Category Archives: Eric Voegelin

Love of Wisdom and Gnosis Contrasted

“The consequence of your thoughts should avoid vain and random fancies….”—Marcus Aurelius, Meditations (III.4) In my previous notes I discussed Eric Voegelin’s treatment of modern ideologies, which can be succinctly described as escapist anti-philosophies. It happens that I have also … Continue reading

Posted in Eric Voegelin, Philosophy, Stoicism

Knowledge and Superstition in Politics

Eric Voegelin’s concise volume, Science, Politics and Gnosticism (1968), is currently at the top of my reading pile. Readers familiar with the philosopher will recall that a key aspect of his historical analysis is the growth and spread of “gnostic” … Continue reading

Posted in Eric Voegelin, History, Philosophy, Politics

Theory as Reality Check

“Study has been to me a sovereign remedy against the vexations of life, having never had an annoyance that one hour’s reading did not dissipate.”—Montesquieu Sometimes we need to step back from the mundane routine of life and take things … Continue reading

Posted in Eric Voegelin, Philosophy, Politics

Rethinking Political Science

The best known volume by Eric Voegelin is The New Science of Politics (1952). His discussion of philosophical and revolutionary “gnosticism” is the most popularized aspect of the work; however, in this post I want to examine the concept of … Continue reading

Posted in Eric Voegelin, History, Philosophy, Politics

Why Revolutions Happen

According to historical philosopher Eric Voegelin (see related post), the rise of revolutionary movements can be traced to two main factors: the increase in statism and the emergence of a frustrated intelligentsia. The political climate of this period saw writers, … Continue reading

Posted in Eric Voegelin, History, Politics

Institutionalized Immaturity and Modern Politics

It was while finishing up Voegelin’s From Enlightenment to Revolution last October that I jotted down his discussion of ideology and mass movements. One could call it the psychology of modern political tribalism (as Turgot famously put it: “A state … Continue reading

Posted in Eric Voegelin, Politics

Radical Fallacy: Voegelin on Bakunin and Marx

The founding father of modern anarchism and nihilism, Mikhail Bakunin (1814-1876) once voiced the belief that “the social environment” is “stronger than the will and the intelligence of the strongest and most energetic individual.” In response, political philosopher Eric Voegelin notes … Continue reading

Posted in Eric Voegelin, Philosophy, Politics

The Uses and Abuses of Science

My father once gave me a good definition of science. Put simply there is no such thing as “science” in the sense of a broadly authoritative body (as when people declare that “science says” such and such about a certain … Continue reading

Posted in Eric Voegelin, Philosophy

No Room for Saints in the New Order

Eric Voegelin’s From Enlightenment to Revolution (1975) is a detailed look at the development of social and political thought in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Like any of Voegelin’s writings it requires a little patience, but his analysis is always … Continue reading

Posted in Eric Voegelin, Philosophy, Politics

Eric Voegelin on Gnostic Politics

The work of Eric Voegelin (1901-1985) is extensive and often challenging. Therefore a general acquaintance with his theories is sufficient for most readers, such as one finds in the second half of The New Science of Politics. (Michael Federici’s book … Continue reading

Posted in Eric Voegelin, History, Philosophy, Politics