Grand Narratives and the Bahá'í Writings Part 3


  PART B

The Bahá’í Grand Narrative and Spengler, Toynbee and Sorokin           

            Oswald Spengler’s two-volume The Decline of the West published in Germany in 1918 is one of the best known metanarratives of the 20th Century. Despite the largely academic controversies surrounding his two volume magnum opus, it is still widely available in various translations and in both book and e-format which suggests that it still arouses interest. In 1952, H. Stuart Hughes wrote that despite the “bitter invective, icy scorn, urbane mockery or simply pretending that it is not there,”[1] Spengler’s work continues to attract readers and generate “intellectual excitement.”[2] Half a century later, Neil McInnes’s article “The Great Doomsayer”[3] provides a cavalcade of the major contemporary thinkers who have been influenced by Spengler, despite his continued poor reputation amongst academics. Among them we find Francis Fukuyama, author of The End of History and The Origins of Political Order; Hans Robert Jauss, the originator of reception theory; Henry Kissinger; F. Scott Fitgzgerald; and Michael Foucault.[4] Others include Joseph Campbell, Northrop Frye, Theodor Adorno, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Martin Heidegger, Camille Paglia, Ernest Hemingway and Hans Morgenthau.[5] His far-reaching influence alone makes his ideas worth careful study. Adda B Bozeman notes this need for more careful study in “Decline of the West? Spengler Reconsidered.”[6] W. Reed Smith explains Spengler’s and Toynbee’s con temporary relevance in his 2009 article “Megalopolis versus Social Retardation: The Continuing Relevance of the Views of Spengler and Toynbee on the Variability of the Rate of Cultural Change.”[7] Mehdi Mozafari’s Globalization and Civilization also notes Spengler’s wide-ranging influence on contemporary thought.[8] Neil McInnes points out that if nothing else, “there gradually arose after Spengler a sustained interest in what was variously called the science of civilization, cultural studies and comparative macrosociology.”[9] A renewed appraisal of Spengler’s continued relevance was published in 2001 by John Farrenkopf, a professor of history and political science.[10]  This curious contrast between Spengler’s negative reception among academic historians and his wide-spread influence among major writers and thinkers is something that requires further exploration. Such a serious disconnect suggest that something important is being overlooked in his work. Later, we shall see that the same may be said of Arnold Toynbee.   

 

            In its outlines, Spengler’s theory is clear. The first issue to note is Spengler’s distinction between ‘Culture’ and ‘civilization.’ As such, this distinction does not exist in the Bahá’í  Writings. For Spengler, Culture is the phase in which all later civilizations have their start; according to Spengler, “The Civilization is the inevitable destiny of the Culture.”[11] The transition from Culture to Civilization is “the victory of the inorganic megalopolis over the organic countryside which was henceforward to become spiritually ‘the provinces.’ ”[12] W. Reed Smith notes,

 

            The California  wine  country  may still be semi-rural,  but it is nevertheless                 thoroughly megalopolitan   in  outlook  and  lifestyle. One  can  live  in  rural Mississippi     and  still  be  thoroughly  megalopolitan   in  outlook.  Indeed,  megalopolitanism  is  a          world-view,  a  way  of  life;  and  although  it  is  springing  forth from the  overgrown      urban  centers  such  as  New  York  and  Los Angeles,  it  cannot  and  should  not be     misunderstood   to   be   somehow   limited  to people   living  within  the  city  limits  of     the  great  cities.[13] 

 

Culture contains all the potentials that it and its subsequent civilization can actualize. Culture is the time of true creativity in all areas of human endeavor and a time genuinely experienced religiosity. Perhaps the most basic aspect of a culture is its “world-feeling”[14] i.e. its feeling about the nature of reality as, for example, inherently alive, or inherently sacred, or, or as am image of a greater reality, or, as in materialism, inherently utterly passive or ‘dead.’ This underlying “world-feeling” shapes all of a culture’s artistic, intellectual and practical activities. What Spengler says about mathematics and different theories of number in the following passage is true of everything else:

 

            We find an Indian, an Arabian, a Classical, a Western type of mathematical thought and,     corresponding with each, a type of number — each type fundamentally peculiar and             unique, an expression of a specific world-feeling, a symbol having a specific validity             which is even capable of scientific definition, a principle of ordering the Become which reflects the central essence of one and only one soul, viz., the soul of that particular Cul-

            ture.[15]

 

Another important aspect of the “world-feeling” is the “Destiny-idea [in which] the soul reveals its world-longing, its desire to rise into the light, to accomplish and actualize its vocation.”[16] Spengler believes that the eight ‘high cultures’ he has selected possess the “Destiny-idea” to a superlative degree although he admits that “to no man is it entirely alien.”[17] In other words, both individuals and cultures possess a “Destiny-idea” at least during their growing cultural phases. For Spengler, “world-feeling,” “Destiny-idea” and “prime symbol” are connected. 

 

            the Destiny-idea manifests itself in every line of a life. With it alone do we become             members of a particular Culture, whose members are connected by a common world- feeling and a common world-form derived from it. A deep identity unites the awakening       of the soul, its birth into clear existence in the name of a Culture, with the sudden             realization of distance and time, the birth of its outer world through the symbol of        extension; and thenceforth this symbol is and remains the prime symbol of that life,          imparting to it its specific style and the historical form in which it progressively actualizes its inward possibilities[18]

 

The “prime symbol” which is connected to the “world-feeling” and “Destiny-idea” grows out of the intuitions of space and time whose importance has been grossly underestimated by academic historians.[19]  For the Classical or Apollonian Greek world, time and space were a single point in the present as illustrated for example in ancient Greek drama. Greek drama required (1) unity of time: the action could take no more time than the duration of the play; (2) unity of space: the action could not require a change of scene; (3) unity of action: there could only be one action/plot with only minimal subplots, if any. Throughout The Decline of the West, Spengler shows how Greek culture, e.g. mathematics and art reflected their prime symbol of ‘one-ness.’  Greek philosophy, for example, was heavily focussed on the problems of the one and the many, being and becoming, essence and attribute – all of which are aspects of their prime symbol. Western, or Faustian culture’s prime symbol was “an infinitely wide and profound three dimensional space”[20] as reflected in the invention of calculus, i.e. the mathematics of movement and approaching infinity; in invention of multi-dimensional, i.e. unlimited geometries, and the fugue which is an attempt at infinite complexity in music. The Magian or Arab, Hebrew and Iranian prime symbol is a cavern which is marked by

 

            that “Semitic” primary-dualism which , ever the same under its thousand forms, fills the           Magian world. The light shines through the cavern and battlers against the darkness (John            i, 5) Both are Magian substances. Up and down, heaven and earth become powers that    have entity and contends with one another.[21] 

