the judgment of the world”]. I do not accept this dictum in the sense in which Hegel meant it; but that the violation of the normative principles to which the opening‐up process of the cultural aspect of history is subject is avenged in the course of world history may be verified by observing the consequences of such violation.
Example of JURIDICAL ANTICIPATION sequence
(Sensory Aspect to Juridical Aspect)
(Click to enlarge)
When finally the question is asked what is the deepest cause of disharmony in the opening‐up process of history we come face to face with the problem concerning the relationship between faith and culture and with the religious basic motives which operate in the central sphere of human life. The disharmony in question belongs, alas, to the progressive line of cultural development, since it can only reveal itself in the historical opening‐up process of cultural differentiation. In a primitive closed culture the conflicts and tensions which are in particular to be observed in modern Western civilization cannot occur. As a consequence of the fact that any expansion of the formative power of mankind gives rise to an increasing manifestation of human sin, the historical opening‐up process is marked by blood and tears, and it does not lead to an earthly paradise.
What, then, is the sense in this entire extreme endeavor, conflict, and misery to which humanity submits in order to fulfill its cultural task in the world? Radical historicism, as it manifested itself in all its consequences in Spengler’s Decline of the West, deprived the history of humankind of any hope for the future and made it meaningless. This is the result of the absolutization of the historical aspect of experience; for we have seen that the latter can only reveal its significance in an unbreakable coherence with all the other aspects of our temporal experiential horizon; and this horizon itself refers to the human ego as its central point of reference both in its spiritual communion with all other human egos and in its central relationship to the Divine Author of all that has been created.
In the ultimate issue that problem of the meaning of history revolves on the central question: What is humanity itself and what is its origin and its final destination? Outside of the biblical basic motive of creation, the fall, and redemption through Jesus Christ, no real answer is, in my opinion, to be found to this question. The conflicts and dialectical tensions which occur in the process of the opening‐up of human culture result from the absolutization of what is relative. And every absolutization takes its origin from the spirit of apostasy, from the spirit of the civitas terrena [earthly city], as Augustine called it.
There would be no future hope for humankind and for the whole process of human cultural development, if Jesus Christ had not become the spiritual centre of world history. This centre is bound neither to the Western nor to any other civilization, but it will lead the new humanity as a whole to its true destination, since it has conquered the world by the love revealed in its self‐sacrifice.