Essentials Of Unification Thought - The Head-Wing Thought
V. Traditional Views of History
Next I will present an overview of the representative traditional view of history, discuss various weak points in each of them, and attempt to clarify the historical significance of the Unification View of History.
A. The Cyclical View of History (Fatalist View of History)
The ancient Greeks considered that just as the four seasons of spring, summer, autumn, and winter repeat themselves year after year, so does history follow a cyclical course. For them, history was just a repetition of destined events, which could not be affected by human power, so that history had no meaning or goal. This view of history is called "cyclical view of history," or fatalist view of history. Representative historians of this view were Herodotus (ca. 484-425 BC), who is called the father of history and wrote History, and Thucydides (ca. 460-400 BC), who wrote History of the Peloponnesian War. Herodotus depicted the Persian war in the epic manner, whereas Thucyclides depicted the Pelponnesian War from beginning to end in a manner that was faithful to the historical facts. What these two men had in common, though, was the idea that history repeats itself. 14
The cyclical view of history does not admit that the development of history depends on human effort, because it accepts the development of circumstances as necessary. Also, it cannot offer a future image of the world, because it sees no goal in history.
B. The Providential View of History
In contrast to the Greek view of history, which asserts that history has no beginning or end or goal but only repeats itself in circular motion, Christianity presented a fundamentally different view of history, which asserted that history has a beginning and advances in a straight line toward a definite goal.
That is to say, its assertions were that history started with the creation and tile human fall, that it is a salvation history leading to tile Last judgment, and that what drives history is God's providence. Such a view of history is called "providential view of history," or "Christian view of history."
It was St. Augustine (354-430) who systematized tile Christian view of history. Augustine depicted history as a history of struggle between the City of God (Civilas Dei), where God-loving people live, and the City of tile World (Civilas Ierrena), where the people who have yielded to the temptation of Satan live, and asserted that tile City of God would finally win victory in the end and would establish eternal peace. This course of history occurred according to a plan predestined by God, according to this view.
Human history, from the fall to consummation, is divided into six periods:
(1) from Adam to Noah's flood,
(2) from Noah to Abraham,
(3) from Abraham to David,
(4) from David to the Babylonian captivity,
(5) from the Babylonian captivity to the birth of Christ, and
(6) from the first coming to the second coming of Christ.
How long the sixth period would last was left unstated.
Through this Christian view of history, history became meaningful in the sense that it pursues a certain goal; still, the human being was no more than an instrument moved by God. The content of this view is so mysterious that it is regarded as unacceptable as a social science today.
C The Spiritual View of History (Progressive View of History)
During the Renaissance Age, the theological views of history gradually faded away, and in the Enlightenment Age of the eighteenth century, a new view of history came to appear. According to that new view of history, it was the human being, rather than God's providence, that drove history. The view considered that history was progressing in a straight line and necessarily according to the progress of the human spirit. This view of history is called "spiritual view of history," or "progressive view of history."
Giambattista Vico (1668-1744) recognized God's providence in history, but lie considered that tire secular world was formed by human beings, and asserted that history should not be explained by God's will alone. In his understanding of history, God was pushed to the background, and human beings were put to the fore. 15
Voltaire (1694-1778) excluded God's power working upon history. He asserted that it wits not God, but rather the people with higher education, who had mastered science, namely, enlightened people, that drove history.
Marquis de Condorcet (1743-94) asserted that, if human reason were awakened, history would progress with harmony between science and ethics.
Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) said that tile purpose of history is to develop all human capacities in an international society consisting of a league of nations and advocated "universal history from a cosmopolitan point of view."
The romanticist philosopher I. G. Herder (1744-1803) asserted that the development of human nature is the goal of history.
Hegel (1770-1831) grasped history as the "self-realization of the spirit," or the "self-realization of the Idea." It was his view that reason rules the world, and that world history progresses rationally. This reason that rules the world was called "tile world spirit." He thought that reason manipulates human beings, and called this "the trick of reason." Hegel's view of history is called "spiritual view of history," or "idealistic view of history."
Hegel thought that a rational state, where the Idea of freedom would be realized, was to come into being in Prussia; in reality, however, that did not take place, and social problems such as exploitation and human alienation became more serious. Thus, as a revolt against Hegel's philosophy of history, historical materialism appeared.
