chapter  15
19 Pages

What does the West believe in? (Stolen from the author of The Open Society)

I am sorry to say that I must begin with an apology: an apology for the title of my lecture. This title reads: 'What Does the West Believe In?' When I think of the history of the expression 'the West', I wonder whether I should not have avoided it. This expression has gained currency in England primarily through the translation ofSpengler's Untergang des Abendlandes, for the English title ofthis book is The Decline ofthe West. Yet I do not, ofcourse, want to associate myselfwith Spengler, whom I regard not only as a false prophet ofan alleged decline, but also as a symptom of a real decline, even though this is not a decline ofthe West: what his prophecies actually illustrate is the decline of the intellectual conscience ofmany western thinkers. They illustrate the victory ofintellectual immodesty, ofthe attempt to beguile a public that is thirsty for knowledge by using bombastic words, in short, the victory of Hegelianism and of that Hegelian historicism which Schopenhauer exposed as the intellectual plague of Germany more than a century ago and against which he fought.