Classic Virtues in International Relations   (Published: 08.10.2019)

Reality consists of the material and spiritual dimensions. The material dimension is the primary one upon which the spiritual dimension is built. Consciousness is structured through a three-dimensional time dimension. The past and the future of human consciousness are more easily identifiable sections, whereas the reality of the present is difficult to determine in terms of the "veto" of understanding. The past and the future are static by nature, whereas the present is dynamic and diverse. Reality is determined by time and space. Unity is a phenomenon independent of time and space.

Classic virtues

One can view the world with oneness. Oneness is more than the beginning and the end of something. It is part of the immaterial dimension of everything. Virtues are part of oneness. Cardinal virtues refer to the qualities that distinguish man from other creatures and animals. Aristotle, a Greek thinker who lived in the third century before the beginning of our present era, taught that there are four cardinal virtues in life (1) wisdom, (2) justice, (3) reasonableness, and (4) courage.

Later, in the 13th century, Thomas Aquinas, a philosopher and mentor of the Catholic Church, wrote more about this and agreed with Aristotle that virtues are an integral part of human life. He added three more virtues to them. As stated in Paul's First Corinthian Epistle to the New Testament of Christianity: (5) faith, (6) hope, and (7) love were also cardinal virtues. These seven virtues form the basis of the canon and values ​​of Western man and communion.

Church and religion

The religions of the western and industrialized world (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) included in their doctrine’s classical virtues in the moral concepts that guided individuals and communities, which also spread widely, including in the laws of the church and subsequent secular states.

However, there was an internal conflict with the spiritual heritage and material reality in the functioning, regulation, and leadership of the Church State. The Church alienated itself from directing spiritual life, and the focus of affairs shifted to the material dimension. The contents and doctrines of the Church's teaching became secular. Holiness lost its significance as material values ​​became central to the operation of the ecclesiastical state and churches. It was no longer found in religious life as it was in the past centuries of the Church.

 The development of a secular state  

As the Church and the religious institution no longer met people's expectations of maintaining the order of the spiritual dimension, social life began to be secularized and replaced by new things and social structures from Europe all over the world.

Reformations and church reform were the first reactions because the position of church and religion was so central in the world at that time. Alongside it began a renewal of secular life independent of the Church. The liberation of the arts and sciences took place in the 15th century, a renaissance that expanded to exploration and change of worldview with great inventions in the 17th century. Initially, secular reformation focused on the material dimension of life.

As a result of these changes, spiritual life and thinking in social issues took off from a new perspective. This development is known during the Enlightenment. As a result, a new rule of law and power-sharing doctrine in the construction of a secular state were born. The new structure replaced holiness based on ecclesiastical good doctrine with more secular "what-is-right" notions of man and human equality. The birth of a constitutional state in the United States in 1787 created a new kind of thinking and goals for the state later in the world.

The birth of colonialism

During the Turkish Seljuks' reign (800 -1200), a European euphoric conquest of the world began, along with a declining ecclesiastical development. At the same time, the focus began to shift from Rome towards Byzantium and the struggling power between Kiev and Moscow-centered Russia. The crusades to the Holy Land and to northern Scandinavia and to the regions of Moscow-centered Russia in the early stages of their state development, were also the prelude to the future division of Europe.

Although the time of Enlightenment is predominantly regarded as a "great advance", particularly in the history of Western Europe and the new continent settlers, it also has its downside in world history. The top leadership of the powerful secular states supported expeditions and wanted to expand beyond their own realm to gain new economic benefits from this expansion.

In the past, the Silk Road acted as a win-win interaction system in the then world order. By contrast, the subsequent actions of European states in their own overseas countries during colonial policies are by no means the most glorious time in European history.

The role of knowledge in change

The reason for this development is the low level of education of the people and the lack of control in Western European countries. Already during the Renaissance there was a general interest in raising the level of education and skills in Europe. That improvement in the level of education was related to the development of the material dimension at the expense of raising the general level of education. In Europe, university and vocational education increased with the introduction of empiricism in teaching about the surrounding world and associated research, at the expense of the development of the spiritual dimension. The great inventions of the 17th century also had a huge impact on social and infrastructure development.

In the context of the 19th century industrial revolution and reform, knowledge had two meanings and functions. It was a tool for organizing industrial production and streamlining production methods. Skilled labor played a role in both agriculture and industrial production, which is a significant win-win period in the history of education for the development of the education sector.

In the history of ideology, the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century were the most significant period in political history. In Western and Eastern Europe and in the United States, there were several competing schools that created different models for the spiritual and social dimension. Russia was left out of this ideological evolution because it still had the old doctrine of power, where power comes directly to the ruler from God. This tradition continued after the Socialist Revolution of 1917 as the "continuation of CPSU’s prerogatives" until the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.

In post-World War II development, both Western and Eastern European countries embraced computerization and the information revolution with similar euphoria. In Western Europe and western industrialized countries, computerization took the form of an inductive bottom-up process. Whereas the computerization of the socialist camp took place as a deductive top-down process of change as part of the scientific-technological development of the socialist society.

Equality and human rights

The world has changed with the times when the vision based on virtue ethics was born and developed in Western countries through the educational constructions of ecclesiastical and later model states. In the Middle Ages conflicts also emerged between dominant religious beliefs and secular governmental systems of government. Initially, the controversy was about truth and orthodoxy. Since the discovery, in the context of current industrial and IT-based post-industrial developments, contradictions have been and continue to be based almost exclusively on income disparities between different population groups and the lack of countervailing social policies.

The birth of the labor movement and the development of liberalism in Europe were of great importance to the state development of the 19th and 20th centuries. They were based on increasing awareness of the mechanisms of society and the rights of people to be treated fairly as members of society. The post-Enlightenment revolution in ideology also began to manifest as a change in virtue ethics. When the old ecclesiastical "poor care" did not work in industrial development, it was replaced by "social development and social policy" to bridge social income disparities between the various strata of the West.

Division of labor between actors

The world has changed in two ways - through trade and international cooperation. Both have caused us to use force and wars. There have been many reasons. Man is no different from the rest of creation in matters of territory. Every person born here must have the space and the right to exist. Unless otherwise obtained, it must be taken from others or defended by what is already there - even by using force.

Increasing level of oceans as a result of global warming and melting of glaciers is already a visible global problem and various solutions are being sought. The problem is real. A solution must be found. Any reasoned proposal, regardless of who is behind it, should be able to be evaluated by existing international cooperation bodies.

The Sustainable Development Program should also include space and resources for actors outside the G2G layer. Over the millennia, the world has reached its present course of action. Intergovernmental cooperation has only begun as a result of the combined efforts of the two world wars and the coordination of reconstruction, following the model of the Congress of Vienna 1813-1815. There have been problems throughout the written history of mankind. They have been solved either alone or together with others. Not always successful.

Eighth virtue

There is room for one additional virtue known in almost all ethical codes of different religions in the world. Religions and holiness still have a social role to play. In the current Jewish-Christian tradition, this missing ring is known as the eighth commandment in the Ten Commandments. It urges you to avoid making false statements about your neighbor and reality. In addition to divine revelation, all ten commandments have a secular basis for including that command in this collection of cardinal virtues. Each must explain to himself how cardinal virtues and virtue ethics relate to sustainable development and its implementation.

© Heikki K. Auvinen / Asumer Oy, 2019


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