Our Past Headlines
( January–June 2013 )
We present here our headlines and article descriptions going back to our beginning, in the hope our readers might find something of interest.
From Luminosity of Consciousness to Scotosis
In 1973 The New Orleans Review interviewed Eric Voegelin and was rewarded with insights on topics ranging from Trinitarian symbolism and Hegel to man's self-understanding: “It belongs to the nature of man to assume that one is representative in what one does. And so, representativeness must be claimed also by those who, in fact, are deforming consciousness, and then claim leadership for the mass of mankind.” Read this week part 1 of “Recovering Reality–An Interview with Eric Voegelin.”
“. . . I hold on to you with both arms . . .”
Poetry Editor Thomas D'Evelyn brings us this week a poem by a contemporary poet who shows us that finally, the only thing we will care about, is love. Read in Poetry Peter McDonald's “Forecast.”
The Reality and the Tension
Promise Hsu concludes the description of his personal odyssey by considering the usefulness of Voegelin's theory of man living in the tension of existence and applying it to reach a deeper understanding of Jewish and Christian symbolism, particularly the significance of the Incarnation, reviewing along the way the meanings of “reason” through history. Read this week part 6 of “The Reality of Politics and the Relevance of Voegelin.”
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.“
Forgetting Our Theological Roots
We welcome William French to VoegelinView. He undertakes for us an extended examination of a recent book by Glenn Moots, Politics Reformed, which examines the history of covenant theology and its influence on the shaping of America: “. . . in wilfully forgetting the theological roots of politics, we have immobilised ourselves through a self-induced amnesia and risk civilisational disintegration.” We present this review over two days, today and tomorrow. Today read part 1 of “The Mystery of God’s Survival in Political Order.”
A Film's Stunning Accomplishment
We are pleased to welcome Chris Morrissey to VoegelinView. Professor Morrissey offers us a meditation in which he finds compelling similarities between a film of Terrence Malik, Tree of Life, and the thought of Eric Voegelin, both of whom try to recovery reality by pointing to experience rather than the worn symbols of the past: ''Whether or not Malick has been reading Voegelin, [the film's] stunning accomplishment is to root cinematic experience firmly in the basis of the real human experience of a soul in relation to the divine." Read this week "Between the Beginning and the Beyond.”
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.“
Myth, Magic, and The Meaning of Life
We conclude the last of the Conversations that Eric Voegelin held with students at the St. Thomas More Institute. Voegelin ranges over many topics, including useful reminders about language: “One of the first rules is that no one is permitted to use the term ‘value’–because it is meaningless. Each must say what he means . . . Within three weeks the seminar gains a degree of realism that is almost incredible–just by skipping that one nonsense word.” Read this week "Looking at the Big Questions: part 3 – Myth, Magic, and the Meaning of Life."
“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.“
Liberty without Vulgar Liberalism
This week Promise Hsu explains to his Chinese readers how his research led him to relate Christ to liberty and freedom: “What I did not expect in a deeper sense was that . . . I would be drawn to know about those who have been attracted not just to the roots of liberty and freedom but also to “divine reality” and have more or less done the work of “a watchman.” Read part 5 of “The Reality of Politics and the Relevance of Voegelin.”
How Voegelin is Saved by Plato
We welcome Zdravko Planinc to VoegelinView. Professor Planinc undertakes an examination of Eric Voegelin's reading of Plato and argues that certain of Voegelin's ideas are not attributable to Plato and that certain important Platonic ideas have been neglected, but that Voegelin ultimately arrives at a result comparable to, for instance, that of Martin Buber. Read this week "The Uses of Plato in Voegelin's Philosophy."
Escaping from the Eye of Judgment
Glenn Hughes returns to VoegelinView with his review of Roger Scruton's latest book, The Face of God. Hughes sums up Scruton's arguement: “What blocks our recognition of the world and ourselves as gifts of a transcendent God is, above all, our fear of being accountable: for ourselves, for others, for the earth, and to God. And this shows itself in all the desecrations and degradations that we visit upon each other and the environment, as well as in our relentless turning of persons, sex, natural objects, food, etc., into mere objects for consumption.”Read in Book Reviews this week “Escaping from the Eye of Judgment.“
The Murder of God for the sake of Pornography
We continue the last Conversations that Eric Voegelin held with students at the St. Thomas More Institute in Montreal in 1976. Among his remarks: "The better minds in the history of mankind know quite well what they are doing and saying; they are developing the language. But all these things have fallen into public unconsciousness because nobody reads books these days," and, "So these sequels [of ] regicide, deicide, homicide, for the purpose of the pornographic existence–that is the danger." Read this week "Looking at the Big Questions: part 2- Reason, Divertissements and Pornographic Murder."
“But I'm afraid . . . your Christian message passes me by."
Promise Hsu surveys for his Chinese audience Ellis Sandoz’ work to make people aware of the importance of Christianity in the American founding. He then considers his own educational pilgrimage and examines modern political thinkers who avoided transcendence in their work. Finally, he considers Eric Voegelin’s own path of discovery, including his Chinese scholarship, while teaching in America. Read this week part 4 of “The Reality of Politics and the Relevance of Voegelin.”
