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Science, Politics, and Gnosticism Paperback – October 1, 2004
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Original Language: German --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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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.
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
amazing read - it takes a little to get into the subject but once there it is really good.Published 4 months ago by Aimee
These two essays were translated and published together in 1968.
Both are attempts to apply 'Aristotelian' methods to modern politics. Read more
Voegelin gives a name to the unnamed spirit of our age that has done so much damage. His insights are penetrating both philosophically and psychologically. Well worth the read.Published 19 months ago by Kevin O'Brien
Reading this great essay, which uncovers Gnosticism in the writings of Hegel, Marx, and Nietzsche, it occurred to me that in professing secret knowledge which questions... Read morePublished on November 16, 2013 by g.p.g.
Voegelin's thought is clear and sharp. His arguments are compelling, based as they are in thorough reaserch and a clearly established method. Read morePublished on November 1, 2013 by Ernesto Soares Arruda
Voegelin"s writings pull back the curtains and allows the light into the maelstrom we are all living in at the present!Published on September 14, 2013 by Clayton Smith