Beginning the Quest by Barry Cooper provides an analysis of the legal and political writings of Eric Voegelin during the 1920s and 1930s. The subject matter of his analyses during this time period was quite distinct from the focus of his concerns thirty years later.
It has often been noted that Voegelin was a pupil of Hans Kelsen, the author of the postwar Austrian constitution and one of the great legal minds of the twentieth century. The significance of the fact that Voegelin began his academic life as a legal scholar has not, however, been emphasized, though his background provides a strong contrast with that of his contemporaries Leo Strauss and Hannah Arendt.
Beginning the Quest opens with Voegelin’s efforts, following the trauma of defeat in World War I, at understanding the relation of law and the study of law (Staatslehre) to what he then called “sociohistorical reality.” Much of this writing consisted of methodological analysis and criticism centered chiefly on the status of neo-Kantian philosophy as the basis for what we now call the social sciences. Voegelin wished to push the scientific understanding of sociohistorical reality beyond the scope afforded by German social science.
Cooper discusses Voegelin’s first systematic effort to bring together the principles of philosophical anthropology (including philosophy of history) with his understanding of comparative social science and a theory of law more comprehensive than Kelsen’s. In developing his argument, Voegelin discovered the centrality of what he called “political ideas.”
Cooper also deals with Voegelin’s The Authoritarian State (1936), which argues that Austria was more an administrative unit than a body politic. It was, to say the least, a startling analysis, but one that reappeared in later writings as well, especially in The New Science of Politics.
As a final point, Cooper deals with the concept of “political religions” that Voegelin developed in the 1938 book of that name. Just as the Austrians were groping toward the formation of a body politic, so too were the Germans. Instead of the authoritarian state being the form that the German “political people” attained, it was, as Voegelin showed in his race books, quite different. Voegelin developed the term political religion to describe the animating core of the National Socialist regime. The formation of this concept reveals that Voegelin had moved from a focus on the legal structure of a polity to its spiritual order—in the example of Nazi Germany, an unquestionably “Satanic” order.
Cooper concludes that just as the great crisis of Voegelin’s youth—World War I and its aftermath—led him to question the received premises of the Staatslehre tradition in which he was schooled, so did the crisis resulting in World War II lead him to develop ever-more-comprehensive accounts of the disorder and political convulsions of the day. The “quest” of the title of this study continued until Voegelin’s death.
The five Cs of Arizona—copper, cattle, cotton, citrus, and climate—formed the basis of the state’s livelihood and a readymade roster of subjects for films. With an eye on the developing national appetite for all things western, Charles and Lucile Herbert founded Western Ways Features in 1936 to document the landscape, regional development, and diverse cultures of Arizona, the U.S. Southwest, and northern Mexico.
Celluloid Pueblo tells the story of Western Ways Features and its role in the invention of the Southwest of the imagination. Active during a thirty-year period of profound growth and transformation, the Herberts created a dynamic visual record of the region, and their archival films now serve as a time capsule of the Sunbelt in the mid-twentieth century. Drawing upon a ten-year career with Fox, Western Ways owner-operator Charles Herbert brought a newshound’s sensibility and acute skill at in-camera editing to his southwestern subjects. The Western Ways films provided counternarratives to Hollywood representations of the West and established the regional identity of Tucson and the borderlands.
Jennifer L. Jenkins’s broad-sweeping book examines the Herberts’ work on some of the first sound films in the Arizona borderlands and their ongoing promotion of the Southwest. The book covers the filmic representation of Native and Mexican lifeways, Anglo ranching and leisure, Mexican missions and tourism, and postwar borderlands prosperity and progressivism. The story of Western Ways closely follows the boom-and-bust arc of the midcentury Southwest and the constantly evolving representations of an exotic—but safe and domesticated—frontier.
Political philosophers Leo Strauss and Eric Voegelin share an abiding interest in the Judeo-Christian tradition. In Disturbing Revelation, the first book to focus on their treatment of the Bible, John Ranieri explores how they draw on its texts in their philosophies and shows what these considerations say about whether the combination of religion and politics leads to violence or can prevent it.
