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Encyclopedia > Eric Voegelin
Western Philosophers
20th-century philosophy
Eric Voegelin
Name: Eric Voegelin
Birth: January 3, 1901 (Cologne, Germany)
Death: January 19, 1985
School/tradition: Western Philosophy
Main interests: History, Consciousness, Religion, Political Science
Influences: Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Church Fathers, Alfred North Whitehead, Max Weber, Karl Kraus, Ernst Cassirer, Karl Jaspers, Hans Urs von Balthasar, Henri de Lubac, Hans Jonas, Ludwig von Mises, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Martin Heidegger, Leo Strauss, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Carl Schmitt
Influenced: Russell Kirk, William F. Buckley, Jr.

Eric Voegelin, born Erich Hermann Wilhelm Vögelin, (January 3, 1901January 19, 1985) was a political philosopher. He was born in Cologne, Germany, and educated in political science at the University of Vienna, where he was advised on his dissertation by Hans Kelsen and Othmar Spann. He became a teacher and then an associate professor of political science at the Faculty of Law. In 1938 he fled with his wife from Nazi Germany, emigrating to the United States, where they became citizens in 1944. He then spent considerable parts of his academic career at Louisiana State University, the University of Munich and the Hoover Institution of Stanford University. It has been suggested that Contemporary philosophy be merged into this article or section. ... is the 3rd day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1901 (MCMI) was a common year starting on Tuesday (link will display calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a common year starting on Monday [1] of the 13-day-slower Julian calendar). ... , For other uses, see Cologne (disambiguation). ... January 19 is the 19th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1985 (MCMLXXXV) was a common year starting on Tuesday (link displays 1985 Gregorian calendar). ... Western philosophy is a modern claim that there is a line of related philosophical thinking, beginning in ancient Greece (Greek philosophy) and the ancient Near East (the Abrahamic religions), that continues to this day. ... The title page to The Historians History of the World. ... Consciousness is a quality of the mind generally regarded to comprise qualities such as subjectivity, self-awareness, sentience, sapience, and the ability to perceive the relationship between oneself and ones environment. ... The Politics series Politics Portal This box:      Political Science is the field concerning the theory and practice of politics and the description and analysis of political systems and political behaviour. ... PLATO was one of the first generalized Computer assisted instruction systems, originally built by the University of Illinois (U of I) and later taken over by Control Data Corporation (CDC), who provided the machines it ran on. ... Aristotle (Greek: AristotélÄ“s) (384 BC – 322 BC) was a Greek philosopher, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. ... “Augustinus” redirects here. ... Saint Thomas Aquinas (also Thomas of Aquin, or Aquino; c. ... Topics in Christianity Movements · Denominations Ecumenism · Preaching · Prayer Music · Liturgy · Calendar Symbols · Art · Criticism Important figures Apostle Paul · Church Fathers Constantine · Athanasius · Augustine Anselm · Aquinas · Palamas · Luther Calvin · Wesley Arius · Marcion of Sinope Pope · Archbishop of Canterbury Patriarch of Constantinople Christianity Portal This box:      The Church Fathers, Early Church Fathers... Alfred North Whitehead, OM (February 15, 1861 Ramsgate, Kent, England – December 30, 1947 Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA) was an English-born mathematician who became a philosopher. ... For the politician, see Max Weber (politician). ... Karl Kraus (April 28, 1874 - June 12, 1936) was an eminent Austrian writer and journalist, known as a satirist, essayist, aphorist, playwright, and poet. ... Ernst Cassirer (July 28, 1874 – April 13, 1945) was a German-Jewish philosopher. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Hans Urs von Balthasar (August 12, 1905—June 26, 1988) was a Swiss theologian and priest who was nominated to be a cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. ... Henri de Lubac (February 20, 1896-September 4, 1991), a French Jesuit, can be considered to be one of the most influential theologians of post-modern time. ... German-born philosopher Hans Jonas (May 10, 1903 - February 5, 1993) studied under Martin Heidegger and Rudolf Bultmann in the 1920s. ... Ludwig Heinrich Edler von Mises (September 29, 1881 – October 10, 1973) (IPA: ) was a notable economist and a major influence on the modern libertarian movement. ... Wittgenstein and Hitler in school photograph taken at the Linz Realschule in 1903. ... Martin Heidegger (September 26, 1889 – May 26, 1976) (pronounced ) was a highly influential German philosopher. ... Leo Strauss (September 20, 1899 – October 18, 1973), was a German-born political philosopher who specialized in the study of classical political philosophy. ... Hans-Georg Gadamer Hans-Georg Gadamer (February 11, 1900 – March 13, 2002) was a German philosopher best known for his 1960 magnum opus, Truth and Method (Wahrheit und Methode). ... Carl Schmitt Carl Schmitt (July 11, 1888 - April 7, 1985) was a German legal theoretician and political scientist. ... Russell Kirk Russell Kirk (1918, Plymouth, Michigan – 29 April 1994, Mecosta, Michigan), was an American political theorist, historian, social critic, and man of letters, best known for his influence on 20th century American conservatism. ... William Francis Bill Buckley, Jr. ... is the 3rd day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1901 (MCMI) was a common year starting on Tuesday (link will display calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a common year starting on Monday [1] of the 13-day-slower Julian calendar). ... January 19 is the 19th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1985 (MCMLXXXV) was a common year starting on Tuesday (link displays 1985 Gregorian calendar). ... Political philosophy is the study of the fundamental questions about the state, government, politics, property, law and the enforcement of a legal code by authority: what they are, why they are needed, what makes a government legitimate, what rights and freedoms it should protect and why, what form it should... , For other uses, see Cologne (disambiguation). ... The University of Vienna (German: Universität Wien) in Vienna, Austria is the oldest university in the current Austro-Hungarian domain; it formally opened in 1365. ... The Politics series Politics Portal This box:      Political Science is the field concerning the theory and practice of politics and the description and analysis of political systems and political behaviour. ... Year 1938 (MCMXXXVIII) was a common year starting on Saturday (link will take you to calendar). ... Nazi Germany, or the Third Reich, commonly refers to Germany in the years 1933–1945, when it was under the firm control of the totalitarian and fascist ideology of the Nazi Party, with the Führer Adolf Hitler as dictator. ... 1944 (MCMXLIV) was a leap year starting on Saturday. ... Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College at Baton Rouge, generally known as Louisiana State University or LSU, is a public, coeducational university located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and the main campus of the Louisiana State University System. ... With approximately 48,000 students, the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich (German: Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München or LMU) is one of the largest universities in Germany. ... Hoover Tower at the Hoover Institution The Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace is a public policy think tank and library founded by Herbert Hoover at Stanford University, his alma mater. ... Leland Stanford Junior University, commonly known as Stanford University (or simply Stanford), is a private university located approximately 37 miles (60 kilometers) southeast of San Francisco and approximately 20 miles northwest of San José in Stanford, California. ...

