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Oswald Spengler was born in 1880 at Blankenburg, Germany. He studied mathematics, philosophy, and history at Munich and Berlin. Except for his doctor's thesis on Heraclitus, he published nothing before the first volume of The Decline of the West, which appeared when he was thirty-eight. The Agadir crisis of 1911 provided the immediate incentive for his exhaustive investiga Oswald Spengler was born in 1880 at Blankenburg, Germany. He studied mathematics, philosophy, and history at Munich and Berlin. Except for his doctor's thesis on Heraclitus, he published nothing before the first volume of The Decline of the West, which appeared when he was thirty-eight. The Agadir crisis of 1911 provided the immediate incentive for his exhaustive investigations of the background and origins of our civilization. He chose his main title in 1912, finished the first draft of "Form and Actuality" ("Gestalt und Wirklichkeit") two years later, and published the volume in 1918. The second, extensively revised edition, from which the present translation was made, appeared in 1923. The concluding volume, "Perspectives of World-History" ("Welthistorische Perspektiven"), was published in 1922. The Decline of the West was first published in this country in 1906 (Vol. I) and 1928 (Vol. II). For many years Spengler lived quietly in his home in Munich. thinking, writing, and pursuing his hobbies - the collecting of pictures and primitive weapons, listening to Beethoven quartets, reading the comedies of Shakespeare and Moliere, and taking occasional trips to the Harz Mountains and to Italy. He died suddenly of a heart attack in Munich three weeks before his fifty-sixth birthday.


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Oswald Spengler was born in 1880 at Blankenburg, Germany. He studied mathematics, philosophy, and history at Munich and Berlin. Except for his doctor's thesis on Heraclitus, he published nothing before the first volume of The Decline of the West, which appeared when he was thirty-eight. The Agadir crisis of 1911 provided the immediate incentive for his exhaustive investiga Oswald Spengler was born in 1880 at Blankenburg, Germany. He studied mathematics, philosophy, and history at Munich and Berlin. Except for his doctor's thesis on Heraclitus, he published nothing before the first volume of The Decline of the West, which appeared when he was thirty-eight. The Agadir crisis of 1911 provided the immediate incentive for his exhaustive investigations of the background and origins of our civilization. He chose his main title in 1912, finished the first draft of "Form and Actuality" ("Gestalt und Wirklichkeit") two years later, and published the volume in 1918. The second, extensively revised edition, from which the present translation was made, appeared in 1923. The concluding volume, "Perspectives of World-History" ("Welthistorische Perspektiven"), was published in 1922. The Decline of the West was first published in this country in 1906 (Vol. I) and 1928 (Vol. II). For many years Spengler lived quietly in his home in Munich. thinking, writing, and pursuing his hobbies - the collecting of pictures and primitive weapons, listening to Beethoven quartets, reading the comedies of Shakespeare and Moliere, and taking occasional trips to the Harz Mountains and to Italy. He died suddenly of a heart attack in Munich three weeks before his fifty-sixth birthday.

30 review for The Decline of the West, Vol 1: Form and Actuality

  1. 4 out of 5

    Greg

    At a casual glance Oswald Spengler is smarter than me. He comes across encyclopedic in his knowledge, and has very strong opinions on lots of topics, but after a while, as he moves through all different areas of knowledge and you (well me, the reader) finally starts to be confronted with works that he (because this is me I'm not very coyly talking about in the third person) knows something about that you (well me again) realize, that's not actually accurate, hmmm I wonder how many more things I' At a casual glance Oswald Spengler is smarter than me. He comes across encyclopedic in his knowledge, and has very strong opinions on lots of topics, but after a while, as he moves through all different areas of knowledge and you (well me, the reader) finally starts to be confronted with works that he (because this is me I'm not very coyly talking about in the third person) knows something about that you (well me again) realize, that's not actually accurate, hmmm I wonder how many more things I'm just nodding along with aren't really that accurate, reductionist, or just twisted so out of shape that only a zealot would mindlessly nod-along in agreement. I started off enjoying this book, I got bored with the book so I stopped reading it in favor of more fun books, the library demanded I return the book so I grudgingly went back to reading it, I enjoyed it some more and then I came to the realization that I'm just reading a logically more difficult and erudite version of Glenn Beck. Yep I said it. The author that Henry Miller jizzes over in Tropic ofwhicheveroneitwas, and who is held up as a beacon of awesome pessimism is about as interesting as that douche bag distorter of history on the AM frequencies. But where Mr. Mormon-pants pitches a tent in his trousers at the mere mention of founding fathers, Mr. Grumpy-faced gets similarly excited over Goethe and other 'classical' early Moderns. Like Beck, there is a certain amount of truth to what Spengler says. Both will rightly point out that there is something rotten in the world, and they can even pretty correctly point out where some of the rottenness lies, and point to some historical areas where things could have gone better, of where things started to take a turn for the worse, but on the strength of hitting a few warm up lobs out of the park (that seriously were pitches anyone could hit if they tried) they start to think they are Ted motherfucking Williams, and think that they can pretty much do no wrong at the plate. I'm going to drop the very frayed metaphors now, and I'm realizing that going through and taking apart Spengler is going to be quite a bit of work, at least more work than I feel like doing. Oh if only it were cooler (I mean temperature wise, not hip wise, I'm sure it's always cool, as in hip, to dismantle turgid German writers), maybe I wouldn't have my recent attention span of a gnat when it comes to writing anything. Instead a few quick notes and you can believe or not believe my Spengler as Beck argument based on blind faith in my intellectual abilities, or read this un-abridged version of Part 1 of Decline of the West for yourself and then tell me how stupid I am. One. Everytime Spengler is going to say something really outrageous and pretty much intellectually indefensible he'll writ something like, "We can now say without any hesitation", or "It should come as no surprise that". Actually anytime he uses the first person plural I think he is trying to pull a con where he is trying to make the reader an accomplice with him. Actually reading the last fifty pages or so of this book, especially the section on Atheism is a treat in how to write deceitfully. Or deceitful rhetoric. Beck take note! Two. I can promise you some brilliant work thoughts here if I weren't so fucking lazy. Instead I'm just going to say that Spengler is guilty of what philosophers like to call, "Having your cake and eating it too". Case in point, after spending about a hundred pages bashing the Greeks for their shallowness and stupidity he then turns to them as beholders of all scientific wisdom (if the greeks didn't have a word for it it's not necessary). He also bashed all the post-Kantian philosophers for being un-Mathematical and then whined about scientists being too mathey and not Goethe dreamy-esque enough in their pursuits. Two. B. When it suits Spengler he is quite the iconoclast, but he has no problem using 'traditional' views that one would think he doesn't believe in (because he said so) when it suits him. This is very similar to the way AM talk radio hosts work! Three. His whole anti-contemporary science rant at the end. Oh man. This is probably where a good number of the targets Skoal attacks got some of their background in science from. Four. Do you know the basic gist of the book? The thesis? Well it's that all Cultures have a lifespan. They are born, they grow up, they have golden ages and they decline and die. According to Spengler, we (we'll early 20th Century people, and us) are in the decline of Northern Western Society, AKA Faustian Culture. There isn't anything you or I can do about it, it's just the way things are, we happen to be in the old decrepit age of a once great Culture. We can't fight against it. We aren't going to have a revival. No new Goethe, or Bach, or Wagner is going to rise up from our culturally arthritic civilization (we have lost the right to be a Culture). Our writers are hacks. Our thinkers are dolts ever since Nietzsche. Everything great was made already, and now we just produce popular schlock (except of course when Spengler gets all populist on the reader and cries that science is wrong because the man on the street can't get it anymore (see point three)). Blah blah blah. But you know what you learn in the very last section of the last chapter at the end of Part 1? That (you'll never see this coming), the Faustian Age still has one more slot open for genius, that we are drying as a culture but ol'Spengler's morphology is the last remaining piece of brilliance, the crown jewel on the Faustian understanding of the world. Everyone else who thinks he or she is doing something worthwhile intellectually is a deluded fucknut, but Ozzie he's undeluded, he sees the truth and knows that the world really really really needs his writing. Then we can all fuck off and die. Culturally. Oh, I almost forgot this. At one point in the book he says that Otto Weininger's delusionally entertaining misogynistic and anti-Semitic book is the only serious attempt to revive Kant (which would be a good thing in the Spengler-verse). Really? That was Kantian?

