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European city as a mode of social reality and a category of culture.


Hurzhy Kseniia

The thesis is devoted to the philosophical explication of essential features of the European city. The modern localization of social processes in the city symptomatically points to the horizon of the modern person life world, to the everyday field in which life practices are implemented and the picture of social reality emerges. The city itself becomes the arena for the deployment and flow of important modern world processes, the urban infrastructure enables the main types of modern communication, transmission and general accessibility of the era cultural code elements. The pulse of the modern world beats in cities where all the cultural achievements of mankind are concentrated. Of course, cultures collide and merge, the city attributes change historically and depend on the place and time of their incarnation, but the deployment of social space as a cultural space, that constantly changes is one of the hallmarks of urban social reality. The Soviet period had its impact on the Ukrainian urban space, as well as subsequent post-Soviet search for own national and local landmarks. At this precise point in time, while researchers are stating a certain change in the paradigm of civilization in the development of Ukraine, there is a need to explore whether the Ukrainian cities comply with the European and global urban space. The Ukrainian urban transformation and correlation of such transformation with European models highlight the need for such a research in Ukrainian real life. That is why the perception of a city as the most common cultural form designed to store, encode and transfer the information about social world to descendants, its sacred structure and order – as a kind of worldview universals of European culture, is an urgent task in real life of the Ukrainian transitive society. The scientific novelty of the obtained results is that in national sociophilosophical thought the European city as a mode of social real life and cultural category embodied in the urban concept and manifested in urban myth shows for the first time. Application of phenomenological, constructivist and synergetic approaches to the study of the urban social space establishing and functioning, in particular the explication of urban concept in the form of urban myth allowed to show the features of the European city as a mode of social reality, provide a philosophical definition of the concepts of "myth of the city" and "idea of the city", show that the myth of the city is a form of existence of the idea of the city. In result European city is interpreted as an implemented system of social real life, which form is translated by the content of the urban concept of Christian origin, the central meanings of which are encoded and transmitted by the urban myth. According to the thesis objectives set, the paper draws attention to achieving a certain consensus between representatives of the main philosophical, anthropological, sociological, psychological, and cultural trends in the use of an interdisciplinary approach in modern urban research. In the second half of the ХХ century, the "city" as the object of reflection in philosophy acquires the status of apodictic structures of modern thinking, independently or together with the opposition category "not city" ("villages", "settlements"). The city replaces the place of once spatial categories that are unshakable for Western culture, such as polis, “earthly city”, “paradise”, “hell” or “purgatory.” At the same time, it is the categories of culture that play the role of those conceptual structures, like sand grains from which a pearl grows, around which structures of social reality are being formed and which acquire significant weight in modern studies of the paradigms of thinking and cultural being. The thesis shows that among the existing methods of studying the European city a special place is occupied by phenomenological discourse aimed at explicating the semantic structures of human thinking and social forms in which these structures are reflected and embodied. The pap thesis er considers in detail two concepts: the concept of "Umwelt" (the world of meanings of a living being) and "Lebenswelt" (the lifeworld), showing that constructivist theories assume as an ontological assumption the existence of a certain primary reality, on the basis of which the next level of reality is constructed. The potential of this approach to explain social reality through the phenomena of everyday life from the point of view of urban research allows us to visualize social reality in an urban form. The city appears as a field of everyday activity, in which life practices are implemented and ideas about social reality are embodied. Any attempts to violate which mean a challenge to the axiological foundations of culture, which determine the usual world order. And turning to the practical aspects of the relationship between city and culture will help to articulate the idea of the social system about itself. The characteristics of a European city, its ideas according to which this city appears are investigated on the basis of the retrospective analysis. Attention is drawn to the controversial nature of the city phenomenon, the dependence of its idea on time and space, the territory on which the city appears. The thesis traces the crystallization of European urban culture from the ancient polis, through the Christian medieval city to the industrial city, where industrialization was a factor that accelerated urbanization. Based on