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Comment: A well-cared-for item that has seen limited use but remains in great condition. The item is complete, unmarked, and undamaged, but may show some limited signs of wear. Item works perfectly. Pages and dust cover are intact and not marred by notes or highlighting. The spine is undamaged.
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Science, Politics, and Gnosticism Paperback – October 1, 2004

4.8 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: German --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Voegelin was one of the most influential philosophers of our time.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 102 pages
  • Publisher: Intercollegiate Studies Institute (October 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1932236481
  • ISBN-13: 978-1932236484
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.4 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #850,256 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By A Customer on July 18, 2000
Format: Paperback
Eric Voegelin was one of the most profound philosophers of history of the twentieth century. More than any other thinker I know, he was able to articulate a body of thought that recognizes the human need for a grounding in transcendent truth and analyses the vicissitudes of the inevitable search for meaning. His work deserves to be widely read, but perhaps because of its imposing bulk--his masterwork, "Order and History," weighs in at five fat volumes of complex reasoning, vivid exegeses of the symbolic forms of the past five thousand years, and indepth and illuminating readings of philosophers from Parmenides to Heidegger--it is not. "Science, Politics, and Gnosticism" is a perfect hors d'oeuvre of a book, and serves well not as a systematic introduction to the full scope of his vision but as a tasty morsel of his maturing thought at a crucial point in his oeuvre. Voegelin's incisive critique of ideological thinking in this book is lucid and mercifully accessible. I would hope that a reader comes away from this potent little classic inspired to dig deeper into the mine of wisdom that Voegelin's work offers.
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Format: Paperback
These two essays describe the inability of modern political thought to get a grip on the disorder and horror of the twentieth century. Part of the problem is that the thinkers themselves have been susceptible to the diseases under study. The roots of modern disorder are found in "gnosticism," which is narrowly defined as a Christian heresy, but thought of by Voegelin as a typical and recurring pattern of response to the universal problems of alienation, meaninglessness, and uncertainty.

In the title essay, Voegelin outlines his own approach to the "science of politics," derived mainly from Plato and Aristotle. He then proceeds to isolate the dominant motives and symbols of modern thinkers such as Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, and Heidegger. The one great theme of all gnosticisms, ancient or modern, is the desire to do away with the notion of an objective world. For the project of world-transformation to be made plausible, the transcendent order of being must be treated as a human construction. If God is of human making, then God can be unmade.

In the second essay, "Ersatz Religion," Voegelin describes the complex of ideas characteristic of modern mass movements. Given his wider conception of the term gnosticism, he is able to interpret such seemingly disparate modern movements as positivism and fascism within a larger gnostic framework. As the title of the essay suggests, the religious impulse does not die after the murder of God; it gets redirected into "political religions." Politics then becomes a matter of fanatical belief, instead of debatable opinions.
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By A Customer on September 17, 2001
Format: Paperback
Oh, the visionary has a new system to save the world? Put that in section II B, tray 5, right next to the same idea that sprouted 1000 years ago under a different name.
Voegelin has boiled down the rules for understanding all secular visions of salvation, which invariably play on some human dissatisfaction, the diagnosis of which always omits a key "given" of human nature, which is thus marketed as changeable, but isn't, leading to fanatical attempts to control people, devolving into scaring them into submission with the threat of death.
The opposite of the Christian love ethic which posits a brotherhood in relation to a heavenly Father, according to Voegelin.
Voegelin here achieves a scientific method of explaining how non-christian ideas relate to Christian ideas of social organization. He was very popular in Cold War times, but is also versatile enough here to help with the great conversation we are all having in relation to terrorism. This book is simple, direct and profound.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I came to this book after years of having conversation and debate with something of a student of Voegelin's -- someone who was much better read, I'll confess, than myself. Furthermore, as a person who has completed degrees in philosophy and psychoanalysis, I can say with confidence that there have been few short books of philosophy I've ever read that have been articulated with as much conviction, clarity and rigor as this one. Just what sort of a positive vision of cosmic order Voegelin is advocating, in place of the "Gnosticism" of those he criticizes, is something that I need to read more of his work, I think, to really grasp. But his readings of Hegel, Marx, and Nietzsche, particularly as contained in this book, are among the most provocative and original pieces of philosophical critique I've ever come across -- as is his criticism of the intellectual corruptions endemic to "social science" as it's practiced in the modern university. If you've ever wanted to get into Voegelin, but don't know where to start, look no further.
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Format: Paperback
Voegelin has done the public a great service by tracing a common thread of gnosticism amongst modern political philosophies. He goes to Marx's juwish roots in order to expose the theme of the golem that underlies Marxian thought as laid out in Marx's Political and Economic Manuscripts. The Kabbalistic underpinnings of socialistic philosophy forecasts these philosophies as gnostic philosophies.

Although Voegelin indulges in almost pure abstraction (characterisitic of his German education) it is quite accurate since it exposes the naked truth a la Jack Kerouac of these ideas.

The gnostic character of modern philosophies, such as Hegel, Comte, Marx, feminism and so on comes out in the theme of "alienation." Alienation from the rest of society is the result of some form of discord or disharmony. Recourse to a "secret knowledge" will reveal the solution to this problem of disharmony. Applying this secret knowledge will result in an "immanenitizing of the eschaton."

The last concept comes from Roman Catholic scholarship in defining the heresy of gnosticism. In article 676 of the Catholic catechism, it says that: "The AntiChrist's deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgment. The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism, especially the "intrinsically perverse" political form of a secular messianism." Voegelin says that gnosticism tries to bring about a heaven on earth or "immanentize the eschaton.
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