Biography[ edit ] Although he was born in Cologne on January 3, , his parents moved to Vienna in , and Eric Voegelin eventually studied at the University of Vienna. The advisers on his dissertation were Hans Kelsen and Othmar Spann. After his habilitation there in he taught political theory and sociology. Narrowly avoiding arrest by the Gestapo, and after a brief stay in Switzerland, he arrived in the United States. He was a member of the Philadelphia Society.
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Biography[ edit ] Although he was born in Cologne on January 3, , his parents moved to Vienna in , and Eric Voegelin eventually studied at the University of Vienna. The advisers on his dissertation were Hans Kelsen and Othmar Spann.
After his habilitation there in he taught political theory and sociology. Narrowly avoiding arrest by the Gestapo, and after a brief stay in Switzerland, he arrived in the United States. He was a member of the Philadelphia Society. Voegelin published scores of books, essays, and reviews in his lifetime. An early work was Die politischen Religionen ; The Political Religions , on totalitarian ideologies as political religions due to their structural similarities to religion.
He wrote the multi-volume English-language Order and History, which began publication in and remained incomplete at the time of his death 29 years later.
His Charles Walgreen lectures, published as The New Science of Politics, is sometimes seen as a prolegomenon to this series, and remains his best known work. He left many manuscripts unpublished, including a history of political ideas, which has since been published in eight volumes.
The first three volumes, Israel and Revelation, The World of the Polis, and Plato and Aristotle, appeared in rapid succession in and and focused on the evocations of order in the ancient Near East and Greece. Voegelin then encountered difficulties which slowed down the publication. 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. The fourth volume, The Ecumenic Age, appeared in 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.
Although transcendence can never be fully defined or described, it may be conveyed in symbols. A particular sense of transcendent order serves as a basis for a particular political order.
A philosophy of consciousness can therefore become a philosophy of politics. Insights may become fossilised as dogma. 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. For Voegelin, the essence of truth is trust. All philosophy begins with experience of the divine. Since God is experienced as good, one can be confident that reality is knowable.
As Descartes would say, God is not a deceiver. Given the possibility of knowledge, Voegelin holds there are two modes: intentionality and luminosity. Visions of order belong to the latter category. The truth of any vision is confirmed by its orthodoxy, by what Voegelin jokingly calls its lack of originality. Voegelin often invents terms or uses old ones in new ways.
However, there are patterns in his work with which the reader can quickly become familiar. He defined gnosis as "a purported direct, immediate apprehension or vision of truth without the need for critical reflection; the special gift of a spiritual and cognitive elite. Relying as it does on a claim to gnosis, gnosticism considers its knowledge not subject to criticism. Gnosticism may take transcendentalizing as in the case of the Gnostic movement of late antiquity or immanentizing forms as in the case of Marxism.
He identified the root of the Gnostic impulse as alienation , that is, a sense of disconnection from society and a belief that this lack is the result of the inherent disorder, or even evil, of the world. This alienation has two effects: 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 and or create a policy to actualize the speculation, or Immanentize the Eschaton , i.
According to Voegelin the Gnostics are really rejecting the Christian eschaton of the kingdom of God and replacing it with a human form of salvation through esoteric ritual or practice. This stands in contrast to a notion of redemption that is achieved through the reconciliation of mankind with the divine. Marxism therefore qualifies as "gnostic" because it purports that we can establish the perfect society on earth once capitalism has been overthrown by the "proletariat".
Likewise, Nazism is seen as "gnostic" because it posits that we can achieve utopia by attaining racial purity, once the master race has freed itself of the racially inferior and the degenerate.
In the two cases specifically analyzed by Voegelin, the totalitarian impulse is derived from the alienation of the individuals from the rest of society. As a result, there is very little regard for the welfare of those who are harmed by the resulting politics, which ranges from coercive to calamitous e. Buckley Jr. Such an immanentist hypostasis of the eschaton , however, is a theoretical fallacy.
As it is later then immanentized or manifest in modernity in the wake of Joachim of Fiore and in the various ideological movements outlined in his works. Which is to have an understanding and control over reality that makes Mankind as powerful as the role of God in reality. Voegelin was arguing from a Hellenistic position that good gnosis is derived from pistis faith and that the pagan tradition made a false distinction between faith and noesis.
Furthermore, this dualist perspective was the very essence of gnosticism via the misuse of Noema and caused a destructive division between the internal and external world in human consciousness.
To reconcile the internal subjective and external objective world of consciousness was the restoration of order. This alienation has two effects: 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 desire to create and implement a policy to actualize the speculation, or as Voegelin described it, to Immanentize the Eschaton , to create a sort of heaven on earth within history by triggering the apocalypse [ citation needed ]. However, interspersed in his writings is the idea of a spiritual recovery of the primary experiences of divine order.
He did not speculate on the institutional forms in which a spiritual recovery might take place, but expressed confidence that the current year cycle of secularism would come to an end because, as he stated, "you cannot deny the human forever.
Later at an informal talk given at University College, Dublin, Ireland in ,  Voegelin suggested the Soviet Union might collapse by because of its failure to succeed in its domestic commitments and external political challenges.
Bermann Fischer , Stockholm Peter J.
Eric Voegelin: Mystical Philosopher and Scientist
Read more Read less. And in this respect, he surpassed even Schelling, with whom as a philosopher of the myth Vico has much closer relations than with either Kant or Hegel. After a brief stay in German-born American political philosopher. Ihm ist die gesamte Schopfung und in ihr die Person ein gegenstandlich Gegebenes.
Eric Voegelin Studies
Anamnesis: On the Theory of History and Politics