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



Atheism, rightly understood, is the necessary expression of a spirituality that has accomplished itself and exhausted its religious possibilities, and is declining into the inorganic. It is entirely compatible with a living wistful desire for real religiousness--therein resembling Romanticism, which likewise would recall that which has irrevocably gone, namely, the Culture--... Atheism comes not with the evening of the Culture but with the dawn of Civilization. Mo

But, if this late form of world-feeling and world-image which preludes our "second religiousness" is universally a negation of the religious in us. The structure of it is different in each of the Civilizations...

The spiritual in every living culture is religious, has religion, whether it be conscious of it or not. It is not open to a spirituality to be irreligious; at most it can play with the idea of irreligion as Medicean Florentines did. But the maglopolitan is irreligious; this is part of his being, a mark of his historical position. The degree of piety of which a period is capable is revealed in its attitude towards toleration. One tolerates something either because it seems to have some relation to what according to one's experience is the divine or else because one is no longer capable of such experience and is indifferent.

What we moderns have called "Toleration" in the classical world is an expression of the contrary of atheism. Plurality of numina and cults is inherent in the conception of Classical religion. But to the Faustian soul dogma and not visible ritual constitutes the essence. What is regarded as godless is opposition to doctrine. He begins the spatial-spiritual conception of heresy. A Faustian religion by its very nature cannot allow any freedom of conscience; it would be in contradiction with its space-invasive dynamic. Even free-thinking itself is not exception to the rule. Amongst us there is not faith without leanings to an Inquisition of some sort....



The Deism of the Baroque goes together with its dynamics and its analytical geometry; its three basic principles, God, Freedom and Immortality, are in the language of mechanics the principles of inertia (Galileo), least action (D'Alembert) and the conservation of energy (J. R. Mayer).

Western physics is by its inward form dogmatic and not ritualistic. Its content is the dogma of Force which is identical with space and distance...



...the sudden and annihilating doubt that has arisen about things that even yesterday were the unchallenged foundation of physical theory, about the meaning of the energy-principle, the concepts of mass, space, absolute time, and causality-laws generally. ...It is a doubt affecting the very possibility of a Nature- science. To take one instance alone, what a depth of unconscious Skepsis there is in the rapidly increasing use of enumerative and statistical methods, which aim only at probability of results and forgo in advance the absolute scientific exactitude that was a creed to the hopeful earlier generations.

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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