First published in 1918, Oswald Spengler’s two-part book The Decline of the West (Der Untergang des Abendlandes) is an iconoclastic work of monumental proportions. It attempts to dismantle the commonly held view that history is a linear progression from antiquity to medieval times to modernity. Instead, for Spengler, cultures are the central units of world history.

And every culture is a living, developing organism that – like every organism – must perish once it has run its course.

Instead of mechanically applying some pre-conceived notion of how history supposedly unfolds, Spengler (following Johann Wolfgang Goethe’s idea of nature) develops a “morphological” account of world history that uses imagination and analogy to identify the “historical forms” common to different cultures.

Seminars begin October 7th, 2023

While many mainstream academics have sneeringly dismissed Spengler’s work and continue to do so today, truly free thinkers such as Ernst Jünger have been utterly fascinated with Spengler’s thought on world history. The overall influence and importance of his work can hardly be overestimated. This is especially true for those of us who cannot deny the feeling that our own western culture has outlived itself and is therefore coming to an end. If we want to understand what is behind this feeling, there is no better place to start than Spengler’s The Decline of the West.

What You will learn in this Course

In this course, we will read and discuss some of the deepest and most pertinent parts of Spengler’s The Decline of the West. You will get a grasp of Spengler’s most important basic concepts and ideas, e. g. the idea of cultures as organisms, the idea of a morphology of world history, the idea of destiny and many more. In addition, we will talk about some passages in the second volume that seem particularly helpful in understanding our own historical situation and the possibility of a future, e. g. the chapters dealing with the “the soul of the city”, “the self-annihilation of democracy through money”, and “the spirit of technics”.

Your Teacher: Dr. Sebastian Ostritsch

Sebastian has a PhD in philosophy from the University of Bonn.

He is Assistant Professor of Philosophy in Stuttgart.

His research and thinking is devoted to Hegel and German Idealism, to the philosophy of gaming as well philosophical questions surrounding time and eternity.

In 2020, which celebrated Hegel's 250th birthday, his book "Hegel. Der Weltphilosoph" was published by Ullstein/Propyläen, a major German publishing house. His most recent book is "Let's Play or Game Over? An Ethics of Video Games" (2023)

At Halkyon he teaches Hegel and Spengler in English and German.

Choose Your Study Path

Introduction by Sebastian Ostritsch

Your course instructor on the course.

“This is our purpose: to make as meaningful as possible this life that has been bestowed upon us;to live in such a way that we may be proud of ourselves;
to act in such a way that some part of us lives on.”

Curriculum and Seminar Dates

7 video lectures (roughly 45 minutes each) plus 10 two-hour sessions on the following Saturdays (6–8 PM UK time/ 1-3pm EST):

  1. October 7 2023: Introduction (Part I)
    + video lecture
  2. October 14, 2023: Introduction (Part II)
  3. October 21, 2023: The Meaning of Numbers
    + video lecture
  4. November 4, 2023: The Problem of World-History (I): Physiognomic and Systematic
    + video lecture
  5. November 11, 2023: The Problem of World-History (II): The Idea of Destiny and the Principle of Causality
  6. November 18, 2023: Macrocosm (I): Apollonian, Faustian, Magian Soul 
    + video lecture
  7. November 25, 2023: Cities and Peoples (I): The Soul of the City
    + video lecture
  8. December 2, 2023: The State (III): The Philosophy of Politics
    + video lecture
  9. December 9, 2023: The Form World of Economic Life (II): The Machine
    + video lecture
  10. December 16, 2023: final discussion / presentations

The text will not be provided.

“What the myth of Götterdämmerung signified of old, the irreligious form of it, the theory of Entropy, signifies to-day—world's end as completion of an inwardly necessary evolution.”