In addressing fundamental questions of reason and revelation, Ranieri focuses not on Strauss’s treatment of Judaism or Voegelin’s of Christianity, but rather on the place of the Bible in their thought. He first examines the differences between their methodological approaches and attitudes toward the Bible and biblical criticism—rather than their attitudes toward religion or questions of faith—and then explores in depth their interpretations of the biblical message and its contribution to the modern world.
Ranieri shows how both men recognized that biblical texts must be seriously engaged in order for us to understand our contemporary situation—but that their appreciation of the Bible is marked by deep ambivalence concerning its vision of life and its influence on the political sphere. He brings their thought into conversation with that of René Girard, whose writings on violence and religion shed light on the problems that arise when biblical insights take root in a culture, and also offers fresh insight into Strauss’s elusive writings, such as his indebtedness to Nietzsche.
Disturbing Revelation reveals how Strauss and Voegelin viewed the applicability of biblical texts to what they considered the crisis of modernity without belaboring questions of their own personal faith. It is a clearly written exposition that reflects a rich understanding of the work of these thinkers and is as provocative as it is informative, not only for students of the two men but also for anyone interested in the relationship between philosophy and religious belief.
This important new work is a major analysis of the foundation of Eric Voegelin's political science. Barry Cooper maintains that the writings Voegelin undertook in the 1940s provide the groundwork for the brilliant book that is one of his best known, The New Science of Politics. At the time of that book's publication, however, few were aware of the enormous knowledge and accomplished scholarship that lay behind its illuminating, although sometimes baffling, formulations.
By focusing on several of the key chapters in Voegelin's eight- volume History of Political Ideas, especially the studies of Bodin, Vico, and Schelling, Cooper shows how those studies provide the basis for Voegelin's thought. Investigating Voegelin's study of Oriental influences on Western political "ideas," especially Mongol constitutional law, and his study of Toynbee, Cooper seeks to demonstrate the vast range of materials Voegelin used.
Cooper contends that, as with other great thinkers, political crisis, specifically the world war of 1939-1945, stimulated Voegelin's intellectual and spiritual achievement. He provides an analysis of Voegelin's immediate concern with the course of World War II, his ability to understand those dramatic events in a large context, and his ability to provide an insightful account of the causes, the significance, and the consequences of the spiritual and political disorder that was evident all around him.
In Eric Voegelin and the Foundations of Modern Political Science, Cooper makes the connection between Voegelin's political writings of the 1940s and the meditative interpretations that began to appear with the publication of Anamnesis and with the later volumes of Order and History much more intelligible than does any existing discussion of Voegelin. Scholars in intellectual history and political science will benefit enormously from this valuable new addition to Voegelin studies.
Although some critics of Eric Voegelin’s later work have faulted his failure to deal with the historical Jesus and to address the implications of Christianity for social and political life, the recent publication of Voegelin’s History of Political Ideas has allowed a more complete assessment of his position regarding the Christian political order. This book addresses that criticism through an analysis of Voegelin’s early work.
In Eric Voegelin and the Problem of Christian Political Order, Jeffrey C. Herndon analyzes the development of Voegelin’s thought regarding the origins of Christianity in the person of Jesus, the development of the church in the works of Paul, and the relationship between an immanent institutional order symbolizing the divine presence and the struggle for social and political order. Focusing on the tension between a spiritual phenomenon based on Pauline faith and the institutionalization of that experience in the church, Herndon offers one of the first examinations of the relationship of the History of Political Ideas to Voegelin’s larger body of work.
In his wide-ranging study, Herndon explores Voegelin’s examination of the problem of Christian political order from the inception of Christianity through the Great Reformation. He also presents a clarification of Voegelin’s theory of civilizational foundation and of Voegelin’s philosophy of history with regard to Christianity and Western political order.