D. Historical Materialism
In contrast to Hegel, who advocated a spiritual view of history and asserted that it is Idea that drives history, Marx asserted that it is material forces that drive history, and presented "the materialist conception of history," namely, "historical materialism" (also called "revolutionary view of history").
According to the materialist conception of history, what drives history is the development of the productive forces, rather than the development of the spirit. Corresponding to the development of productive forces, certain relations of production are established. While the productive forces developed steadily, the relations of production, once established, became fixed and eventually turned into fetters against the development of the productive forces. Therefore, class struggle took place between the class that sought to maintain the old relations of production (ruling class) and the class that was the bearer of the productive forces and sought new relations of production (ruled class). Accordingly, history has been a history of class struggle. In capitalist society, this class struggle reaches its peak and revolution occurs. The proletariat, which is the ruled class, overthrows the bourgeoisie, which is the ruling class. As a result, Communist society, which is the "kingdom of freedom" without classes, is realized.
It is obvious by now that the materialist conception of history, also, is erroneous. When one examines the laws of the materialist conception of history, all of them are found to be merely dogmatic assertions. For example, the development of productive forces is regarded as material development, but no materialistic dialectical explanation is given concerning how the productive forces develop. Also, the Communist societies that have come into being through revolution, like the Soviet Union, are not the kingdom of freedom, but on the contrary are dictatorial suites that trample down human nature, and also the societies in which productivity is extremely stagnant. These facts prove the errors of the materialist conception of history more eloquently than anything else.
E. The Philosophy-of-Life View of History
W. Dilthey (1833-1911) and G. Simmel (1858-1918) asserted that history grows with the growth of life.
According to Dilthey, life is a human experience, and the experience is always expressed and manifests in the external world. The manifestation of experience is the world of history and culture. Therefore, the cultural system, including religion, philosophy, art, science, politics, and law, is the objectifications of life.
Simmel asserted similarly that history is the expression of life. Life is a stream that continues infinitely. And life's "stream of becoming" makes history. 16
According to the philosophy-of-life view of history, the pain and unhappiness of humankind, as recorded in history, are regarded as inevitable phenomena that accompany the growth of life. Accordingly, the question of how people could be liberated from pain and unhappiness remained unsolved in philosophy of life.
F. The Cultural View of History
In Europe before World War 1, trust in the progress and development of history was not shaken. In addition, it was believed that history was developing centering around Europe. It was Oswald Spengler (1880-1936) who crushed this linear, Eurocentric image of history.
Spengler advocated a cultural view of history, asserting that the foundation of history is culture. He regarded culture as an organism, and considered that, a culture is born, grows, and dies, and therefore its death is inevitable. In Western civilization, lie found symptoms of impending decline, which correspond to the decline of Greece and Rome, and predicted the decline of the West. He advocated that, knowing in advance of the decline of the West, one should live by accepting the inevitable destiny without falling into pessimism. There was a strong tie with Nietzsche on this point. Spengler's view of history was deterministic.
Under a strong influence of Spengler, Arnold, Toynbee (1889-1975) established his unique cultural view of history. According to Toynbee, the essential entity that constitutes world history is not a region, an ethnic people, or a nation, but a civilization. He said that each civilization passes through the stages of genesis, growth, breakdown, disintegration, and dissolution.
The cause of the genesis of a civilization is found in the human response to challenges from the natural environment or the social environment. Creative minorities foster new civilization while guiding the mass of people, but when the creative minorities eventually lose creativity, the civilization breaks down. The creative minorities turn into ruling minorities, and the "internal proletariat" within the civilization and the "external proletariat" surrounding it are born and separate themselves from the ruling minorities. Society falls into confusion, but eventually a "universal state" is established by the strongest among the ruling minorities, bringing an end to the period of turmoil. Under the oppressive rule of the world state, the internal proletariat nurtures a "higher religion" and the external proletariat forms "the barbarian war-bands." Thus, the universal state, the higher religion and the war-bands constitute the three fractions. Eventually the higher religion becomes a "universal church" by converting the ruling classes, but the universal state soon collapses, and together with it, the civilization meets its death.
