Thursday, 2 October 2014

Who best understands modern culture? - us now, looking-back, or those of the past, with foresight?

Hegel said that the Owl of Minerva flies only at dusk - meaning that only in retrospect, when they are declining, can philosophers understand cultures.

But (according to Wittgenstein) Spengler said almost the opposite - that a civilization can only have its 'epic poets' in advance, with prevision, as prophets; because at the end of a civilization there is nobody capable of understanding it.

Spengler seems right on this matter. We live at the end of a culture, a civilization - yet 'nobody' understand it: modern philosophers and poets are just too small and feeble and corrupt - their audience too dumb and distracted.

To understand we need to go back. A century ago, two centuries ago, there were great men who knew what was coming; and their fore-knowledge was deeper and more accurate than our retrospective understanding.

We can, at least, recognize that reality - although seldom fully appreciate it.