Herndon addresses not only the nagging problem in Voegelin scholarship regarding his relationship with the historical Jesus but also the “Pauline compromises with the world” that enabled Christianity to become the instrument by which the West was civilized. He also shows that Voegelin’s interpretation of the historical pressures released by the Great Reformation is important to an understanding of his later work regarding the negative effect of Christian symbols in the creation of ideological disorder.
Eric Voegelin and the Problem of Christian Political Order clarifies issues in Voegelin studies regarding the intersection between political theory and Christian concerns, addressing the relation of religious experience to the public sphere of political life in the West and helping to explain Voegelin’s contention that the death of the spirit is the price of progress. It offers scholars a perspective heretofore lacking in Voegelin scholarship and a clearer view of Voegelin’s understanding of the Christian dispensation and its influence on the course of Western development, history, and philosophy.
By the time Eric Voegelin fled Hitler’s regime and made his way to the United States in 1938, he had already written four books criticizing Nazi racism, establishing what would be the focus of his life’s work: to account for the endemic political violence of the twentieth century. One of the most original political philosophers of the period, Voegelin has largely avoided ideological labels or categorizations of his work. Because of this, however, and because no one work or volume of his can do justice to his overall project, his work has been seen as difficult to approach.
Drawing from the University of Missouri Press’s thirty-four-volume edition of The Collected Works of Eric Voegelin (1990-2009), Charles Embry and Glenn Hughes have assembled a selection of representative works of Voegelin, satisfying a longstanding need for a single volume that can serve as a general introduction to Voegelin’s philosophy. The collection includes writings that demonstrate the range and creativity of Voegelin’s thought as it developed from 1956 until his death in 1985 in his search for the history of order in human society.
The Reader begins with excerpts from Autobiographical Reflections (1973), which include an orienting mixture of biographical information, philosophical motivations, and the scope of Voegelin’s project. It reflects key periods of Voegelin’s philosophical development, pivoting on his flight from the Gestapo.
The next section focuses on Voegelin’s understanding of the contemporary need to re-ground political science in a non-positivistic, post-Weberian outlook and method. It begins with Voegelin’s historical survey of science and scientism, followed by his explanation of what political science now requires in his introduction to The New Science of Politics. Also included are two essays that exemplify the practice of this “new science.” Voegelin started his academic career as a political scientist, and these early essays indicate his wide philosophical vision.
Voegelin recognized that a fully responsible “new science of politics” would require the development of a philosophy of history. This led to the writing of his magnum opus, the five-volume Order and History (1956–1985). This section of the Reader includes his introductions to volumes 1, 2 and 4 and his most essential accounts of the theoretical requirements and historical scope of a philosophy of history adequate to present-day scholarship and historical discoveries.
In the course of his career, Voegelin came to understand that political science, political philosophy, and philosophy of history must have as their theoretical nucleus a sound philosophical anthropology based on an accurate philosophy of human consciousness. The next set of writings consists of one late lecture and four late essays that exemplify how Voegelin recovers the wisdom of classical philosophy and the Western religious tradition while criticizing modern misrepresentations of consciousness. The result is Voegelin’s contemporary accounts of the nature of reason, the challenge of truly rational discussion, and the search for divine origins and the life of the human spirit.
During his philosophical journey, Voegelin addressed the historical situatedness of human existence, explicating the historicity of human consciousness in a manner that gave full due to the challenges of acknowledging both human immersion in the story of history and the ability of consciousness to arrive at philosophically valid truths about existence that are transhistorical. The essays in this final section present the culmination of his philosophical meditation on history, consciousness, and reality.
This collection of essays endeavors to generate a dialogue between Eric Voegelin and other prominent twentieth-century thinkers and explore some of the more perplexing issues in contemporary political theory. Each essay rests on the underlying question: is it possible or desirable to construct or discover political foundations without resorting to metaphysical or essentialist constructs? The introduction focuses on the two nineteenth-century thinkers, Nietzsche and Husserl, who have framed the debate about modernity and postmodernity; thereafter, the book examines Voegelin's ideas as compared to those of other twentieth-century thinkers.
