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G . Contemporary

The word "contemporary" generally means something which occurs at about the same time as something else. The word is usually used when referencing the lives of certain great individuals (i.e., "they were contemporaries, . . . ."). However, when we are discussing the theories of Oswald Spengler, the word takes on a somewhat different meaning. In the world view propounded by Spengler, the word "contemporary" means something which occurs at about the same point in the life-cycle of Culture and Civilization as something else. In that sense, Spengler asserts that Napoleon and Alexander the Great are "contemporaries," in spite of the fact that Alexander died over twenty-two centuries before Napoleon. What Spengler means by this usage is that each was a great leader in his respective society, and that each presided over the victory of money and intellect over the landed aristocracy and the Cultural "soul;" in other words, each was to some degree responsible for the one really significant transition which each Culture and Civilization experiences, the death of the "soul" of the Culture and the consequent birth of the Civilization. In a similar vein, Spengler asserted that it was erroneous to compare Napoleon with Julius Caesar, because our own Civilization has yet to see its Caesar. Those two are not in any way "contemporaries," and thus Spengler asserts that such comparisons are not really possible (at least, not for the intellectually enlightened).


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