on the Inside
“Who is the winner? Macchiavelli?”
We welcome Anastasios Moulakis to VoegelinView. Professor Moulakis reviews for us Philippe Bénéton's The Kingdom Suffereth Violence, an imaginary dialogue among Machiavelli, Erasmus and St. Thomas More based on their writings: “In considering texts so ‘overloaded with interpretations’ as those of the three authors treated here, Bénéton wants to lead back to the suggestive complexity of their style and away from reductive foreshortened interpretations . . .” Read in Book Reviews this week “Wary of the Systematizing Spirit.”
“No one is ever good enough, . . .”
Poetry Editor Thomas D'Evelyn offers us the grace of a contemporary poet who is able to find glory in our humanity, a humanity that even in its imperfection transcends disappointments and diversions. Read in Poetry this week Alison Brackenbury's “No.“
Is Man only a Stepping-Stone for Future Generations?
We present this week part 5 of the audio recording, the “Irish Dialogue with Eric Voegelin.” In this short segment Voegelin discusses, among other topics, Kant's arrival at the conclusion that a theory of progress is meaningless for man. On the Audio page listen to part 5 of “The Irish Dialogue with Eric Voegelin.“
Justified in the Main
We welcome the return to VoegelinView of James Rhodes, who considers Zdravko Planinc's “The Uses of Plato in Voegelin's Philosophy” which appeared here last week. He offers us commentary both instructive and constructive: “[My assessment] is that, at the end of the day, Zdravko still sees Voegelin as “roughly Platonic” and calls upon us to complete Voegelin’s work, not to reject it. Zdravko clearly recognizes himself as engaged in the same quest that occupied Voegelin.” Read in Commentary this week “One View of Zdravko Planinc's Critique of Voegelin.“
The Capacity to Resist Ideologues
by Ellis Sandoz
Professor Sandoz is the Editor of The Collected Works of Eric Voegelin. He has written many books and published many essays on the significance of Eric Voegelin's thought and on the political and spiritual foundations of the United States. This essay is taken from his recent book, Republicanism, Religion, and the Soul of America, available from the University of Missouri Press. This essay appears with permission of the publisher.
I write here in a synoptic way, summarizing themes addressed more fully [elsewhere] for the purpose of concisely clarifying the meaning of Americanism. Let me open with the words on the subject from a representative expert, Theodore Roosevelt, who said the following just over a century ago:
There is one quality which we must bring to the solution of every problem,–that is, an intense and fervid Americanism. We shall never be successful over the dangers that confront us; we shall never achieve true greatness, nor reach the lofty ideal which the founders and preservers of our mighty Federal Republic have set before us, unless we are Americans in heart and soul, in spirit and purpose, keenly alive to the responsibility implied in the very name of American, and proud beyond measure of the glorious privilege of bearing it. (1894)1
I shall suggest that it is, indeed, Americanism that best symbolizes who we are and shall understand that term as designating the "common sense" of the country's founding generation — its homonoia (likemindedness) in Aristotle's usage, or senso commune in Vico's terminology. This is the way Thomas Jefferson and John Adams seem to have understood the term when they coined it at the end of the eighteenth century. This understanding therefore appeals both to the old and new science of politics as denoting a complex matter of fundamental importance.
from The Collected Works
Looking at the Big Questions
Part 3– Myth, Magic, and the Meaning of Life
Eric Voegelin visited the St. Thomas More Institute in Montreal four times over an eleven year span. The last took place in 1976. The lectures were transcribed and published by Edwin O'Connor, the Institute's Director. This conversation is presented in three parts.
The World Cannot be Explained
CHARLOTTE TANSEY: You said that at the "ecumenic" time, everything splintered off and it was impossible to have myths that permeated throughout. Do you think that that might be possible now because of the kind of communication we have? Do you think ours might be a period where symbols could become generalized?
ERIC VOEGELIN: Since we just talked about Eastern mysticism, there are obviously symptoms indicating that people are in search of some sort of myth. Even if I am skeptical about the effectiveness of some things they are doing, it's there. But that does not indicate more than that the problem of the myth has been badly neglected for two hundred years–and people still do not understand what a myth is.
ROBERTA MACHNIK: So you mean that the important thing is to say the myth, not to have it universal.
ERIC VOEGELIN: Oh, these myths are all universal. If you look at collections of cosmogonic myths, some creation of the world is expressed wherever there is any report of any society at all, as far back as it is possible to go–20,000 B.C. Such myths were the only form in which one expressed the problems of the beginning or the creation of the world.
You get some funny situations.
The Reality of Politics
and the Relevance of Voegelin
by Promise Hsu
Promise Hsu (Hong Xu) is an independent journalist based in Beijing. He has published articles in English journals such as Christianity Today and World, as well as in Chinese magazines such as Global Entrepreneur, Vista, Almond Flowers, and Territory. He was a world affairs journalist at China Central Television's English news channel. His book about his journey exploring the history of freedom, China's Quest for Liberty, will be published by St. Augustine's Press. This essay is presented in six parts. Part 1 may be read HERE .
Discovering the Roots of Liberty in Christianity
Before my correspondence with Professor Sandoz began in February 2006, I learned about him and Voegelin by running across a book he had edited through a search of China’s National Library.
This book was The Roots of Liberty: Magna Carta, Ancient Constitution, and the Anglo-American Tradition of Rule of Law.127 During 2004-2005, I translated a book with a similar title: Roots of Freedom: A Primer on Modern Liberty, by Professor John W. Danford of Loyola University in Chicago.128
What I did not expect then was that from these two books I would get to know more about the thinking of Sandoz, his teacher and friend Voegelin, some of Sandoz's American and international colleagues, as well as Professor Danford and his friends like Joseph Cropsey and Thomas Pangle, a political science professor at University of Texas at Austin.
Between the Beginning and the Beyond
by Christopher S. Morrissey
Christopher S. Morrissey is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Redeemer Pacific College. His work includes a recent translation of Hesiod: Theogony/Works and Days, with a forward by Roger Scruton and excerpts from Eric Voegelin's writings.
A Meditation on Terrence Malick’s Tree of Life and Eric Voegelin’s Philosophy of Consciousness
Terrence Malick’s film, The Tree of Life (2011), is a significant cultural achievement, not only cinematically but also philosophically. Back in 1969, the philosophically inclined Malick produced a bilingual edition of the German philosopher Martin Heidegger’s The Essence of Reasons, supplying the English translation.
With The Tree of Life, the meditative practices visible in his previous films–Badlands (1973), Days of Heaven (1978), The Thin Red Line (1998), The New World (2005)–have now reached a point where comparison with the work of philosopher Eric Voegelin is unavoidable. With The Tree of Life, Malick has visually translated Voegelin.
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