Oswald Spengler

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Oswald Manuel Arnold Gottfried Spengler (29 May 1880 – 8 May 1936) was a German historian and philosopher whose interests also included mathematics, science, and art. He is best known for his book The Decline of the West (Der Untergang des Abendlandes), published in 1918, which puts forth a cyclical theory of the rise and decline of civilizations. In 1920 Spengler produced Prussiandom and Socialism (Preußentum und Sozialismus), which argued for an organic, nationalist version of socialism and authoritarianism. He wrote extensively throughout World War I and the interwar period, and supported German hegemony in Europe. The National Socialists held Spengler as an intellectual precursor but he was ostracised after 1933 for his pessimism about Germany and Europe's future, his refusal to support Nazi ideas of racial superiority, and his critical work The Hour of Decision.

Contents

Biography

Oswald Spengler was born in 1880 in Blankenburg (then in the Duchy of Brunswick, German Empire) at the foot of the Harz mountains, the eldest of four children, and the only boy. His family was typical conservative German petite-bourgeoisie. His father, originally a mining technician, who came from a long line of mineworkers, was a post office bureaucrat. His childhood home was emotionally reserved, and the young Spengler turned to books and the great cultural personalities for succor. He had imperfect health, and suffered throughout his life from migraine headaches and from an anxiety complex.

At the age of ten, his family moved to the university city of Halle. Here Spengler received a classical education at the local Gymnasium (academically oriented secondary school), studying Greek, Latin, mathematics and natural sciences. Here, too, he developed his affinity for the arts—especially poetry, drama, and music—and came under the influence of the ideas of Goethe and Nietzsche. He even experimented with a few artistic creations, some of which still survive.

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