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Hình-Ảnh Quân-Lực Việt-Nam Cộng-Hòa

History Of Viet Nam

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History Of Viet Nam

The Equilibrium Of Vietnamese Culture

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

I .Some people think that culture is the level of education, others think it is literature itself or the arts, others a doctrine, a system of thin-king. Also, there are people who take culture for civilization. Then they want to advance the idea of giving it a scientific, national and universal character. None of these conceptions are appropriate to the subject: "The Equilibrium of Vietnamese Culture". We propose our own definition of culture, based on the teaching of the Dịch Kinh or Book of Change in traditional Oriental philosophy. "Observe the phenomena of Nature to study the change of weather. Observe the phenomena of human society to change the people and the world".

The Vietnamese word for culture is Văn-Hóa. The proper meaning of Văn is all that we can see and hear in relation to other things. And Hóa means to change with the determined aim. The meaning of Văn is static and that of Hóa is dynamic. Culture cannot be defined separately from which it has been created.In reality, culture is an aspect of mankind's social activity. According to Greek philosophers man is a social animal. But animals also live in groups and in order -- the instinct to live in groups is not inborn in man only, but man is different from animals in the way he adjusts himself to nature in order to live and to progress. To exist animals must adjust themselves to nature and geographical factors. However, the animal's capacity for adaptation is passive, and only man is able to use his intelligence and his will in adaptation in order to change obstacles into advantages, marshy land into fertile field.

Four hundred years ago when the Vietnamese moved to Hoán-Châu, the present day Huế, it was uninhabited. It has become today a beautiful city with picturesque landscapes: it attracts tourists to see its River of Parfum and the Mountain of Ngự "The Royal Screen". That is culture, and only men can do these things even though they also live in groups like animals.If the social instinct does not belong to mankind alone, it is nevertheless true that the technique which man has used to change unfavourable conditions into good ones is peculiarly his. In saying so, we must not forget that bees are more ingenious than architects, and when men were still living in caves, bees and ants already knew how to build their dwellings. Ages have passed and men have come to build beautiful palaces, but beehives and ant hills remain the same. The progress of mankind is due to the fact that man thinks before he acts. Therefore, he can accumulate the experiences of his fathers to develop his knowledge and intelligence. Thus we can say that culture exists because of the capacity of observation and the spirit of creation in mankind. That is the difference between men's society and the society of animals.The anthropologist Herskovits has written:"All human groups search for a way to exist. They succeed by technical means in facing their natural conditions. In these conditions they collect different means of action to satisfy their needs. One way or the other, they distribute the fruit of their production. They have an economic system to obtain greater results from their limited capacity. All the human groups give particular form to the family organization or large groups based on kinship or other relations. No society lives in anarchy without a philosophy of life and an idea about the origin and movement of the universe; theories about the way to dominate supernatural power in order to arrive at desired results. To sum up the different aspects of culture we must add dancing, songs, stories, art for art's sake, language, expression of ideas, a system of forbidden things, and ideals, thus bringing to life its charm and meaning. All aspects of culture and culture itself are the products of all human groups without exception".

Culture is all that mankind has invented in order to live harmoniously within his milieu, that is, natural, historical and geographical. This is a general definition of culture, the closest to traditional Oriental thinking, seen from a dynamic point of view to observe things in general without paying too much attention on to details. This conception of culture is true because it does not contradict reality, the social milieu; and it is not abstract. Scholars can discern the perpetual change in the world and observe the general aspect of things in their static and dynamic states. However, we cannot conceive of this culture of ours without taking into consideration the fact that we belong to a civilized country which has thousands of years of history. Culture is the whole aspect of society. On the one hand, culture has a changing character (exception is made for dead cultures of Egypt and Chaldee); on the other hand, it has a stable character. It is like a tree whose roots are deep in the ground of the past and whose branches are still spreading toward an infinite future. Stability and change are two complementary aspects of culture. Therefore, at a specific epoch of history, a nation or a group of men always represents a cultural equilibrium which is ( 1 ) the image of a society in which the individual finds equilibrium within himself, ( 2 ) the image of equilibrium between the individual and the group within the society, and ( 3 ) the equilibrium between society and its cultural milieu. This is a prosperous period of the history of a nation. In a decadent epoch of history society loses its internal equilibrium, and the individual loses his, because there is an important and complementary relation between man and society. Present day social psychologists state that:

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

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