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' and rejects the Euro-centric 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 acknowledges eight high cultures: Babylonian, Egyptian, Chinese, Indian, Mexican (Mayan/Aztec), Classical (Greek/Roman), Arabian, Western or "European-American". Cultures have a limited lifespan of some thousand years. The final stage of each culture is, in his word use, a 'civilization'.
The book 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 the theory, the Western world is actually 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, for, while he strives and creates, he secretly knows the actual goal will never be reached.
Read more about The Decline Of The West: A General Context, Overview, The Meaning of History, Culture and Civilization, Races, Peoples and Cultures, Religion's Role, The State and Caesarism, Democracy, Media, and Money, Mathematics, Criticisms, Test of The Theory
Famous quotes containing the word decline:
“Our achievements speak for themselves. What we have to keep track of are our failures, discouragements, and doubts. We tend to forget the past difficulties, the many false starts, and the painful groping. We see our past achievements as the end result of a clean forward thrust, and our present difficulties as signs of decline and decay.”
—Eric Hoffer (19021983)