 

In more general terms, the Magian Cavern is an inherently mysterious place inhabited by enigmatic and shadowy beings whose cryptic struggles are reflected in the sinewy complexities of Arabesques and in the transformations of algebra. [22]  

 

            As in the Bahá’í Writings, each culture and civilization lasts about one thousand years the last centuries of which are a hardening of flexible creative culture into a civilization which marks the final phase of its existence. Moreover, each culture is an organic entity that passes through its phases of development without any chance of deviation. In human terms, this process resembles human growth, from birth, to childhood, adolescence, youth, adulthood and old age. More commonly, though, Spengler uses the seasonal cycle as his organic analog; here, too, there is no chance of avoiding the inevitable. No act or cultural-political program can deflect this order. The last season – the one in which Spengler locates us – is winter, which is dominated by dominated by technology, commercialism and vulgarity. It is in the winter phase that the “Destiny-idea” is “overpowered by matter-of-fact feeling and mechanizing thought.”[23] In other words, most people no longer have any ability to conceive of themselves anything more than physical beings with a super-natural destiny of vocation. They feel soul-less and rootless who confuse being lost with being free. This time of confusion gives rise to a period of “let’s pretend” spirituality or what Spengler today would call ‘new age hocus pocus,’ along with the mock-spirituality of Hollywood supernaturalism intended to entertain. However,

 

            The fact that the latter [pseudo spirituality] is possible at all foreshadows a new and             genuine spirit of seeking that declares itself, first quietly, but soon emphatically and             openly, in the civilized waking consciousness . . . [However] The material of the Second            religiousness is simply that of the first, genuine, young religiousness.[24]

 

He also sees the loss of genuine religiosity as a sign of the autumn and winter season, i.e. taking over a culture:

 

            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, as I    have already called it, the time of change in which a mankind loses its spiritual          fruitfulness for ever, and building takes the place of begetting. Unfruitfulness —        understanding the word in all its direct seriousness — marks the brain-man of the         megalopolis, as the sign of fulfilled destiny, and it is one of the most impressive facts of     historical symbolism that the change manifests itself not only in 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.[25]

 

As a civilization approaches its end, it also experiences a “Second Religiousness”[26] which is marked by a “deep piety.”[27] However,

 

            neither in the creations of this piety nor in the form of the Roman Imperium is there             anything primary and spontaneous. Nothing is built up, no idea unfolds itself — it is only     as if a mist cleared off the land and revealed the old forms, uncertainly at first, but             presently with increasing distinctness. The material of the Second Religiousness is simply             that of the first, genuine, young religiousness — only otherwise experienced and      expressed . . . finally the whole world of the primitive religion, which had receded before the grand forms of the early faith, returns to the foreground, powerful, in the guise of the   popular syncretism that is to be found in every Culture at this phase.[28]

 

            Because all cultures pass through the same life-cycle in the same seasonal order for roughly the same length of time, the meaning of the word ‘contemporary’ is decisively altered  inasmuch as events may be separated by a thousand years, but if they occur at the same phase or season in the life cycle of two cultures, these events are ‘contemporary.’ For example, Spengler sees Julius Caesar and Napoleon as contemporaries because they fulfilled the same basic role at the same point in the seasonal cycle albeit it in different cultures. Both mark the beginning of the winter season of their cultures.[29]  Furthermore, the history of a culture is predictable insofar as the specific phases of development can be foretold as well as the sub-phases, such as the “second Religiousness” or, in the last phases of civilization, “Caesarism” i.e. the rule of strong leaders able to impose their will on society as well as the rule of money. Ironically, Caesarism “grows on the soil of Democracy”[30] although it eventually asserts itself over popular will, money or aristocracy.  According to Spengler, the West is now in the middle of its winter or civilizational phase. 

 

            As cultures harden into the winter of civilization the “destiny-idea” in individuals is replaced by “matter-of-fact-feeling and mechanizing thought.”[31] Spengler does not limit the “Destiny-idea” to any particular race, class, nation or culture. The eight “high Cultures” he mentions are simply the outstanding achievers among humanity. The intuited “Destiny-idea” “manifests itself in every line of a life”[32] and connects us by a common world-feeling and a common world-form”[33] to the culture in which we live. For Spengler, destiny is more important than external causality because destiny is what we choose to do as opposed to what is forced upon us. Our intuition of time and space becomes “the prime symbol of that [cultural] life, imparting to it its specific style and the historical form in which it progressively actualizes its inward possibilities.”[34] The hidden 1influence of the “prime symbol” shapes all aspects of life in every culture as it actualizes its potentials. 

 

            According to Spengler, “High Cultures” are the true focus of historical studies, not nations, races, states or empires. The latter are subunits of what Spengler calls “High Culture”[35] which are subject to the seasonal cycles. There have been eight major cultures in the past: the Babylonian, Egyptian, Chinese, Indian, Mayan/Aztec, Classical Greco-Roman, Arabian (including Jewish and Persian) or Magian, Western or Euro-American. These are “high Cultures.”[36]

 

            The group of the high Cultures is not, as a group, an organic unit. That they have             happened in just this number, at just these places and times, is, for the human eye, an        incident without deeper intelligibility.[37]

 

This list demonstrates two important aspects of Spengler’s theory of history. First, not all cultures are “High Cultures” i.e. cultures with a strongly developed “Destiny-idea” and the subsequent unity and strength that grow out of this idea. Second, “High Culture” is not dependent on a biological conception of race as shown by the presence of only one Western or Euro-American High Culture. In fact, Spengler had no use for biological and darwinian concepts of race, and, like Nietzsche, thought of ‘race’ as a matter of character, style and form, and tradition.[38] His list includes no African cultures – he does not, of course, think Egyptian culture was Black – because from his perspective no “High Cultures” existed in Africa. As the rest of his list shows, biological race was not a factor in this judgment. His contempt for Hitler – despite the Nazis’ attempt to enlist Spengler as a fore-runner – is wittily summarized by his statement that Germany needs a hero, “not a heroic tenor.”[39] In regards to the Jews, he viewed the tensions between Jewish and Christians as being about cultural heritage, not blood.

             The foregoing examples of Spengler’s method of historical study reveal three important aspects of his work.