Contents

Biography

Voegelin was born in Cologne in 1901. He taught political theory and sociology at the University of Vienna after his habilitation there in 1928. In 1933 he published two books criticizing Nazi racism, and was forced to flee from Austria following the Anschluss in 1938. After a brief stay in Switzerland, he arrived in the United States and taught at a series of universities before joining Louisiana State University's Department of Government in 1942. , For other uses, see Cologne (disambiguation). ... Year 1901 (MCMI) was a common year starting on Tuesday (link will display calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a common year starting on Monday [1] of the 13-day-slower Julian calendar). ... Niccolò Machiavelli, ca 1500, became the key figure in realistic political theory, crucial to political science Political Science is the systematic study of the allocation and transfer of power in decision making. ... Sociology (from Latin: socius, companion; and the suffix -ology, the study of, from Greek λόγος, lógos, knowledge) is an academic and applied discipline that studies society and human social interaction. ... The University of Vienna (German: Universität Wien) in Vienna, Austria is the oldest university in the current Austro-Hungarian domain; it formally opened in 1365. ... Year 1928 (MCMXXVIII) was a leap year starting on Sunday (link will display full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... 1933 (MCMXXXIII) was a common year starting on Sunday. ... National Socialism redirects here. ... Racism is a belief or concept that inherent differences between people, in particular those upon which the concept of race is based, determine cultural or individual achievement, and may involve the idea that ones self-identified race or ethnic group or others race or ethnic group is superior. ... German troops march into Austria on 12 March 1938. ... Year 1938 (MCMXXXVIII) was a common year starting on Saturday (link will take you to calendar). ... Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College at Baton Rouge, generally known as Louisiana State University or LSU, is a public, coeducational university located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and the main campus of the Louisiana State University System. ... Year 1942 (MCMXLII) was a common year starting on Thursday (the link will display the full 1942 calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ...