The Trinity, the Trivium and the Comedia
Max Arnott rejoins us with his reflections on the the life and work of Dorothy L. Sayers, most famous as a detective fiction writer: "She represents a unique overlap in the Venn diagrams of the era, the only writer of that period who was a Christian and a woman and a mother and a scholar of broad experience and a popular writer and an independent operator.” Read this week "The Inkling Who Wasn't There."
"Young I was, but now am old . . ."
Poetry Editor Thomas D'Evelyn brings us a poem by Robert Herrick, a celebrated and long-lived 17th century English poet who in his old age celebrates physical eros despite his enfeebled capacity. Our editor, in his commentary, finds a parallel to Voegelin's eros, a force in Voegelin qustioned this week by Zdravko Planinc in his critique of Voegelin's use of Plato. Read in Poetry this week "On Himself."
How the Intellectual Revolutionary Gains His Immortality
We present this week part 4 of the audio recording, the "Irish Dialogue with Eric Voegelin." In this brief part Voegelin explains why intellectuals create histories that culminate in their own lives: "And why am I doing that, falsifying history and so on? Because that gives me a virtual immortality –being on top of history–instead of the personal immortality in which I no longer believe. It is a virtual immortality: so a substitution of being on top of history as a sense of immortality [in the place of] the lost order of existence." On the Audio page listen to part 4 of "The Irish Dialogue with Eric Voegelin."
Modernity and What has been Lost
We welcome Bruno Godefroy to VoegelinView. He reviews for us a collection of papers delivered in 2010 in Krakow on the question of Leo Strauss's importance for understanding modernity. Among many subjects considered, he includes this observation regarding contemporary education: "[Philosophy] as a 'whole way of life' can only enter into conflict with 'the reigning paradigm in academia,' the one of 'cultural studies' i.e. 'theoretically sophisticated versions of historicism.'" Read in Book Reviews this week "The Jagellonian Conference on Leo Strauss."
The Present State of Public Unconsciousness
We turn this week to the last of the great Conversations that Eric Voegelin held with students at the St. Thomas More Institute in Montreal in 1976, realizing as we read that little has changed since then: "If we are living–as today, for instance–in a very disordered society because of the level of public debate, [the important questions] are simply not there. I always call a state like the present a state of public unconsciousness (with no possibility of public debate). The young people are caught up in it because our educational institutions are conducted in this state of unconsciousness." Read the transcript: "Looking at the Big Questions: part 1- Death, Disorder, and Natural Reason."
The Shadow and the Reality
Promise Hsu unfolds for his readers the history of his growing understanding of Eric Voegelin's thought and reveals his rather astonishing experience in which Voegelin's books, supplied to him originally by Ellis Sandoz, were an instrument for his reception into Christianity. We move from exposition to meditation and back again and become aware that this is not the sort of essay we usually find. Read this week part 3 of "The Reality of Politics and the Relevance of Voegelin."
". . . Oilgreen, dusted with sea spray . . ."
Poetry Editor Thomas D'Evelyn turns this week to Paul Celan,the late 20th century poet, who describes an ancient edifice, drawing the past into our present. Read in Poetry "Projection of a Landscape."
Beyond The Pitch Darkness of Historical Evil
Fr. Brendan Purcell concludes his examination of Piero Coda's theology of history, turning finally to the salvific value of suffering: "For Coda, [St. Paul] sees Christian fraternity as overcoming the three separations visible in his own time–religious, social, and anthropological. Paul is not saying they are abolished, rather that what is negative in them, through fraternity, can be turned into human reciprocity." Read this week "Piero Coda's Theology of History: Part 4 –Fraternity and Kenosis."
The Meditative Exegesis of Luminosity
This week Eric Voegelin reaches into the least accessible realm of existence and compels the greatest effort from his audience: "If we do not want the analysis to derail into misconstructions [we must] recognize the character of wholeness in the experience: the experience is experienced as wholly present to itself. This wholeness of presence, of the experience, as a character in the experience itself can be suitably expressed by the symbol 'luminosity.'" Read "Equivalents of Experience and Symbolization: Part 4– The Process in the Mode of Presence."
One May Translate Metaxy as either 间际 or 兼际
Promise Hsu continues his wide-ranging introduction to the thought of Eric Voegelin for his Chinese audience, moving from Joachim of Fiore through Dostoevsky, Thomas Mann, the Council of Chalcedon, to the practice of dying, and giving particular attention to the question of whether man is the measure of all things. Read this week part 2 of "The Reality of Politics."
". . . the single fellow / who hunches darkly. . ."
Poetry Editor Thomas D'Evelyn offers us a poem of perhaps contemptuous observation on a person who sees life in simple terms. Read in Poetry this week Brad Leithauser's "A Candle."
In the Presence of Something New?
Fr. Brendan Purcell continues his examination of Piero Coda's theology of history, pointing out similarities to Eric Voegelin and particularly Coda's suggestion of a general recognition of equivalent religious experience: "Today it seems as if we are in the presence of something new, which in the future could perhaps be understood as the beginning of a new epoch, . . .The different religious identities, starting with those on the trunk of Abrahamic monotheism, are entering into relation with each other." Read "Piero Coda's Theology of History: Part 3 –A Recognizable Equivalence to Voegelin."
