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The Decline of the West by Oswald Spengler. In july, , when the German armies were on the point of collapse, a book appeared called Der Untergang. Oswald Spengler's The Decline of the West by Thomas B. Lenihan July 28, Meaning in History Dr. Phyllis O'Callaghan Georgetown University Oswald. Oswald Spengler. Blankenburg am Harz, December, , PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION The complete manuscript of this book — the outcome of three.


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Untergang des Abendlandes by Oswald Spengler, , Allen & Unwin edition, - [new ed., rev.]. PDF | In this essay, I examine the public discourse about Oswald Spengler's ideas in Britain in the s and s, particularly the»cultural morphology«he . PDF | On Mar 1, , G Brokaw and others published Oswald Spengler's The ' Decline of the West' and Alejo Carpentier's Los 'Pasos.

Civil War. It cannot be accepted, surely, that a people were ever held together by the mere unity of physical origin, or, if it were, could maintain that unity for ten generations.

It cannot be too often reiterated that this physiological provenance has no existence except for science—never for folk-consciousness—and that no people was ever stirred to enthusiasm by this ideal of blood purity. In race Rasse haben there is nothing material but something cosmic and directional, the felt harmony of a Destiny, the single cadence of the march of historical Being. It is the incoordination of this wholly metaphysical beat which produces race hatred These shapes in which humanity is seized and moulded possess style and style-history no less than kinds of art or mode of thought.

The people of Athens is a symbol not less than the Doric temple, the Englishman not less than modern physics. There are peoples of Apollinian, Magian, and Faustian cast World history is the history of the great Cultures, and peoples are but the symbolic forms and vessels in which the men of these Cultures fulfill their Destinies. These ideas, which figure prominently in the second volume of the book, were common throughout German culture at the time, and would be the most significant elements for the National Socialists.

In his later works, such as Man and Technics and The Hour of Decision , Spengler expanded upon his "spiritual" theory of race and tied it to his metaphysical notion of eternal war and his belief that "Man is a beast of prey". The authorities however banned the book. He sees each Culture as having an initial religious identity, which eventually results in a reformation -like period, followed by a period of rationalism , and finally entering a period of second religiousness that correlates with decline.

Intellectual creativeness of a Culture's Late period begins after the reformation, usually ushering in new freedoms in science. The scientific stage associated with post-reformation Puritanism contains the fundamentals of Rationalism. Eventually rationalism spreads throughout the Culture and becomes the dominant school of thought.

To Spengler, Culture is synonymous with religious creativeness. Every great Culture begins with a religious trend that arises in the countryside, is carried through to the cultural cities, and ends in materialism in the world-cities. Spengler described the process by which Enlightenment rationalism undermines and destroys itself, passing from unlimited optimism to unqualified skepticism.

The Cartesian self-centered rationalism leads to schools of thought that do not cognize outside of their own constructed worlds, ignoring actual every-day life experience. It applies criticism to its own artificial world until it exhausts itself in meaninglessness. In reaction to the educated elites, the masses give rise to the Second Religiousness, which manifests as deeply suspicious of academia and science.

The Second Religiousness appears as a harbinger of the decline of mature Civilization into an ahistorical state. The Second Religiousness occurs concurrently with Caesarism, the final political constitution of Late Civilization. Caesarism is the rise of an authoritarian ruler, a new 'emperor' akin to Caesar or Augustus, taking the reins in reaction to a decline in creativity, ideology and energy after a culture has reached its high point and become a civilization. The Second Religiousness is simply a rehashing of the original religious trend of the Culture.

Democracy, media, and money[ edit ] Spengler asserts that democracy is simply the political weapon of money, and the media are the means through which money operates a democratic political system.

Democracy and plutocracy are equivalent in Spengler's argument. The "tragic comedy of the world-improvers and freedom-teachers" is that they are simply assisting money to be more effective. The principles of equality , natural rights , universal suffrage , and freedom of the press are all disguises for class war the bourgeois against the aristocracy.

Freedom, to Spengler, is a negative concept, simply entailing the repudiation of any tradition. In reality, freedom of the press requires money, and entails ownership, thus serving money at the end.

Suffrage involves electioneering , in which the donations rule the day.

The ideologies espoused by candidates, whether Socialism or Liberalism , are set in motion by, and ultimately serve, only money. Spengler admits that in his era money has already won, in the form of democracy. But in destroying the old elements of the Culture, it prepares the way for the rise of a new and overpowering figure: the Caesar. Before such a leader, money collapses, and in the Imperial Age the politics of money fades away. As soon as the election process becomes organized by political leaders, to the extent that money allows, the vote ceases to be truly significant.

It is no more than a recorded opinion of the masses on the organizations of government over which they possess no positive influence whatsoever.

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Spengler notes that the greater the concentration of wealth in individuals, the more the fight for political power revolves around questions of money.