Voegelin remained in Baton Rouge until 1958 when he accepted an offer by Munich's Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität to fill Max Weber's former chair in political science, which had been empty since Weber's death in 1920. In Munich he founded the Institut für Politische Wissenschaft. Voegelin returned to America in 1969 to join Stanford University's Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace as Henry Salvatori Fellow where he continued his work until his death on January 19, 1985. Capitol Building Baton Rouge is the capital of Louisiana, a state of the United States of America. ... Year 1958 (MCMLVIII) was a common year starting on Wednesday (link will display full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... For other uses, see Munich (disambiguation). ... Main building at the Geschwister-Scholl-Platz With approximately 48,000 students, the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich (German: Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München or LMU) is the second largest university in Germany (surpassed only by the University of Cologne). ... For the politician, see Max Weber (politician). ... The Politics series Politics Portal This box:      Political Science is the field concerning the theory and practice of politics and the description and analysis of political systems and political behaviour. ... 1920 (MCMXX) was a leap year starting on Thursday. ... Also: 1969 (Stargate SG-1) episode. ... Leland Stanford Junior University, commonly known as Stanford University (or simply Stanford), is a private university located approximately 37 miles (60 kilometers) southeast of San Francisco and approximately 20 miles northwest of San José in Stanford, California. ... Hoover Tower at the Hoover Institution The Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace is a public policy think tank and library founded by Herbert Hoover at Stanford University, his alma mater. ... January 19 is the 19th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1985 (MCMLXXXV) was a common year starting on Tuesday (link displays 1985 Gregorian calendar). ...


Work

Voegelin worked throughout his life to account for the endemic political violence of the twentieth century in an effort that is variously referred to as a philosophy of politics, history, or consciousness. Political terrorism is a form of terrorism (a tactic of violence that targets civilians) used to influence socio-political events so that gains occur that might not have otherwise happened by peaceful means or by conventional warfare. ... The philosopher Socrates about to take poison hemlock as ordered by the court. ... The title page to The Historians History of the World. ... Consciousness is a quality of the mind generally regarded to comprise qualities such as subjectivity, self-awareness, sentience, sapience, and the ability to perceive the relationship between oneself and ones environment. ...


Voegelin published scores of books, essays, and reviews in his lifetime. An early work was Die Politischen Religionen (1938) - the political religions, on totalitarian ideologies and their structural similarities to religion. His magnum opus was the multi-volume (English-language) Order and History, which began publication in 1956 and remained incomplete at the time of his death 29 years later. His 1951 Charles Walgreen lectures, published as The New Science of Politics, is sometimes seen as a prolegomena to this, and remains his best known work. He also left many manuscripts unpublished, including a history of political ideas that has since been published in eight volumes. In the terminology of some scholars working in sociology, a political religion is a political ideology with cultural and political power equivalent to those of a religion, and often having many sociological and ideological similarities with religion. ... Year 1956 (MCMLVI) was a leap year starting on Sunday (link will display full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1951 (MCMLI) was a common year starting on Monday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ...


Order and History was originally conceived as a six-volume series attempting to discern the order in history through an examination of the history of order, using recent explosive growth of knowledge about the past and occasioned by Voegelin's personal experience of the disorder of his time, in the Nazi genocide. The first three volumes, Israel and Revelation, The World of the Polis, and Plato and Aristotle, appeared in rapid succession in 1956 and 1957 and focused on the evocations of order in the ancient societies of the Near East and Greece. Genocide is the deliberate and systematic destruction of an ethnic or national group. ... Year 1956 (MCMLVI) was a leap year starting on Sunday (link will display full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1957 (MCMLVII) was a common year starting on Tuesday (link displays the 1957 Gregorian calendar). ... The Near East is a term commonly used by archaeologists, geographers and historians, less commonly by journalists and commentators, to refer to the region encompassing Anatolia (the Asian portion of modern Turkey), the Levant (modern Israel/Palestine, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon), Georgia, Armenia, and...