Discussed within the volume are Levinas and the precedence of ethics, Ricoeur's theory of narrative representation, Deleuze and the philosophy of immanence, Voegelin's relationship to a speech- dimension theory of human behavior, and Patocka's theory of pre- metaphysical transcendence in Socrates. What will impress scholars most about this collection is the provocative dialogue created between Voegelin and other major thinkers of postmodernism that addresses the issue of establishing foundations without foundationalism.
Although she died cruelly at Auschwitz at the age of twenty-nine, Etty Hillesum left a lasting legacy of mystical thought in her letters and diaries. Hillesum was a complex and powerful witness to the openness of the human spirit to the call of God, even under the most harrowing circumstances. Her life was as much shaped by Hitler’s regime as was that of philosopher Eric Voegelin, and as Meins Coetsier reveals, her thought lends itself to interpretation from a uniquely Voegelinian perspective.
Etty Hillesum and the Flow of Presence analyzes the life and writings of Hillesum from the standpoint of Voegelin’s views on consciousness—especially his philosophy of luminous participation in the transcendent ground of being. Through a careful reading of her letters and diaries, Coetsier reveals the inner development of Hillesum’s mystically grounded resistance to Nazism as he guides readers through the symbolism of her spiritual journey, making effective use of Voegelin’s analytics of experience and symbolization to trace her path to spiritual truth.
Intertwining the lives, works, and visions of these two mystical thinkers, Coetsier demonstrates his mastery of both Voegelin’s philosophy and Hillesum’s Dutch-language materials. He shows how mystical attunement to the “flow of presence”—Voegelin’s designation for human responsiveness to the divine—is the key to the development of Hillesum’s life and writings. He displays a special affinity for the suffering and grace-filled transformation that she underwent as she approached the end of her life and gained insight into the ultimate purpose of each individual’s contribution to the well-being and maintenance of the human spirit.
Retrieving one of the lesser-known but most compelling figures of the Holocaust, Etty Hillesum and the Flow of Presence is an original contribution to both Voegelin and Hillesum scholarship that reflects these writers’ strong valuation of the human person. It presents Hillesum’s life and work in an original and provocative context, shedding new light on her experiences and their symbolizations while further broadening the application of Voegelin’s thought
Faith and Political Philosophy consists of fifty-three letters between Leo Strauss and Eric Voegelin, two of the most important political theorists of the twentieth century. In this correspondence, Strauss and Voegelin explore the nature of their similarities and differences, offering insightful observations about one another's work, about the state of the discipline, and about the influences working on them. The letters shed light on many assumptions made in their published writings, often with an openness that removes all vestiges of uncertainty.
Bernard Lonergan's ambitious study of human knowledge, based on his theory of consciousness, is among the major achievements of twentieth-century philosophy. He challenges the principles of contemporary intellectual culture by finding norms and standards not in external perceptions or reified concepts, but in the dynamism of consciousness itself.
Lonergan and the Philosophy of Historical Existence explores the implications of Lonergan's approach to the philosophy of history in a number of distinct but related contexts, covering a variety of intellectual disciplines. Each chapter can be read independently, but the series of chapters provides a coherent unfolding of Lonergan's case that the norms of inquiry endure as a standard of human thought and action amid continuous changes and fluctuations in politics, morals, religion, science, and scholarship. The book explains how Lonergan's idea of development follows from his theory of consciousness and how his treatment of human development inevitably focuses on historical development. The central theme of the book is that Lonergan's philosophy of history makes a pronounced distinction between historicity and historicism.
McPartland relates Lonergan's work to existentialist themes and, in the last chapters, to the work of Eric Voegelin. The book addresses the existentialist themes of dread, suffering, guilt, shame, and ressentiment—within overall themes of history, philosophy, and religion. McPartland argues that Lonergan's unique perspective on scientific method, epistemology, metaphysics, and critical theory can illuminate what seem to be the quite alien topics of reason as religious experience, the anxiety of existence, the existential roots of bias, and mythopoesis and mystery. Here there is a remarkable parallel to the philosophy of history of Eric Voegelin. The concluding chapters of the book show how the equivalence of the two philosophies offers a mutually enriching dialogue between Lonergan's critical realism and Voegelin's existential exegesis.
