Oswald Spengler. The Decline of the West. An abridged edition by Helmut Werner. English abridged edition prepared by Arthur Helps from the translation by Charles Francis Atkinson. New York: oxford University Press c199 [1926, 1928, 1932]. xxxx,415, xvix




Each culture has made its own set of images of physical processes, which are true only for itself and only alive whole it is itself alive. The "Nature" of Classical man found its highest artistic emblem in the nude statue, and out of it logically there grew up a static of bodies, a physics of the near. [Elsewhere, he relates this to Euclidian geometry.] The Arabian Culture can by symbolized by the arabesque and the cavern-vaulting of the mosque, and out of this world-feeling there issued Alchemy with its ideas of mysterious substances like the "philosophical mercury," which is neither a material nor a property but by magic can transmute one metal into another. And the outcome of Faustian man's Nature idea was a dynamic of unlimited span, a physics of the distant. To the Classical therefore belong the conceptions of matter and form, to the Arabian (quite Spinozistically) the idea of substances with visible or secret attributes, and to the Faustian the idea of force and mass.

... That which Classical man saw before him as "motion" in space he understood as ... change of position of bodies; we from the way in which we experience motion, have deduced the concept of a process, a "going forward," thereby expressing and emphasizing that element of directional energy which our thought necessarily predicates the courses of Nature....

The rise of a chemical method of the Arabian style betokens a new world-consciousness. The discovery of it, which at one blow made an end of Apollinian natural science, of mechanical statics... Similarly it was just at the time of the definite emancipation of the Western mathematic by Newton and Leibniz that the Western chemistry was freed from Arabic form by Stahl (1660-1734) and his Phlogiston theory. Chemistry and mathematic alike became pure analysis. Then Robert Boyle (1626-91) devised the analytical method and with it the Western conception of the Element. That is in fact the end of genuine chemistry, its dissolution into the comprehensive system of pure dynamic, its assimilation into the mechanical outlook which the Baroque Age had established through Galileo and Newton.

What we call Statics, Chemistry and Dynamics--words that as used in modern science are merely traditional distinctions without deeper meaning--are really the respective physical systems of the Apollinian, Magian and Faustian souls, each of which grew up in its own culture and was limited as to validity to the same. Corresponding to these sciences, each to each, we have the mathematics of Euclidean geometry, Algebra and Higher Analysis, and the arts of statue, arabesque and fugue.

Sections from Spengler, The Decline of the West:
Introduction: Civilization
Introduction: Imperialism
Architecture and Divinities
Imitation and Ornament
The History of Style as an Organism
Arts as Symbol of the Higher Order
Popular and Esoteric
Will to Power
Morale of Dawning Civilizations
The History of Style as an Organism
Pergamum and Bayreuth: the End of Art
Classical Behaviour Drama and Faustian Character Drama
Every Culture Possesses its own Ethic
Every Science is Dependent upon Religion
Origin and Landscape: the Group of the Higher Cultures
Second Religiousness
The State

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