  2. 5 out of 5

    Wyatt Kaldenberg

    A four volume book. It's hard to start reading, but once you do it's hard to put down. I don't agree with all of Spengler's philosophy, but after reading this Four Volume Set, you will never look at history and society the same way. It explains what is wrong with our culture.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Vatroslav Herceg

    Demetra Zagreb, 1998. Preveo: Nerkez Smailagić Priredio i prijevod redigirao: Dimitrije Savić Ovo je knjiga bogova, tekstualna svjetlost, kognitivna oštrica. Ova knjiga nije za liberale, ni kršćane. A, nekmoli feministkinje. Ovo je jedna od onih knjiga nakon koje svoj život, odnosno svoje razmišljanje, mogu razdijeliti na razdoblje prije i nakon što pročitah "Propast Zapada". Nakladnička kuća "Demetra" je uz "Eneagram" predvodnica rubne tekstualnosti, tekstualnosti kognitivne kreme, umne elite. Živjel Demetra Zagreb, 1998. Preveo: Nerkez Smailagić Priredio i prijevod redigirao: Dimitrije Savić Ovo je knjiga bogova, tekstualna svjetlost, kognitivna oštrica. Ova knjiga nije za liberale, ni kršćane. A, nekmoli feministkinje. Ovo je jedna od onih knjiga nakon koje svoj život, odnosno svoje razmišljanje, mogu razdijeliti na razdoblje prije i nakon što pročitah "Propast Zapada". Nakladnička kuća "Demetra" je uz "Eneagram" predvodnica rubne tekstualnosti, tekstualnosti kognitivne kreme, umne elite. Živjela "Demetra"! Pogledajte sami kakve naslove izbacuje "Demetra": http://www.demetra.hr/biblioteke.php. Zašto su takve naslove na sveučilištima izbacile knjige plitke i šuplje rodne teorije, feminizma i ostalih oblika lažnog ljevičarenja? Zašto su ljudi glupi? Jezik prijevoda je kvalitetan, vjeran je teoriji koja se iznosi, navedeno se odmah skuži čitajući bilo koje djelo. Osnova prijevoda, posebice prijevoda neke teorijske knjige, jest vjerno predočenje teorijskog podteksta. Smiješna je, u prijevodu, jedino morfološka onomastička vjernost u grafiji. O čemu govorim? O oblicima imena zapisanih na sljedeće načine: "Pytagora", "Madonna", "Egypćanin", "cella", "Normanna", "Hefrena", "Byzantu", "Eshyl", , "Syriji", "Nikola Cusanski", "Polyktetov" itd. Kužite što navodim. Imenica "cella" jedina nije onim u ovom nizu, već apelativ, dakle ona je jedina opća imenica među vlastitim, tako da se grafija primjenjuje na sve imenice. Spenglerov stil pisanja je srodan Nietzscheovom, valjda je prisutan određen tekstualni element zeitgaista. Obiluje novotvorenicama koje su izravno povezane s novim načinom klasifikacije povijesti i novim načinom shvaćanja povijesti. Sama Spenglerova klasifikacija dosta podsjeća na Nietzscheovu, ono što je za Spenglera faustovska kultura to je Nietzscheu aleksandrijska kultura. Spengler sam često navodi Nietzschea. Uvijek mi dođe da se smijem kada čujem libtarde kako govore o tome kako se događa progres u ljudskom društvu, kako se taj progres ogledava u sve većem broju ljudskih prava, kako nas je 1789. oslobodila i kako idemo "naprijed". Prosvjetiteljstvo i racionalizam su tako naivni da je to na razini suvremenih glasača Demokratske stranke. Sada znam da bi se sa mnom Spengler također nasmijao. Spengler ima tako jebeno duboku i oštru intuiciju razmatranja povijesti, umjetnosti, kulture i društva. Takvo što nisam nikada, nikada doživio. Spenglerova dva teorijska oslonca su umjetnost i matematika. Kroz te dvije prizme predočava filozofiju i povijest same povijesti. Bacam citat da predočim oštrinu i dubinu Spenglerova uma: "Sve fabule antičkih velikih tragedija iscrpljuju se u slučajevima, koji se rugaju smislu svijeta... Još jednom: ono što snalazi Edipa, sasvim izvana i unutrašnje ničim uvjetovanim i izazvano, moglo se dogoditi svakom čovjeku bez iznimke. To je oblik antičkog mita. Usporedimo s tim dublju nužnost, uvjetovanu cijelim bivstvovanjem i odnosom toga bivstvovanja prema svemiru, u sudbini Otella, Don Quijotea, Werthera. To je- kao što smo već rekli- razlika između tragedije situacije i tragedije karaktera. Ali u povijesti samoj opetuje se ta suprotnost. Svaka epoha Zapada ima karakter, a svaka epoha antike predstavlja samo situaciju. Život Goetheov bio je pun sudbonosne logike, a život Cezarov mitske slučajnosti. " Spengler je Zapad smatrao dijelom faustovske kulture, a antičku Grčku i Rim dijelom apolonske kulture. S time da je kasna antika već razdoblje magičke kulture. Spengler je negirao podjelu na Stari, Srednji i Novi vijek te je smatrao da je povijest izrazito eurocentristična. Ne želim puno o teoriji ove knjige, izrazito je osebujna te iscrpna, pročitajte ovu knjigu! Reći ću ipak još par rečenica o Spenglerovoj teoriji povijesti. Spengler je shvaćao temporocentrizam. Temporocentrizam je relativno semantički sličan pojmu zeitgeista, no dok je zeitgeist duh nekog doba, temporocentrizam je shvaćanje o tome da svako vremensko doba neko drugo razdoblje tumači kroz prizmu svoje kulture, srednji vijek je drukačije bio doživljen u baroku, drugačije u klasicizmu, drugačije u romantizmu, drugačije u postmodernizmu. Spengler kroz cijelu knjigu nijednom ne baca pojam temporocentrizam, no u biti ta riječ najbolje opisuje Spenglerovu teoriju. Ne postoji univerzalna povijest, ne postoji univerzalna matematika, ne postoji univerzalna fizika, ne postoji univerzalna umjetnost. Pročitajte i uvidite sami! Sljepoća i "šupljoća" liberalizma i racionalizma da smo mi svi prije svega ljudi je kriva, lažna i zapravo nehumanistička. Zapad, Spengler bi rekao faustovska kultura, je uobrazio da je šerijatski zakon moralno loš, Zapad je uobrazio da je parlamentarna demokracija dobra. Šerijatski zakon je loš samo za ljude faustovske kulture, parlamentarna demokracije je dobra samo za ljude faustovske kulture. I ljevica i desnica trebaju ostaviti na miru islamski svijet. Uostalom, Zapad se bliži svome kraju i čini se da če ga islam zamijeniti. I nacionalističke bukaline i feminističke zgubidanke nemaju djece. Muslimani imaju velike i zdrave obitelji, muslimani imaju vlastitu civilizaciju koja će iskoristiti prazninu Zapada. . Poslušajte budućnost, ima baš kul štih: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9JgKf.... Skrećem s osvrta knjige. Spengler nigdje ne spominje šerijatski zakon, niti feminizam. No, baš radi navednih pojmova je itekako aktualan danas. Bacit ću još jedan citat u vezi ruske kulture, koja je za Spenglera samostalna u odnosu na faustovsku kulturu: "Također i ruska umjetnost još i danas stoji "između stilova". Na primitivnu, od Norveške do Mandžurije raširenu drvenu građevinu sa strmim osmokutnim šatorskim krovom utječu preko Dunava bizantijski, preko Kavkaza armensko-perzijski motivi. Srodstvo po izboru između ruske i magičke duše dovoljno se osjeća, no prasimbol ruskog bića, beskrajna ravnica ne nalazi ni religiozni ni arhitektonski siguran izraz. Crkveni krov se poput brežuljka jedva uzdiže od krajolika, a na njemu sjede krovni klinovi s -kokošincima-, koji trebaju prikriti i poništiti stremljenje naviše. Oni se ne uzdižu kao gotički tornjevi i ne pokrivaju kao kupole mošeja, već -sjede- i naglašavaju time horizontalnost građevine, koja hoće biti shvaćena samo izvana... To još nije nikakav stil, ali je obećanje stila, koji će se probuditi tek s pravom ruskom religijom." Jebačka je i analiza "faustovskosti "/ zapadnjaštva atmosferskog prikaza uz pomoć plave i zelene boje na uljnom slikarstvu: "Zato, dok ih Polygnotova freska striktno izbjegava, jedno -infinitezimalno- plavo i zeleno kao element koji stvara prostor prolazi kroz cijelu povijest perspektivističkog slikarstva uljanim bojama, počev od Venecijanaca do u 19. stoljeće. I to kao osnovni ton u potpunosti prevladajućeg ranga koji nosi cijeli smisao bojenja, kao glavni bas, dok su topli žuti i crveni tonovi štedljivi i samo tome prilagođeni. Ne misli se na zasićeno, radosno blisko zeleno, što ga ponekad za odjeću- a prilično rijetko- upotrebljavaju Raffael i Durer, već je to neodredivo plavo-zeleno u tisuću prijelaza na bijelo, sivo, riđe, nešto duboko glazbeno, u koje je uronjena cijela atmosfera...". Sama "Propast Zapada" iz 1918. svojom erudicijom i eklektičkim sadržajem dokazuje vlastitu teorijsku podlogu u odnosu na suvremene pseudofilozofske postmodernističke tekstove. Primjerice, Fukuyamin "Kraj povijesti i posljednji čovjek" je tako plitka i uskogrudna knjiga u usporedbi s "Propašću Zapada". Fukuyama je ostao tek sociolog koji vjeruje u racionalistički progres, a Spengler je superiorni eklektik oštre intuicije. Za kraj bacio bih jednu pjesmu koja odražava, po mom sudu, pozitivnu stranu kraja Zapada, ovo naše postmodernističko (u biti helenističko) doba globalizacije: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=896KD.... Ako smo već kozmopoliti to onda treba iskoristiti. Uz džamije dolaze i crnkinje. No, trebamo učiniti da uz nove katoličke crkve dolaze i afričke nevjeste. Pozdrav!

