He was born in Cologne , and educated in political science at the University of Vienna where he became an associate professor of political science in its law faculty. In he and his wife fled from the Nazi forces which had entered Vienna. They emigrated to the United States, where they became citizens in 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.
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Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Science, Politics, and Gnosticism by Eric Voegelin.
Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published October 1st by Intercollegiate Studies Institute first published More Details Original Title. Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Science, Politics, and Gnosticism , please sign up.
Be the first to ask a question about Science, Politics, and Gnosticism. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 4. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Start your review of Science, Politics, and Gnosticism. Oct 05, Szplug rated it liked it. Very insightful, without being particularly helpful if one does not hold a belief in a transcendent order of being anchored in God s —that is, pretty much the entirety of those who populate the masses that Voegelin would wish to have turn away from their erroneous and destructive path.
Difficult because worthy of multiple pauses in order to consider what is being stated, with a considerable amount of the latter delivered through succinct but piercingly discerning and lucid prose. This slim book c Very insightful, without being particularly helpful if one does not hold a belief in a transcendent order of being anchored in God s —that is, pretty much the entirety of those who populate the masses that Voegelin would wish to have turn away from their erroneous and destructive path.
In a nutshell, the former analyzes a situation in which the author determines that most of our modern mass movements and ideologies—progressivism, neo- positivism, communism, fascism, national socialism, psychoanalysis—are gnostic in orientation, derived from select intellectual's speculation that truth cannot be located by the opening of our souls to transcendent being, but rather immanent within ourselves. In other words, God is Dead and Man arisen in His place; in gnostic fashion, the reality of the world is to be rejected and a new reality to be imposed through the gnostic will-to-power of this rookie deity.
Voegelin sees a change in the ends of modern gnosticism from that of old—away from the Chiliastic and towards the Parousiastic —the Presence of Being that, though empty, is omnipermeating—away from philosophia , the love of knowledge, to gnosis , absolute knowledge, from the finite to the infinite, from accepting the hand of fate to endeavoring to control its wending; from faith to certainty.
In such thought do we once again see minds at war with a world that horrifies them, disgusts them, frustrates them, and their desire to do away with this reality in order to impose a new one which pleases and expurgates and assures. In this will-to-power Voegelin determines a magical, an occult element traceable back to the Jewish lore of the Golem , the attempt of man to kill God by immanentizing his creational purview within the human will, as well as the enduring paradox of these thinker's propensity for the construction of systems based upon rational conclusions drawn about reality that posit a reality reliant upon those very systems newly determined.
The second essay is a truly thoughtful and enlightening analysis of the rise of these modern gnostic movements, why they have proven such a commonplace throughout history, and how they were seeded and grown from shared common threads within Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and ancient Hellenic philosophy. Voegelin posits that the truth of our reality—that of a transcendent order of being that, besides its being anchored in a Godhead, cannot be ascertained but only intuited and positioned by and within metaphysical, mythological and symbolic structures—has always placed a terrible strain upon our souls and minds; the precariousness and mysteriousness of our existence, the terrible finality of unknown and unknowable death, the thin reed of faith upon which we are required to hang the short and swift years of our drawing of breath place an onerous burden upon each individual, and the allure of a gnosticism that promises deliverance from an uncertain truth by means of a certain untruth has a seemingly enduring appeal.
He further contends that the more established and delineated that a religion becomes, the more stress it places upon the faith of its believers—under the piercing light of such a vast amount of detailed thought and reflection the cracks in the edifice become glaringly apparent. Using brief examinations of Thomas Moore's Utopia , Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan and Hegel's Philosophy of History , Voegelin determines that there are six characteristics that reveal the nature of the gnostic attitude as well as three primary symbols that can inevitably be found, though usually in intermingled amounts, within the same.
Of the latter, the first is of particular interest, comprising a teleological drive towards ultimate perfection, an axiological goal of achieving a state of highest value, and an admixture of these two. These three constituent elements are to be found in Progressivism , Utopian Idealism , and the mass movements deriving from Comte and Marx respectively.
Voegelin poignantly accounts for the seductiveness of such ideologies in the comforting assurances of ending human misery, solidifying the future, and placing a disturbingly ineffable fate squarely within the controlling and shaping hands of familiar mankind that they offer; but, having severed themselves from the ontic reality of transcendent being by their expurgation of that of the latter which casts doubt upon their system's verity, their framework is unstable and prone to violent movement and so will be whatever the society that is contained within their structure.
I can't say that I'm in full agreement with Voegelin about his analysis—and his solutions to such salvational doctrines don't offer much in the way of viable options outside of resist ; however, as explanatory systems for how we have arrived at where we are, I believe his insights are valuable and contain a healthy chunk of wisdom.
If nothing else, I am now determined to finally crack The Drama of Atheist Humanism and dig deeper and further in Plato's Complete Works , as the Attic genius is the figure from whom Voegelin has drawn the majority of his own personal philosophy. View all 3 comments. Nov 17, Simon Stegall rated it it was amazing. Difficult to read, but still accessible. Voegelin tends to define his terms AFTER using them in analysis rather than before, which is confusing at first but actually appears to be a very sound method; sometimes terms are so complex they can only be elucidated through a chapter rather than a definition.
This little book is more or less about gnosticism in its many forms and the murder of God that arises from such thought. He attacks Marx, Hegel and Nietzsche quite a bit, calling them "anti-philoso Difficult to read, but still accessible.
He attacks Marx, Hegel and Nietzsche quite a bit, calling them "anti-philosophical swindlers", as their gnosticism necessarily prohibits certain questions in order to maintain an illusory teleology. I wish he talked more about why Christianity is a better alternative and how it succeeds where gnosticism fails, but I guess this is more an evaluation of a heresy than an apologetic.
