Spengler, Oswald

(1880-1936)
   cultural philosopher; famous for the portentous metaphysical essay Der Untergang des Abendlandes (The Decline of the West), he was deemed "the philosopher of pessimism (he rejected the label). Born to a middle-class home (his father was a postal clerk) in the town of Blankenburg am Harz, he pursued broad studies in mathematics, philosophy, science, and history. After taking a doctorate at Halle in 1904 with a thesis on the pre-Socratic philosopher Heraclitus, he taught consecutively in Saarbrücken, Düsseldorf, and Hamburg until, forsaking teaching (to the regret of faculty and students), he became a private scholar in 1911. Living in Munich, he supple-mented a small inheritance with income from articles and reviews. A heart condition and nearsightedness precluded his induction into the army, and he spent most of the next decade on Untergang des Abendlandes; its first volume appeared a month before the Armistice.*
   Spengler claimed later that the Moroccan Crisis of 1911 inspired Untergang. He was distressed by Germany s prewar foreign policy, and his anxiety matured into a broad historical vision. Reminiscent of Hegel, he traced the morphology of eight historical cultures through six organic phases and then, arguing that western civilization had entered a state of decline, presumed to foretell the fu-ture. Using Vico, Herder, Burckhardt, and, especially, Nietzsche as guides, he aimed to show how such modern qualities as rationalism, democracy, technol-ogy, and pacifism were undermining the West. Distinguishing between "cul-ture and "civilization, or "soul and "intellect, he stressed that the key to survival was a synthesis between socialism and the "Prussian spirit.
   Untergang s publication amidst defeat and revolution could not have been better timed. Although the scholarly community maligned it for errors and shal-lowness, it soon gained public attention (the fiftieth edition was released in 1924) and recast Spengler as Germany s premier living philosopher. Labeling the No-vember Revolution* as a "revolution of stupidity," his 1920 pamphlet Preus-sentum und Sozialismus launched his participation in the Republic's caustic political debates. Thereafter linked with Arthur Moeller* van den Bruck, he was active on the right-wing lecture circuit. From 1926, however, debilitating head-aches interrupted his work; he suffered a mild stroke in 1927.
   Spengler once alleged that Germany would not produce another Goethe but, rather, a Caesar. Despite authoritarian leanings, he was an opponent of the NSDAP. Ignoring this fact, the Nazis embraced him as a solid rightist thinker. In September 1933, eight months into Hitler s* rule, he published an anti-Nazi polemic, Jahre der Entscheidung (translated as Hour of Decision). Referring to the Nazis as "everlasting Youths... fired by uniforms and badges," the book outraged Joseph Goebbels,* who lamented that it had been missed by the censor. Thereafter, until his death, Spengler was portrayed by the Nazis as a plagiarist and charlatan.
   REFERENCES:Klaus Fischer, History and Prophecy; H. Stuart Hughes, Oswald Spengler; Lebovics, Social Conservatism; Von Klemperer, Germany's New Conservatism.

A Historical dictionary of Germany's Weimar Republic, 1918-1933. .

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  • Spengler, Oswald — born May 29, 1880, Blankenburg, Ger. died May 8, 1936, Munich German philosopher. A schoolmaster before he turned to writing, Spengler is remembered for his influential The Decline of the West, 2 vol. (1918–22), a study in the philosophy of… …   Universalium

  • Spengler, Oswald — ► (1880 1936) Escritor y filósofo alemán. Autor de La decadencia de Occidente. * * * (29 may. 1880, Blankenburg, Alemania 8 may. 1936, Munich). Filósofo alemán. Fue profesor antes de dedicarse a escribir. Spengler es recordado por su influyente… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Spengler, Oswald — (1880–1936) German historian and philosopher of history. Spengler was educated at various universities, and gained his doctorate with a thesis on Heraclitus . His fame depends entirely on Der Untergang des Abendlandes (1918, trs. as The Decline… …   Philosophy dictionary

  • Spengler,Oswald — Speng·ler (spĕngʹlər, glər, shpĕngʹ ), Oswald. 1880 1936. German philosopher who argued that civilizations and cultures are subject to the same cycle of growth and decay as humans. His major work is The Decline of the West (1918 1922). * * * …   Universalium

  • SPENGLER, Oswald — (1880 1936)    German historian and philosopher whose influential work The Decline of the West (1914 1922) helped set the tone for modern intellectual pessimism and EXISTENTIALIST PHILOSOPHY …   Concise dictionary of Religion

  • Spengler's — Spengler, Oswald …   Philosophy dictionary

  • Spengler — Spengler, Oswald …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Oswald Spengler — Oswald Arnold Gottfried Spengler (* 29. Mai 1880 in Blankenburg, Harz; † 8. Mai 1936 in München) war ein deutscher Geschichtsphilosoph, Kulturhistoriker und antidem …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Oswald Spengler — Oswald Manuel Arnold Gottfried Spengler (29 May 1880 – 8 May 1936) was a German historian and philosopher whose interests also included mathematics, science, and art. He is best known for his book The Decline of the West (Der Untergang de …   Wikipedia

  • Oswald Spengler — Oswald Spengler. Oswald Spengler (* Blankenburg, 29 de mayo de 1880 † Múnich, 8 de mayo de 1936) fue un filósofo y matemático alemán …   Wikipedia Español

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