 

            First, he unequivocally rejects the linear view of history as a progressive sequence from ancient to modern with its implied superiority of Western culture. He regards this as a distorted view of history. [40] In Spengler’s view, there is no progress in history – cultures simply go through their life-cycle but they are not working towards anything but the actualization of their potentials as their natural goal. The Writings and Spengler are in glaring disagreement about progress as indicated by the Bahá’í doctrine of progressive revelation and Bahá’u’lláh’s statement that “All men have been created to carry forward an ever-advancing civilization.”[41] However, this progress is not confined to any one particular culture but – as the ‘riverine’ metaphor of the Bahá’í grand narrative suggests – is made with contributions from different cultures at different times. No one culture or people bears the entire burden of making progress. However, the progress made by humankind is objectively real and the Writings set an objective standard for assessing progress in both individuals and cultures: the degree of actualization of inherent physical, intellectual and spiritual capacities. More advanced cultures actualize more potentials in more people than less advanced cultures. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, implicitly applies this standard when he speaks of some peoples and tribes as “savage”[42] and the necessity for education i.e. actualization of the intellectual and spiritual capacities to lift them out of this state. [43] He asks, rhetorically,

 

            How long shall we drift on the wings of passion and vain desire; how long shall we spend   our days like barbarians in the depths of ignorance and abomination? God has given us        eyes, that we may look about us at the world, and lay hold of whatsoever will further             civilization and the arts of living. He has given us ears, that we may hear and profit by the wisdom of scholars and philosophers and arise to promote and practice it.[44]

 

In contrast, Spengler does not think that any such standards among cultures and civilizations exist and, therefore, there is no such thing as ‘progress’ in history. He is unable to do so because the monadic nature of each culture and civilization make impossible the application of any common standard of assessment.

 

            Second, Spengler rejects the limitations of ‘scientific’ history, i.e, the belief that

 

            history joins astronomy and volcanology in being an evidentially but non-experimental   discipline . . .  Nonetheless, to ask how and to what extent the evidence should guide   historical accounts does permit substantive debate . . . It may be that historical accounts     are determined by the evidence to a significantly lesser extent than are scientific   accounts; in particular in so far as those historical accounts are interpretive or        narrative.[45]

 

Historical understanding based strictly on material evidence is, in Spengler’s view,

inappropriate and insufficient for dealing with the complexities and depths of human thought, feeling, personal and socio-political action values, religion and culture. Concepts like “world-feeling,” “Destiny-idea” and “prime symbol” play an extremely important role in the inner, often unconscious motivation for actions, beliefs and values. That is why, in his view, we also need intuition, empathy and ‘einfuehlung’[46] (‘feeling our way into the life and perspective of another being’) are necessary in the process of understanding, explaining and interpreting history.[47] Because history is made by humans, we need not only facts but also assessment and interpretation of facts and their implications. In other words, according to Spengler, the ‘hard’ basic facts of history are necessary but not sufficient to understand the past that humans make. This conclusion has a major impact on how we view – and write – history.

 

            In regards to historical methodologies, there is a clear convergence – though not full agreement – between the Bahá’í Writings and Spengler. Both agree that by themselves, “materialistic’ methodologies and attitudes,”[48] i.e. methods and attitudes limited to what can be known via documents or other physical evidence – are insufficient for an adequate understanding of the past. Humanity cannot be understood by way of its physical remnants alone. However, the Writings go further than Spengler (or Dilthey) insofar as they see the necessity of developing our “spiritual susceptibilities” which includes “the quickening of mental capacity.”[49] With such a spiritually-based “quickening” of our intellects historians will be able gain new, and hitherto invisible, insights into the historical process. In other words, clinging to the “materialist methodologies” hinders the progress of acquiring historical insights both for Spengler and the Bahá’í Writings.

 

            Third, Spengler studied history not on the basis of sequential events and cause-and-effect relationships but rather on the basis of forms, structures and functions, or, as he put it, “morphologically.”[50] He completely rejects the division of history into ancient, medieval, renaissance and modern as being Euro-centric and, thereby, distorted. Instead, he focussed on the repetitions that occurred as cultures went through the various phases in their life-cycles. His morphological studies examine the forms, structures and functions in which cultures express their ideas, feelings, art, sciences, religion and politics among others. He found there are amazing correspondences and analogs between unalike cultures in the same phases of existence.

 

            One of the most controversial aspects of Spengler’s theory is that each culture is self-contained and can neither influence or be influenced by other cultures. The reason is, to paraphrase Thomas Aquinas, whatever influence is received from the outside, is always received in the terms of the receiver’s beliefs[51] i.e. in ways that the receiver can understand. This is also because each culture has its own “world-feeling,”[52] “Destiny-Idea” and “prime symbol” are essentially incomprehensible to other cultures. Their fundamental “world-feelings,”  “Destiny-ideas” and “prime symbols” are too different for that to happen. Each culture can only see other cultures from its own perspective and, therefore, never really ‘contact’ or understand the other culture in itself.[53] The influence that is ‘sent out’ is not the same as the influence that arrives. Intercultural influence as usually understood does not occur. Furthermore, [c]onnotations are not transferable”[54] are an enormous part of any culture’s communication. Because each culture is essentially isolated each culture also has its own character that shapes all aspects of its life, beginning with the “world-feeling” and including the sciences, arts, philosophy, mathematics, music and religion. The Bahá’í Writings, as will be shown below, reveal the serious short-coming of this view. 

 

            One of the unavoidable consequences of that cultures are self-enclosed monads is a

strong epistemological and ethical relativism. ‘Truth’ is truth for one culture – there are no

universal truths just as there is no universal good. As we shall see later, Spengler undermines his own position in this regard by positing a number of universal attributes of humans and cultures.

 

6.1: Comparing the Bahá’í Writings with Spengler           

 

            One of the first questions we might ask vis-a-vis the Bahá’í Writings and Spengler is if there are any correlations with Spengler’s “Destiny-idea,” “world-feeling,” and “prime symbol. In our view, the strongest such correlation concerns the “Destiny-idea.” The Bahá’í Writings exemplify the concept of “Destiny-Idea” insofar as the Manifestations have a general and a unique mission that that informs all cultures They inaugurate. 'Abdu'l-Bahá declares that   

 

            The mission of the Prophets, the revelation of the Holy Books, the manifestation of the       heavenly Teachers and the purpose of divine philosophy all center in the training of the       human realities so that they may become clear and pure as mirrors and reflect the light    and love of the Sun of Reality[55]

 

This is the general mission of all Manifestations. However, each Manifestation also has a unique mission within the historical process. In addition to their station of “essential unity”[56] the Manifestations have another station.

 

            The other station is the station of distinction, and pertaineth to the world of creation, and      to the limitations thereof. In this respect, each Manifestation of God hath a distinct             individuality, a definitely prescribed mission, a predestined revelation, and specially             designated limitations.[57]

 

From this perspective, each culture inaugurated by the Manifestation as a general purpose or mission and a particular task in achieving the general mission. In this way a “Destiny-idea” is imparted to the cultures receiving guidance from the Manifestations.