  4. 4 out of 5

    John Conquest

    Was interested in his civilization theories and did not realize until too late that he saves most of that for volume 2!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Yair Zumaeta Acero

    En un tiempo lejano, alguien escribió con cierto dejo de altivez y medida soberbia, que al hombre le bastaba con examinar aquellos libros que hubiesen sido escritos un siglo antes de ser leídos. Bajo dicha premisa me embarqué en la ciclópea tarea de leer uno de libros más importantes del siglo XX, enmarcado bajo el pretexto del cumpleaños número cien desde la publicación en 1918 del primer volumen de “La Decadencia de Occidente” del alemán Oswald Spengler. Pero más hercúleo que llevar sobre los h En un tiempo lejano, alguien escribió con cierto dejo de altivez y medida soberbia, que al hombre le bastaba con examinar aquellos libros que hubiesen sido escritos un siglo antes de ser leídos. Bajo dicha premisa me embarqué en la ciclópea tarea de leer uno de libros más importantes del siglo XX, enmarcado bajo el pretexto del cumpleaños número cien desde la publicación en 1918 del primer volumen de “La Decadencia de Occidente” del alemán Oswald Spengler. Pero más hercúleo que llevar sobre los hombros la tarea de emprender una lectura juiciosa de tan magna obra, resulta la labor de pretender hacer una reseña que le guarde justicia. “La decadencia de Occidente” no es un libro de historia o de filosofía en el sentido tradicional. No es el simple relato lineal de acontecimientos, fechas, personajes, batallas y sucesos decisivos. Es por el contrario, un universo lleno de información, un baúl contentivo de historia, matemática, física, arquitectura, pintura, química, botánica, filosofía e ideas políticas, que lo convierten en un documento único y casi imposible de abarcar en su totalidad en una primera lectura. Acercarse a este libro en busca de análisis históricos o geopolíticos de principios del siglo XX o pretender transpolar su contenido a la realidad actual, supone de entrada, equivocar el rumbo. Spengler no intenta explicar la historia de acuerdo con sus convicciones políticas o religiosas (como por ejemplo hizo Marx), sino más bien, utilizar la historia, los conceptos matemáticos, los estilos arquitectónicos, las corrientes artísticas y los hitos religiosos y filosóficos, para ingresar en el río histórico y prever su curso y desembocadura. A través del concepto de “cultura” como un organismo viviente y de su estudio morfológico, se plantea la hipótesis que toda civilización atraviesa por estados naturales de nacimiento, desarrollo, cenit y decadencia. A través de analogías y semejanzas en hitos históricos, artísticos, arquitectónicos y literarios – dejando siempre claro que todos los grandes imperios han caído-, el autor nos plantea que no importa quienes sean los protagonistas –griegos clásicos, emperadores romanos, califas, gobernantes chinos, líderes espirituales indios- el guión seguirá siendo el mismo, regido por el sino morfológico de la decadencia de las civilizaciones. La experiencia histórica puede permitirle al hombre comprender su pasado y prever el futuro, pero nunca alterar su desenlace. Pueden criticarse las hipótesis de Spengler y revaluarlas bajo la óptica de estudios historiográficos modernos de la segunda mitad del siglo XX. Puede el lector no estar de acuerdo con ninguna de las premisas que plantea el autor. Pero es innegable que tal como ocurre con la “Historia de la Decadencia y Caída del Imperio Romano” de Edward Gibbon (curiosamente, ambos libros sobre declives y ocasos históricos), la narrativa, la prosa elegante, la información y toda la sapiencia y erudición contenida en sus páginas (En un mismo capítulo el lector puede encontrarse con alusiones a Heródoto, Sócrates, saltando a Copérnico, Kant, Newton, Wagner y Goethe, pasando por las columnas dóricas y jónicas, Rembrandt y Monet, rematando con Nietzsche y Bernard Shaw); son dignas de los más sabios prohombres de nuestra historia. Tanto así que una figura del ilustrado talante de Borges se refirió de la siguiente manera a esta obra: .“Spengler, en su libro [La decadencia de Occidente, Viena, 1918], se propuso demostrar que la historia podía ser algo más que una mera y chismosa enumeración de hechos particulares. Quiso determinar sus leyes, echar las bases de una morfología de las culturas. Sus varoniles páginas, redactadas en el tiempo que va de 1912 a 1917, no se contaminaron nunca del odio peculiar de esos años. Su concepto biológico de la historia se podrá discutir; no su espléndido estilo” "La antigüedad murió sin saber que moría, creyendo en una realidad eterna. Vivió sus últimos días con una felicidad sin reservas, gustado cada hora como un don de los dioses. Nosotros, empero, conocemos nuestra historia. Una última crisis espiritual nos aguarda, una crisis que conmoverá al mundo europeo y americano. La tiranía del intelecto, que nosotros no sentimos porque representamos la cumbre del ejercicio intelectual, constituye en cada cultura una época entre la virilidad y la senectud"

