O. Spengler. Sunset of Europe - Reader on philosophy

Oh. Spengler. The Decline of Europe

SPENGLER Oswald Arnold Gottfried (1880-1936) is an outstanding German historian, philosopher, publicist. He began his career as a gymnasium teacher of mathematics and history, then became a freelance writer. After the sensational success of his main work "The Decline of Europe" (1918) acted as a publicist of the conservative-nationalist trend. In the early 1930's. expressed a certain favor to fascism, but the proposal of the National Socialists on direct cooperation was decidedly rejected. The rejection of the policy of anti-Semitism and the expansionist aspirations of the Hitlerites led to some repressions: O. Spengler's last book ("The Years of Decisions") was withdrawn from circulation, and the name of the thinker was forbidden to be mentioned in the political press.

The main work of O. Spengler's life is "The Decline of Europe" is a European manifesto of the concept of local cultural or civilizational development of history. This view of world history as a series of local, independent cultures, each of which, like any living organism, is consistently experiencing the stages of origin, formation and dying. O. Spengler had eight such cultures (Egyptian, Babylonian, Chinese, etc.). The fruitful interaction between them is essentially out of the question, they are in fact value-incompatible. The average life span of a local culture is about a millennium. Dying, culture is reborn into civilization. This is the stage of a purely mechanical existence of a culture that is no longer capable of new creative accomplishments.

Major works in United States: Gestalt and reality & quot ;; World-historical perspectives & quot ;; "Years of Solutions: Germany and World History Development".

So what is world history? Undoubtedly, some sort of orderly representation, some inner postulate, an expression of the feeling of form. But even such a certain feeling is not yet a real form, and no matter how confident we are that we feel and experience world history, no matter how it seems to us that we survey it in its gestalt, that we still know today only some of its forms, and not the very form, an exact copy of our inner life.

Of course, if you ask anyone, he will surely be convinced that he can clearly and clearly see the inner form of history. This illusion rests on the fact that no one has seriously thought about it yet and that people least of all doubt their knowledge, since no one suspects how much everything is still in doubt here. Gestalt of world history actually turns out to be an untested spiritual heritage inherited, even among historians by profession, from generation to generation and extremely needing a grain of that skepticism that since Galileo has expanded and deepened a natural picture of nature.

The ancient world - The Middle Ages - New time: Here is an incredibly meager and senseless scheme, unconditional domination of which over our historical thinking without end interrupted we correctly perceive the actual place, rank, gestalt, especially the life span of a small part of the world, manifested on the soil of Western Europe since the time of the German emperors, in its relation to the universal history of the higher humanity. It would seem unlikely to future cultures that this projection, with all its simple-minded straightforwardness, its absurd proportions, becoming increasingly impossible and completely impossible to incorporate the newly emerging regions of our historical consciousness, has never been seriously shaken in its significance. Because the protest that has long been a habit among researchers of history, the protest against this scheme does not mean anything at all. Thus, they only smoothed out the only available projection, not replacing it with anything. You can talk as much as you like about the Greek Middle Ages and German antiquity, all the same it does not yet lead to a clear and internally necessary picture in which an organic place China and Mexico, the Axumite kingdom and the Sassanid kingdom. Even the displacement of the starting point of the "New time" from the Crusades to the Renaissance and from here to the beginning of the XIX century proves only that the scheme as such is still considered unshakable.

This limits the amount of history, but much worse is that it narrows and its arena. The landscape of Western Europe [...] forms here a resting pole (mathematically speaking, a singular point on the surface of the sphere) - it is unclear, because of what other reason, except that we, the creators of this historical picture, are exactly here and feel at home , - a pole around which the millennia of powerful histories and far-away huge cultures revolve in modest fashion. This is a whole planetary system, invented in a very peculiar way. Any particular landscape is selectively taken as the natural focus of a certain historical system. Here its central Sun. From here, all the events of history receive their true illumination. Hence, perspective determines their value. But in reality, here is the vanity of a Western European man, which is bridled by no skepticism, in whose mind the "world history" phantom unfolds. This vanity and we are bound to become a habitually monstrous optical illusion, the force of which the history of the millennia, say Chinese and Egyptian, wrinkles at a distance to incidental occasions, while the decades close to us, beginning with Luther and especially from Napoleon, take a ghostly- bloated appearance. We know that the cloud only appears to be moving more slowly, the higher it is, and only the train seems to creep in a distant landscape, but it seems to us that the pace of the early Indian, Babylonian, Egyptian history was indeed slower than our tempo recent past. And we consider their substance to be more unstable, their forms more muffled and stretched, because they did not learn to take into account the internal and external distances.

That for the culture of the West, the existence of Athens, Florence, Paris is more important than the existence of Luoyang and Pataliputra - this of course goes without saying. But is it possible to put these assessments in the basis of the scheme of world history? In this case, the Chinese historian would have the right to design a world history in which the insignificant crusades and the Renaissance, Caesar and Frederick the Great would be hushed up. Why is the 18th century more important from the morphological point of view than any of the sixty preceding it? Is it not ridiculous to oppose some "New time", a volume of several centuries and also localized mainly in Western Europe, to some "Ancient world", covering as many millennia and consisting simply as an appendage of a mass of all kinds pre-Greek cultures, without any attempt to deeper their dismemberment? Had not Egypt and Babylon, for their salvation of an out-of-date scheme, hushed up, only the self-contained histories of which, each by themselves, balance the so-called world history from Charlemagne to the world war and beyond, treating them as a prelude to antiquity; did they not force the mighty complexes of Indian and Chinese culture into some sort of a note with some embarrassed grimace and did not they ignore the great American cultures in general, since they are deprived of connection (with what?)?