 

            In our understanding, the Writings also exemplify what Spengler calls “world-feeling,” i.e. our attitude and feelings about the world around us. For example, it is possible to have a “world-feeling” of mistrust as in Sartrean existentialism, a power struggle as in Marxism or Fascism, or disenchantment as in much modern literature and philosophy. The fact that all things but especially humanity exemplify the names of God is, indeed, a “re-enchantment of the world” as a sacred place, and all beings as fundamentally sacred. Every being is a moment of divine revelation in its own way.

 

            How resplendent the luminaries of knowledge that shine in an atom, and how vast the       oceans of wisdom that surge within a drop! To a supreme degree is this true of man, who,    among all created things, hath been invested with the robe of such gifts, and hath been    singled out for the glory of such distinction. For in him are potentially revealed all the       attributes and names of God to a degree that no other created being hath excelled or             surpassed.[58]

 

In our view, Bahá’u’lláh’s statement expresses the Bahá’í “world-feeling” of the sacred nature of reality and the high station of humankind and its spiritual vocation and destiny. This “world-feeling” pervades the Writings and should pervade Bahá’í life. Indeed, this statement is a potent encapsulation of many Bahá’í teachings as well as the Bahá’í “world-feeling.”

 

            In our view the “prime symbol” in Spengler’s sense of the term, in the Bahá’í Writings is ‘light’ which, of course, implicitly includes space since light has to be ‘somewhere,’ i.e. perceived in some perceptual or conceptual space.  (Spengler’s “prime symbol” involves varying intuition of space.) The pervasive sun, light and dark imagery used throughout the Writings; the emanationist metaphysics associated with the image of the sun[59];  and the importance of ‘planes’ suggest – to this author at least – that light is the underlying symbol of the Writings.

 

            Another concept important to Spengler is ‘pseudomorphosis’ which happens when

 

            an older alien culture lies so massively over the land that a young Culture, born in the       land cannot get its breath and fails not only to achieve pure and specific expression             forms, but even to develop its own self-consciousness.[60]

 

This concept has some obvious similarities to post-colonial situations in which an alien culture smothers or almost smothers a newer culture struggling for existence. Although the concept of pseudomorphosis has no counterparts in the Writings, it is relevant in another, pragmatic way. It serves to alert us to the temptation or danger of allowing “an attempt [to be] made to impose, on the Bahá'í community's own study of the Revelation, materialistic methodologies and attitudes antithetical to its [the Faith’s] very nature.”[61] A pseudomorphosis is precisely what might happen if such an imposition of “a purely materialistic interpretation of reality [were] imposed on scholarly activity of every kind, at least in the Western world.”[62] Those who support such a “materialistic framework . . . have even gone so far as to stigmatize whoever proposes a variation of these [materialistic] methods as wishing to obscure the truth rather than unveil it.”[63] To forestall a pseudomorphosis – at least in the culture of scholarship – it is necessary to avoid undue reliance and trust on “materialistic methodologies.”

 

            Perhaps the most important similarity between the Bahá’í grand narrative and Spengler are the concepts of societies, the world, cultures and civilizations as being organic in nature. In other words, they embody highly complex inter-active relationships that transcend the mere sum of their constituent parts. The underlying belief that the Writings and Spengler share is that society is more than a collection of atomic, i.e. separate and distinct individuals who are not intrinsically connected in any way. Rather, society has an emergent character, i.e. a nature or essence that cannot be reduced to its constituent parts. A classic illustration of emergent characteristics is water which has qualities and behaviors that cannot be reduced to or predicted from oxygen and hydrogen by themselves. When two hydrogen and one oxygen atom are joined, a whole new level or plane of reality becomes manifest with new, hitherto unknowable attributes such a liquidity and expansion when frozen. The organic view of society makes the same point about groups of individuals. Bahá’u’lláh points to this organic nature of society when He says, “Regard the world as the human body.”[64] 'Abdu'l-Bahá speaks of “the great body of human society”[65]

 

            The seasonal analogy supports the organic view of society insofar as we are expected to take it seriously as a model for a natural process it directs our analysis and judgment into that direction. Moreover, 'Abdu'l-Bahá relates the physical and spiritual seasons in Some Answered Questions in a series of passages too long to quote here.[66] In this section, he explains the correspondences between the physical and spiritual seasons. After explaining the physical and spiritual spring, summer and autumn, he says,

 

            and winter arrives -- that is to say, the coldness of ignorance envelops the world, and the            darkness of human error prevails. After this come indifference, disobedience, inconsiderateness, indolence, baseness, animal instincts and the coldness and insensibility    of stones. It is like the season of winter when the terrestrial globe, deprived of the effect    of the heat of the sun, becomes desolate and dreary. When the world of intelligence and          thought has reached to this state, there remain only continual death and perpetual nonexistence.[67]

 

It must be noted that “nonexistence” in the Writings is relative, i.e. it means ‘existent’ or ‘nonexistent’ relative to something that is higher or lower in the scale of being, For example, the human world is nonexistent from the perspective of the mineral world because the mineral world cannot perceive and comprehend mankind’s existence.[68] The spiritual world of the “rational soul” does not exist for the animal soul. In other words, by living more according to their “animal instincts” and not according to the “rational soul,” people slip into ‘nonexistence’ in regard to their specifically human capacities.

 

            Spengler agrees that societies and cultures are organic in nature. H. Stuart Hughes writes,

 

            Spengler called his method ‘morphological.’ That is, it represented an application to             history of the biologists’ concept of living forms. Each culture, in his view, was an             organism , which like any other living thing went through a regular and predictable             course of birth, growth, maturity and decay. Or in more imaginative language, it             experienced its spring, summer, autumn, and winter. This biological metaphor provided          the conceptual frame giving unity and coherence to the rest.[69]

 

As already noted, the Writings accept the organic “conceptual frame” for thinking about culture.

 

            In addition to the seasonal metaphor, the Writings also use the metaphor of human growth from birth to old age as an explanatory principle in understanding the life-cycles of societies and cultures. For example, Shoghi Effendi writes

 

            The long ages of infancy and childhood, through which the human race had to pass, have    receded into the background. Humanity is now experiencing the commotions invariably       associated with the most turbulent stage of its evolution, the stage of adolescence, when      the impetuosity of youth and its vehemence reach their climax, and must gradually be       superseded by the calmness, the wisdom, and the maturity that characterize the stage of        manhood. Then will the human race reach that stature of ripeness which will enable it to         acquire all the powers and capacities upon which its ultimate development must   depend.[70]

 

Obviously, the seasonal and the human growth metaphor deliver the same message: societies and cultures are living things and go through the appropriate phases of development and, eventually, die. Such a life course applies to all living things, i.e. is predictable. The Writings and Spengler agree on this issue. 