retrospective analysis it is substantiated that the sacred core of the urban concept, and accordingly the sacred center of the city changes and transforms in space and time, but the structural place and the sacred nature of its meaning remain invariant. It is proved that the European urban concept as a space of social existence being formed around the sacred center and archetypically reproduced in Christian territories, acquires apodictic significance in the structure of meanings of the European social real life, including modern times. It is substantiated that the European city embodies the worldview structure of the Christian and modern thinking and is one of the actualized spaces for complete worldview imperatives implementation of the Christian and modern age. The author examines the architectonics of the European city, highlights its mandatory attributes, religious archetypes and functional determinants, which made it possible to explain the European concept. the European urban concept is a semantic structure, at the heart of which the sacred values lie, and which periphery consists of imperatives regulating social life in compliance with the center; this concept is a form of the central meanings existence of European culture (category of culture), and its embodiment – a way of cultural life (mode of social reality). Perspective of literary and architectural authorial perfect urban projects in agreement with the establishment of the desired social order – as attempts to verbalize the urban concept. The thesis shows the ways of transformation of sacred space in a modern city and analyzes the features of the construction of sacred urban spaces and their role for local communities. The examples of urban space Ground Zero, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin, the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, and new places of memory in modern Ukrainian cities, showed common features of sacralization in the city, which consists in the correspondence of urban objects to the ideologized needs of society; sacred urban objects can be represented as a grid of urban coordinates that have an integrative function for citizens; modern sacralization is indicated by the plurality and multiplicity of sacred centers; interaction of citizens with sacred space occurs through the ritualization of relations with it. The thesis analyzes the "work" of the idea of the city. By addressing the narrative of the city – the myth of the city, it is shown how the idea of a city, embodied in a particular city, becomes a form of cultural existence for its inhabitants. The urban myth articulates and implements the cultural urban concept. The urban myth is presented as an actual reality linked to a system of local community (citizens) idea of the city and themselves, encoded by symbolic means in urban narrative and materialized in the urban space; the European urban myth articulates the sacred meanings of the urban concept and the ways for their real existence. It is determined that the myth of the European city articulates the sacred meanings of the idea of the city and the ways of their real existence. Using Donetsk myth as an example, studied before 2013, it has been shown that its narrative is always built around the sacred meanings of the urban concept, and the transformations of this sacred core associated with ideological shifts (changes in cultural ontology) change the spatial urban structure and affect social existence of the city, having a transformative and mobilizing potential. In addition, the thesis further developed an understanding of European civilization as urban culture proposed by Fernand Braudel, supplemented by transformation analysis of one of the main cultural values – cultural memory in the modern city. The analysis allowed us to identify new horizons of cultural thinking in understanding the idea of the city, as shown by the example of changing attitudes to cultural heritage in the city depending on how the understanding of cultural heritage at the level of the European community changes. Study of the current state of urban change, in particular, through analysis of UN (UN-Habitat, World Urban Forum) policy documents on urban development, vectors updated of further urban development. The following factors have been identified as causing changes in the social behavior of citizens and the change in spaces that people construct as a living environment: the quantitative increase of qualitatively new cities and the transforming impact of urbanization; the influence of international organizations on the formation of the agenda for urban transformation and consensus decisions of members of these organizations; the redefinition of industrial landscapes and recognition of their cultural value; the update of urban unions as linear parity forms of urban cooperation. The practical significance of the results is that the main provisions and conclusions of this thesis paper can be used in modeling social processes and the behavior of citizens. The application of the research results can be useful in the practical implementation of the regional decentralization policy and to help initiate an inter-city dialogue to dispel local stereotypes and reduce social tension.

Keywords: european city, idea of the city, idea of the european city, ideal city, city as a category of culture, cultural form of the city, urban cultural heritage, architectural form of the city, myth of the city, Donetsk myth, sacred city space, memory in city space, urban social reality, universal of the culture, philosophy of the city.


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