At this point Voegelin encountered difficulties that forced him to rework parts of his theory and slowed the publication down. This combined with his university administrative duties and work related to the new institute meant that seventeen years separated the fourth from the third volume. His new theoretical concerns were indicated in the 1966 German collection Anamnesis: Zur Theorie der Geschichte und Politik, and the fourth volume, The Ecumenic Age, appeared in 1974. It broke with the chronological pattern of the previous volumes by investigating symbolizations of order ranging in time from the Sumerian King List to Hegel. Continuing work on the final volume, In Search of Order, occupied Voegelin's final days and it was published posthumously in 1987. Year 1966 (MCMLXVI) was a common year starting on Saturday (link will display full calendar) of the 1966 Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1974 (MCMLXXIV) was a common year starting on Tuesday (link will display full calendar) of the 1974 Gregorian calendar. ... The Sumerian king list is an ancient text in the Sumerian language listing kings of Sumer from Sumerian and foreign dynasties. ... Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (IPA: ) (August 27, 1770 – November 14, 1831) was a German philosopher and, with Johann Gottlieb Fichte and Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling, one of the representatives of German idealism. ... Year 1987 (MCMLXXXVII) was a common year starting on Thursday (link displays 1987 Gregorian calendar). ...


One of the later Voegelin's main points seems to be that a sense of order is conveyed by the experience of transcendence. This transcendence can never be defined nor described fully, however it may be conveyed in symbols which can evoke the sense of order in others. A particular sense of transcendent order serves as a basis for political order. Over time the symbols may become fossilised as a dogma, and no longer able to evoke the same experiences - in which case the society is threatened. It is in this way that a philosophy of politics becomes a philosophy of consciousness. The main aim of the political philosopher is to remain open to the truth of order, and to convey this to others. To some extent Voegelin is more interested in the ontological issues that arise from these experiences than the epistemological questions of how we know that a vision of order is true or not.(Voegelin's thought does have an epistemological basis, but since he does not constantly return to it, it can easily be overlooked. For Voegelin, the essence of truth is trust. All philosophy begins with God -- with experiences of divine reality. Since God is experienced as good, one can be confident that reality is knowable. As Descartes, who derived his epistemology from the same sources as Voegelin, would say, God is not a deceiver.) However as Voegelin has a tendency to dismiss those he disagrees with, or who question his assumptions, as 'smart idiots' or as 'spiritually diseased', then these others may tend to wonder if it is not Voegelin who is avoiding the hard questions - especially as his work is so voluminous.


Voegelin's work is extremely difficult to characterize and does not fit in any standard classifications, although some of his readers have found similarities in it to the concerns found in contemporaneous works by, for example, Ernst Cassirer, Alfred North Whitehead, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Martin Heidegger, and Hans-Georg Gadamer. It is further complicated by a very unapproachable style and a heavy reliance on the reader's background knowledge. Moreover, Voegelin often introduced new technical terms or new uses for existing ones. Primarily, however, the difficulty stems from the unusual subject-matter and an approach to it likely to be unfamiliar, if not uncomfortable, to most readers. Also, he followed in English a stylistic rule more appropriate to academic German: if the subject was difficult, the style should be difficult to cue the reader to be careful. Voegelin's works are often controversial, and are sometimes perceived as (merely) a large chain of loosely-linked facts, comprising a heterogeneous conspiracy theory. However, there are repetitions and patterns of analysis in the work that the reader can quickly become familiar with. Ernst Cassirer (July 28, 1874 – April 13, 1945) was a German-Jewish philosopher. ... Alfred North Whitehead, OM (February 15, 1861 Ramsgate, Kent, England – December 30, 1947 Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA) was an English-born mathematician who became a philosopher. ... Wittgenstein and Hitler in school photograph taken at the Linz Realschule in 1903. ... Martin Heidegger (September 26, 1889 – May 26, 1976) (pronounced ) was a highly influential German philosopher. ... Hans-Georg Gadamer Hans-Georg Gadamer (February 11, 1900 – March 13, 2002) was a German philosopher best known for his 1960 magnum opus, Truth and Method (Wahrheit und Methode). ... Look up Heterogeneous in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... A conspiracy theory is an attempt by Prole Art Threat to attribute the ultimate cause of an event or chain of events (usually political, social, or historical events), or the concealment of such causes from public knowledge, to a secret, and often deceptive plot by a covert alliance of powerful...