 

            Predictability is one of the most controversial issues in regards to historical metanarratives. Can historians predict future events and/or developments? Of course, Bahá’u’lláh can do so – and does so in His letters to the monarchs of Europe – but He is a Manifestation with privileged access to timeless knowledge. Ordinary historians lack such divine insight. However, they can – if they wish – make use of three sources of information to make well informed guesses about the general course of coming events. The first is the recognition of repeating patterns in the past, for example, all cultures undergo birth and death; power struggles occur within them; the deaths are often violent. There is a long history of historians finding various patterns even in our time as seen in the rise of “Big History” and Global History[71] as an academic discipline and such publications as The Human Web by two distinguished historians.[72] These studies provide positive reasons for believing such patterns are real.

 

            The belief that there are patterns in the historical process is supported by the universality of human nature. The Bahá’í Writings recognize the oneness of human nature explicitly, while Spengler’s vision of detailed correspondences in the phases of eight unconnected “High Cultures” implicitly pre-supposes the universality of human nature. The Bahá’í Writing s go even further – they predict specifics such as the decline and degeneration of religion and civil society, the arrival of a new Manifestation and the persecution and ‘war’ against the new faith. The exact outward attributes of these events depends on time, place and situation but the essential events re-occur. That is because human beings are specific kinds of entities and, therefore, have a wide but limited range of responses to situations. There are, for example, only so many ways to deal with a severe drought: we can stay and try to survive; we can migrate to better weather; we can make deals for food e.g. labor; we can wait for others to donate food; or we can plunder food from other groups either by raids or outright conquest. Since human nature is universal, i.e. human responses to various situations fall within certain parameters – as we see in clinical and social psychology – we would logically expect repeating patterns and a resulting ability to predict the future, at least in outline.

 

            The third support for belief in historical patterns comes from the organic nature of society. Like all other organisms and organizations, societies have needs that must be met for survival. For example, as the Writings indicate, unity or social cohesion based on a common goal and/or world-view; they also need structure and a willingness to work within it.[73] It is possible to predict that if these needs are not met, society will disintegrate.   

 

            The organic metaphors have a number of far-reaching con sequences in regards to our understanding of cultures and history. One of the most important is how they shape the relationship between the individual in society, especially in regards to freedom. To exist, organisms require a balance between the nature and the interests of the individual and the nature and interests of the whole, i.e. society. Cancer, for example, is precisely the result of this balance being lost and individual cells going out of control, act only for their own interests and, thereby, destroy the organism itself.  In short, it is an excess of individual ‘liberty’ by one part at the expense of the whole. That, i.e. the necessity of “reciprocity,”[74]  in organic systems is why the Bahá’í Writings do not present individual liberty as an isolated end-in-itself that trumps all other values under all circumstances. It is an important value but not the only one and, therefore, must be balanced with others. For that reason, Bahá’u’lláh states, “We approve of liberty in certain circumstances, and refuse to sanction it in others.” [75] He adds,

 

            Consider for instance such things as liberty, civilization and the like. However much men     of understanding may favorably regard them, they will, if carried to excess, exercise a          pernicious influence upon men.[76]

 

 Indeed, He goes on to warn us that “If carried to excess, civilization will prove as prolific a source of evil as it had been of goodness when kept within the restraints of moderation.”[77]

He also states,

 

            Liberty must, in the end, lead to sedition, whose flames none can quench. Thus warneth

            you He Who is the Reckoner, the All-Knowing. Know ye that the embodiment of liberty             and its symbol is the animal. That which beseemeth man is submission unto such     restraints as will protect him from his own ignorance . . . Liberty causeth man to overstep          the bounds of propriety, and to infringe on the dignity of his station. It debaseth him to          the level of extreme depravity and wickedness . . . We approve of liberty in certain        circumstances, and refuse to sanction it in others. We, verily, are the All-Knowing.[78]

 

In our understanding of this declaration, the rights of the individual should not extend to the point of damaging the society on which s/he depends, or to demean “the dignity of his station” as a human being. Spengler has similar ideas about freedom of which he says, “now what is understood by freedom is in fact indiscipline,”[79] which rejects the “submission” we need to act in accordance with our “dignity.” Elsewhere, Spengler says, that people want “freedom from something;”[80] i.e. something that “is always, purely negative. It consists in the repudiation of tradition, dynasty, Caliphate.”[81] These words imply, that freedom – as stated by Bahá’u’lláh – needs to be ‘disciplined,’ i.e. kept within proper bounds in order not to become a destructive part of the social organism. 

 

            As noted above, cultures and dispensations inevitably decay and die and will be replaced. Bahá’u’lláh and Spengler agree that modern Western civilization is in its winter phase. Spengler tries to comfort us by saying that there is nothing we can do about this[82] and that like ancient Rome, the time for greatness in art, philosophy and great literature is past, and that engineers, financiers and inventors are the genuinely pre-eminent ‘philosophers’ of our time.[83] He sums up his view by saying “We have descended from the perspective of the bird to that of a frog.”[84] I suspect 'Abdu'l-Bahá would approve of this metaphor which suggests we have fallen from a spiritual or transcendental view of the world to a lower, strictly materialist view of reality.

 

            Living in the winter or old age of a culture is extraordinarily difficult even if we know that a new and even greater will arise from the ruins of the old. Shoghi Effendi refers to the

 

            steadily deepening crisis which mankind is traversing, on the morrow of the severest           ordeal it has yet suffered, and the attendant tribulations and commotions which a           travailing age must necessarily experience, as a prelude to the birth of the new World      Order, destined to rise upon the ruins of a tottering civilization[85]

 

Bahá’u’lláh predicts the world’s “perversity will long continue.[86] Statements like these are not negativistic but, on the contrary, are intended encourage an ‘evolutionary attitude.’ Such an attitude ensures we do not become obsessively attached to any particular cultural or dispensational form and defend it as the necessary and final form a society or a religion can take. These dire predictions may also be seen as an intellectual anti-dote against clinging to the past. We might also see it as an on-going reminder to remain humble. In summary, this life-cycle model of history emphasizes that cultures and dispensations are both unique and limited in the potentials they have to actualize and that cultural death is normal. Shoghi Effendi makes a similar point about the fall – and rise – of cultures saying,

 

            Such simultaneous processes of rise and of fall, of integration and of disintegration, of         order and chaos, with their continuous and reciprocal reactions on each other, are but       aspects of a greater Plan, one and indivisible, whose Source is God, whose author is             Bahá'u'lláh, the theater of whose operations is the entire planet, and whose ultimate             objectives are the unity of the human race and the peace of all mankind.[87]