  6. 4 out of 5

    Donald

    I organized a reading group this summer at St. John's College in Annapolis to tackle the first volume of Spengler's 'Decline of the West'. The group is called The Summer of Spengler. We read and discuss one chapter per week. I'll try to write chapter reviews as I read. I went into this pretty blind. Spengler is the sort of author who is mentioned but rarely read. Pretty much the only thing I knew about him going in was his improbable list of fans (Adorno, Heidegger, Kissinger, the Beat poets, Wit I organized a reading group this summer at St. John's College in Annapolis to tackle the first volume of Spengler's 'Decline of the West'. The group is called The Summer of Spengler. We read and discuss one chapter per week. I'll try to write chapter reviews as I read. I went into this pretty blind. Spengler is the sort of author who is mentioned but rarely read. Pretty much the only thing I knew about him going in was his improbable list of fans (Adorno, Heidegger, Kissinger, the Beat poets, Wittgenstein, random Nazi officials, etc). Reflections on the chapters: Chapter 1: an introduction to the full work. Thank heavens! The book is not just interesting, it's incredible! I haven't felt this excited about a book's introduction since reading Tocqueville. Spengler's project, as I understand it, is to figure out a way to study history and predict the future. He criticizes eurocentric historical models (like the ancient/medieval/modern split) as "Ptolemaic" history. He wants to achieve a "Copernican" revolution in history by removing the arbitrary European center. There is also a lot of Nietzschean stuff about preparing for the civilization of the future. (Spengler's love of Nietzsche is overshadowed only by his devotion to Goethe.) He also rejects the idea that there is continuity between Greek and Roman antiquity and the West. He goes so far as to say that no two Cultures have been further apart than the West (Faustian) and Greece/Roman (Apollinian). Two of the biggest differences are 1) the Apollinian culture was not historical (some of his evidence for this is very funny) AND 2) the deep differences between the mathematic of each culture. A lot more to say, but it's a great introduction that challenged a lot of my naive ideas about history I picked up as a classicist and a fellow traveler to the Mickey Strauss Club. For Spengler, classical Greece and Rome are far more foreign and alien than classical India or Egypt. Chapter 2: the Meaning of Numbers! The second chapter jumps right into the differences between Faustian and Apollinian mathematics. Spengler rejects the possibility of 'universal mathematics': each conception of number is an expression of the Culture in which it arises. Because, see, Spengler is a historicist and a relativist and all those bad words that someone is not supposed to be. His arguments about the Greek understanding of number are interesting reading after getting through the first half of Jacob Klein's Greek Mathematical Thought and the Origin of Algebra. Klein's account and Spengler's account clash in some ways, but I think they would agree with each other about the fundamental point: that what we mean by number is not the same as what Euclid or Plato meant. Chapters 3-6: I haven't kept up with writing about this here, but I am still enjoying Spengler immensely. The density of facts can be overwhelming, especially concerning fields that I know very little about (e.g. architecture). I don't have the knowledge to accept or reject a lot of his claims, but many of them strike me as at least reasonable. Many seem true and compelling. One weakness of the book, so far, is the relative lack of ecclesiastical history. Part of this is Spengler's attempt to write a new sort of history that overturns the standard story about the west (ancient Greece/Rome -> Dark Ages -> Renaissance -> Enlightenment -> Modernity). He is not interested in the Church or its doctrinal development or splits. He is interested in Cathedral construction and Church music but not the institution itself. I also get the impression that when he says the West, he means Germany... Chapter 7: This chapter is about art. He argues against classifying art by medium (i.e. sculpture, music, painting, etc) and in favor of classifying art by epoch. There is some neat stuff about the appearance of the horizon line in painting. But the most interesting argument in the chapter is about the Renaissance. He convinced me that the Renaissance is NOT a revival of Classical culture. Rather, it is a response to the Gothic and had very little to do with classical Greece or Rome. (In fact, when we imagine classical G&R, what we are really imagining is Renaissance Florence.) One need only to look at the painting and listen the music from that period and compare it with Greek vase painting. Same with architecture.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Dave

    My caveat to what I say is that I did not read this cover-to-cover. I also can't claim to understand all of his arguments. I would be surprised if many did, because one would have to be familiar with an almost wholly new vocabulary for thinking about history to fully understand him. Besides that, his familiarity with the culture of the last 3500 years far, far, exceeds mine. Still, despite his controversial reputation (or perhaps because of it) this is worth whatever you can glean from it. 1. Spen My caveat to what I say is that I did not read this cover-to-cover. I also can't claim to understand all of his arguments. I would be surprised if many did, because one would have to be familiar with an almost wholly new vocabulary for thinking about history to fully understand him. Besides that, his familiarity with the culture of the last 3500 years far, far, exceeds mine. Still, despite his controversial reputation (or perhaps because of it) this is worth whatever you can glean from it. 1. Spengler is great at challenging received opinion. Egypt was superior to Greece. Renaissance art doesn't equal either the Gothic or Baroque period. Rome's empire was much easier to attain than we might think. And so on. - Most challenging for our time, he viewed the health of a culture by it's expression of their 'inner life.' So things like technology innovation, or even expansion, are not signs of health. Expansion is in fact a sign of weakness. It is the bored person who needs to be 'fed' constantly from the outside, seeking a greater variety of experience. So too, the bored civilization (a sign of decay) can only think of economics, and needs to feed itself from the outside. 2. Spengler makes the vital point that cultures must be taken as a whole. Greek sculpture can't be absconded from the people, time, and place in which it was made. We must be very careful when we seek to emulate the past, for we get more than we bargain for. Along those same lines, cultures can't create out of a vacuum. We have no Beethoven now because our culture couldn't possibly make one. That's not our fault per se, any more than it would be Beethoven's time for not inventing John Coltrane. 3. He has moments of great precise insight. His explanation of how Greek burial practices, and architecture reveal it's relationship to History itself, and the comparison to Egypt, really opened my eyes. With the Greeks, the present is all that counts. With Egypt, the past and future are all that matter. This makes so much of Greek literature, and indeed their whole civilization, so much more accessible. This is just one example. Unfortunately, large chunks of Spengler are unintelligible, at least to me. He was a bit of a recluse, and I do have the impression that he wrote for himself rather than the public. I open at random (honestly) and see this sentence, "In both cases we have in reality an outbreak of deep-seated discordances in the culture, which physiognomically dominates a whole epoch of its history and especially of its artistic world -- in other words, a stand the soul attempts to make against the Destiny that it at last comprehends." He writes like one of those German operas where something is always burning, and people are always dying, taking their time with it, and singing loudly. It's just too much. Don't let this deter you. And if anyone understands the chapter on the meaning of numbers, the chapter on the physiognomic, or many other such parts, please let me know.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Frank Roberts

    Having enjoyed the columns of the Online writer who goes by the nom de plume of Spengler, I decided to read the original works of the man himself. This is volume one of his masterwork The Decline of the West, and I am moving directly on to volume two. Spengler's thesis is that a Culture is an organic growth--it comes into being, it flourishes, and eventually it dies. On the way to oblivion it passes through a phase as a Civilization--an organized, ossified construct that is the inheritor of the L Having enjoyed the columns of the Online writer who goes by the nom de plume of Spengler, I decided to read the original works of the man himself. This is volume one of his masterwork The Decline of the West, and I am moving directly on to volume two. Spengler's thesis is that a Culture is an organic growth--it comes into being, it flourishes, and eventually it dies. On the way to oblivion it passes through a phase as a Civilization--an organized, ossified construct that is the inheritor of the Living Culture, but has lost its soul and remains only a being of intellect. The Culture is informed by one Idea, and that Idea is reflected in its Arts, its Mathematics, its Religion, and even its Science. Spengler surveys many world cultures, including the Chinese, Egyptian, and Arabian, but the focus is mostly on the two cultures best known to moderns: our own Western Culture, and the Classical Culture of Greece. Spengler quite convincingly contrasts the two, and illustrates how they are actually in opposition in their fundamental ideas. For the Western civilization the prime idea is Infinite Space, typified by our Calculus, our Symphonic Music, our Landscape painting, and our Deist God. Spengler also describes the Civilization phase in detail, for this is the phase in which he says the West now is, and I am inclined to agree with his evidence. In the Civilization phase, the Culture has become centered on a small number of "world-cities", or Megalopolises. See Rome and Alexandria for the Classic examples. In our day these would be New York, Los Angeles, London and perhaps Paris, Tokyo and some others. The megalopolis need not even sit in the heart of the old culture: note that neither Alexandria nor Rome was in Greece, and that our world-cities are mostly not in the cradle of our culture, Western Europe, but rather removed to America. Also, the Megalopolitan disdains the "provincials"--the backwards people who do not agree with his "free intellect". See the disdain of our East and West Coasters for us in flyover country. The Civilization phase is also marked by a drastic downturn in fertility: the urge for life, for continuation, is itself brought into question by the mighty intellect, and the Megalopolitans cease to have children. See Western (and that includes Japanese) society today. Not an easy book to read. Spengler assumes that his reader has a wide and deep knowledge of art and history, casually throwing off references to everything from Attic Greek statuary to Baroque painters, and even more obscure topics. But his thesis and ideas certainly deserve contemplation. It is rather sad to think that the best of Western Culture is behind us, but who can really dispute that no modern art, architecture or music can come close to Shakespeare, Rembrandt, Bach, and the Cathedrals?

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    Awful drivel. Clearly outdated and his arguments are far from true especially on science. Come on the guy states that Western physics is drawing near to the limit of its possibilities at the same time the greatest physicist (Einstein) of ever was doing his research. I honestly didn't understand much of this book mostly things are Faustian (I still have no idea what that is) or not Faustian. A philosophy based on a fictional character I believe. And there hasn't been anything good in Italy since Awful drivel. Clearly outdated and his arguments are far from true especially on science. Come on the guy states that Western physics is drawing near to the limit of its possibilities at the same time the greatest physicist (Einstein) of ever was doing his research. I honestly didn't understand much of this book mostly things are Faustian (I still have no idea what that is) or not Faustian. A philosophy based on a fictional character I believe. And there hasn't been anything good in Italy since Michaelangelo, in music since Wagner (German of course) and the west sucks in the beginning of the twentieth century. Wonder what he would of thought of the twenty-first century.