All of these obstacles have led to many readings conflating Voegelin's work with reactionary political opinion and Christian triumphalism. His advocates increasingly reject this equivalence in the now-burgeoning secondary literature on Voegelin. Among indications of growing engagement with Voegelin's work are the 305 page international bibliography published by Munich's Wilhelm Fink Verlag in 2000; the presence of dedicated research centers at universities in the United States, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom; the appearance of recent translations in languages ranging from Portuguese to Japanese; and publishing efforts like the nearly complete 34 volume collection of primary works from the University of Missouri Press and the various series of primary and secondary works offered by the Eric-Voegelin-Archiv of Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität. Voegelin's work, though, remains most influential among political scientists; he receives little attention from philosophers or theologians. Year 2000 (MM) was a leap year starting on Saturday (link will display full 2000 Gregorian calendar). ... The University of Missouri System is the designated public research and land-grant university system of the state of Missouri. ... Main building at the Geschwister-Scholl-Platz With approximately 48,000 students, the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich (German: Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München or LMU) is the second largest university in Germany (surpassed only by the University of Cologne). ...


Voegelin on Gnosticism

Voegelin wrote extensively on what he perceived as the flawed concept of Christianity. With books like The New Science of Politics, Order and History and Science, Politics and Gnosticism he became the leader of an intellectual movement opposing what they believed to be unsound Gnostic influences in politics. This article or section is in need of attention from an expert on the subject. ... Christianity percentage by country, purple is highest, orange is lowest Topics in Christianity Movements · Denominations Ecumenism · Preaching · Prayer Music · Liturgy · Calendar Symbols · Art · Criticism Important figures Apostle Paul · Church Fathers Constantine · Athanasius · Augustine Anselm · Aquinas · Palamas · Wycliffe Tyndale · Luther · Calvin · Wesley Arius · Marcion of Sinope Pope · Archbishop of Canterbury Patriarch... This article or section is in need of attention from an expert on the subject. ...


Apart from the Classical Christian writers against heresy, Voegelin's sources on Gnosticism were of secondary nature, since the texts in the Nag Hammadi library were not yet widely available. For example he uses Hans Urs von Balthasar, Henri de Lubac and the German philosopher Hans Jonas. In historical scholarship, a Secondary source is a work of history written as a synthetic account, usually based on primary sources and other secondary sources. ... The Nag Hammadi library is a collection of early Christian Gnostic texts discovered near the Egyptian town of Nag Hammadi in 1945. ... Hans Urs von Balthasar (August 12, 1905—June 26, 1988) was a Swiss theologian and priest who was nominated to be a cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. ... Henri de Lubac (February 20, 1896-September 4, 1991), a French Jesuit, can be considered to be one of the most influential theologians of post-modern time. ... German-born philosopher Hans Jonas (May 10, 1903 - February 5, 1993) studied under Martin Heidegger and Rudolf Bultmann in the 1920s. ...


Voegelin identified a number of similarities between ancient Gnosticism and those held by a number of modernist political theories, particularly communism and nazism. For Christian theological modernism, see Liberal Christianity and Modernism (Roman Catholicism). ... Communism is an ideology that seeks to establish a classless, stateless social organization based on common ownership of the means of production. ... National Socialism redirects here. ...


He identified the root of the Gnostic impulse as alienation, that is, a sense of disconnection with society and a belief that this lack of concord with society is the result of the inherent disorder, or even evil, of the world. This alienation has two effects: Look up alienation, alienate in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...

