The Decline of the West – Oswald Spengler (2 vols)


The Decline of the West – Oswald Spengler (2 vols)


Title: The Decline of the West

Author: Oswald Spengler, Charles Francis Atkinson (trans)

Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf, 1988. 2 vols.

Condition: Hardcover, with dust jacket. Near fine. Small tear to the bottom of title page on vol 1. Previous owner’s blindstamp to title pages on both volumes. No other defect. Deckle edges.

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About the book (from Wikipedia):

The Decline of the West (German: Der Untergang des Abendlandes), or The Downfall of the Occident, is a two-volume work by Oswald Spengler, the first volume of which was published in the summer of 1918. Spengler revised this volume in 1922 and published the second volume, subtitled Perspectives of World History, in 1923.

The book introduces itself as a “Copernican overturning” operating as a paradigm shift involving the rejection of the Eurocentric view of history, especially the division of history into the linear “ancient-medieval-modern” rubric. According to Spengler, the meaningful units for history are not epochs but whole cultures which evolve as organisms. He recognizes eight high cultures: Babylonian, Egyptian, Chinese, Indian, Mesoamerican (Mayan/Aztec), Classical (Greek/Roman), Arabian, Western or “European-American.” Cultures have a lifespan of about a thousand years. The final stage of each culture is, in his word use, a “civilization”.

Spengler also presents the idea of Muslims, Jews and Christians, as well as their Persian and Semitic forebears, being Magian; Mediterranean cultures of the antiquity such as Ancient Greece and Rome being Apollonian; and the modern Westerners being Faustian.

According to Spengler, the Western world is ending and we are witnessing the last season—”winter time”—of the Faustian Civilization. In Spengler’s depiction, Western Man is a proud but tragic figure because, while he strives and creates, he secretly knows the actual goal will never be reached.

About the author (from Wikipedia):

Oswald Arnold Gottfried Spengler (29 May 1880 – 8 May 1936) was a German historian and philosopher of history whose interests included mathematics, science, and art. He is best known for his book The Decline of the West (Der Untergang des Abendlandes), published in 1918 and 1922, covering all of world history. Spengler’s civilization model postulates that any civilization is a superorganism with a limited and predictable lifespan.

He wrote extensively throughout World War I and the interwar period, and supported German hegemony in Europe. His other writings made little impact outside Germany. In 1920 Spengler produced Prussiandom and Socialism (Preußentum und Sozialismus), which argued for an organic, nationalist brand of non-Marxist socialism and authoritarianism. Some Nazis, including Joseph Goebbels, saw Spengler as an intellectual precursor, but he was ultimately ostracized by the Nazis in 1933 for his pessimism about the future of Germany and Europe, his refusal to support the Nazi ideas of racial superiority, and his critical work The Hour of Decision.