One cannot even call this corruption or degeneracy, because this is in fact the necessary end of mature democratic systems. On the subject of the press, Spengler is equally contemptuous. Instead of conversations between men, the press and the "electrical news-service keep the waking-consciousness of whole people and continents under a deafening drum-fire of theses, catchwords , standpoints, scenes, feelings, day by day and year by year.

For the press to function, universal education is necessary. Along with schooling comes a demand for the shepherding of the masses, as an object of party politics. Those that originally believed education to be solely for the enlightenment of each individual prepared the way for the power of the press, and eventually for the rise of the Caesar.

There is no longer a need for leaders to impose military service , because the press will stir the public into a frenzy, clamor for weapons, and force their leaders into a conflict.

The only force which can counter money, in Spengler's estimation, is blood. But this is an unreal abstrac tion. The problem is to determine what analogies in history are purely accidental. The true method of studying living forms.

The time in which this reality exists is a quite different time from the mechanical or clock time of science. Over against this is the world of time. Everything that is alive shows an organic rhythm. The essential reality of this world eludes the reas?

The decline of the West.

It reached its "summer" with the Renaissance. Then it moved into its "winter" phase. The first significant representative of this winter civilization was Napoleon the. This culture has gone through four main stages. He may be. The culture to which we belong is the "Western" culture. It follows that methods adequate for the study of nature are not adequate for the study of history. Spengler says. It goes in for great engineering feats.

Such cultures differ profoundly from one another. This culture isArabian. Before this culture we had the Classical culture. Plato and Aristotle. Byzan tine and eastern Levantine generally: Spengler suggests primary symbols for most of the other cultures: Although the theme is very muted in The Decline of the West.

The Decline of theWest 3 world-conqueror. Of these world-states. The Greek is a purely natural man. Bismarck and Cecil Rhodes the empire-builder are examples of a type of force-man who will increase through the next centuries. In addition to these two cultures. A new culture. The same thing is happening in Russia now. The break we express the "Greek and Roman" is now for us.

The differences can only be expressed by some kind of central symbol. Classical culture had its "spring" with the Homeric aristocracy. Spengler seems to have a hope? When a new culture.

the decline of the west ,Oswald Spengler.pdf

Thus although the "Magian" culture practically took over the Roman Empire. Spengler also identifies an Egyptian. As Yeats remarks in his Vision. Hegel has been often and most unfairly ridiculed for ad vocating a view of history which made the Prussian state of his day its supreme achievement.

Faustian culture is strongly historical in sense. But their stories are chronicles or annals. The linear view of history is intellectually dead.

But if we try to write a history of or Zulus or we can a series of events or in Patagonians Mongols. These people live and die and reproduce. The Chinese and Indians had little to do with producing us. The central art of Faustian man is contrapuntal music.

Western man thinks of it as a relation to other numbers. Classical culture expressed its sense of the pure present in its The of the two cultures even to mathematics are sculpture. But whenever we this linear view. Classical man thinks of a number as a thing. This morphological view of history.

Lapland in the eighteenth century is much like Lapland in the thirteenth: Here Spengler seems to me to be on very solid ground. The central symbol for the Western.

If we study the history of one of the cultures. People have constantly been fascinated by the degree of accident in history. The Hebrews gave us our religion. Spengler probably got his cavern symbol from Frobenius.

A parallel distinction reappears within the cultural developments themselves. Spengler's view of history includes. Spengler improvement ordinary "linear" one which divides history into ancient. The new Rus sian culture is best symbolized as a flat plane: A modern reader would doubtless prefer some other word to "destiny.

The in cidents of Western history would have been quite different if Harold had won at Hastings or Napoleon at the Nile.

Oswald Spengler on Cosmopolis and Depopulation

In what a culture produces. In a way does an illusion of a cyclical view: A cyclical theory would see a mechanical princi ple. There was no inevitability that a new Russian culture would appear in the decline of aWestern one. Spengler distinguishes what he calls destiny from incident. Spengler does not mention Cleopatra's nose. But nothing will alter the fact that itwill be his life. It seems to me that Spengler's distinction between primitive and historicalexistence is the real basis of Yeats's distinction between "primary" cultures and the "antithetical" ones that rise out of them.

Spengler organism mechanism. It is no good saying that a culture is not an organism. But this leaves us with a series of five that do run in sequence: The Decline of theWest 5 had been longer. Fair developments Babylonia pre-Columbian enough: Certain stock responses to Spengler may be set aside at once. Yeats's Vision. The in cidents of a man's life will depend on the job he takes.

This sequence may have its importance.

The decline of the West.

In the first place. It is not fatalism to say that one grows older every year. What seems to me most impressive about Spengler is the fact that everybody does accept his main thesis in practice. It is no good either denouncing him on the ground that his attitude is "fatalistic" or "pessimistic. Spengler's massed evidence for these characteristics in a variety of cultures seems to me impressive enough to take seriously.

Most of the rest arise from the fact that the reader's point of view differs from that of the writer. If The Decline of the West were nothing else.