Mostly this is just giving me a bunch of ammo for my upcoming review of Atlas Shrugged. Ayn Rand was a cheap Gnostic "swindler" if there ever was one. Apr 25, Doug rated it it was amazing.
It is quite rare to find precision and profundity in an author. Voegelin is not easy to read unless one really loves the now dark corners of language ontic, ratio aeterna, etc. The joy in reading this is that it is not easy to read at all, I should say. I suppose philosophy never is, although one of the delights in reading, say, Plato's Republic, as I recall, is that there is no 'professional' jargon employed as by those who believe It is quite rare to find precision and profundity in an author.
I suppose philosophy never is, although one of the delights in reading, say, Plato's Republic, as I recall, is that there is no 'professional' jargon employed as by those who believe that philosophy must be academically niche-oriented, obtuse, and 'technical'. Here, there is some of the flavor of that, but not enough to obscure the import.
Voegelin was an academic, yes, but also he was convinced of the transcendent order of being which gives ground to reality. It's my take that this quality imparts the precision others lack, because they are unable to say, "beyond this I don't know. I won't attempt to summarize the book, because I cannot adequately do justice to its depth in a paragraph. The most important item to cite, from the introduction: "Voegelin juxtaposes famous philosophers like Marx, Comte, and Hegel, who prohibited questions that might undermine their systems' credibility, with Rudolf Hoess, the commandant of the extermination camp at Auschwitz, who testified to the inability of an SS officer to ask questions [ Mar 08, Philipp rated it liked it Shelves: philosophy.
The great thing about reading is that it allows you to really delve into mental models that are completely alien to your own thought. Voegelin's writing is such a case. He's politically very different from me, he's anti-liberal, very Christian but that starch conservative Christianity, not that Jesus-hippy kind , big racist not after though , very anti-Marx, very anti-modernism.
It's not easy reading at all - Voegelin's English doesn't come directly to you, it takes a few stops and possibly The great thing about reading is that it allows you to really delve into mental models that are completely alien to your own thought. It's not easy reading at all - Voegelin's English doesn't come directly to you, it takes a few stops and possibly a holiday to come to you via his native German - but two things make this even harder: He's not a fan of defining terms he throws at you until he's used them about 20 times, and Voegelin has strongly held convictions about this world that he rarely makes explicit to you, you have to guess why he holds a specific position, only rarely does he tell you why he holds these positions or pretends like these positions are God-given.
Let's look at one of these rare cases: the context is a discussion of More's Utopia This raises the question of the peculiar psychopathological condition in which a man like More must have found himself when he drew up a model of the perfect society in history, in full consciousness that it could never be realized because of original sin.
So here Voegelin clearly states that you cannot have an utopia because of mankind's original sin. A few pages later: In the three cases of More, Hobbes, and Hegel, we can establish that the thinker suppresses an essential element of reality in order to be able to construct an image of man, or society, or history to suit his desires.
So to Voegelin original sin isn't something theological, it's a essential element of reality, one which utopias oppress. From there it follows that utopias are impossible, not because of any science, no, because the bible says so. What's in the bible is, to Voegelin, an essential part of reality. There are many arguments throughout this text that make no sense at all to someone who's not particularly religious, but it takes you a while to realise that these arguments make no sense in your own world-view because Voegelin doesn't play with open cards.
To Voegelin and it took me a while to realise! From that point on it's easy to dismiss people who want large-scale change, they're all gnostic weakminds who don't see the glory of God's creation, they're gnostics, they to Voegelin, wrongly believe change is within reach of mankind's grasp.
What's interesting is that Voegelin moves a bit into the direction of Dietrich Bonhoeffer - religion not as a thing that is something nice for the believer a la modern megachurches think Hillsong etc. It's just that Voegelin goes into a completely different direction from Bonhoeffer, who was much more of a humanist! Coincidentally with its greatness, its weakness became apparent: great masses of Christianized men who were not strong enough for the heroic adventure of faith became susceptible to ideas that could give them a greater degree of certainty about the meaning of their existence than faith.
The reality of being as it is known in its truth by Christianity is difficult to bear, and the flight from clearly seen reality to gnostic constructs will probably always be a phenomenon of wide extent in civilizations that Christianity has permeated. In other words, you're all weak. And as I said in the beginning, that's something completely alien to the way I see reality, and that's what makes this book so interesting even though I agree with exactly 0 of it Nov 22, Peter Pete Mcloughlin rated it really liked it Shelves: both , bce-toce , toce , to , to , to , , american-history , coldwar , complexity.
Equating the extreme movements of the 20th-century fascism, Marxism, not to mention positivism and psychoanalysis with the Gnostic heresy of the early church. The author shows the Gnostic attitude of remaking the world in the Gnostics vision is akin to the Eschaton and Novo Homo Sapiens of Twentieth-century ideologies and intellectual movements.
To make the world anew in our own image. Interesting but a bit of a stretch. Let's just say that I hope I never have to read anything by Voegelin again.
Feb 13, Josiah rated it it was amazing. Excellent little book. This leads to a decent from "uncertain truth into certain untruth", page
This is an outline of Science, Politics and Gnosticism by Eric Voegelin, published in , containing essays from and Note a possible source of confusion: the title "Science, Politics and Gnosticism" is used in three ways: 1 as the title of this volume of two essays, 2 as the title of the first of those essays, and 3 as the title of a section within that essay. Your comments and corrections are always welcome: please e-mail Bill McClain. Origin of gnosticism. Traumas of the ecumenic empires caused a quest for the meaning of existence. Among the attempted solutions:. The central feature of gnosticism: the experience of the world as an alien place from which man must escape to his original world.
Science, Politics, and Gnosticism