Saturday 6 August 2016

Eric Voegelin (1901-1985)

Eric Voegelin is a German-born American political philosopher. He also, like Leo Strauss, is concerned with political philosophy and with God - with the question of the right way to live. Unlike Strauss, his great influence is not Heidegger but Max Weber. Inspired by Weber, he sought structures and order through a vast study of history.

More than Strauss, he is sensitive to the fact that all human experience is also somehow divine. The terms he uses for different stages of human experience are the noetic differentiation (see the Greeks) and the pneumatic differentiation (see the Hebrew and Christian experience). Like Strauss, however, he in the end leans more towards reason than towards faith or belief, perhaps because of his sharp awareness of the distortions to which the religious experience is subject. However, he did ask for a Christian burial, if possible.

Frederick G. Lawrence, “Philosophy, History, and Apocalypse in Voegelin, Strauss, and Girard,” Politics and Apocalypse, Studies in Violence, Mimesis, and Culture, ed. Robert Hamerton-Kelly (East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press, 2007). 

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