Throughout his philosophical career, Eric Voegelin had much to say about literature in both his published work and his private letters. Many of his most trenchant comments regarding the analysis of literature appear in his correspondence with critic Robert Heilman, and, through his familiarity with that exchange, Charles Embry has gained extraordinary insight into Voegelin’s literary views.
The Philosopher and the Storyteller is the first book-length study of the literary dimensions of Voegelin’s philosophy—and the first to use his philosophy to read specific novels. Bringing to bear a thorough familiarity with both Voegelin and great literature, Embry shows that novels—like myths, philosophy, and religious texts—participate in the human search for the truth of existence, and that reading literature within a Voegelinian framework exposes the existential and philosophical dimensions of those works.
Embry focuses on two key elements of Voegelin’s philosophy as important for reading literature: metaxy, the in-between of human consciousness, and metalepsis, human participation in the community of being. He shows how Voegelin’s philosophy in general is rooted in literary-symbolic interpretation and, therefore, provides a foundation for the interpretation of literature. And finally he explores Voegelin’s insistence that the soundness of literary criticism lies in the consciousness of the reader.
Embry then offers Voegelinian readings that vividly illustrate the principles of this approach. First he considers Graham Swift’s Waterland as an example of the human search for meaning in the modern world, then he explores the deformation and recovery of reality in Heimito von Doderer’s long and complex novel The Demons, and finally he examines how Flannery O’Connor’s The Violent Bear It Away mythically expresses the flux of divine presence in what Voegelin calls the Time of the Tale.
The Philosopher and the Storyteller unites fiction and philosophy in the common quest to understand our nature, our world, and our cosmos. A groundbreaking exploration of the connection between Voegelin and twentieth-century literature, this book opens a new window on the philosopher’s thought and will motivate readers to study other novels in light of this approach.
The essays in this collection honor Professor Ellis Sandoz, Hermann Moyse Jr. Distinguished Professor of Political Science, Louisiana State University, and founding director of the Eric Voegelin Institute for American Renaissance Studies, an institute located at Louisiana State University and devoted to research and publication in the fields of political philosophy, constitutional law, and Voegelin studies. Without the tireless leadership—both academic and economic—of Ellis Sandoz, who was one of Eric Voegelin’s early students and his first American doctoral candidate at the University of Munich, the thirty-four volumes of The Collected Works of Eric Voegelin would never have neared completion within only twenty years of Voegelin’s death.
The authors of the essays, some of the most respected scholars in the field of political philosophy, hail from Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Germany, Ireland, and the United States. They have known Sandoz in a variety of ways: as former students, as beneficiaries of his work on constitutionalism, as fellow participants in the publication of The Collected Works of Eric Voegelin, as philosophical colleagues, as participating members of the Eric Voegelin Society, and finally as friends.
The essays, each written especially for this volume, are grouped into the disciplines of philosophy, literature, and politics and range widely across these subjects, exploring writers as diverse as Xenophon, Natsume Soseki, Freud, and George Santayana and topics ranging from the leadership style of François Mitterrand and the Velvet Revolution to the nature of the Law and of the Political.
Philosophy, Literature, and Politics is a fitting tribute to a man whose life’s work has been formed by commitment to the philosophical enterprise and by a conviction in Eric Voegelin’s contribution to that enterprise. The seventeen essays in this collection will be of particular interest to scholars of politics, comparative government, Japanese studies, political philosophy, and literary criticism.
We take for granted today that the assessments, measurements, and forecasts of economists are crucial to the decision-making of governments and businesses alike. But less than a century ago that wasn’t the case—economists simply didn’t have the necessary information or statistical tools to understand the ever more complicated modern economy.