 

            However, the Bahá’í Writings differ from Spengler insofar as they note that the exhaustion and fall of one civilization is closely connected to the rise of a new one through the influence of a new Manifestation. The new culture originates with the inspirational power of a new Manifestation until it, too, is exhausted and disintegrates.[88] This sequence of events constitutes the basis of progressive revelation which is another Bahá’í concept incompatible with Spengler’s grand narrative. In his view, there is no progress in any human activities; instead, there is only an accumulation of absolutely irreconcilable creations rooted in different “world-feelings,” “Destiny-ideas,” and “prime symbols.” Consequently, Spengler advocates epistemological and ethical relativism because he does not believe there is any objective, ‘Archimedean point’ from which to judge as to truth and morality. On this score, too, he is in conflict with the Bahá’í Writings which see the Manifestation i.e. Bahá'u'lláh, as being such an ‘Archimedean point.’ Moreover, Spengler’s relativism also requires him to reject progressive revelation since the idea of progress entails making epistemological and moral judgments about the value, moral legitimacy and truthfulness of cultural practices and achievements. However,

Spengler’s relativism must not be conflated and confused with Shoghi Effendi’s statement that for Bahá’í’s, “religious truth is not absolute but relative.”[89] In our understanding, Shoghi Effendi refers to the manner in which “religious truth” is expressed is “relative,” i.e. adapted for specific times, places and circumstances but does mean that the essential religious truths, the “eternal verities,”[90] are dependent on us or our situations.[91]

 

            Indeed, unlike the Writings, Spengler sees no connection between the rise and falls of the “high Cultures” and in that sense, history is random and irrational. In his view, no real contact between cultures and civilizations is possible. The Bahá’í Writings, on the other hand, see the fall of one civilization as the necessary prelude to the ascent of the next. Precisely because the destruction of the old is necessary for the construction of the new. Speaking of contemporary Christianity, Shoghi Effendi states, it

 

            weakened, and was contributing, in an increasing measure, its share to the process of         general disintegration -- a process that must            necessarily precede the fundamental    reconstruction of human society.[92]

 

In regards to these twin disintegrative and integrative processes, Shoghi Effendi notes,

 

            How striking, how edifying the contrast between the process of slow and steady             consolidation that characterizes the growth of its infant strength and the devastating             onrush of the forces of disintegration that are assailing the outworn institutions, both     religious and secular, of present-day society![93]

 

In other words, in the Bahá’í grand narrative correlates a process of disintegration with a process of construction and integration, both of which work simultaneously because both have the same immediate cause, viz. a new dispensation inaugurated by a new Manifestation of God. The disintegrative phase is also necessary because without it, the new dispensation and culture would have no space to grow and expand. Knowledge of the twin processes also gives Bahá’í a confidence in life in the contemporary historical processes and, thereby, protection against depression, despair and the temptations of nihilism in regards to the future. Unfortunately, in Spengler’s theory of cultures as isolated monads and no connection between the fall and rise of cultures, such pessimism, despair and nihilism come all too easily. We should also note at this point that Spengler’s concept of a “Second Religiousness” does not correspond to the arrival of a new Manifestation and surge of new spiritual energy; rather, it refers to a fresh but uncreative burst of enthusiasm for old religious forms and in that sense is a reactionary not revolutionary development.

 

            Another major similarity between the Writings and Spengler is the view that cultures and civilizations are based in religion and succumbs with the fall of religion:

 

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 . . . As the essence of every Culture is religion, so — and consequently — the essence of every Civilization is irreligion — the two words are synonymous . . . 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 for ever, and building takes the place of begetting . . . the change manifests itself not only in 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.[94]

 

The Bahá’í Writings see “Divine Revelation” and the cultures that arise from it, as “orderly, continuous and progressive and not spasmodic or final.”[95] In other words, the Manifestations do not appear in accidental order but appear according to the evolutionary needs of humankind. As we have already mentioned above, the Bahá’í view is that history is rational, not fortuitous. By contrast, no inherent order exists between the rise and fall of Spengler’s “High Cultures.”

 

            This sequence of events constitutes the basis of progressive revelation which is another Bahá’í concept incompatible with Spengler’s grand narrative. In his view, there is no progress in any human activities; instead, there is only an accumulation of absolutely irreconcilable creations rooted in different “world-feelings,” “Destiny-ideas,” and “prime symbols.” Consequently, Spengler advocates epistemological and ethical relativism because he does not believe there is any objective, ‘Archimedean point’ from which to judge as to truth and morality. On this score, too, he is in conflict with the Bahá’í Writings which see the Manifestation i.e. Bahá'u'lláh, as being such an ‘Archimedean point.’ Moreover, Spengler’s relativism also requires him to reject progressive revelation since the idea of progress entails making epistemological and moral judgments about the value, moral legitimacy and truthfulness of cultural practices and achievements. However, Spengler’s relativism must not be conflated and confused with Shoghi Effendi’s statement that for Bahá’í’s, “religious truth is not absolute but relative.”[96] In our understanding, Shoghi Effendi refers to the manner in which “religious truth” is expressed is “relative,” i.e. adapted for various times, places and circumstances but does mean that the essential religious truths, the “eternal verities,”[97] are dependent on us or our situations.[98]

           

            Considerations like these lead to the question, ‘Is knowing about such patterns and the possibility of prediction useful to us?’ First, it seems obvious that we can expect different attitudes and actions between a world-view that sees history as having some explainable order and one that sees history as a haphazard sequence of events. Bahá’í who sees the twin processes of disintegration and construction at work now and in the past, will actually be able to view the current world situation with an attitude of hope, a sense of meaning, a clear sense of values, a clear commitment to purposive action and a sense of compassion for those who flounder in confusion in the changes of our time. Such knowledge provides understanding of our spiritual, social and political environment and with such understanding comes a certain sense of control; confidence; an enhanced capacity to analyze, assess and judge; in other words, it enhances our capacity for rational thought and – sometimes – even for rational action. These psycho-spiritual assets may seem trivial when limited to an individual but can have enormous socio-political impact if wide-spread throughout society. It might conceivably affect leadership decisions – although we find this unlikely given the need for popularity to win elections. However, the understanding facilitated by a knowledge of future historical phases, allows us to evaluate current developments and policies vis-à-vis the inevitable changes that must come.  

