Oswald Spengler tells us that he’s trying something new, a kind of historical study that he calls “predetermining history”: he’s going to use an historian’s methods in order to tell us something of what is going to happen. History is usually about the past, Spengler’s is also about the future.
Spengler asks “is there a logic of history”? A logic of history would be something “independent of the outward forms” underlying them: the things that we see happening in the world do not happen merely by random chance or even by cause and effect, but because of something larger, that determines the pattern of history as a whole.
There is a logic of history, says Spengler, although “logic” might seem a strange word for what he goes on to describe. He says that just as humans and animals are born, flourish, grow old, and die, so we can see the same pattern in human culture. The logic of history is the logic of the organism. The most basic rule is: nothing lives forever. And so cultures come and go, rise and fall.
Spengler is interested in Western culture, the “West European-American.” Not only is this the culture he belongs to, but it is also, he believes, the culture of the present day – of a hundred years ago, at the time of writing. For better or worse, Western culture dominates the world. And there are two more important facts about it: firstly, it has yet to reach its “fulfilment”; secondly, it is in decline.
In carrying out his predetermining history, Spengler will trace the path that is “still untravelled” by Western culture, that it must yet tread. We’ll soon learn what “fulfilment” means: the hardening of the once organic, flowing and growing characteristics of a culture, until they finally become ossified when the culture dies, to make room for new cultures to emerge. Spengler will take us into the future so that we can look back on the present with cold scientific eyes, and we will learn the meaning of Western culture as we examine the fossils that remain after its demise.
(Image is from Pixabay.)