  • The first is the belief that the disorder of the world can be transcended by extraordinary insight, learning, or knowledge, called a Gnostic Speculation by Voegelin (the Gnostics themselves referred to this as gnosis).
  • The second is the desire to implement a policy to actualize the speculation, or as Voegelin described to Immanentize the Eschaton, to create a sort of heaven on earth within history. This description of Gnosticism has little, if any, resemblance to Gnosticism expressed in the Nag Hammadi writings.[citation needed]

It is highly doubtful as to whether people historically identified as Gnostics all thought that the world could be improved. Indeed, one might allege that the idea of the millennium, and the coming of the perfect kingdom of God to Earth is part of orthodox Christianity, more than it is part of Gnosticism. This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ...


To some extent, Voegelin's use of the term 'gnosticism' might be unfortunate as it suggests some pseudo-continuity between religious movements and modern revolutionaries. However, the prime feature which he uses to label something as gnostic is the idea of perfection of the world and humanity by a chosen group of people possessing some kind of special knowledge. His use of 'gnosticism' is therefore purely structural ('salvation from the current evil world through secret knowledge'). Thus Marxism becomes 'gnostic' because it suggests that we can have a perfect society when capitalism is overthrown by a special group of people called the proletariat. And thus Nazism becomes 'gnostic' because it suggests we can have a utopia of 'pure' race when the special race exterminates the racially inferior.


In the two cases he focused on, the totalitarian impulse is derived from the alienation of the individuals from the rest of society. This leads to a desire to dominate (libido dominandi) which has its roots not just in the conviction of the imperative of the Gnostic's vision but also in his lack of concord with a large body of his society. As a result, there is very little regard for the welfare of those in society who are impacted by the resulting politics, which ranges from coercive to calamitous (e.g the Russian proverb: "You have to crack a few eggs to make an omelet").


According to Stephen McKnight, the post 1970 Voegelin found the emphasis of his readers on gnosticism to be frustrating. He had come to think that apocalypticism, hermeticism and neoplatonism were also important factors in the constitution of modernity, and that emphasis on gnosticism obscured important problems. Mcknight's view is not universally accepted. Apocalypticism is a worldview based on the idea that important matters are esoteric in nature (hidden) and they will soon be revealed in a major confrontation of earth-shaking magnitude that will change the course of history. ... Hermeticism should not be confused with the concept of a hermit. ... Neoplatonism (also Neo-Platonism) is the modern term for a school of religious and mystical philosophy that took shape in the 3rd century AD, based on the teachings of Plato and earlier Platonists. ... Modernity is a term used to describe the condition of being modern. Since the term modern is used to describe a wide range of periods, modernity must be understood in its context. ...


Ultimately, Voegelin's analysis of the disorder of the West and the rise of totalitarianism suggests that the primary cause is spiritual pathology rather than social disorganisation, or rather that the first inevitably leads to the second. Voegelin's later works discuss this idea, and explore the ontological and experiential problems that spring from this realization.


The totalitarian impulse in modernism has been noted by Catholic writers, particularly in Henri de Lubac's work "The Drama of Atheist Humanism", which explores the connection between the totalitarian impulses of political communism, fascism and positivism with their philosophical progenitors Hegel, Feuerbach, Marx, Comte and Friedrich Nietzsche. Henri de Lubac (February 20, 1896-September 4, 1991), a French Jesuit, can be considered to be one of the most influential theologians of post-modern time. ... Communism is an ideology that seeks to establish a classless, stateless social organization based on common ownership of the means of production. ... Fascism is an authoritarian political ideology (generally tied to a mass movement) that considers individual and other societal interests subordinate to the needs of the state, and seeks to forge a type of national unity, usually based on, but not limited to, ethnic, cultural, or racial attributes. ... // Positivism is a philosophy that states that the only authentic knowledge is scientific knowledge, and that such knowledge can only come from positive affirmation of theories through strict scientific method. ... Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (August 27, 1770 - November 14, 1831) was a German philosopher born in Stuttgart, Württemberg, in present-day southwest Germany. ... Ludwig Andreas Feuerbach (July 28, 1804 - September 13, 1872), German philosopher, fourth son of the eminent jurist Paul Johann Anselm Ritter von Feuerbach, was born in Landshut, Bavaria and died in Rechenberg (since 1899 a district of Nuremberg). ... Karl Heinrich Marx (May 5, 1818 – March 14, 1883) was a 19th century philosopher, political economist, and revolutionary. ... For article about famous philosopher and sociologist, see Auguste Comte Comte is a title of French nobility. ... Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (October 15, 1844 – August 25, 1900) (IPA: ) was a 19th-century German philosopher. ...