  10. 4 out of 5

    S

    Borges said it best.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Clint

    I don't really know how much of this book I really believe is true, but man it sure puts some interesting ideas into your head.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jacob van Berkel

    Semi-intelligible ramblings of a math teacher having a nervous breakdown. Not using a 'logic of cause and effect', but an 'organic logic' (apparently inspired by Goethe's morphology of plants) to study history, Spengler sees cultures/civilizations* having a natural development and lifespan. There's a period of growth (e.g. the Greek 'phase' in the Classical World), and a period of maturity and decline (the Roman 'phase'). This book, in short, argues that the 'West' is now just reaching its 'Roma Semi-intelligible ramblings of a math teacher having a nervous breakdown. Not using a 'logic of cause and effect', but an 'organic logic' (apparently inspired by Goethe's morphology of plants) to study history, Spengler sees cultures/civilizations* having a natural development and lifespan. There's a period of growth (e.g. the Greek 'phase' in the Classical World), and a period of maturity and decline (the Roman 'phase'). This book, in short, argues that the 'West' is now just reaching its 'Roman' phase. Napoleon was for the West what Alexander was for the Classical World, and the time of Western Caesars (who will be of a Cecil Rhodes type, according to Spengler, i.e. imperialistic and materialistic) is upon us. During and after which we shall see an inevitable decline. And because it is inevitable, we should not resist it, but accept or even love it (à la Nietzsche's amor fati).† One thing I found surprising reading the introduction is that Spengler - who is often associated with, or even blamed for, the rise of German fascism - is such an outspoken cultural relativist. And it's quite central to his thinking too: from this follows his (more well-known) idea that history is not linear, i.e. history does not follow a progressive line up to modernity, to 'the West'. No, each culture/civilization is its own 'organism', so to say, and none are higher or better than each other. Spengler is pretty explicit in is rejection of absolutes & universals. Though I can definitely see where the Blut und Boden stuff would fit in. (I understand the term is coined in this book, but I haven't come across it; I only read the first 141 pages, you see.) In fact it follows from the same rejection of absolute & universal values from which his cultural relativism springs. It's also related to the whole 'culture as organism' thing. Like a plant, a culture - and all expressions thereof, like values, tastes, art, politics, &c. - has its roots in a specific and definite time and place. Anyway, these are my impressions after only reading the (pretty interesting) introduction and the first chapter (which was so absurd & terrible it made me quit the book immediately). For a similar but shorter and more developed and readable (though I think still seriously flawed) take on 'the evolution of civilizations' I would recommend The Evolution of Civilizations by Carroll Quigley. ____ * I phrase it like this because, in Spengler's terms, 'culture' & 'civilization' aren't the same thing, but two distinct phases of the same thing. E.g. the 'Greek phase' is the 'culture phase' of the Classical World and the 'Roman phase' is the phase of civilization. † Which, by the way, is the reason why Spengler denies being a 'pessimist' and objects to being called one. He says this in his foreword of the definitive edition, so after having read the reviews for the first edition.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Billy Roper

    Weighty, useful as a blunt instrument to bludgeon liberals with, but nonessential since it confuses culture and breed or race, and misunderstands as esotericism what he would have called gemeinschaft.

  14. 4 out of 5

    E.A.M. Van

    Tussen 1918 en 1922 verscheen Der Untergang der Abendlandes. Umrisse einer Morphologie der Weltgeschichte in twee delen. Oswald Spengler schreef het boek tegen de achtergrond van het doorgeslagen 19de-eeuwse vooruitgangsoptimisme. Bijna honderd jaar na dato is de eerste Nederlandse vertaling verschenen: De ondergang van het Avondland, door Mark Wildschut. Wat zegt deze uitgave en de hype waarmee de publicatie vergezeld gaat eigenlijk over onze eigen tijd? De Duitse nederlaag in de Eerste Wereldoo Tussen 1918 en 1922 verscheen Der Untergang der Abendlandes. Umrisse einer Morphologie der Weltgeschichte in twee delen. Oswald Spengler schreef het boek tegen de achtergrond van het doorgeslagen 19de-eeuwse vooruitgangsoptimisme. Bijna honderd jaar na dato is de eerste Nederlandse vertaling verschenen: De ondergang van het Avondland, door Mark Wildschut. Wat zegt deze uitgave en de hype waarmee de publicatie vergezeld gaat eigenlijk over onze eigen tijd? De Duitse nederlaag in de Eerste Wereldoorlog droeg in grote mate bij tot het succes van Spenglers magnum opus. De aantrekkingskracht van Der Untergang der Abendlandes was gelegen in de verklaring die het bood voor het verlies van Duitsland. Spengler zag de nederlaag als een logisch gevolg van de ondergang van de gehele westerse cultuur. De oorlog was een onmiskenbaar symptoom van het naderende einde van de periode vol individualisme, humanisme, intellectuele vrijheid en scepticisme. De nieuwe tijd zou voor de westerse cultuur een inperking van de individuele vrijheden, een opleving van geloof en een toenemend gebruik van geweld in de politiek brengen. De grote troost voor de na-oorlogse Duitsers was dat de geallieerde overwinnaars hetzelfde treurige, maar onvermijdelijke lot te wachten stond. Duitsland was, zoals in alle dingen, wat voorlijker dan de andere landen. Acht culturen, vier seizoenen, elk duizend jaar Deze verklaring baseerde Spengler op het inzicht dat er in de geschiedenis sprake geweest was van een achttal culturen (Egyptisch, Chinees, Babylonisch, Indisch, Apollonisch (Grieks-Romeins), Magisch (vroeg-Christelijke en Arabisch), Faustisch (westers) en Mexicaans), die allen een organische cyclus – voorjaar, zomer, najaar en winter – doorlopen hadden. In tijd stond voor deze ontwikkeling een periode van ongeveer duizend jaar. Elke cultuur moest volgens Spengler als een op zichzelf staand geheel gezien worden, en kon slechts volgens de eigen mentaliteit beschouwd en gekend worden. Voortbouwend op ideeën van de Duitse filosoof J.G. Herder (1744-1803) ontkende Spengler met zijn cyclische theorie dat er van vooruitgang in de geschiedenis sprake was. Hiermee sloot hij zich aan bij de Duitse Romantische, anti-positivistische beweging. Met Der Untergang der Abendlandes bood Spengler zowel een nieuw perspectief op het verleden als een nieuwe periodisering ervan. Centraal in Spenglers geschiedsfilosofie lag de tegenstelling tussen homologie en analogie. De homologie van historische verschijnselen uitte zich in de gelijktijdigheid van twee historische feitelijke ontwikkelingen die elk in de eigen cultuur in precies dezelfde – relatieve – situatie optraden en dus allebei eenzelfde betekenis binnen de ontwikkeling van een cultuur hebben. De Barok en de Ionische tijd zijn dus hoewel chronologisch verschillend, homologisch gelijktijdig, evenals Filips II en Alexander gelijktijdig zijn met de Franse revolutie en Napoleon. Met analogie bedoelde Spengler een functionele vergelijking tussen verschillende historische gegevens. Zo is een analoge vergelijking tussen Napoleon en Caesar gerechtvaardigd omdat ze beide een vergelijkbare machtspolitiek nastreefden. Maar het grote verschil met het begrip homologie is dat daarbij van een morfologische gelijktijdigheid sprake is; verschillende historische gegevens hebben eenzelfde betekenis binnen de ontwikkeling van hun cultuur. In tegenstelling tot de reguliere geschiedschrijving was Spengler vooral geïnteresseerd in de gelijktijdigheid van historische gebeurtenissen. Evenals bij de geschiedfilosoof Giambattista Vico (1668-1744), hielp deze methode Spengler hiaten in feitelijke gegevens op te vullen. Als op basis van een vaststaande cyclische ontwikkeling in een cultuur een bepaalde fase een ontwikkeling veronderstelde, kon men deze aannemen zonder dat er feitelijk materiaal voorhanden hoefde te zijn. Een opeenvolging van cycli In de geschiedenis was volgens Spengler een organische logica aanwezig. Het waren opeenvolgende culturen die zich volgens strak gedetermineerde, biologische cycli manifesteerden. Elke cultuur was morfologisch vergelijkbaar, maar qua vorm en inhoud principieel verschillend van elke andere. Tegenover het verlichtingsidee van de universele mensheid plaatste Spengler een unieke en onvergelijkbare, door zijn specifieke cultuur gedetermineerde mens. Er waren geen inter-culturele uitingen en Spengler getroostte zich dan ook veel moeite aan te tonen dat zelfs het besef van tijd en ruimte – voor Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) waren dit dé universele uitgangspunten voor alle menselijke ervaring – cultuurgebonden waren. Over de relativistische implicaties van dit idee was Spengler duidelijk. Universele wetenschappelijke of morele waarheden of tijdloze kunst bestonden niet. Iedere filosofie was de uitdrukking van de eigen cultuur. Een cultuur stierf wanneer de ziel al haar potenties in de vorm van een volk, taal, religieuze dogma's, kunst, wetenschap en staatkunde had gerealiseerd om dan weer terug te vallen in een vage staat van proto-spiritualiteit. Een volk bepaalde dus niet haar eigen cultuur, zoals Herder nog dacht, maar een cultuur vormde een volk en daarmee alle andere historische producten. De laatste fase van een cultuur werd gevormd door het overrijpe stadium van de civilisatie. In intellectueel opzicht overheerste in deze fase een empirische filosofie boven metafysische speculatie, kunst en literatuur waren volkomen eclectisch. De economie werd beheerst door geldkapitaal en de politiek door imperialisme. De kern van een civilisatie werd gevormd door de wereldstad of megalopolis. In deze wereldstad was er een nieuw type nomade ontstaan: de parasitaire stadsbewoner, ontworteld, zonder traditie of geschiedenis. De stadsbevolking was geen volk meer in Herders betekenis van het woord, maar een massa zonder toekomst. In de laatste fase van de civilisatie zou de stedelijke samenleving instorten, wat tot een bevolkingsafname en een trek naar het platteland zou leiden. Spengler duidde de eigen tijd als een periode van verdord eclecticisme. De moderne kunst achtte hij decadent, wetenschap en wiskunde uitgeput; een situatie vergelijkbaar met het tijdperk van het Hellenisme in de klassieke tijd. Het Napoleontische imperialisme was vergelijkbaar met dat van Alexander en de Wereldoorlog was homoloog aan de Punische oorlogen. Maatschappelijke behoefte Spenglers analyse van het historisch proces leidde tot veel commotie. Beroepshistorici sabelden Der Untergang neer. Volgens hen ging Spengler ontoelaatbaar frivool om met de feiten, verzweeg van alles wat hem niet van pas kwam en lapte objectiviteit en waardenvrijheid aan zijn laars. Haaks daarop stond echter de maatschappelijke receptie van Der Untergang. Blijkbaar voorzag Spenglers pessimistische duiding van het chaotische heden als onderdeel van een historisch noodzakelijk en onvermijdelijk proces dat met een fatalistisch Amor Fati ondergaan diende te worden, in een grote behoefte in de samenleving. Sterker, Spenglers historische speculaties kregen in het Interbellum wereldwijd vele navolgers. Meta-historische analyses als die van A.J. Toynbee, J. Ortega Y Gasset, P.A. Sorokin, J. Huizinga en vele anderen worstelden eveneens met het probleem van de normatieve duiding van de geschiedenis en de wetenschappelijke bestudering ervan. De vertaalde uitgave van De Ondergang van het Avondland moet dan ook in dit licht gezien worden. Met wetenschappelijke geschiedschrijving heeft Spenglers verhaal niet veel te maken. Dat is honderd jaar geleden al overtuigend vastgesteld. Over de literaire kwaliteit van het boek kunnen de meningen verschillen. Maar overeind blijft de maatschappelijke behoefte aan duiding van het historisch proces wanneer de eigen tijd als chaotisch of verward wordt gezien. De ordening die Spengler verschaft, mag dan wetenschappelijk ongefundeerd en esthetisch betwistbaar (niet tegenstaande de uitstekende vertaling) zijn, als metafoor kan het voor de zwalkende mens als een, weliswaar loden, reddingsvest fungeren.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Victor