 

            Historical patterns enable us to make predictions about the future but we must still determine if these predictions are general and/or specific. Knowing in which season we are e.g. winter allows us to predict some of the phenomena mentioned in the Writings, as the attributes of the winter season:

 

            Divisions appear, firmness is changed into instability, and spirits become dead; hearts l            anguish, souls become inert, and winter arrives -- that is to say, the coldness of ignorance    envelops the world, and the darkness of human error prevails. After this come   indifference, disobedience, inconsiderateness, indolence, baseness, animal instincts and      the coldness and insensibility of stones. It is like the season of winter[99]

 

Shoghi Effendi is even more explicit about the general trends:

 

The signs of moral downfall, consequent to the dethronement of religion and the enthronement of these usurping idols, are too numerous and too patent for even a superficial observer of the state of present-day society to fail to notice. The spread of lawlessness, of drunkenness, of gambling, and of crime; the inordinate love of pleasure, of riches, and other earthly vanities; the laxity in morals, revealing itself in the irresponsible attitude towards marriage, in the weakening of parental control, in the rising tide of divorce, in the deterioration in the standard of literature and of the press, and in the advocacy of theories that are the very negation of purity, of morality and chastity -- these evidences of moral decadence, invading both the East and the West, permeating every stratum of society, and instilling their poison in its members of both sexes, young and old alike, blacken still further the scroll upon which are inscribed the manifold transgressions of an unrepentant humanity.[100]

 

However, while general trends and patterns may be predictable, nothing in either the Writings or Spengler allows us to make specific predictions about future events. Of course, this applies to us and not to Bahá'u'lláh, 'Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi. Bahá'u'lláh, for example, foretold specific events like the catastrophes awaiting France and Germany and the downfall of Sultan Abdu’l-Aziz.


[1] H. Stuart Hughes, Oswald Spengler, p. 1.

[2] H. Stuart Hughes, Oswald Spengler, p. 2.

[3] Neil McInnes, “The Great Doomsayer,” in The National Interest, Summer, 1997. http://nationalinterest.org/bookreview/the-great-doomsayer-oswald-spengler-reconsidered-915

[4] Neil McInnes, “The Great Doomsayer”, in The National Interest, Summer, 1997. https://www.questia.com/read/1G1-19657029/the-great-doomsayer

[5] Wikipedia, “The Decline of the West,” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Decline_of_the_West#Reception

[6] Adda B Bozeman, “Decline of the West? Spengler Reconsidered” in VQR, Spring 2016, http://www.vqronline.org/essay/decline-west-spengler-reconsidered

[7] W. Reed Smith, “Megalopolis versus Social Retardation: The Continuing Relevance of the Views of Spengler and Toynbee on the Variability of the Rate of Cultural Change.” in Comparative Civilizations Review, Vol 61, Fall 2009. https://journals.lib.byu.edu/spc/index.php/CCR/article/viewFile/12966/12830

[8] Mehdi Mozafari, Globalization and Civilization, 2002;  https://www.questia.com/read/108216509/globalization-and-civilizations

[9] Neil McInnes, “The Great Doomsayer”, in The National Interest, Summer, 1997.  

[10] John Farrenkopf, Prophet of Doom: Spengler on World History and Politics, Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2001.

[11] Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West, Vol. 1, p. 31.

[12] Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West, Vol. 1, p. 148.

[13] W. Reed Smith, “Megalopolis versus Social Retardation: The Continuing Relevance of the Views of Spengler and Toynbee on the Variability of the Rate of Cultural Change.” in Comparative Civilizations Review.

[14] Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West, Vol. 1, p. 59.

[15] Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West, Vol. 1, p. 118.

[16] Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West, Vol. 1, p. 118.

[17] Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West, Vol. 1, p. 118.

[18] Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West, Vol. 1, p. 174.

[19] Spengler spent part of his university studies in advanced mathematics.

[20] Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West, Vol. 1, p. 174.

[21] Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West, Vol. 2, p. 233.

[22] Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West, Vol. 1, p.

[23] Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West, Vol. 1, p. 118.

[24] Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West, Vol. 2, p. 310.

[25] Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West, Vol. 1, p. 359.

[26] Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West, Vol. 2, p. 310.

[27] Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West, Vol. 2, p. 310.

[28] Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West, Vol. 2, p. 310 – 311; emphasis added.

[29] Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West, Vol. 2, p. 418.

[30] Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West, Vol. 2, p. 464.

[31] Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West, Vol. 1, p. 118.

[32] Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West, Vol. 1, p. 174.

[33] Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West, Vol. 1, p. 174.

[34] Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West, Vol. 1, p. 174.

[35] Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West, Vol. 1, p. 179.

[36] Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West, Vol. 1, p. 179.

[37] Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West, Vol. 2, p. 37.

[38] H. Stuart Hughes, Oswald Spengler, p. 124 – 127.

[39] H. Stuart Hughes, Oswald Spengler, p. 127.

[40] Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West, Vol. 1, p.17.

[41] Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of  Bahá’u’lláh CIX, p. 214.

[42] 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 18.

[43] 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 214.

[44] 'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 3; emphasis added.

[45] Mark Day, The Philosophy of History, p. 55; emphasis added.

[46] This term was introduced by Wilhelm Dilthey in his theory of historical studies.

[47] William H Dray, Philosophy of History, p. 5.

[48] The Universal House of Justice, 1997, July 20, “Scholarship and Related Subjects.” Ocean.

[49] 'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 340.

[50] Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West, Vol. 1, p. 4.

[51]  Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Question 76, Article 1, Objection 3.

[52] Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West, Vol. 1, p.14. 

[53] This is the Kantian – or solipsistic – side of Spengler and much contemporary philosophy: all things are locked into their own perspectives. This view has become a political and social ideology in the 21st Century.  

[54] Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West, Vol. 2, p. 57.

[55] 'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 60.

[56] Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of  Bahá’u’lláh, XXII, p. 52

[57] Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of  Bahá’u’lláh, XXII, p. 52.

[58] Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of  Bahá’u’lláh, XC, p. 176.

[59] Bahá’u’lláh,, The Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 234; Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 60; 'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 14, 59 89, 256, 286, 313, 423; Some Answered Questions, p. 108, 202, 203, 294, 295;

[60] Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West, Vol. 2, p. 189.

[61] The Universal House of Justice, 1998, March 19, Complete Compilation on Scholarship, Ocean.

[62] The Universal House of Justice, 1997 Jul 20, Scholarship and Related Subjects. Ocean.

[63] The Universal House of Justice, 1998 Feb 08, Materialistic Elements in Academic Scholarship, p. 4.

[64] Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of  Bahá’u’lláh, CXX, p. 254.

[65] 'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 233; The Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 33; Shoghi Effendi, The Promised Day is Come, p. 122.

[66] 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, “Spiritual Proofs,” p. 72

[67] 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, “Spiritual Proofs,” p. 75.

[68] 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 280.

[69] H. Stuart Hughes, Oswald Spengler, p. 10.

[70] Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 202.

[71] See, for example, Global History degrees at Heidelberg http://www.uni-heidelberg.de/courses/prospective/academicprograms/global_history_en.html or the Oxford University Centre for Global History, http://global.history.ox.ac.uk/

[72] J R McNeil and William H McNeil, The Human Web, 2003.

