Eric Voegelin was a German-born American political philosopher. . In his The New Science of Politics, Order and History, and Science, Politics and Gnosticism, Voegelin opposed what he. Eric Voegelin, Science, Politics, and Gnosticism. Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, . xxiii+ pp. $ ISBN (pbk). The republication of this. Science, Politics, and Gnosticism has ratings and 16 reviews. Szplug said: Very insightful, without being particularly helpful if one does not hold a.

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Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want andd Read Currently Reading Read. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Science, Politics, and Gnosticism by Eric Voegelin. Paperbackpages. Published October 1st by Intercollegiate Studies Institute first published To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

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Lists with This Book. 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 polihics 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 gnosticidm 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 philosophiathe love of knowledge, to gnosisabsolute 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 znd assures. In this will-to-power Voegelin determines a magical, an occult element traceable back to the Jewish lore of the Golemthe 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 foegelin unknown and unknowable death, the thin reed of faith fnosticism 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 voeelin a gnosticism that promises deliverance from an uncertain truth by means of a certain untruth has a seemingly enduring appeal.


He further contends voegellin 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 UtopiaThomas Hobbes’ Leviathan and Hegel’s Philosophy of HistoryVoegelin 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 ProgressivismUtopian Idealismand 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 pplitics 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 Worksas the Attic genius is the figure from whom Voegelin has drawn the majority of his own personal gnostiism.

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 gnostucism 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.

Science, Politics, and Gnosticism by Eric Voegelin

Apr 25, Voehelin 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 gnsticism, 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 politica take that this quality imparts the precision others lack, because they are unable to say, “beyond this Sscience 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: Nov 22, Peter Mcloughlin rated it really liked it Shelves: 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. Jul 23, Shane rated it really liked it. As political philosophers go, Voegelin is not an easy read, but worth the effort. In this, he equates ancient Gnosticism with what he regarded as unsound political theories, such as Communism and Fascism. Critics sometimes point out that his Gnostic sources are mostly secondary, since the Nag Hammadi texts were not widely available at the time this was written.

May 29, Jason Farley rated it really liked it. Really insightful, though classic hopeless conservatism. Great analysis without offering solutions. But the analysis was mostly spot on. A little off with his Milleniarialism, but only because he lived before any significant preterism. This is a nice little book. A polemic against what Voegelin calls Gnosticism. Meaning Socialism and Positivism for example. Basically, Gnosticism is the view that man has the power to change the world, to make it a better place.

Science, Politics and Gnosticism: Two Essays – Eric Voegelin – Google Books

This is the positive view. Of course, that is not how Voegelin presents it. For him Christianity and accepting the world as it is and hoping for a better life after death is positive. Now, this, of course, is also polemical. He calls Marx an intellectual swindler. The socialists and Gnostics in general “know that their opinions cannot stand up under critical analysis” and who “make the prohibition of the examination of their premises part of their dogma”. This sounds quite right for socialism but I doubt that the Christian view is immune from this.

It seems rather odd that pure science is possible only for a Christian. Political science was founded by Plato and Aristotle. The classical foundation of political science is still valid today. It is nothing esoteric: What is happiness, How should a man live in order to be happy? What especially, is the virtue of justice?

How large a territory and a population are best for a society? What kind of education is best. That Comte coined the word “altruism” the secular-immanent substitute for ‘love’.

This, says Voegelin ist associated with Christianity whereas “altruism is the basis of the conception of viegelin brotherhood of man without a father. Feb 08, Tara rated it it was amazing. Recently re-read and it is still magnificent. Lovely to feel how his work is almost like a surgical operation, and going through it once more you remember how your brain was stretched and re-trained by the first reading.

What I took from it this time: Vogelein is a Recently re-read and it is still magnificent. Vogelein is a champion of reality. Excellent, but not for the faint of heart.

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Jul 24, Michael Philliber rated it it was amazing. Ten years ago I picked up this teeny book as part of my background reading for my doctoral thesis. It was a stretch to read then, but I sensed Voegelin was on to something.