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


...Every great Culture begins with a mighty theme that rises out of the pre-urban countryside, is carried through in the cities of art and intellect and closes with a finale of materialism in the world-cities. But even these last chords are strictly in the key of the whole. There are Chinese, Indian, Classical, Arabian, Western materialisms, and each is nothing but the original stock of myth shapes, cleared of the elements of experience and contemplative vision and viewed mechanistically. The belief is belief in force and matter, even if the words used by "God" and "world," "Providence" and "man."

Unique and self-contained is the Faustian materialism, in the narrower sense of the word. In it the technical outlook upon the world reached fulfillment. The whole world a dynamic system, exact, mathematically disposed, capable down to its first causes of being experimentally probed and numerically fixed so that man can dominate it--this is what distinguishes our particular "return to Nature" from all others. That "Knowledge is Virtue" Confucius also believed, and Buddha, and Socrates, but "Knowledge is Power" is a phrase that possess meaning only within the European-American Civilization. The Destiny element is mechanized as evolution, development, progress, and put into the centre of the system; the Will is an albumen-process;and all these doctrines of Monism, Darwinism, Positivism and what not are elevated into the fitness- moral which is the beacon of American businessmen, British politicians and German progress-Philistines alike--and turns out, in the last analysis, to be nothing but an intellectualist caricature of the old justification by faith.


The next phase I call the Second Religiousness. It appears in all Civilizations as soon as they have fully formed themselves as such and are beginning to pass, slowly and imperceptibly, into the non-historical state in which time-periods cease to mean anything. (So far as the Wesetrn Civilization is concerned, therefore, we are still many generations short of that pont.) The Second Religiousness is the necessary counterpart of Caesarism, which is the final political constitution of Late Civilization... The material of the Second Religiousness is simply that of the first, genuine, young religiousness-- only otherwise experienced and expressed. It starts with Rationalism's fading out in helplessness, then the forms of the springtime become visible and finally the whole world of the primitive religion, which had receded before the grand forms of the early faith, returns to the foreground, powerful, in the guise of the popular syncretism that is to be found in every Culture at this phase.