    Si tuviese que definir este libro lo haría con el siguiente esquema tan clásico: "hombres fuertes crean tiempos buenos, buenos tiempos crean hombres débiles, hombres débiles crean malos tiempos, malos tiempos crean hombres fuertes". Básicamente, la morfología histórica de Spengler se resume en eso y realmente aporta puntos de vistas interesantes sobre la evaluación histórica de la cultura occidental así como del resto de culturas existentes en el mundo. Al final del pasillo solo hay decadencia. L Si tuviese que definir este libro lo haría con el siguiente esquema tan clásico: "hombres fuertes crean tiempos buenos, buenos tiempos crean hombres débiles, hombres débiles crean malos tiempos, malos tiempos crean hombres fuertes". Básicamente, la morfología histórica de Spengler se resume en eso y realmente aporta puntos de vistas interesantes sobre la evaluación histórica de la cultura occidental así como del resto de culturas existentes en el mundo. Al final del pasillo solo hay decadencia. La baja puntuación se debe a la dificultad del libro a la hora de ser leído totalmente innecesaria para un tema a mi juicio no tan complicado de leer. La dialéctica hegeliana de Spengler y su continua obsesión por Goethe que roza el dogmatismo te hacen querer abandonar la lectura varias veces, así como el análisis erróneo de diversos hechos históricos que no son necesarios para explicar la decadencia de las civilizaciones per se. Una obra que en su síntesis ocuparía 200 páginas se convierte en una obra de 700 páginas que no deja de repetirse y caer en el fallo. Y no, no tengo nada en contra de las lecturas grandes (de hecho soy un apasionado de estas) pero en este caso invoco el mantra de "a buen entendedor, pocas palabras bastan". Definido en pocas palabras tendré a esta obra como "El Capital" de los conservadores.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Tim Parise

    This review covers both this volume and its sequel, The Decline of the West, Vol 2: Perspectives of World History. It retains Spengler's capitalization where possible. These thousand pages of involved prose start off promisingly enough with Spengler's denunciation of historians who treat western Europe in the last few hundred years as a pattern for all of human history. He then proceeds to evolve his theory of the distinction between "Culture" and "Civilization." The former he defines as a living This review covers both this volume and its sequel, The Decline of the West, Vol 2: Perspectives of World History. It retains Spengler's capitalization where possible. These thousand pages of involved prose start off promisingly enough with Spengler's denunciation of historians who treat western Europe in the last few hundred years as a pattern for all of human history. He then proceeds to evolve his theory of the distinction between "Culture" and "Civilization." The former he defines as a living organism, a Being with a soul that has a fixed lifespan and passes through certain stages (recapitulated by the individual man in his own life-cycle), which is literally tied to the soil from which it springs. "Civilization" Spengler defines as the range of forms left over by the Culture after its soul has died. In this system, individuals have no free will, but are driven along the paths of Destiny by Cosmic forces, including planetary geography and the positions of the planets (Spengler manages to identify the concept of freedom with the need to obey historical forces). These will-less individuals are led during the period of the High Culture by the aristocracy, who are the representative type of the Culture, the means by which the Culture creates art and makes History, and after the death of the Culture by Caesars and castes. Art, music, literature, and architecture, by the way, can only be created during the lifetime of a Culture, and particularly during the maturity of a High Culture, which lasts for about three hundred years. Anything created by men of a Civilization is mere imitation devoid of meaning. According to Spengler's reckoning, only eight High Cultures have existed in the history of the planet: Babylonian, Egyptian, Chinese, Indian, Mexican, Classical (Greek/Roman), Arabian, and Western. He then proceeds to sort these into three imprecise groups according to the type of soul they possess: the Apollinian, Magian, and Faustian. Apollinian Cultures he considers to be those concerned only with the immediate present and physical bodies. He places the Classical and Indian Cultures in this category. Magian Cultures Spengler describes as oriented towards monotheism and seeing themselves as a brotherhood working out a divine plan. Arabian Culture, in which he includes all the various evolutions of Talmudic Judaism, Christianity, Zoroastrianism, and Islam, is his sole example of a Magian soul. Faustian Cultures, on the other hand, see the world in terms of limitless space and forces rather than objects. While his chief example of the Faustian soul is the Western Culture, he also considers the Egyptian and Chinese Cultures to have had similar souls. Spengler is not clear on what sort of souls the Mexican and Babylonian Cultures possessed. By his reckoning there has been no Chinese Culture since 441 BC and no Western Culture since 1793 (or 1815). Arabian Culture perished by AD 732 and Classical Culture by 350 BC, well before the rise of the Roman power that is usually associated with the term "Classical." Apart from Spengler's broad habits of drawing conclusions from very fragmentary data, relying mainly on the art of a Culture to define its characteristics, and offering the reader parallels and metaphors instead of evidence, his book is riddled with inconsistencies. He sneers at Nietzsche for drawing his theories chiefly from Roman and Greek history and myth, yet about three-quarters of his own work is focused on demonstrating, contrary to popular belief, that modern Western culture has nothing in common with ancient Greek or Roman culture save for a few borrowed forms. He sneers at Darwin for thinking of the natural world in terms of an English factory, yet his own theory is a theory of evolution involving intangibles in place of tangibles, and his use of "assume/presume/suppose" is every bit as free as Darwin's. He opens with a criticism of using a limited pool of references, yet confines his own references to the arts in general and chiefly to Shakespeare, Shaw, Nietzsche, Ibsen, and Goethe in particular. In one passage alone, Spengler misdates Burchard of Worms by a century and entirely misrepresents the contents of the papal decretal "Vox in Rama", two subjects well within the scope of his own training. If he could not be bothered to check his facts regarding his own Culture, why should we take on trust what he assures us that ancient Mexicans and Egyptians and Babylonians and Chinese "must have" felt? While his empirical estimates of the timescale along which cultures evolve may have some usefulness should they be confirmed with more (less piecemeal) data, his explanation of how and why cultures evolve in this fashion is totally inadequate. But Spengler is prepared for this and all other criticisms. In his understanding of the world, criticism can only belong to the period of a Civilization, not a Culture, and can thus contain nothing of value. The Decline of the West is not a work of history, philosophy, or sociology. The first volume is a work of art criticism, and the second volume is an apologia for the aristocracy in which an exposition of the "great man" theory of history takes second place. Both are underpinned by the essential idea that only the Cosmic Being of the Culture has a soul and agency, and that men are functions of the Culture, not culture the sum of human activities. Spengler's writing is every bit as mystical as that of his contemporaries Aleister Crowley or Madame Blavatsky and every bit as useful. It succeeds best--and still fails--as a demonstration of his assertions that there is no such thing as objective truth and that each man creates his own truth. This fantasy of determinism is evidently the best Spengler could do for truth in the aftermath of the Great War.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Scott

