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date: 02 August 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Oswald Spengler (1880–1936), may not have been the obvious candidate to produce the most talked-about book of his age. A somewhat sickly loner, he nonetheless touched something in the collective European consciousness, a melancholic post-war mood that enabled The Decline of the West to become a best-seller. Civilizations, being “organic,” have lifecycles, he argued, just like biological entities. He went on to argue that Western civilization has evolved through three major stages—the Magian, the Appollonian, and the Faustian. These correspond, respectively, to the belief in magic (including the major religions), the striving for order (Classical Greece and Rome), and the pursuit of power and knowledge (the modern West). The West had achieved its high point; from here things would take a downhill turn. In this excerpt he discusses what he calls the “world-city,” a cosmopolitan mélange of people and cultures comprised of rootless individuals without traditions, territorial identity, religion, what Spengler contemptuously refers to as “a mob.”

From Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West (1918).

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