I call this habitual pattern for the current West European, in which developed cultures revolve around us as the imaginary center of the entire world achievement, the system of history by the Ptolemaic system, and I regard it as Copernican discovery in the field of history is that in this book [the "Decline of Europe"], the place of the old scheme is occupied by a system in which antiquity and the West along with India, Babylon, China, Egypt, Arab and Mexican culture are separate worlds of becoming , having the same value in the general picture of history and often the ancient antiquity that is full of the grandeur of the spiritual concept, the force of take-off, occupy an appropriate and not at all privileged position. "

About every organism we know that the tempo, shape and duration of his life or any particular manifestation of life are determined by the properties of the genus to which he belongs. Nobody will assume about the millennial oak, that he is just now, and is going to, in fact, grow. No one expects the caterpillar, seeing its daily growth, that it may be growing for several more years. Here, everyone with absolute certainty feels a certain border, and this feeling is identical with a sense of inner form. But with respect to the history of the developed human type, there is an unconstrained and neglecting of all sorts of historical and, therefore, organic experience, optimism about the course of the future, so that everyone does in the random present "idea" to the highest degree of outstanding linear "further development", not because it is scientifically provable, but because it wants it. Here, foresee unlimited possibilities - but never a natural end - and from the circumstances of each instant they model a completely naive construction of continuation.

But the "humanity" there is no goal, no idea, no plan, no goal and no butterflies or orchids. Humanity Is a zoological concept or an empty word [...]. It is enough to eliminate this phantom from the circle of problems of historical forms, and an amazing richness of real forms will immediately appear to the eye. Discover the immense fullness, depth and mobility of the living, covered up until now with a fashionable word, a skinny scheme, personal "ideals". Instead of a bleak picture of the linear world history, which can only be supported by closing eyes to the overwhelming pile of facts, I see a real spectacle of a multitude of powerful cultures, with primal strength blooming from the womb of the mother landscape, to which each of them is strictly tied with the whole course of its existence, material - humanity - own form and having each own idea, own passion, own life, will, feeling , own death. There are paints, glare of light, movements that no spiritual gaze has opened. There are burgeoning and aging cultures, peoples, languages, truths, gods, landscapes, as there are young and old oaks and pines, flowers, branches and leaves, there is no aging humanity. Each culture has its own new possibilities of expression that appear, mature, fade, and never repeat. There are many, in the deepest essence of their perfectly different from each other, excellent plastics, paintings, mathematics, physics, each with a limited life span, each in itself the most closed, just as any kind of plant has its own flowers and fruits, its own type of growth and wilting . These cultures, living beings of the highest rank, grow with an elevated aimlessness, like flowers in the field. Like plants and animals, they belong to the living nature of Goethe, and not to the dead nature of Newton. I see in world history a picture of eternal education and transformation, the miraculous formation and transgression of organic forms. The shop historian sees them in the likeness of a ribbon worm that relentlessly postpones the epoch behind the epoch. "

"The death of the West [...] means no more and no less than the problem of civilization. Here is one of the main questions of all history of a more advanced age. What is civilization, understood as an organic-logical consequence, as the completion and outcome of culture?

For every culture has its own own civilization. For the first time, these two words, which until now meant a vague distinction of the ethical order, are understood here in a periodic sense as an expression of a strict and necessary organic sequence. Civilization is the inevitable fate of culture. Here, the very peak, from the height of which it becomes possible to solve the last and most difficult questions of historical morphology. Civilizations are the most extreme and most artificial states on which a higher type of people is capable.

They are the completion; they follow the emergence as becoming, for life as death, for development as a stupor, for the village and spiritual childhood, witnessed by Doric and Gothic, as mental old age and stone, fossilizing the world city. They are the end, without the right of appeal, but they were always a reality because of internal necessity.

This alone leads to an understanding of the Romans as the "heirs" of the Hellenes. Only in this way does the late antiquity appear in the light exposing its deepest secrets. For what else could mean the fact - whose controversy would only look like idle talk - that the Romans were barbarians, but barbarians who did not precede the great upsurge, but shut it down? Soulless, far from philosophy, devoid of art, with racial instincts reaching to atrocity, unceremoniously considered only with real successes, they stand between Hellenic culture and emptiness. They aimed only at practical fantasy - they possessed a sacred right that regulates the relationship between gods and people, as between private individuals, and not a single Roman legend about the gods - is a character trait that does not occur in Athens at all. The Greek soul and the Roman intellect - that's what it is. So different culture and civilization. And this can be said not only about antiquity. All this again and again emerges this type of strong mind, but completely non-metaphysical people. In their hands, the spiritual and material fate of each later era. They enforced the Babylonian, Egyptian, Indian, Chinese, and Roman imperialism. In such epochs, Buddhism, Stoicism and Socialism attain the maturity of the final life sentiments capable of once again capturing and transforming the dying mankind in all its substance. The pure civilization as a historical process consists in a gradual excavation (Abbau) becoming an inorganic and dead form.

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