With Political Arithmetic, Nobel Prize–winning economist Robert Fogel and his collaborators tell the story of economist Simon Kuznets, the founding of the National Bureau of Economic Research, and the creation of the concept of GNP, which for the first time enabled us to measure the performance of entire economies. The book weaves together the many strands of political and economic thought and historical pressures that together created the demand for more detailed economic thinking—Progressive-era hopes for activist government, the production demands of World War I, Herbert Hoover’s interest in business cycles as President Harding’s commerce secretary, and the catastrophic economic failures of the Great Depression—and shows how, through trial and error, measurement and analysis, economists such as Kuznets rose to the occasion and in the process built a discipline whose knowledge could be put to practical use in everyday decision-making.
The product of a lifetime of studying the workings of economies and skillfully employing the tools of economics, Political Arithmetic is simultaneously a history of a key period of economic thought and a testament to the power of applied ideas.
This collection of letters exchanged between Robert B. Heilman and Eric Voegelin records a friendship that lasted more than forty years. These scholars, both giants in their own fields, shared news of family and events, academic gossip, personal and professional vicissitudes, academic successes, and, most important, ideas.
Heilman and Voegelin first became acquainted around 1941, when Voegelin delivered a guest lecture for the political science department at Louisiana State University. At that time, Heilman was teaching in the English department at LSU along with Robert Penn Warren and Cleanth Brooks. What began as simple exchanges after Voegelin moved to LSU soon grew into full-fledged correspondence—beginning with an eight-page letter by Voegelin commenting on Heilman’s manuscripton Shakespeare’s King Lear. Their correspondence lasted until four months before Voegelin’s death in January 1985.
These letters represent Voegelin’s most prolonged correspondence with a native-born American scholar and provide readers with an insight into Voegelin as a literary critic. While Voegelin’s analysis of Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw is well known, these letters reveal the context from which the analysis grew. Additional comments by Voegelin on Mann, Eliot, Shakespeare, Homer, Proust, Flaubert, and other significant writers are uncovered throughout his exchanges with Heilman.
Readers will appreciate not only Heilman’s elegant style but also his efforts to clarify for himself the meaning and implications of Voegelin’s developing philosophy. Heilman’s questions are often ones that readers of Voegelin continue to ask today. In his queries, as well as in the exposition of his theories of tragedy and melodrama, human nature, and expressionist drama, Heilman displays a canny perception of the philosophical issues and problems of modernity that sustained their interdisciplinary discussion. The letters exchanged by Robert B. Heilman and Eric Voegelin demonstrate the warm friendship these two scholars shared and illuminate many of the turns and transformations in their work as they developed as thinkers.
Transcendence and History is an analysis of what philosopher Eric Voegelin described as “the decisive problem of philosophy”: the dilemma of the discovery of transcendent meaning and the impact of this discovery on human self-understanding. The explicit recognition and symbolization of transcendent meaning originally occurred in a few advanced civilizations worldwide during the first millennium ?.?.e. The world’s major religious and wisdom traditions are built upon the recognition of transcendent meaning, and our own cultural and linguistic heritage has long since absorbed the postcosmological division of reality into the two dimensions of “transcendence” and “immanence.” But the last three centuries in the West have seen a growing resistance to the idea of transcendent meaning; contemporary and “postmodern” interpretations of the human situation—both popular and intellectual—indicate a widespread eclipse of confidence in the truth of transcendence.
In Transcendence and History, Glenn Hughes contributes to the understanding of transcendent meaning and the problems associated with it and assists in the philosophical recovery of the legitimacy of the notion of transcendence. Depending primarily on the treatments of transcendence found in the writings of twentieth-century philosophers Eric Voegelin and Bernard Lonergan, Hughes explores the historical discovery of transcendent meaning and then examines what it indicates about the structure of history. Hughes’s main focus, however, is on clarifying the problem of transcendence in relation to historical existence. Addressing both layreaders and scholars, Hughes applies the insights and analyses of Voegelin and Lonergan to considerable advantage.
Transcendence and History will be of particular value to those who have grappled with the notion of transcendence in the study of philosophy, comparative religion, political theory, history, philosophical anthropology, and art or poetry. By examining transcendent meaning as the key factor in the search for ultimate meaning from ancient societies to the present, the book demonstrates how “the decisive problem of philosophy” both illuminates and presents a vital challenge to contemporary intellectual discourse.
