PART ONE: CULTURE
Traditionally there has been a European idea of values which is a universal concept of culture as life endowed with purpose. This notion of culture was not only born from spiritual creativity, it also engendered that spiritual creativity, and as such was self-generating. In its origins it was a humanistic idea, but that has been distorted and sullied by nationalistic, romantic notions that are basically anti-human, species-separating concepts. Now, the admirable and purposeful idea of culture has been reduced to a minutely marginal non-importance and is more closely associated with utopian fantasies rather than being the cultural-wing of any political agenda.
The rise of nihilism and the spirit of the homo economicus castrated the great idea of Culture (with a capital C) and guided its tamed, gelding spirit into the stables of the marketplace, reducing it to the status of commodities. As something that can be bought and sold, culture (with a small c) became intelligible for Wealth (with a capital W) and once that Wealth knew what it was handling, it could welcome culture into its system.
But the sterilized culture is not the same as the purposeful Culture. Culture with a capital c does not now exist beyond the realms of the hypothetical, and if it did exist once it must now be pronounced as lost, or dead. Meanwhile, the sickness inflicting culture in Europe could very well be a direct consequence of this disassociation, because:
A) The idea of Culture has not completely disappeared. A phantasmagorical remnant of it still exists in the ideal realm and that is capable of producing nostalgia for the purposeful, even though it never really existed. We are expected to believe that any absurd search for the ghost of something that never even properly was, is a sad, sick neurosis.
But even worse than the neurotic craving for the never-existent is:
B) A morbid belief that Culture is something dangerous and even seditious, and that we must be on our guards against it all the time. This idea sees Culture reflected in the ideological, nationalistic spirits maintained by the likes of Wagner, or they reduce it to that which threatens their self-esteem by positing the virtues of the intellectual and unintelligible.
Pop-culture is nihilism’s rejection and refutation of Culture. The Beatles proved that culture didn’t have to be difficult to be good. With pop-music and Hollywood cinema, culture was blasted into being a great commodity, and it became an enormous industry. Pop-music and film were the nihilistic bridges bringing culture and capitalism together.
Another way of looking at culture is as a kind of reaction by human beings (societies and individuals) to the needs created by their environment. Seen like this, culture becomes a kind of technological evolution driven by needs for survival or adaptation to environments. Some of the needs are created by hostile environments, but not always. Of course, the environmental reason for culture explains why there are so many diverse human cultures.
But how does all this apply to the grand idea of European or Human Culture?
Our environment now is dominated by our economics. We are what we can buy. We are what we can earn through our labour. We are the money that we have or are capable of manipulating. We are this homo economicus because we live and breathe money inside a bubble created by the economy. Our environment is the economy.
Perceived in this light we can see that if culture is our spirit, then that spirit is an economic one as well. Money is our body and soul: it is the nature and spirit of society.
No wonder it feels like society is sick.
With apologies to the ecosphere, the environment in which humans dwell, is, for the most part, a human-made environment – and if human-made sounds somewhat exaggerated, then at least we can talk about its human-acclimatisation.
Throughout the world, the phenomena of acclimatisations are often radically different. One way we like to measure these differences is via the concept of standards of living. Here the System tries to bring in its own technological theme and it attempts to measure its progress and, from that, its successes, via the concept of improving living-standards.
Yes, all this is far-removed from the human purposiveness inherent in the grand idea of European Culture. Living standards are means of success through acclimatisation that have nothing to do with spirit and purpose. The lures of living standards are comfort and happiness through comfort. The drawbacks one faces once one embraces this culture-of-comfort is an obligatory compromise to conformity.
Nevertheless, in the historical process of acclimatisation, humanity also developed a second path away from the merely material necessities into other psychological, theoretical or spirited areas that are generally embraced in the term the arts.
PART TWO: THE ENVIRONING WORLD
It is the arts and the artistic spirit unified with technology which is the true basis of the spirit of European Culture. In his essay on the Crisis of European Man, Husserl referred to this as the Umwelt or the Environing World, which he called: “a spiritual structure in us and our historical life.”  We point to this term because we see the importance of making a distinction between acclimatisation for material reasons (either for survival or the improvement of living standards) and the environment we create around ourselves from the theoretical or ideal, due to our psychological needs (these could include the abstract concepts of love and beauty, or moral concepts like respect and truth). Environing has, therefore, a deeper purposiveness than acclimatisation and offers reasons for working beyond the simple necessity of survival or the luxury of comfort.
Also, whereas acclimatising is a process that ends with the achievement of the desired result, within environing there is an emphasis on the process rather than the achievement. As such, it implies a concept of becoming that goes beyond the present and allows for the idea of the eternal.
Husserl’s environing was something that was not necessarily born with the Greeks, but was sophisticated by them through the development of philosophy. The spirit of European Culture is therefore also embedded in that Greek philosophy and its core of purposiveness, reflected in its own environing of its culture.
Environing transcends acclimatisation. Acclimatisation has created local peculiarities, but these cultural traits are only relevant to environing as windows or reminders of the variegated fabric of humanity. We are the same and we are different. This is the paradoxical reality of the human condition. The truly defining ingredient of humanity must lie somewhere in between.
However, the middle-term between SAME and DIFFERENCE is hard to find: SIMILARITY is too close to SAMENESS to be satisfying. We need a term that contains both of the antagonistic elements without prejudice to the other.
By focussing on the aspect of BECOMING, which turns the cultural process into a continuation, we get an image of humanity as a forward pointing arrow that desires the eternal. Acclimatisation is about the actual, environing is concerned with the final causes of an eternal process of becoming.
“From the point of view of soul, humanity has never been a finished product, nor will it be, nor can it ever repeat itself.”
There can only be environing in the realm of the human, because there cannot be a national or individual goal except to die or destroy itself. In terms of nation states, ultimate purposes, end goals or the Greek idea of telos are tragic notions, and they can only lead to the most terrible and perverted conflagrations of spirit that become manifest in violent international conflicts.
Environing, therefore, must always be contained to the greater, general set of the Human. The individual artist will achieve the eternal only if humanity itself can achieve the eternal. And the same is true of the nation-state: To succeed for its subjects, nations have to evolve, and the evolution of a nation can only be successful if it is able to dissolve into the higher evolutionary body of Humanity.
But what is humanity? In biological terms we are the homo sapiens; and from an environing perspective we are the animal with the power to rationalise and create art and technologies that can transform our environment and ourselves. In psychological terms we are a river, always changing, but which can also flow into pools that can quickly stagnate if we lose touch of the ocean which we are destined to become, and in which our authentic fulfilment lies.
Like the river, humanity is past and future and the actual is a dangerous illusion that we will perish in if we get trapped by the mesmerising force of that mirage.
 an etymological tie wrapped up in the original Greek term techni which embraced both art and technology
 Edmund Husserl, PHILOSOPHY AND THE CRISIS OF EUROPEAN MAN, 1935, p.3
 Ibid, p.5