Dr. Aleksandar Gajić, “Krst i krug” [“The Cross and the Circle”], Novi Sad – Belgrade: Archives of Vojvodina – Institute of European Studies, 2022.
Dr. Aleksandar Gajić’s scholarly monograph, “The Cross and the Circle” (Archive of Vojvodina – IES, 2022) consists of eleven chapters, each with a series of subchapters, dealing with different thinkers and scholars who advocated a cyclical view of history, from the Middle Ages to today of the day. Along with the biographies of the proponents of cycling and the most important specifics of the theories they advocated, the author provides a critical review of their views, pointing out their importance for the history of social sciences, primarily sociology and historical science, but also philosophy. And, most importantly, the book is characterized by a distinct topicality, because it checks the importance of cyclical views for understanding the most important contemporary social trends, those that marked the first two decades of the twenty-first century. In the background of critical examination of both the present and the theoretical reach of cyclical theories, one can see their clear confrontation with Christianity, that is, with the Christian view of history, especially in terms of the relationship between individuals and society, but also freedom and determination.
The first chapter deals with the “father” of historical sociology, the Arab scholar Ibn Khaldun and his theory of the ‘asabiyya cycles. The following is a chapter that observes two contemporary thinkers of the rise and fall of civilizations, Jared Diamond and Peter the Turk, among whom the latter is a strong advocate of reviving Ibn Khaldun’s approach to “‘asabiyya cycles” in modern science, using modern scientific equipment. The third chapter deals with Nikolai Danilevsky (author of the famous book “Russia and Europe”) and his controversy about the cyclical life of cultures, which he led with the Russian religious philosopher Vladimir Solovyov. The fourth chapter deals with the modern reception and the significance of Spengler’s cultural morphology for understanding cultural-civilizational movements, and the fifth with the relationship between Spengler’s teaching and Christianity. The sixth chapter gives a critical account of the teachings of several lesser-known followers of Spengler’s cultural morphology, otherwise very different from each other, such as Egon Friedel, Francis Joki and Amari de Rijenkur. The next, seventh chapter, studies the attitude of the famous Russian philosopher Nikolai Berdyaev towards cyclical views of history, primarily that of Spengler. The eighth chapter deals with Arnold Toynbee and his historiographical achievements of “revaluation” of Spengler’s work, and the ninth with a cyclical view of the teachings of Pitirim Sorokin on the sexualization of Western culture. Chapter 10 deals with the relationship of cyclical views on the history of the perennialist / traditionalist school of thought in the twentieth century, especially that advocated by Julius Evola, a leading Italian traditionalist. The last, eleventh chapter confronts all modern cyclical theories with another modern historical and sociological theory (which was especially popularized by Shmuel Eisenstadt) – the theory of the “axial age”.
The book reviewers are: Prof. Srđan Sljukic, Prof. Ljubiša Despotović and Dr. Momčilo Diklić.