Immanentizing the eschaton

Main article: Immanentize the eschaton

Voegelin acknowledges his debt to this book in creating his seminal essay "Science, Politics, and Gnosticism". The Catholic catechism makes an oblique reference to the desire to "Immanentize the Eschaton" in article 676: To immanentize the eschaton means trying to bring about the eschaton (transcendent, spiritual, or future; the end of days, see eschatology) in the immanent (present or material) world. ... Codex Manesse, fol. ...

The Antichrist's deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgment. The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism, especially the "intrinsically perverse" political form of a secular messianism.

One of the more oft-quoted passages from his work on Gnosticism is the following:

The problem of an eidos in history, hence, arises only when a Christian transcendental fulfillment becomes immanentized. Such an immanentist hypostasis of the eschaton, however, is a theoretical fallacy.[citation needed]

From this comes the catch phrase: "Don't immanentize the eschaton!" which simply means: "Do not try to make that which belongs to the afterlife happen here and now." or "Don't try to create heaven on earth." The phrase was popularized by US conservative readers of Voegelin's work, most notably William F. Buckley, Jr., which in turn inspired, for instance, Robert Anton Wilson to use it as a pun from the opposite side of the political spectrum. In religion, transcendence is a condition or state of being that surpasses, and is independent of, physical existence. ... See: Hypostasis (linguistics) Hypostasis (religion) Hypostasis (organization) This is a disambiguation page — a list of articles associated with the same title. ... For the book by Pope Benedict XVI, see Eschatology (book). ... A catch phrase is a phrase or expression that is popularized, usually through repeated use, by a real person or fictional character. ... Ths article deals with conservatism as a political philosophy. ... William Francis Bill Buckley, Jr. ... Robert Anton Wilson Robert Anton Wilson or RAW (January 18, 1932 – January 11, 2007) was a prolific American novelist, essayist, philosopher, psychologist, futurologist, anarchist, and conspiracy theory researcher. ...


Some believe that Voegelin's ideas on Gnosticism amount to nothing but another conspiracy theory, and indeed it features in several works of conspiracy fiction[citation needed]. Others find this notion to be a misunderstanding stemming from Voegelin's broad use of the term 'gnosticism' to refer to any system of belief or thought based on human perfectibility and the special knowledge to make it so, rather than using the term in its well-developed historical sense. In either case, Voegelin's work on gnosticism has proved at once seminal and questionable to readers for decades. A conspiracy theory is an attempt by Prole Art Threat to attribute the ultimate cause of an event or chain of events (usually political, social, or historical events), or the concealment of such causes from public knowledge, to a secret, and often deceptive plot by a covert alliance of powerful...


Further reading

Primary literature

All of Voegelins writing is published as his Collected Works (CW).


People usually recommend beginning with CW 5 Modernity Without Restraint, which includes 'The Political Religions', 'New Science of Politics' and 'Science, Politics, and Gnosticism'. This will introduce you to the Gnostic argument, and the main features of Voegelin's style and methods of argument. (Others suggest starting with "Immortality: Experience and Symbol".)


However, those more interested in anchored empirical works might prefer Hitler and the Germans (CW 31) or Order and History vol.2: The World of the Polis (CW 15). Those of a more philosophical bent might prefer Order and History vol.3: Plato and Aristotle (CW 16). In many ways this latter is a central text, as Voegelin's reading of Plato seems vital for his understanding of Politics and Order.


After that, people should embark on the Philosophy of Consciousness phase with Anamnesis CW 6. This is not easy going, but is rewarding, and by now you should have enough background to steer through it.


