Otto Neurath

We are like sailors who on the open sea must reconstruct their ship but are never able to start fresh from the bottom. Where a beam is taken away a new one must at once be put there, and for this the rest of the ship is used as support. In this way, by using the old beams and driftwood, the ship can be shaped entirely anew, but only by gradual reconstruction. [p. 199]

Mystics of all times use phrases that give expression to almost ungraspable feeling, that one mayor may not have, that one accepts as a source of knowledge or not, but always there is something that is meant by such expressions. This we miss in Spengler. He uses mystical and metaphysical phrases without freely acknowledging a mystical or metaphysical object, the super-conscious deity or the unconscious world soul; he prays but says not to whom, he venerates but says not what, he bows down but says not why. [p. 209]

Everyone in his innermost soul must come to terms with mysticism and antinomies; but the struggle against the mystic euphoria that attaches to trivial contradictions can be fought independently of that. Young people who take life seriously must quickly settle this in order to advance to strong constructive activity, but also to old and difficult questions of existence and world-views, which are spared no one, be he as logical and acute as a man can possibly be. To these young people who today often toil with Spengler and waste much effort on him, this critical essay is dedicated. It has been set out in such detail not because of Spengler’s significance, but in order to do justice to the significance of the young whom it wants to help. [Concluding paragraph, p. 213]

SOURCE: Neurath, Otto. Empiricism and Sociology, edited by Marie Neurath and Robert S. Cohen; translations from the German by Paul Foulkes and Marie Neurath; with a selection of biographical and autobiographical sketches. Dordrecht: D. Reidel Publishing Company, 1973. (Vienna Circle Collection; 1) Includes abridged translations of two books, Anti-Spengler (pp.158-213 ) and Empiricism and Sociology.

1. Rejection of Spengler 158
2. Phases of Culture 163
2.1. Spengler’s Doctrine 163
2.2. Culture 164
2.3. Phase Sequences 166
2.4. Morphology 172
3. The Character of Culture 175
3.1. Spengler’s Doctrine 175
3.2. Arch-Symbol 177
3.3. Differences and Independences 185
3.4. Physiognomics 195
4. Spengler’s Description of the World 197
References 213

Neurath carefully eviscerates Spengler. Reading this stuff makes me think of Spengler as the Deepok Chopra of fascism. —RD, 26 May 2015

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