> 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


The question is now: how far is the man of this Culture himself fulfilling what the soul-image that he has created requires of him?

What will is in the soul-image, character is in the picture of life as we see it, the Western life that is self-evident to Western men. It is the fundamental postulate of all our ethical systems, differ otherwise as they may in their metaphysical or practical precepts, that man has character.r Character, which forms itselfin the stream of the world--the personality, the relation of living to doing--is a Faustian impression of Man. The conception of mankind as an active, fighting, progressing whole is (and has been since Joachim of Floris and the Crusades) so necessary an idea for us that we find it hard indeed to realize that it is an exclusively Western hypothesis, living and valid only for a season. The carpe diem, the sturated being, of the Classical standpoint is the most direct contrary of that which is felt by Goethe and Kant and Pascal, by Church and Freethinker, as lone possessing value--active, fighting and victorious being.


This opposition, further, has produced forms of tragedy that differ from one another radically in every respect. The Faustian character-drama and the Apollinian drama of noble gesture have in fact nothing but name in common. It is not enough to distinguish Classical and Western tragedy merely as action-drama and event-drama. Faustian tragedy is biographical, Classical anecdotal; that is, the one deals with the sense of a whole life and the other with the content of the single moment. What relation, for instance, has the entire inward past of Oedipus or Orestes to the shattering event that suddenly meets him on his way? There is not the smallest trait in the past existence of Othello--that masterpiece of psychological analysis--that has not some bearing on the catastrophe. Race-hatred, the isolation of the upstart amongst the patricians, the Moor as soldier and as child of Nature, the loneliness of the aging bachelor--all these things have their significance. "Psychology" in fact is the proper designation for the Western way of fashioning meant, the word holds good for a portrait by Rembrandt as for the music of Tristan, for Stendhal's Julien Sorel as for Dante's Vita Nuova. The like of it is not to be found in any other culture. ...

Of deep necessity, therefore, we Faustians understand drama as a maximum of activity; and, of deep necessity also, the Greek understood it as a maximum of passivity.