Thus, after the first civilization has disappeared, the external proletariat invades and becomes converted to the higher religion, giving birth to a civilization of the new generation. The relationship of such old and new civilizations is called "apparentation-and-afliliation." The fully grown civilizations in world history were twenty-one civilizations. All of the present civilizations are in the third generation, and are separated into the four lineages of Christian civilization (the West, Greek orthodoxy), Islamic civilization, Hindu civilization, and the Far East civilization. This succession of civilization through three generations, as advocated by Toynbee, correspond to the providential synchronism in three generations in the Unification View of History (the Providential Age for the Foundation of Restoration, the Providential Age of Restoration, and the Providential Age of the Prolongation of Restoration).
It is characteristic of Toynbee's view of history that it excludes determinism and asserts non-determinism and the theory of free will. In other words, how human beings respond to challenges depends on their free will. Therefore, the way in which history proceeds is never predetermined, but people can choose their future.
Toynbee clearly envisions the City of God (Civilas Dei) as the future image of human history. Yet, from his non-deterministic position, he said that the choice of the Kingdom of God, or the kingdom of night for the future depends on people's free will. He said as follows:
Under the law of love, which is the law of God's own being, God's self-sacrifice challenges Man by setting before him the ideal of spiritual perfection; and Man has perfect freedom to accept or reject this. The law of love leaves Man as free to be a sinner as to be a saint; it leaves him free to choose whether his personal and his social life shall be a progress towards the Kingdom of God or the kingdom of night. 17
Another characteristic of Toynbee's view of history is his introduction of God, which modern society appears to have forgotten, into his view of history. He says,
What do we mean by History? And the writer ... would reply that lie meant by History a vision -- dim and partial, yet (he believed) true to reality as far as it went-of God revealing Himself in action to souls that were sincerely seeking Him. 18
G. Traditional Views of History Seen From The Unification View of History
Having presented outlines of traditional views of history, I will now compare them with the Unification view of history, and will attempt to show that the Unification view of history unities the traditional views of history.
First, there is the question whether history should be seen as circular movement or linear movement. The Greek cyclical view of history and Spengler's cultural view of history grasped history as circular movement, whereas the Christian view, the progressive view, and the materialist view regard history as linear movement. The philosophy-of-life view held that history develops along with the growth of a stream of life. That view could be seen as a modification of the progressive view.
If history is grasped as linear movement, we can have hope in the development of history, but we are left without a good understanding of the breakdowns and revivals in human history. On the other hand, when we regard history as a circular movement, nations and cultures become destined to perish, and we are left without any hope.
The Unification view of history grasps history from the two aspects of re-creation and restoration and understands its development as a movement that has the two aspects, namely, linear forward movement and circular movement, or therefore, as a spiral movement. That is, it views history as a spiral movement that has both the forward-moving nature of developing toward a goal (realization of the original ideal world of creation) and the circular movement nature of restoring the lost original ideal world through the law of indemnity by establishing providential figures.
Second, there is the question of determinism and non-determinism. Such views of history as the Greek fatalist view, which holds that history moves inevitably according to a given destiny, and Spengler's cultural view, were deterministic. The providential view, which holds that history proceeds according to God's providence, can also be regarded as deterministic. Hegel's view, which holds that reason, or the world spirit, drives history, and the materialist view, which holds that history inevitably reaches the Communist society according to the development of productive forces, also are deterministic. All of these views assert that some super-human power drives history. Under such types of determinism, the human being is no more than a being dragged along by history, and it is impossible to change history through efforts based on people's free will.
On the other hand, Toynbee advocated non-determinism from his position of the theory of free will. That is, he asserted that the way in which history proceeds is chosen by people's free will. In Toynbee's non-deterministic position, however, the future image of history remains ambiguous, and therefore we are left without any real hope for the future. In contrast, the Unification view of history takes the position that the goal of history is determined, but that the process of history is non-deterministic because the accomplishment of providential events requires the fulfillment of the human portion of responsibility in addition to God's portion of responsibility. In other words, the Unification view of history has both aspects of determinism and non-determinism; this is called "theory of responsibility."
When we compare the traditional views of history with the Unification view of history in this way, we find that the traditional views have each emphasized a portion of the Unification view, and that the Unification view is a comprehensive, unifying view of history. Also, Toynbee's view of history is similar in many ways to the Unification View of History. From a providential viewpoint, Toynbee's view of history can be regarded as having the preparation for the appearance of the Unification view of history. That is to say, Toynbee's view had the mission of linking traditional views of history with the Unification view of history.
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