Anybody can find con tradictions in any long and complex argument. Spengler had no intention of producing a work of pure im agination. There may remain a number of genuine contradictions which really do erode the author's own case. The question is not whether a culture is an organism. A work of literature. Or if it is. Most of them are verbal only. Spengler would not care for the term popularization: It outlines one of the mythical shapes in which history reaches everybody except professional historians.

What Spengler has produced is a vision of history which is very close to a work of literature? But for a book of the kind he wrote the general principle holds that if one is in broad sympathy with what he is trying to do.

It is an insoluble problem. I am not much worried about the "contradictions" or "ambiguities. Spengler's book is not a work of history. There are limits to this. Everybody thinks in terms of a "Western" culture to which Europeans and Americans belong. Auden's "The Fall of Rome. Spengler 85 Spengler, Within civilization exists rationalism and the end of primitive culture.

It shows progress on the part of man. However because of the cyclical theory he follows, all civilizations will eventually decline and be re-born or replaced.

The last part of The Decline of the West focuses on events of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Spengler discusses Marxism, capitalism, democracy, imperialism and the major reasons for the decline of Western civilization. He states that since the nineteenth century, the West has witnessed the establishment of permanent armies and the beginning of an age of gigantic conflicts.

He believed democracy represented the triumph of mediocrity and that democratic society celebrates what is common and equal, making the possibility of anything outstanding difficult. Spengler goes on to state that the contending states period ended with World War I, because from then on, armies want war. At a time when monarchies were collapsing and losing public support, he believed that it was the best type of government for Western countries to have.

He criticized both democracy and communism with an interesting perspective. People can and will use their wealth to download influence and access in a democracy.

In terms of Marxism, Spengler believed it 94 Stimley, 4. Imperialism is another topic addressed in The Decline of the West.

While today many people view it as a mistake made by Western powers beginning in the modern world, Spengler believed it was an important development, however it always leads to the end of great civilizations He writes that the West has set its destiny in the phenomenal form of imperialism, but that if we look at history, imperialism destroyed the Egyptian and Roman empires, among others.

He used his money, technological skills and views of superiority to colonize southern Africa. At the time, many in the West believed it was their Christian moral duty to bring civilization to the non-Western world. Yet the real goal of countries like Great Britain, France and Germany in the nineteenth century was to create empires and compete for world domination.

Imperialism had in the past and would again lead to the decline of civilizations. Along with the decline of the West came the end of the Faustian Man. He had become obsessed with making money and conquering land. According to Spengler, individuals dissipate their physical and moral well-being. While this would appear to be a good thing, for Spengler man had become too focused on making money and obtaining material goods. The decline of the West set in when Europeans began to lose faith in the Faustian prime symbol.

Man had progressed as far as he possibly could. While writing The Decline of the West, Spengler observed not only the past but the present and made predictions for the future. The symptoms of the decline of the Western world included the triumph of money rather than principle in politics, the growth of gigantic cities, the worship of materialism and hedonistic values at the expense of spiritual values and the destruction of social hierarchy by movements such as communism and anarchism.

He accurately predicts what begins to prevail in the s: Many people believe that history can and does repeat itself. After almost years as the center of the world, Europe is no longer the dominant and most powerful continent. The spread of Islam, global terrorism, the development of nuclear weapons by more countries, and the rise of India and China as world powers have been significant developments during the past decade.

Spengler believed a global economy would eventually collapse and that international capitalism would become increasingly more difficult for human masters to control. Globalization appears to be strong and has led to lots of economic growth for many countries in the non-Western world. Spengler makes some interesting comparisons between China and the West that may be relevant now.

Also they did not engage in imperialism.

It is true that through colonization and the growth of cities, the West has done much harm to nature. Spengler predicted that Russia would become the ninth culture. This seems unlikely due to the political and economic effects of communism and the Cold War that Spengler did not foresee or live to experience. Perhaps he saw China as the tenth great culture and in reality it will be the ninth. The reasons why the West has been in a state of decline since the book first appeared are due to the devastation of World War II, the Cold War, decolonization, globalization, the decline of Western society and the rise of terrorism.

It seems likely that a new cycle will occur sometime in the next century and I believe the next dominant region of the world or ninth culture of world history will be Central and East Asia. These three nations have large, well educated populations with lots of technology and clearly rival the United States and Western Europe economically, and in the near future they will likely become the next political superpowers.

Prophet of Decline: Spengler on World History and Politics. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, Fennelly, John F. Twilight of the Evening Lands: New York: The Brookdale Press, Fischer, Klaus P.

History and Prophecy:Estrella Aprista. All of them would last about 1, years and then wither away except the last one, which existed when Spengler was alive. He shows how example twentieth-century philosophy.

He believed that man was naturally evil or bad, a view also held by Machiavelli. The greater part of their enormous novels, their foggy plays, and their sham biographies are without a ray of light. The pseudocritic is constantly looking for some feature of a writer's attitude.

Yet the real goal of countries like Great Britain, France and Germany in the nineteenth century was to create empires and compete for world domination.