After that, if you are still reading, the two final volumes of Order and History, The Ecumenic Age and In search of Order, are worth the effort, as Voegelin attempts a new formulation of the problem.


CW 12, the essays from 1966-85, is also valued very highly by Voegelinians.


Other people would make still further cases for other volumes in the series.


Secondary literature

Perhaps the best introductions to Voegelin are:

  • Webb, Eugene: "Eric Voegelin: Philosopher of History" Seattle and London: University of Washington Press, 1981.
  • Cooper, Barry: Eric Voegelin and the Foundations of Modern Political Science, University of Missouri Press, 1999,
  • Federici, Michael: Eric Voegelin: The Restoration of Order, ISI Books 2002, and the more complex
  • Sandoz, Ellis: The Vogelinian Revolution: A Biographical Introduction Louisiana State UP, 1981.
  • The closest to an introduction to Voegelin's thought in his own words is the: Autobiographical Reflections, (forthcoming? as) CW 34, but there are other editions.

See also

James Hadley Billington (born June 1, 1929) is the current Librarian of Congress. ... Robert Anton Wilson Robert Anton Wilson or RAW (January 18, 1932 – January 11, 2007) was a prolific American novelist, essayist, philosopher, psychologist, futurologist, anarchist, and conspiracy theory researcher. ... To immanentize the eschaton means trying to bring about the eschaton (transcendent, spiritual, or future; the end of days, see eschatology) in the immanent (present or material) world. ... Metaxy (μεταξύ) as defined from Platos Symposium, via the character Priestess Diotima, is the in-between. Metaxy or metaxi is defined as the in-between or middle ground were as Diotima as the tutor to Socrates uses the term to show how oral tradition can be perceived by different people... The Demiurge, The Craftsman or Creator, in some belief systems, is the deity responsible for the creation of the physical universe. ...

External links

Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:
Eric Voegelin
  • The Collected Works of Eric Voegelin: http://www.umsystem.edu/upress/voegelin/voegelin.htm
  • Eric-Voegelin-Archiv: http://www.lrz-muenchen.de/~voegelin-archiv/
  • The Eric Voegelin Institute: http://www.artsci.lsu.edu/voegelin/index.htm
  • Eric Voegelin Study Page: http://www.salamander.com/~wmcclain/ev-index.html
  • An Eric Voegelin page: http://www.fritzwagner.com/ev/eric_voegelin.html
  • Immanent corrections satirical article by Jonah Goldberg
  • Stephen Mcknight "Gnosticism and Modernity: Voegelin’s Reconsiderations Twenty Years After The New Science of Politics" http://www.artsci.lsu.edu/voegelin/EVS/Panel72001.htm
  • The Eric Voegelin Colloquium (Discussion Forum) http://www.fritzwagner.com/ev/voegelin-colloquium/index.php

  Results from FactBites:
 
Eric Voegelin (240 words)
Eric Voegelin (January 3, 1901- January 19, 1985) was a philosopher, born in Cologne, Germany, and educated in the fine arts at the University of Vienna, where he became a professor of political science at the Faculty of Law.
Eric Voegelin viewed Gnosticism as the root of all evil aspects of modernity.
He believed that the Gnostic impulse had been preserved throughout history and that the whole scientific enterprise, especially technology, was aimed towards creating "heaven on earth" and said he wanted to defend the "classic Christian tradition" against the attacks of "the Gnostics".
Logophobia - Eric Voegelin on SCIENTISM - The Intercollegiate Review, Fall 1999 - Author: Michael P. Federici Eric ... (3659 words)
Eric Voegelin argued that positivism "rests on the assumption that the theological and metaphysical phases of the mind are transitory and not necessary." Accepting these doctrines leads to the conclusion that most of the intellectual and artistic work that shaped Western civilization is the product of mere opinion, prejudice, or tradition.
Voegelin’s work is itself a response to the modern desire to be "scientific" and an attempt to restore political science to its classical roots.
Voegelin’s creation of a new science of politics is meant to recover human experience as metaphysical reality, to establish the process of this recovery as scientific, and to restore human consciousness of metaphysical reality.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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