Teleological Explanations

But rather than viewing the decline of one’s culture and civilization as being centered on the relationship of its people with God as it is supposed to be based on the concept of ‘teleological explanations’ and so forth, it is often the case that outside scapegoats are found for such a phenomenon. In modern times, the most popular scapegoats have been Jews, Muslims, and Hispanics. But as history demonstrates, scapegoating for one’s decline has been going on even in antiquity, as in the case of Ancient Rome when its decline was being attributed to the rise of Christianity by a number of Roman Pagans. As Saint Augustine wrote in regards to the scapegoating on the part of Roman Pagans:

“Yet, if they only had sense, they would see that the hardships and cruelties they suffered from the enemy came from that Divine Providence who makes use of war to reform the corrupt lives of men. They ought to see that it is the way of Providence to test by such afflictions men of virtuous and exemplary life, and to call them, once tried, to a better world, or to keep them for a while on earth for the accomplishment of other purposes.” 

Hence, the causality of decline is often mistaken, which in turn leads to scapegoating, as has been demonstrated by both modernity and antiquity. As Oswald Spengler argued: “Each Culture…has its own mode of spiritual extinction, which is that which follows of necessity from its life as a whole.” And while the birth of a civilization stems from the rise of religion and religiosity, the demise of a civilization must then coincide with the death of religion and religiosity. As Spengler wrote:

“Every soul has religion, which is only another word for its existence. All living forms in which it expresses itself – all arts, doctrines, customs, all metaphysical and mathematical form-worlds, all ornament, every column and verse and idea – are ultimately religious, and must be so. But from the setting-in of Civilization they cannot be so any longer. As the essence of every Culture is religion, so – and consequently – the essence of every Civilization is irreligion – the two words are synonymous.”

And at the heart of this turn from religion to ‘irreligion’ and thus at the heart of the turn from the rise to the fall of civilization is the “inner religiousness” of man or the telos of man with which we are concerned and in turn determines everything else, namely, man’s relation to God. As Spengler wrote: “It is this extinction of living inner religiousness, which gradually tells upon even the most insignificant element in a man’s being, that becomes phenomenal in the historical world-picture at the turn from the Culture to the Civilization, the Climacteric of the Culture…the time of change in which a mankind loses its spiritual fruitfulness forever, and building take the place of begetting.” 

And with the extinction of “inner religiousness” comes the extinction of “great art, of great courtesy, of great formal thought, of the great style in all things, but also quite carnally in the childlessness and ‘race-suicide’ of the civilized and rootless strata, a phenomenon not peculiar to ourselves but already observed and deplored – and of course not remedied – in Imperial Rome and Imperial China.” It is per these considerations and facts by which we deem all as contingent and dependent upon a “teleological explanation” which is based upon the telos of man, namely, his “inner religiousness.”

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