Oswald Spengler

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Dr. phil. Oswald Spengler in 1929

Oswald Arnold Gottfried Spengler (b. 29 May 1880 in Blankenburg, Brunswick, German Empire; d. 8 May 1936 in Munich, Bavaria, Germany) was a German historian and philosopher of history, part of the Conservative Revolutionary movement, whose interests included mathematics, science, and art and their relation to his cyclical theory of history.


Spengler is best known for his book The Decline of the West (Der Untergang des Abendlandes), published in 1918 and 1922, covering all of world history. Spengler's model of history states that any culture is similar to a biological organism with growth, decay, and death.

Spengler predicted that Western civilization would soon enter a period of authoritarianism before final collapse. Spengler is therefore prominently associated with "cultural pessimism", sometimes claimed to be a characteristic of the entire Conservative Revolutionary movement, but other members stated various criticisms, such as regarding the inevitability of decline.

His 1920 Preussentum und Sozialismus (Prussianism and Socialism) supported an argued form of socialism, sometimes termed "Prussian Socialism", based on the good characteristics of Prussia. Despite the name, the argued for society has been described as similar to that proposed by other prominent members of the Conservative Revolutionary movement. On 13 October 1933, Spengler became one of the hundred senators of the German Academy (Akademie zur Wissenschaftlichen Erforschung und Pflege des Deutschtums).

Despite being a nationalist, he was critical of the National Socialists, notably in The Hour of Decision (1934). Different sources give different explanation for this, such a viewing the National Socialists as too proletarian and demagogic (with Spengler being an admirer of the old Prussian aristocracy), differences regarding views on race and anti-Semitism (despite Spengler also stating negative views on Jews/Judaism), viewing the National Socialists as too narrowly German and not sufficiently European, and as ignoring the reaction from outside the country.


  • Der metaphysische Grundgedanke der Heraklitischen Philosophie [The Fundamental Metaphysical Idea of the Philosophy of Heraclitus] (in German), 1904
  • Der Untergang des Abendlandes: Umrisse einer Morphologie der Weltgeschichte [The Decline of the West: Outlines of a Morphology of world history], Gestalt und Wirklichkeit; Welthistorische Perspektives (in German), 1918–22, 2 vols. – The Decline of the West; an Abridged Edition by Helmut Werner (tr. by C.F. Atkinson)[1]
  • Preussentum und Sozialismus, 1920, Translated 1922 as Prussianism And Socialism by C.F. Atkinson (Prussianism and Socialism).
  • Pessimismus?, G. Stilke, 1921.
  • Neubau des deutschen Reiches, 1924.
  • Die Revolution ist nicht zu Ende, 1924.
  • Politische Pflichten der deutschen Jugend; Rede gehalten am 26. Februar 1924 vor dem Hochschulring deutscher Art in Würzburg, 1925.
  • Der Mensch und die Technik, 1931 (Man and Technics: A Contribution to a Philosophy of Life, tr. C.F. Atkinson, Knopf, 1932).[2][3][4]
  • Politische Schriften, 1932.
  • Jahre der Entscheidung, 1934 (The Hour of Decision tr. C.F. Atkinson; The Hour of Decision).[5]
  • Reden und Aufsätze, 1937 (ed. by Hildegard Kornhardt) – Selected Essays (tr. Donald O. White).
  • Gedanken, c. 1941 (ed. by Hildegard Kornhardt) – Aphorisms (translated by Gisela Koch-Weser O’Brien).
  • Briefe, 1913–1936, 1963 [The Letters of Oswald Spengler, 1913–1936] (ed. and tr. by A. Helps).
  • Urfragen; Fragmente aus dem Nachlass, 1965 (ed. by Anton Mirko Koktanek and Manfred Schröter).
  • Frühzeit der Weltgeschichte: Fragmente aus dem Nachlass, 1966 (ed. by A. M. Koktanek and Manfred Schröter).
  • Der Briefwechsel zwischen Oswald Spengler und Wolfgang E. Groeger. Über russische Literatur, Zeitgeschichte und soziale Fragen, 1987 (ed. by Xenia Werner).

See also

External links


  1. Stewart, W. K. (1924). "The Decline of Western Culture," The Century Magazine, Vol. CVIII, No. 5.
  2. Mumford, Lewis (1932). "The Decline of Spengler," The New Republic, 9 March.
  3. Dewey, John (1932). "Instrument or Frankenstein?," The Saturday Review, 12 March.
  4. Vasilkovsky, G. "Oswald Spengler's 'Philosophy of Life'," The Communist, April 1932.
  5. Reis, Lincoln (1934). "Spengler Declines the West," The Nation, 28 February.