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Book Perspectives of World-History (The Decline of the West) (Volume 2) by Oswald Spengler (2013-06-06)


Perspectives of World-History (The Decline of the West) (Volume 2) by Oswald Spengler (2013-06-06)

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    Oswald Spengler(Author)

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  • Oswald Spengler(Author)
  • Windham Press (1832)
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Review Text

  • By Zack Hamilton on September 23, 2015

    "Windham Press is committed to bringing the lost cultural heritage of ages past into the 21st century through high-quality reproductions of original, classic printed works at affordable prices.""This book has been carefully crafted to utilize the original images of antique books rather than error prone OCR text...""We think these benefits are worth the occasional imperfection resulting from the age of these books at the time of scanning, and their vintage feel provides a connection to the past that goes beyond the mere words of the text."My ass.It's just a photocopy of an older text put on printer paper. Truly, it's the same paper that you use in your printer at home.Sorry for the horrible picture quality, but you can see the lines along the edge of the pages from where the book was misaligned with the scanner. Disappointing. I guess I expected something a little more grand, this felt like the antithesis of grand. The least they could have done was touch it up a bit.This is a sort of bare bones product that could have been made start to finish by interns. Look elsewhere.

  • By Ray Erskins on June 1, 2016

    Oswald Spengler’s “The Decline of the West” was and still is a controversial book. Some have even regarded it as hopelessly flawed. Conceived just before 1911 and written during World War I, it was published a few months before Germany signed the Armistice (in 1918) that would lead to its eventual calamities within the Weimar Republic and set the stage for the rise of the Third Reich. Whatever else one may say about it, the book seems to have been eerily prophetic, especially for Germany.Spengler’s unconventional and creative technique of using imagination and intuition to divine the probable future by way of “physiognomic meaning” and “morphological” analysis rather than the more accepted “systematic” approach of compiling facts and dates was met with scathing criticism by much of the academic world. Nevertheless, Spengler’s difficult book became a sensation in Germany and quickly sold 90,000 copies, much to the chagrin of the experts. Throughout the book Spengler is attempting to write a “philosophy of history” as opposed to a mere recounting of the past devoid of intrinsic order or inner necessity. Instead, Spengler was seeing each fact in the historical picture according to its symbolic context. He wanted to set free their shapes, hidden deep beneath the surface of a true “history of human progress.” Yet there was no such thing as progress (in the evolutionary sense) according to Spengler. The entire book was a protest against Darwinism and its systematic science based upon causality. Instead, he regarded a “culture” as an organism and world history as its biography. The best metaphor for his “morphological” approach was the four seasons – spring, summer, autumn, winter. The instinctive genius of a youthful, even barbaric culture in the springtime of its development would enable it to flourish. As it matured it would exult in all the potentialities of its creativity, reaching heights never before attempted. Great architecture, advanced mathematics, artistic innovations, technological ingenuity, statecraft, warfare, etc. would reach full flower well into its summer. Then, as the inner form world and imagination of such a culture began to lose its force it would enter an urban and worldly “late” (autumnal) period of rationalism and free itself from subservience to religion and dare to make that religion the object of epistemological criticism, thus opening the door to nihilism. Finally, it would go into its winter season or “Civilization” phase and begin its slow and inevitable decline. The West was already entering its Civilization phase by 1918 according to Spengler. It would not be a sudden collapse, but a gradual setting of the sun, a time of lengthening shadows, i.e., a “Twilight of the Gods.”The most arresting thematic metaphors in Spengler’s imaginings were the three main cultures of Western Civilization, namely the Apollonian, Magian, and Faustian. Apollonian culture was classical civilization, i.e., the Greeks, the Romans, and the Hellenistic pagan culture of the ancients. Magian-Arabian culture encompassed Judaism, primitive Christianity, Mazdeism, Nestorians, Manicheans, Monophysites, and Islam. It was an eschatological and apocalyptic culture. It saw the world as Cavern, and our time on earth as limited. Submission to God was its primary ethos, but there was also the possibility of salvation, and of a coming Savior. By contrast, Apollonian culture did not see the past or even the present as being that different from the future. History as some linear narrative from which lessons could be learned was alien to the Apollonian mind. Instead, myth contained the essential, unchanging wisdom of existence. Character was fate. Pride came before the fall. The gods were capricious. But Faustian culture – which began around 1000 A.D. wished to extend its will into infinite space. It had built the Gothic cathedrals to realize this inward, willful striving for extension into the illimitable heavens, to flood the soul with light. Descartes, Leibnitz, Euler, Gauss, Newton, and Riemann, had pushed western mathematics to new heights. European artists had learned to use light and shadow, the color wheel, and the laws of perspective and vanishing points to create paintings that appeared three dimensional. The music of the Baroque and the art of the fugue had expressed the Faustian notion of limitless space. All this and much more are discussed in exhaustive detail throughout the book.This abridged version will give the reader a healthy overview of Spengler’s book. But I recommend the full, unabridged version for anyone who has the time and inclination to read it at length. Even though there are numerous arguments for and against Spengler’s unorthodox approach, his erudition in mathematics, the natural sciences, and classical literature is impressive. Yet his style is dreamlike and poetic (in the epic sense). This book is not for everyone, but if it speaks to you it will light your fire.

  • By H.W. on February 8, 2017

    I've been curious about the ideas of Spengler for years, and have read excerpts and commentary online like anyone else. Buying his book turned out to be harder than I expected, so I decided to go with this abridged version since I've also heard that the real thing can be repetitive and hard to understand at points. I have probably read more material online from the actual books than is included in this abridgment. There are 57 pages of large print and there's an apparent two paragraph limit per page at that. The front cover is a blow-up of a low-res jpeg - which works just fine as a thumbnail on Amazon but is angry-making to look at in hand. Adult coloring books are more substantial.

  • By S on December 29, 2016

    If you love Nietzsche, read Spengler, too. As a nonspecialist consumer of philosophy who doesn't have to keep up with the fads of the moment, I'd say that Spengler is a top shelf philosopher. This isn't tedious metaphysics. This is a fascinating analysis of culture in its many forms. Perhaps the most fascinating character is "Faustian man," or we ourselves for whom such "zoomed out" view is natural if not inevitable. I won't try to summarize this book, because it's real genius is in the details. And these details are insights into the meanings of and relationships between the highest works of music, philosophy, mathematics, architecture, etc. Spengler is something like an ideal guide through some of history's highlights. Agreeing here or there is beside the point. He leaves you inspired, more sensitive to subtleties all around you. His personality is serene, lofty, "cool." For me this was a nice complement to Nietzsche's tone, and it helped me "place" or process the genius of Nietzsche.

  • By S. Elliott on July 10, 2013

    Don't bother with this translation. Find another one.Not only is the machine-scanned text full of bizarre and jarring errors that could be easily fixed by any human editor, the most diplomatic thing I can say about the translation is that it lacks "grace". It is far too literal and very clumsy. One would think that the translator is obviously not a native English speaker and has no ear for real English, spoken or written, yet his name is Charles Francis Atkinson.I think Spengler is a "period piece" worth reading, but this is not a translation or book I can recommend to anyone. Personally, I will read him in the original German instead--it's clearer and less of a struggle than reading this mangled English text.This is probably the worst and most amateurish translation of academic German I have ever seen. It is unimaginable that it was actually published again by Amazon!

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