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The decline of Europe then and now

The decline of Europe then and now

In the footsteps of the new Faust

Article one

Continuing the conversation about the "Decline of Europe" Oswald Spengler, it would be superfluous to say about those, who can be considered his forerunners and followers.

In the first article I said, that Spengler himself called only two of his mentors - Goethe and Nietzsche. “I had to do it this way, Spengler wrote to his publisher, Oscar Beck, – meet more than fifty predecessors, including Lamprecht, Dilthey and even Bergson. In the meantime, their number should have exceeded a hundred.. If I had thought to read even half of this, I still would not come to an end today… Goethe and Nietzsche - these are the two thinkers, dependence on which I feel for sure. Ago, who has been digging up "predecessors" over the past twenty years, does not come to mind, that all these thoughts, and, moreover, in a much more anticipatory edition, are already contained in Goethe's prose and letters, as, let us say, early era sequence, late era and civilization in a small article "Spiritual ages", and that today it is generally impossible to say anything like that, which would not have been touched upon in the posthumous volumes of Nietzsche ".

In a long list of those, who fed the author of "The Decline of Europe" with their thoughts, also mentioned Russian thinkers Nikolay Yakovlevich Danilevsky (1822-1885) and Konstantin Nikolaevich Leontiev (1831-1891). However, one can hardly talk about borrowing here.: in the West, these thinkers were poorly known, they were not translated much. So, German translation of Danilevsky's book "Russia and Europe" (1869) came out only in 1920 year, two years after the appearance of the first volume of "The Decline of Europe". There is no indication, that Spengler read Danilevsky, Leontiev and Russian authors in general.

And the similarity of some of the ideas of these three is striking.. For a German, the key concept is "culture", in N. Danilevsky - "cultural and historical type". The German means "culture" as "organism", representing a complex social system of interconnected ideologies (religions), science, arts, the economy, the rights, state. Danilevsky in his "Russia and Europe" is almost the same. The same composition, the same morphological principle (shape determines the type of culture). The same analogy with living organisms (Danilevsky was a biologist by training).

Spengler's "Culture.", Danilevsky's "cultural-historical type", Toynbee's "civilization" - identical concepts, Danilevsky simply turned to this concept several decades earlier than Spengler and Toynbee.

Speaking about the ideological closeness of Konstantin Leontiev and Oswald Spengler, need to mark, that the German thinker has a significant part of his work devoted to describing the life cycle of culture. The starting point for the birth of culture is his worldview: "Every new culture awakens with a new worldview.". Spengler can also understand religion by worldview., and scientific belief system. Culture life, according to Spengler, proceeds according to the following scheme: “Each culture goes through the age stages of an individual. Each has its own childhood, your youth, my own maturity and old age ". In "The Decline of Europe", he identifies four stages of the life cycle of culture: 1) inception ("Mythical-symbolic"); 2) early ("Morphological"); 3) high ("Metaphysical-religious"); 4) aging and death ("Civilization").

Konstantin Leontiev (who took from Danilevsky the concept of "cultural and historical types", but also used the terms "culture" and "civilization") almost the same scheme. Leontiev formulated the law "Triune development process", according to which all social organisms ("Culture") in many ways resembling natural organisms, born, live and die: he defined birth as "primary simplicity", life is like "blooming complexity", death - as a "secondary mixing simplification". Leontyev diagnosed the beginning of the transition of European culture from the phase of "blossoming complexity" to the phase of "secondary mixing simplification" in the work "Byzantism and Slavism" (1875). In Spengler's language, this is the "decline of Europe". Similar to Spengler and Leontiev and the chronology of the stages of European civilization (culture). The heyday of Europe in both dates back to the period of the 15th-18th centuries., and the transition to the extinction stage begins in the 19th century. Only Leontiev formulated the idea of ​​a "triune development process" ("Life cycle of culture") on 43 years before the German scientist.

In the West, it is considered, that the most fundamental work on the history and theory of civilizations is the fundamental (at 12 volumes) work "Comprehension of history" Arnold Toynbee (1889-1975). So this Englishman recognized, that for him Spengler was a genius, and he (Toynbee) adopted and developed the German teaching about cultures and civilizations (Spengler's list of 8 major cultures Toynbee expanded to 21, calling them civilizations).

The indisputable priority of two Russian thinkers - Danilevsky and Leontiev - in relation to Spengler and Toynbee is said, Alas, infrequently, or even don't speak at all.

Researchers of Spengler's creativity note the strong influence of the "Decline of Europe" on Jose Ortegu-i-Gasseta (1883-1955) - Spanish philosopher, publicist, sociologist. In his major works "Dehumanization of Art" (1925) and "Revolt of the masses" (1929) a Spaniard for the first time in Western philosophy outlined the basic concepts of "mass culture" and "mass society" (culture and society, formed in the West as a result of the crisis of bourgeois democracy and the penetration of the dictate of money, all spheres of human relations). But this idea was first formulated by Spengler, who described the signs of dying culture in the phases of civilization. The most important sign of this dying is urbanization, concentration of people in giant cities, whose inhabitants, according to Spengler, are no longer quite citizens, and the "human mass", in which a person feels himself to be a particle of an impersonal principle - a crowd.

By no means all intellectuals in Germany have had time to react to the release of "The Decline of Europe", and in Petrograd in 1922 year the collection appeared "Oswald Spengler and the Decline of Europe" (authors ON. Berdyaev, YA.M. Bukshan, F. Stepun, S.L. Frank). The most interesting in this collection is the essay by Nikolai Berdyaev "Faust's Dying Thoughts". By Faust, Nikolai Alexandrovich meant Oswald Spengler himself, admirer of "Faustova" (European) culture. The paradox of this new Faust, believed Berdyaev, It is, what he, describing the signs of the apocalypse, did not understand, that this is an apocalypse from the Revelation of John the Theologian. is he (that is Faust, aka Spengler) proves, that European culture, entering the phase of "civilization", will die, and it will be replaced by some new culture, but she won't come! The Spengler-Faust tragedy, notes N. Berdyaev, in, what, being an atheist, he doesn't notice, that the core of any culture is religion. European civilization (according to Berdyaev) finally kills religion, and without it, the continuation of earthly history is impossible. Researchers of creativity N. Berdyaev noted, that Spengler's work had a strong influence on the Russian philosopher, sharpening his "apocalyptic" perception of history.

World War II fully revealed a disastrous tendency, outlined in "The Decline of Europe". Many philosophers, historians, political scientists have been broadcasting an alarming psychological state ever since. This alarm is carried on the covers of published books.: Jane Jacobs "Sunset of America. The Middle Ages Ahead " (1962); Thomas Chittam "The collapse of the United States. Second civil war. 2020 year" (1996); Patrick Buchanan Death of the West (2001), "On the brink of death" (2006), "Suicide of a superpower" (2011); Andrew Gamble "A crisis without end? The collapse of Western prosperity " (2008) and so on. P.

One of the authors, using the concepts of Spengler "Faustian culture" and "Faustian civilization", become Igor Sikorsky, which the, being an outstanding aircraft designer, also theologized. AT 1947 year in the USA came out his work "Invisible Struggle" (Invisible Encounter), and one of the concepts, with the help of which Sikorsky described the state of the world of the twentieth century was Spengler's "Faustian civilization".


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