Although his contributions to philosophy are revered and his writings have been collected, Eric Voegelin’s persona will inevitably fade with the memories of those who knew him. This book preserves the human element of Voegelin by capturing those valuable personal recollections.
Barry Cooper and Jodi Bruhn conducted intensive interviews with Voegelin’s wife, his closest friends, and his first-generation students—many of whom have since passed on—in order to bring to print everything important about his life and personality. American scholars will especially appreciate the glimpses provided by Voegelin’s German colleagues into his life in Munich, as well as the thoughts of his students in Vienna. Reflections of people such as Paul Caringella, Bruno Schlesinger, and Heinz Barazon capture Voegelin’s greatness and shortcomings alike and also shed new light on his philosophical quest for truth.
By descending progressively further into the past, the book takes readers deeper into the essence of Voegelin as reminiscences become more dramatic. Ranging widely from America back to Germany—with recollections of Gestapo intimidation and eventual emigration—the accounts interweave episodes of pathos, humor, fear, rivalry, and ambition. We witness Voegelin’s persistent and partly self-imposed communication problems and impatience with administrative duties, his respect for prudent political actors and public servants, and his genuine affection not only for his colleagues and best students but also for diligent secretaries and empathetic nurses. Through these recollections, key elements of his personality repeatedly emerge: his intelligence, optimism, and integrity, combined with an acute perception of the significance of his work.
This is the most revealing and comprehensive biographical work yet available on a man known to be captivating as a thinker—and now shown to be equally fascinating as a human being. His own publications attest to his mind and methods; Voegelin Recollected provides a deeper understanding of the man himself.
In this important new work, Jerry Day brings to light the need for an extensive reinterpretation of the mature philosophy of Eric Voegelin, based on Voegelin’s published and unpublished appreciation for nineteenth-century German philosopher F. W. J. Schelling.
Schelling, whom Day maintains was one of the most important guides to Voegelin’s mature philosophy of consciousness and historiography, has been described as the father of several disparate movements and schools of continental philosophy—chief among them being “Hegelian” idealism and existentialism. This characterization implies that Schelling was a scattered thinker with little or no appreciation for philosophy as a disciplined inquiry into the nature of human affairs.
Voegelin was critical of this portrayal of Schelling. He argued that it lacked proper sensitivity for the impressive extent to which this giant of continental thought was able to rise above the “creed communities” of his time and recover the abiding concern of mature philosophers everywhere: the philosophia perennis. Those who claim that Schelling was scattered have failed, according to Voegelin, to appreciate the nonideological breadth of this great philosopher, misled by the splinter movements and schools that arose from mere fragments of his thought. In truth, Schelling founded no school and launched no movement. Instead, he reasoned with the disciplined integrity and wonder of a “spiritual realist.”
Day argues that Voegelin was a fine interpreter of Schelling, particularly during the decisive years when the central orientation of Voegelin’s mature thought was beginning to take hold—between the writing of his History of Political Ideas and its eventual transformation into Order and History. Day gathers an impressive array of evidence to interpret Voegelin’s little-known support for Schelling’s achievements, while offering detailed analyses and helpful summaries of a vast body of literature that has yet to be translated into English.
Day’s partial agreement with Voegelin’s uncommon assessment of Schelling provides him with the point of departure that leads to one of this book’s most distinctive contributions to contemporary thought. It has the rare ability to help clear the way for philosophical realists to make peace with many of their contemporaries, giving them further grounds for accepting the strongest anthropological and psychological insights of recent continental philosophy, while helping them to avoid its tendencies toward nihilistic despair or fideistic historicism.
By reading each philosopher through the eyes of the other, Day provides an analysis that will be illuminating for Voegelin scholars and Schelling scholars alike. The book will also appeal to readers with more general interests in the history and development of continental philosophy, political theory, and comparative religion over the past century.