Bringing Spengler’s Legacy to a Close

     After weeks of research and writing, my adviser and I have been going over revisions to my paper.  It has been so rewarding to see all my work come to fruition.  I am not only proud of the effort I’ve put in to this process, but of the analysis I’ve made as well.  I was shocked to see the ideological consistency of cultural pessimists–such as Spengler and his followers–throughout the century.  As much as they adapted their views to appeal to different audiences (whether Western academia, Weimar Germany, American neo-Nazis, or Italian neo-Fascists), they repeated almost the same concerns about Western life.  I noted this point several times in my essay, and I think it speaks to the relevance of my research.  All the major philosophers in the paper decried the state of modern morality and democracy; and, most proposed violent ends to solve the “crisis” they observed in contemporary life.  In my opinion, their beliefs are not too dissimilar from similar movements today.  As much as we might like to imagine cultural pessimism as a thing of the past–especially in this age of amazing social and technological change–that idea couldn’t be further from the truth.  Views like those Spengler promulgated never left Europe or America.  They form a large part of modern intellectual history.  Unfortunately, we see these views entering the public vogue once again.

     Bringing the topic back to my research proper, no matter how much I write, it is always surprising to see how much a bit of reorganization and addition here and there can improve a paper.  After thinking over some of my adviser’s suggestions, I expanded the biographical sections of the philosophers I’ve studied; and, I made the historical context in which they wrote more evident at the start of my paper.  This change wasn’t very extensive, but it greatly fleshed out the flow of my research paper.  It reads much more like a story than I would have expected several weeks ago–even more reason to enjoy what I’ve written!  The essence of history is telling stories about the past, so I’m glad that I achieved this result, at least to some extent.

     Furthermore, clarifying some of the topic-specific language I use has enhanced my essay’s readability.  It is all too tempting to use a variety of labels to describe the same subject, or to use just one term and withhold a concrete explanation.  These issues plagued my first draft, as my adviser pointed out.  A small change was necessary, but it made the paper far easier to understand.  In this case, they affected how I described the philosophers of crisis within the paper.  I settled on calling their shared views “cultural-pessimism,” since I felt that term was the most honest reflection of how these figures viewed the world, and it was less bound by nebulous politicization than other terms I originally used.  Altogether, I am very happy with my edits up to this point, and I am excited to further improve my final product!

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