    Masterpiece. One of the best works the West has ever made or will make. Unmatched in its scope and vision it's a force to read. Disorganized in every chapter, information comes at you from all angles but it slowly renders itself comprehensible and remains absolutely convincing. Spengler has observed truly how the cultures are birthed and take shape and through this observation everything begins to make sense. All these weird peculiarities cultures share in specific stages are now elucidated. The Masterpiece. One of the best works the West has ever made or will make. Unmatched in its scope and vision it's a force to read. Disorganized in every chapter, information comes at you from all angles but it slowly renders itself comprehensible and remains absolutely convincing. Spengler has observed truly how the cultures are birthed and take shape and through this observation everything begins to make sense. All these weird peculiarities cultures share in specific stages are now elucidated. The myth of progress becomes objectified and in a sense the future of cultures is predictable. On top of this Spengler maintains an absurdly high level of skepticism, tearing every notion from cause-and-effect to stasis to 'depth' apart. Also it reads like an epic poem. Highly recommended.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Zach

    I certainly disagree with his ideas, and not just with his conclusions, but with much of his evidence. And, unlike other authors whom I've had the pleasure of reading and disagreeing with, he's borderline unreadable (a fact that he would no doubt be proud of - he accuses Schopenhaur of being "too accessible to the mediocre mind.") There are some nuggets, some interesting ideas here and there, but as far as explanatory historical systems go, he's got nothing on Toynbee and I don't even like Toynb I certainly disagree with his ideas, and not just with his conclusions, but with much of his evidence. And, unlike other authors whom I've had the pleasure of reading and disagreeing with, he's borderline unreadable (a fact that he would no doubt be proud of - he accuses Schopenhaur of being "too accessible to the mediocre mind.") There are some nuggets, some interesting ideas here and there, but as far as explanatory historical systems go, he's got nothing on Toynbee and I don't even like Toynbee all that much.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sean

    Ugh.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Liedzeit

    Wie kann man dieses Buch nicht lieben?

  21. 4 out of 5

    Akram

    تدهور الحضارة الغربية يعتبر واحد أهم الكتب و أشهرها في الربع الأول من القرن العشرين، يرى شبنغلر فيه تدهور الحضارة الغربية بعد أن أكملت مراحل تطورها ووصولها إلى ذروة ابداعاتها الفنية و العلمية و الفلسفية يرى وصولها إلى مرحلتها الأخير ضمن النطاق التركيبي العضوي لتطورها، حيث يرى تدهورها و انحدارها بعد أن اكملت تحقيق ما هو كامن و عبرت عنه. وظف شبنغلر في كتابه منهج ثوري و جديد في دراسة الحضارات حيث رفض المنهج التاريخي المعتاد الذي يدرس التاريخ على شكل ثلاث حقب (قديمة و وسيطة و حديثة) و أستبدله بنمهجه تدهور الحضارة الغربية يعتبر واحد أهم الكتب و أشهرها في الربع الأول من القرن العشرين، يرى شبنغلر فيه تدهور الحضارة الغربية بعد أن أكملت مراحل تطورها ووصولها إلى ذروة ابداعاتها الفنية و العلمية و الفلسفية يرى وصولها إلى مرحلتها الأخير ضمن النطاق التركيبي العضوي لتطورها، حيث يرى تدهورها و انحدارها بعد أن اكملت تحقيق ما هو كامن و عبرت عنه. وظف شبنغلر في كتابه منهج ثوري و جديد في دراسة الحضارات حيث رفض المنهج التاريخي المعتاد الذي يدرس التاريخ على شكل ثلاث حقب (قديمة و وسيطة و حديثة) و أستبدله بنمهجه الخاص الذي سماه المنهج الكوبرنيكي والذي يصور فيه كل حضارة تمر بدورة خاصة بها تعبر عن شعورها الباطني الخاص حيث ينتج عن ذلك المناهج الفلسفية و العلوم المختلفة و الأعمال الفنية تكون مختلفة عن كل حضارة لأن هذه الأشياء تعبر عن شعور باطني محدد مسبقاً ميتافيزيقيا خاص بكل حضارة. و دورة كل حضارة تتكون من مراحل أربعة و هي: 1- الربيع : حيث بداية نشوء و تكون "الشعور" البدائي لكل حضارة، يتم التعبير عنه بشكل ديني أو بشكل قصصي كما في الالياذة و الأوديسة لهوميروس في الحضارة الكلاسيكية (اليونانية و الرومانية) تمتد هذه المرحلة لكل حضارة تقريباً 300 سنة. 2- الصيف: حيث يتطور هذا الشعور ليعبر عن نفسه على شكل مناهج رياضياتية و فلسفية بدل لاهوتية و يتطور في هذه المرحلة الأسلوب الفني في كل حضارة ليعبر عن شعورها الفريد بدل الشعور الفني "الزائف" الذي كان في بداياتها، لينفجر على شكل أعمال مثل الأهرامات و المساجد و الكنائس القوطية و النحت الاغريقي. 3- الخريف: وهي مرحلة ذروة اكتمال الشعور الباطني حيث تكتمل المناهج الفلسفية و العلمية و الفنية و تصل إلى ذروتها، وفي هذه المرحلة يبدء نشوء الوعي "العقلاني" و الإيمان بالعقل القادر على كل شيء و تتطور في هذه المرحلة المناهج العقلانية الفلسفية او الدينية، و يصل في هذه المرحلة ذروة التفكير الرياضي إلى قمته و كذلك المناهج الفلسفية الشاملة الكاملة التي تختم ذروة اكتمال الشعور الباطني لأي حضارة. 4- الشتاء: و يسمي شبنغلر هذه المرحلة "بفجر المدينة الكبرى" حيث تتدهور الحضارة بشتى نواحيها في هذه المرحلة الاخير من تطورها، لتستهلك جميع الإمكانيات التي تم التعبير عنها في المراحل السابقة، و تنمو في هذه المرحلة نظرة مادية إلى العالم و تصعد مذاهب النفعية و الرفاه لتطغي و تسيطر، و كذلك تصعد المثل العليا الأخلاقية الاجتماعية و التي تنظر إلى الحياة بنظرة شكوكية ارتيابية تعتبر الحياة مشكلة، و ينحل فيها التفكير التجريدي الفلسفي إلى فلسفة القاعات كما يسميها شبنغلر. أخيراً سمى شبنغلر الحضارة الغربية بالحضارة "الفاوستية" نسبة الى رواية فاوست لغوته، لأن النفس الباطنية للحضارة الغربية تسعى دوما نحو الفضاء اللامحدود او اللانهائي في مختلف ابداعاتها الفنية او العلمية، و سمى الاقوام الفارسية و اليهودية و المسيحية و الإسلامية "بالنفس المجوسية" لأنها تتصور العالم بشكل كهف او على شكل مسجد ذو قبة ينزل منها النور الإلهي، للحضارة الكلاسيكية (اليونانية و الرومانية) لقبها الخاص هو "الجسد المثالي" التي عبرت عنه هذه الحضارة بالنحت.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Said Abuzeineh

