Oswald Spengler
(Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )

Philosophy of History
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Synopsis:
  • History is cyclical, not linear (not unlimited evolution/progress
  • High Cultures: Indian, Babylonian, Egyptian, Chinese, Mayan-Aztec, Arabian (Hebraic and Islamic), Classical (Greece and Rome), Western (European), each lasting about 1000 years
  • Histories of various cultures follow a similar pattern
  • All aspects of a culture (art, politics, science) share underlying principles which differ from culture to culture
  • Each High Culture has as a distinguishing feature a "prime symbol" or soul, generally derived from its religion, which permeates its art, science, and politics:
  • Egyptian: the "Path" (preoccupation with the sequential passages of the soul)
  • Classical: the "point-present" (preoccupation with the neighborhood, the domestic, the space of immediate visibility: Euclidean geometry, two-dimensional painting and relief-sculpture, lack of facial expression of Grecian statues)
  • Western: the "Faustian" soul (upward reaching for the absolute/infinite, as in the vertical style of Gothic cathedrals and classical music)
  • Culture is "organic", follows a life pattern:
  • Spring: the time of the origin of its basic principles, i.e. birth of its religion
  • Summer: its "best shape", when all facets are working according to the culture's principles, the age of its greatest achievements
  • Autumn: principles break down, mega-cities are born, money drives politics, citizens question traditions, art is non-intuitive, atheism spreads, and eventually a benign despot takes over to restore order
  • Winter: despots battle each other for control of the planet, masses are indifferent, cities depopulate, masses gradually return to traditional values
  • Western civilization:
  • A culture of directedness and will ("Faustian")
  • Western religion requires us to convert others
  • Western art has a perspective, a direction
  • Western music is directed toward a tonal center
  • Western science is about changing the world
  • Western mathematics is not only geometry (which is static) but also calculus (dynamic)
  • Western civilization ended its summer in the second half of the 18th century, began its autumn with Napoleon, and entered its winter in the 19th century
  • A culture moves in the direction of its destiny, regardless of individual choices: one can choose to contribute or to be irrelevant
  • Supreme duty of the individual: striving for the destruction of capitalism and democracy

(Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )