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The Idea of Decline in Western History

by Arthur Herman

  • ISBN: 9780684827919
  • ISBN10: 0684827913

The Idea of Decline in Western History

by Arthur Herman

  • List Price: $30.00
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publish date: 01/01/1997
  • ISBN: 9780684827919
  • ISBN10: 0684827913
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Description: Examining the idea of decline in Western history, the historian Arthur Herman explains how the conviction of civilization's inevitable end has become a fixed part of the modern Western imagination. Beginning with the non-Romantic thinkers who became obsessed by the image of their civilizations demise (Burkhardt, Galton, Toynbee, Freud, and others), Herman shows how they paved the way for more radical "cultural Pessimists" such as Nietzsche and Du Bols by casting doubt on the ability of Western civilization to renew itself and solve its own problems. Once the wells of European self-confidence were poisoned, a hew generation of intellectuals, artists, and writers celebrated the unleashing of sexual desire, racial power, violence, and cruelty as, new forms of human "authenticity." In the realm of politics, fascism, Nazism, Third-World communism, black power, and radical environmentalism all drew on the same set of declinist assumptions, becoming part of the twentieth century's anti-Western legacy. In many ways, Herman suggests, today's culture wars are ultimately a struggle between those who still recognize the importance of civilized and humanist values and those who do not.
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