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For the Greeks, ecclesia is simply “assembly,” a word that is strictly and exactly political: ecclesia is the assembly of the people, that which constitutes and governs the polis as such. About the church, then, we shall say that it is the return to itself of the universal within the regime of the assembly. In the mode of the return, of the figure, the church designates the form or the project of a universal assembly. This returned universal also produces a remainder. What remains outside of the church?
This is where universality (the universality of universal history) starts up. Then comes Rome, which absorbs the Greek state and gives instruction to the barbarians who bring about its destruction—followed by us. Other peoples are known only through (durch) the consecution of these educated nations forming a chain. All this is imparted and will keep imparting itself to the totality of the world, through the movement of an expansion and a progressive extension. In these passages, as in the rest of Kant’s essay, the word “Europe” does not appear.
Europe is the terrestrial horizon of this journey, the new land to be crossed and conquered, the backcountry awaiting to the west, a backcountry of border-crossers, 22 Europe Crossways sailors, and warriors: not one’s place of origin—like the sun’s—where one awoke and arose. No, it is the backcountry into which one enters, penetrates, and sinks, and that one will discover. 47 * The second formulation to challenge, the one about the origin or birth, is close to the first, but subtler and more powerful.