Philosophies of History

  • Oswald Spengler
  • Arnold J. Toynbee
  • Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
  • Karl Popper
Part of the The Documentary History of Western Civilization book series (DHWC)


Near the end of the First World War a young and unknown former high school teacher published what is possibly the most characteristic book of the early twentieth century, Der Untergang des Abendlandes. A second volume appeared in 1922, and Charles Francis Atkinson brought out his English translation between 1926 and 1928. With the author’s approval, Atkinson rendered Untergang as “decline,” and the book is known in English as The Decline of the West. But Untergang means “going under”; Oswald Spengler was writing not of the decline or decay of Western civilization, but of its approaching and certain fall. War-shocked German readers in the autumn and winter of 1918 converted Spengler’s book into the first intellectual best seller of the postwar epoch. In all its editions, it has sold well over a hundred thousand copies.


Human Nature Living Creature Open Society International Crime Phenomenal Conception 
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  1. The Decline of the West, by Oswald Spengler, trans. Charles Francis Atkinson (Knopf, New York, 1926–28), Vol. I, pp. 15–26; and Vol. II, p. 507. Reprinted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., and George Allen and Unwin, Ltd. Copyright 1926–28 by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.Google Scholar
  2. K. Burdach, Reformation, Renaissance, Humanismus, 1918, pp. 48 et seq. (English readers may be referred to the article Joachim of Floris by Professor Alphandery in the Encyclopædia Britannica, XI ed., Trans.)Google Scholar
  3. Croce, Benedetto, Teoria e Storia Storiografia, 2nd edition (Bari 1920, Laterza), p. 4: ‘Ogni vera storia é storia contemporanea’; p. 5: ‘La contem-poraneità non è carattere di una classe di storie… ma carattere intrinseco di ogni storia.’Google Scholar
  4. Aristotle, Poetics, chap. 9 (1451 B), translated by Butcher, S. H., in Aristotles Theory of Poetry and Fine Art (London 1902, Macmillan).Google Scholar
  5. See Wright, G. E., The Old Testament against its Environment (London 1950, Student Christian Movement Press)Google Scholar
  6. Rowley, H. H., The Biblical Doctrine of Election (London 1950, Lutterworth Press).Google Scholar
  7. The Phenomenon of Man, by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, trans. Bernard Wall (Harper & Row, New York, 1959), pp. 250–62. Reprinted by permission of Harper & Row, Publishers, and William Collins Sons and Co. Copyright 1959 by William Collins Sons and Co. and Harper & Row, Publishers.Google Scholar
  8. The Open Society and Its Enemies, by Karl Popper (fourth edition, revised, Princeton University Press, Princeton, N.J., 1963), Vol. II, pp. 269–80. Reprinted by permission of Princeton University Press and Routledge and Kegan Paul, Ltd.Google Scholar
  9. Cp. K. Barth, Credo (1936), p. 12. For Barth’s remark against ‘the Neo-Protestant doctrine of the revelation of God in history’, cp. op. cit., 142. See also the Hegelian source of this doctrine, quoted in text to note 49, chapter 12. Cp. also note 51 to chapter 24. For the next quotation cp. Barth, op. cit., 79. Concerning my remark that the story of Christ was not ‘the story of an unsuccessful … nationalist revolution’, I am now inclined to believe that it may have been precisely this; see R. Eisler’s book Jesus Basileus. But in any case, it is not a story of worldly success.Google Scholar
  10. Cp. Kierkegaard’s Journal of 1854; see the German edition (1905) of his Book of the Judge, p. 135.Google Scholar
  11. Cp. the concluding sentences of Macmurray’s The Clue to History (1938; p. 237).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1968

Authors and Affiliations

  • Oswald Spengler
  • Arnold J. Toynbee
  • Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
  • Karl Popper

There are no affiliations available

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