[73] Shoghi Effendi, Messages to the Bahai World, 1950 – 1957, p. 103.

[74] 'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 338.

[75] Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, CLIX, p. 335.

[76] Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh,, CX, p. 216.; emphasis added.

[77] Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, CLXIV, p. 342.; emphasis added.

[78] Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, CLIX, p. 335.

[79] Oswald Spengler, Decline of the West, Vol.1, P. 292.

[80] Oswald Spengler, Decline of the West, Vol. 2, p. 413; emphasis added.

[81] Oswald Spengler, Decline of the West, Vol. 2, p. 456.

[82] Oswald Spengler, Decline of the West, Vol. 1, p. 44.

[83] Oswald Spengler, Decline of the West, Vol. 1, p. 44.

[84] Oswald Spengler, Decline of the West, Vol. 1, p. 43.

[85] Shoghi Effendi, The Citadel of Faith, p. 39.

[86] Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of  Bahá’u’lláh, LXI, p. 118; emphasis added.  

[87] Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice, p. 72.

[88] 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Star of the West 3, p. 173.

[89] Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 115.

[90] Shoghi Effendi, The Promised Day is Come, p. 108.

[91] This depends on the distinction between appearance and underlying reality and essence and accidental attribute. For an example of this distinction see The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 199.

[92] Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 186.

[93] Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 154.

[94] Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West, Vol. 1, p. 358 – 9.

[95] Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 115.

[96] Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 115.

[97] Shoghi Effendi, The Promised Day is Come, p. 108.

[98] This depends on the distinction between appearance and underlying reality and essence and accidental attribute. For an example of this distinction see The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 199.

[99] 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 75.

[100] Shoghi Effendi, The Promised Day is Come, p. 114.

[101] Sebastian Conrad, What is Global History?, p. 57.

[102] J.R. McNeil and William H. McNeil, The Human Web, p. 6.

[103] The Bab, Selections from the Writings of the Bab, p. 216.

[104] Stephen Epstein, “History Man” in The Weekly Standard, December 13, 2010, http://www.weeklystandard.com/history-man/article/520688

[105] Hugh Trevor-Roper, “Testing Toynbee’s System” in Ashley Montague editor, Toynbee and History, p. 122.

[106] W. H. Walsh, “The End of a Great Work,” in Ashley Montague, editor, Toynbee and History, p. 125; original emphasis.

[107] Pieter Geyl, Debates with Historians, p.185.

[108] Arnold Toynbee, A Study of History, Volume 4, p. 36.

[109] Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, CVI, p. 213.

[110] Arnold Toynbee and Jane Caplan, A Study of History, p. 97; also A Study of History, Volume 1, p. 271.

[111] Arnold Toynbee and Jane Caplan, A Study of History, p. 97.

[112] Arnold Toynbee, A Study in History, Volume 1, p. 233, states “we must infer that the capacity for civilization is not a monopoly of an fraction or fractions of the human family  . . . there is no warrant for supposing that one particular fraction – the Black Race – has been born without this birthright and is congenitally incapable of civilization just because it has failed to make one of these creative contributions so

far.” Toynbee would probably not have written this if knowledge about the Kingdoms of Kush or Benin or the Empire of Ghana had been prevalent in his time. It would be fascinating to see how his theories fit these civilizations. In his final, one volume abridgement, Toynbee refers to “the philosophies of the African Civilizations” p. 161; also p. 71.

[113] Arnold Toynbee and Jane Caplan, A Study of History, p. 96.

[114] Arnold Toynbee, A Study of History, Volume 3, p. 192

[115] Arnold Toynbee, A Study of History, Volume 2, p. 322 – 392.

[116] Arnold Toynbee, A Study of History, Volume 2, p. 291.

[117] Arnold Toynbee and Jane Caplan, A Study of History, p. 132.

[118] 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Foundations of World Unity, p. 58.

[119] 'Abdu'l-Bahá, 'Abdu'l-Bahá in London, p. 29.

[120] The Universal House of Justice, Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1968-1973, p. 57.

[121] Arnold Toynbee and Jane Caplan, A Study of History, p. 138.

[122] Arnold Toynbee and Jane Caplan, A Study of History, p. 137.

[123] Arnold Toynbee, A Study of History, Volume 3, p. 192.

[124] Arnold Toynbee and Jane Caplan, A Study of History, p. 140.

[125] 'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 197.

[126] Arnold Toynbee, A Study of History, Volume 12, p. 75.

[127] Ian Kluge, “Reason and the Bahá’í Writings,” in Lights of Irfan # 14, 2013.

[128] Arnold Toynbee, A Study of History, Volume 12, p. 81.

[129] Arnold Toynbee and Jane Caplan, A Study of History, p. 328.

[130] Arnold Toynbee, A Study of History, Volume 1, p. 249; Volume 1, p. 270; Volume 3, p. 125; emphasis added. 

[131] 'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 378.

[132] Bahá’u’lláh, The Kitáb-i-Íqán, p. 168; emphasis added.

[133] Arnold Toynbee and Jane Caplan, A Study of History, p. 140.

[134] Arnold Toynbee and Jane Caplan, A Study of History, p. 166.

[135] Arnold Toynbee and Jane Caplan, A Study of History, p. 334. 

[136] 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 108.

[137] Arnold Toynbee and Jane Caplan, A Study of History, p. 326.

[138] Arnold Toynbee and Jane Caplan, A Study of History, p. 326.

[139] Arnold Toynbee and Jane Caplan, A Study of History, p. 326.

[140] Shoghi Effendi, This Decisive Hour, p. 23.

[141] Shoghi Effendi, The Citadel of Faith, p. 39.

[142] CF Volney, Les Ruins, in Oevres Completes, p. 12 – 13 in Arnold Toynbee and Jane Caplan, A Study of History, p. 161.

[143] Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, LXXVII, p. 149.

[144] Arnold Toynbee, A Study of History, Volume 4, p. 245.

[145] Arnold Toynbee, A Study of History, Volume 4, p. 261.

[146] 'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace,” p. 161.

[147] Bahá’u’lláh,  Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 156. 

[148] 'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace,” p. 169.

[149] 'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace,” p. 363.

[150] Arnold Toynbee and Jane Caplan, A Study of History, p. 161.

[151] Arnold Toynbee and Jane Caplan, A Study of History, p. 162.

[152] Arnold Toynbee and Jane Caplan, A Study of History, p. 171.

[153] Arnold Toynbee and Jane Caplan, A Study of History, p. 180

[154] Arnold Toynbee and Jane Caplan, A Study of History, p. 194.

[155] 'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 108.