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Modernity Without Restraint: The Political Religions, The New Science of Politics, and Science, Politics, and Gnosticism (Collected Works of Eric Voegelin, Volume 5) Hardcover – November 1, 1999

4.8 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

About the Author

Eric Voegelin (1901-1985) was one of the most original and influential philosophers of our time. Born in Cologne, Germany, he studied at the University of Vienna, where he became a professor of political science in the Faculty of Law. In 1938, he and his wife, fleeing Hitler, emigrated to the United States. They became American citizens in 1944. Voegelin spent much of his career at Louisiana State University, the University of Munich, and the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. During his lifetime he published many books and more than one hundred articles. The Collected Works of Eric Voegelin will make available in a uniform edition all of Voegelin's major writings.

About the Editor

Manfred Henningsen is Professor of Political Science at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: University of Missouri (November 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 082621245X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826212450
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #971,767 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
_Modernity Without Restraint_ presents three of Erik Voegelin's essays on the modern political religions, including Marxism, National Socialism, Hegelianism, Nietzschianism, and Heideggerianism. To Voegelin, these thinkers are all best described as "gnostics" and in their effort to create God's Kingdom on Earth seek to "immanentize the Christian eschaton". In "The Political Religions", Voegelin traces back the origin of political religion to the Egyptian worship of the Sun, the cult of Akhenaton. He traverses the history of the Middle Ages, and he shows how the archetype of the Christian apocalypse (a heresy to the orthodox Christian) came to occupy a central role in political religion. He includes a good discussion of the leviathanic state of Thomas Hobbes. Finally he ends with a compelling picture of the National Socialist state embodied in the Fuehrer. Although he was criticized in this essay for not outrightly condemning the National Socialists, Voegelin stated that this in fact just reveals the satanic allure that this political religion holds. To Voegelin, National Socialism is "satanic". In "The New Science of Politics", Voegelin examines various modes of representation from Plato and Aristotle through the Roman Empire. He then discusses the idea of gnosticism; he views the modern political religions as a restoration of the Gnostic heresy (condemned by early Christianity), an attempt to replace faith with certainty and bring about the Kingdom of God on Earth. This idea arose in the apocalyptic tradition, transmitted through the Middle Ages by the followers of Joachim de Fiore. He discusses in particular the case of the English Puritans.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Eric Voegelin, who died in 1985, is one of the giants of intellectual history and political philosophy. Unfortunately, he is far less well-recognized outside of a small scholarly community than some of the poseurs who foist quack theories on the public under the guise of "political philosophy." The New Science of Politics, based on Voegelin's Walgreen Lectures, can be read as a theoretical companion to his magisterial Order and History, a five-volume elaboration of the theories presented here. Voegelin provides an examination of political community and its representations through symbolic appropriation and the underlying basis of political order throughout history. Equally, Voegelin deals with misappropriation of symbols in the form of Gnosticism, which emerged at the dawn of the middle ages. His diagnostic exercise leads to an examination of modernity, which is characterized by advance and decline, the nature of of our own times. Modernist movements such as Nazism and Communism embody gnostic misappropriation of the symbolization of order. Writing in the immediate postwar period as an Austrian refugee from Hitler, with a command of ancient and modern philosophy and history and access to documentation in a dozen languages, Voegelin both lays the foundation for a return to the Aristotelean tradition of political philosophy and analysis and provides the personal witness of a research physician who has examined the patient at close hand. There is no better short book in our times for accomplishing Dr. Johnson's admonition to clear your mind of cant, or providing a sound basis for recognizing the corruption of intellectual and personal standards in current politics and scholarship, or the infection of scholarship by extremist politics.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
Eric Voegelin was one of the most learned scholars of the 20th century. This work, which goes beyond what might be considered a "science of politics," is a fairly complete exposition of some of the central themes of philosophy, particularly how they relate to politics. Voegelin's thesis is (in part) roughly as follows: Christianity, particularly in its Augustinian version, dedivinzed the universe. In this process, man saw his limited, creaturely role. However, various revolutionary movements arose which sought to redivinize man and society. These movements were largely "gnostic" in orientation. This gnosticism can be seen in the revolutionary philosophies of our time, such as Comteianism, Marxism, and Nazism. "These Gnostic experiences . . . are the core of the redivinization of society, for the men who fall into these experiences divinize themselves by substituting more massive modes of participation in divinity for faith in the Christian sense." [p. 124.] One gnostic phenomenon Voegelin calls "immanitizing the eschaton" in which revolutionaries attempt to create utopia on earth. They often follow a version of Joachim's "three ages" scheme: for example, Comte's approach to history (theological, metaphysical, and scientific phases); the Marxian three stages of society (primitive, class-based, and communistic); and Nazism with its "Third Reich." [pps. 112-13.]
Voegelin's learning is nothing short of astounding. He is at ease discussing topics as diverse as ancient philosophy, the inscriptions of King Darius I, the Mongol Orders of Submission, and various Puritan literature.
There are a couple problems with this work.
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