    الجزء الأول من كتاب شبنغلر الضخم الذي عكف عليه متخليا عن العمل الأكاديمي لينجزه، وقد كان لاقى عمله هذا رواجا كبيرا في ألمانيا بد معاهدة فرساي المذلةه وقد مثل للألمان تفسيرا منطقيا لسقوطهم باعتباره عرضالمرض أكبر أصاب الأمة الأوروبية. وتكمن أهمية هذا الكتاب في كونه ينطوي على نظرية هي من بواكير النظريات التي عارضت النموذج الخطي للتاريخ، فدرست التاريخ باعتباره دورات متتابعة لحضارات مختلفة، وهو بهذا يعارض نموذج كانط وهيجل للتاريخ باعتباره مسارا خطيا شاملا نحو غاية واحدة للبشرية. (يراجع سلسلة مقالاتنا الجزء الأول من كتاب شبنغلر الضخم الذي عكف عليه متخليا عن العمل الأكاديمي لينجزه، وقد كان لاقى عمله هذا رواجا كبيرا في ألمانيا بد معاهدة فرساي المذلةه وقد مثل للألمان تفسيرا منطقيا لسقوطهم باعتباره عرضالمرض أكبر أصاب الأمة الأوروبية. وتكمن أهمية هذا الكتاب في كونه ينطوي على نظرية هي من بواكير النظريات التي عارضت النموذج الخطي للتاريخ، فدرست التاريخ باعتباره دورات متتابعة لحضارات مختلفة، وهو بهذا يعارض نموذج كانط وهيجل للتاريخ باعتباره مسارا خطيا شاملا نحو غاية واحدة للبشرية. (يراجع سلسلة مقالاتنا في صراع النبوءات في مدونات الجزيرة لمزيد إيضاح لهذين النموذجين). ويعتمد شبنجلر في نظريته هذه نموذج غوته في وصف تشكل النباتات ونموها، فكل حضارة تحوي في داخلها روحا وجوهرا خاصا يتشكل مع الزمان وتظهر معالمه وخطوطه في جميع مراحل الحضارة وحتى موتها، وهو على هذا يبحث جوهر الحضارة الغربية ويلخصه بسمات معينة تظهر بادية في جميع مناحيها من رياضيات وعلوم وفن وفلسفة وسياسة وأخلاق. وهذا الكتاب يحتاج من قارئه علما واسعا بالفنون والعلوم والفلسفات حتى يستقيم له فهم أمثلته وأدلته على وجهها. وفي هذا الجزء أنظار مهمة يمكن منها استخلاص عدم شمولية الحضارة الغربية ولا عالميتها، بل وعدم شمولية كثير من نماذج العلم والرياضيات والفلسفة التي تطرح باعتبارها نماذج علمية موضوعية لا جدال فيها. وفيه نقد لاذع للاشتراكية والعقلانية الكانطية والمسار الخطي الهيجلي باعتبارها مظاهر شيخوخة الحضارة وتحولها إلى مرحلة الضمور والموت "المدنية" ... ولذا فلا جرم أن أغلب أكاديميي وفلاسفة عصر شبنجلر قد نقدوا عمله هذا وعدّوه عمل رجل هاو متطفل على فلسفة التاريخ ، ولا جرم عارضه كارل بوبر وعدّه عبثا وبلا معنى، فبمقتضى نظرية شبنجلر يكون كارل بوبر مدافعا عن مظاهر الشيخوخة والموت للحضارة لا عن مظاهر التقدم والحيوية لها . عمل بارع موسوعي خطير .. وهو مهم جدا في تشكيل وعينا كأمة بمحلنا من التاريخ وبدورنا في المستقبل.

  23. 4 out of 5

    J.W.D. Nicolello

    Though this site is but a bit of lofty archiving with side of mass opioid stupidity, I find it fair to leave some notes hither and thither pertaining to de profundis. It had been a decade since I picked up Spengler, and in that time I came to state of knowledge sufficient to read Decline, vol. 1, without having to lose myself in notes, theasauri, &c. Still, where it's great it's great, and I by no means agree wih Popper the Village Idiot; and yet neither have I cared for Goethe or Nietszche in a Though this site is but a bit of lofty archiving with side of mass opioid stupidity, I find it fair to leave some notes hither and thither pertaining to de profundis. It had been a decade since I picked up Spengler, and in that time I came to state of knowledge sufficient to read Decline, vol. 1, without having to lose myself in notes, theasauri, &c. Still, where it's great it's great, and I by no means agree wih Popper the Village Idiot; and yet neither have I cared for Goethe or Nietszche in a decade, nor do I consider historical generations like plants. Thus it is not a matter of dismaying density, for such a thing no longer exists for me, without music, where volume is the norm. There were innumerable flashes of insight over the past Spenglerian weeks. I even bought a new pencil sharpener. There is a mystique in being in over one's head, for there the individual is excited. Challenge is stimulating, because it alludes to the esoteric reward, which in turn leads one into the next chronologicaliterary synchronicity, which in turn fuels one's craft and art. Such were, toward the end of the second quarter, not, not the joys. I tuck the thing away and prepare to take the world by storm, for in a pornographic world chivalry is head.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Moises Pittounikos

    Amazing how people misrepresent this book! By the West Spengler means a sort of psychology (but much bigger and deeper than mere academic psychology). Today we are in a digital mind-space, I think we all agree on this. This today is the digital age.. Back when Oswald Spengler wrote this, the Faustian mind-space was in a twilight end. A thousand years or so before the Faustian, the magian mind-space was giving way to the young Faustian. So in these different periods people were different... So di Amazing how people misrepresent this book! By the West Spengler means a sort of psychology (but much bigger and deeper than mere academic psychology). Today we are in a digital mind-space, I think we all agree on this. This today is the digital age.. Back when Oswald Spengler wrote this, the Faustian mind-space was in a twilight end. A thousand years or so before the Faustian, the magian mind-space was giving way to the young Faustian. So in these different periods people were different... So different people's throughout history had different psyches? Is there proof? So this is what Decline is all about. Is it worth reading today? Well there is predictive power in this book. Spengler writes that at the end of an epoch economics overtakes, say, art and beauty as the main meaning of life.. This feels like the world we live in today. Spengler also writes other things which when read today feels like the guy was on to something. In the film Idiocracy, the beginning had a highly intelligent couple weighing the pro's and con's of having a baby.. Then the film shows them aged and barren. Amazingly Spengler describes this very scene! Like Alfred Korzybski's Science and Sanity, the Decline of the West was read by brainy Jews and well as Germans.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Dale

    Referred to but rarely read. This work of philosophy of history was conceived in 1914 but appeared in 1918 just at the turning point of the great war. In retrospect "the impulse to create it arose from a view of our civilization not as the late war left it, but as the coming war would find it." I wish I was smarter so that I could better read it.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Richard Corral

    One of the most difficult history books I have ever read. Not like anything people write today. Spengler lays out a complex theory of historical evolution. It took me a while for me to see all the pieces of his theory come together. His idea of seeing cultures like an organism with parts and phases is compelling. This has to be some kinda of proto-Postmodernism. Now on to Volume 2

  27. 5 out of 5

    Andre

    Niet altijd makkelijk te volgen. Had best moeite om bepaalde theorieën te doorgronden. Toch biedt het veel interessante gezichtspunten en voer om na te denken. Wel een aanrader om je geest wat te scherpen. Ik ben benieuwd naar deel 2. Maar gauw in gaan beginnen.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Bas

    Genius

  29. 5 out of 5

    Aaron Bojarzin

    Honestly changed my life, the way I look at history, life, everything. Spengler is a genius. Amazing fucking book.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Raúl

    No es lo que esperaba. No leeré el segundo tomo.

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