Dictionary of Arguments

Philosophical and Scientific Issues in Dispute

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Disputed term/author/ism Author
History Spengler Brocker I 115
History/Spengler: starting with Goethe's concept of the primordial phenomenon, Spengler puts forward the thesis that everything happens according to a comparable pattern - something grows, unfolds, but also withers, slowly dies and solidifies. Spengler's thesis: Precisely because everything takes place according to a comparable pattern, according to Spengler it is possible "from isolated data of a political, economic, religious nature to find the basic organic features of the historical picture of entire centuries, from elements of artistic formal language, for example the simultaneous form of state, from mathematical forms to read the character of the corresponding economic ones". (1)
Copernican revolution: Spengler claimed to have brought about such a revolution in the interpretation of universal history: "I call this a familiar scheme for today's Western Europeans, in which the high cultures orbit around us as the supposed centre of all world events, the Ptolemaic system of history and I regard it as the Copernican discovery in the field of history, that in this book a system takes its place, in which antiquity and the West alongside India, Babylon, China, Egypt, Arab and Mexican culture [...] in no way take a privileged position" (2).
"Each has its childhood, its youth, its manhood and its old age" (3). This in turn means that all cultures are
Brocker I 116
according to Spengler, "organisms" and "world history is their biography as a whole". (4) SpenglerVsTradition: thus he questioned the traditional schema of antiquity - the Middle Ages - modern times. Indeed, Spengler's point of view was radically new at the time and caused a general sensation.
Brocker I 119
VsSpengler: Spengler was criticized for his pessimism. SpenglerVsVs: He replied with the text "Pessimism" (Prussian Yearbooks 1921): There are people, it says here, "who confuse the sinking of antiquity with the sinking of an ocean liner. The term catastrophe is not contained in the words. If you say perfection instead of doom, [...] the 'pessimistic' side is temporarily switched off without the actual meaning of the term having been changed" (Spengler 1951, 63 f.) (5).

1. Oswald Spengler, Der Untergang des Abendlandes. Umrisse einer Morphologie der Weltgeschichte, Bd. 1: Gestalt und Wirklichkeit, Wien/Leipzig 1918; umgestaltete Aufl. München 1923; Bd. 2: Welthistorische Perspektiven, München 1922. Oswald Spengler, Der Untergang des Abendlandes. Umrisse einer Morphologie der Weltgeschichte. Vollständige Ausgabe in einem Band, München 1963.
2. Ebenda S. 24
3. Ebenda S. 144
4. Ebenda S. 140
5.Spengler 1951, S. 63f.

Hans-Christof Klaus, Oswald Spengler, Der Untergang des Abendlandes (1918/1922) in: Manfred Brocker (Hg.) Geschichte des politischen Denkens. Das 20. Jahrhundert. Frankfurt/M. 2018.

Spengler I
Oswald Spengler
Politische Schriften München 1932

Brocker I
Manfred Brocker
Geschichte des politischen Denkens. Das 20. Jahrhundert Frankfurt/M. 2018