The Boston Marathon Terrorists
Eric Voegelin commented briefly on terrorism in his Autobiographical Reflections. We feel his remarks may well describe the psychology of the terror-bombers who committed their crimes this past Monday. Read Eric Voegelin's remarks in Commentary.
The Descent into the Depth
This week Eric Voegelin approaches the limits of the articulate with his examination of the psyche: "The depth is fascinating as a threat and a charm—as the abyss into which man falls when the truth of the depth has drained from the symbols by which he orients his life, and as the source from which a new life of the truth and a new orientation can be drawn." Read "Equivalents of Experience and Symbolization: Part 3– Descent into the Depth and the Anima Mundi."
A Chinese Perspective on Eric Voegelin
This Tuesday will be the 75th Anniversary of Eric Voegelin's dismissal from his teaching position at the University of Vienna as a result of the Nazi annexation of Austria in 1938. It is perhaps a coincidence that we welcome to VoegelinView this week Promise Hsu, who mentions this incident in his introduction to Voegelin written for a growing mainland Chinese audience. Read this week part 1 of "The Reality of Politics."
"Walking to your place for a love feast . . ."
Poetry Editor Thomas D'Evelyn presents us with an Anna Swir poem translated for us by Czeslaw Milosz. Anna Swir likely learned to recite the corporal works of mercy as a child. Here we have her discovering the joy of doing them. Read in Poetry "The Same Inside."
The Hegelian Negation and Sin as "Unlove"
Fr. Brendan Purcell continues his exploration of Piero Coda's theology of history–this week in relation to G.F.K. Hegel, and shows us Coda's rather unexpected finding of Hegel's dependence on Christian experience: " 'Hegel . . . has keenly grasped the exigence of his time, but if we wish, of our time,' which was to reconcile modern culture with 'the Christological principle of unity in freedom, that is, in the end, on the "trinitarian" principle.' " Read "Piero Coda's Theology of History: Part 2 –Hegel and Christianity."
Human Beings Like the Rest of Us
We welcome the return of Gene Callahan to VoegelinView. He looks at a biography of the third and fourth Presidents of the United States that is bound to affect our thinking: "This book’s greatest virtue . . . is that it removes Madison and Jefferson from the realm of demi-gods, and shows them as sometimes public-minded and sometimes partisan, sometimes far-sighted and sometimes obtuse, sometimes virtuous and sometimes sinful: in other words, it shows them to be human beings like the rest of us." Read in Book Reviews this week "Madison and Jefferson."
". . . Craft your golem to find what you look for . . ."
A young student of Professor Barry Cooper read Eric Voegelin's Science, Politics and Gnosticism and responded by composing a new lyric to a popular song, which she sang for her class. It was caught on video and is now available at YouTube. We have embedded the video here at VoegelinView so you can see and listen to singer and lyricist Kirsten per Andersen. Enjoy it in The Lighter Side: " 'Rolling in the Deep' à la Voegelin."
The Philosopher as the Servant of the Gods
We present this week part 3 of the audio recording, the "Irish Dialogue with Eric Voegelin." In this excerpt, Voegelin discusses the purpose of Thucydides' Peloponnesian Wars and the irreversibility of social disease, the perduring value of Platonic-Aristotelian philosophical analysis, etc.: "You have to be the servant of the gods even if your society's going to hell." Go to the Audio page to listen to part 3 of "The Irish Dialogue with Eric Voegelin."
Consciousness and The Test of Truth
Eric Voegelin unfolds with precision the limits of consciousness, warning us against the "fallacy of permanent values" and points us toward "[the depth of the soul which] is experienced . . . beyond articulate experience. It can be expressed by the symbol "depth," but it does not furnish a substantive content [of its own]." Read this week"Equivalents of Experience and Symbolization: Part 2– The Test of Truth."
"Check Your own Experience"
Charles R. Embry contacted students of Ellis Sandoz from years past and asked them for recollections of their time in his class. Among the responses: "Completely balanced . . . That is the mark of a great teacher," and, "[Sandoz’s] teaching philosophy involves getting students to see for themselves what is . . . worth preserving. That includes acquiring a vast acquaintance with canonical texts . . ." Read this week the concluding part 3 of "Ellis Sandoz as Master Teacher."
". . . Like a wedding gown made of cobwebs . . ."
Poetry Editor Thomas D'Evelyn presents us a study in the ephemeral: a poem by Charles Simic, a Serbian-born American who endured a refugee's life after World War II and went on to become a prolific writer and poet and eventually a Poet Laureate of the United States. Read in Poetry "The Blur."
The Meaning of "The Cultural Death of God"
Beginning this week Fr. Brendan Purcell considers the challenges to contemporary theology reflected in the thought of Piero Coda, who has observed: " 'A long and complex historical-cultural process has led to the "cultural death" of God in the West . . . This final result of modern thought can provide us with a new point of departure to deepen [our understanding] of the mystery of Jesus–crucified and forsaken, . . . and especially, to the absence-of-God experienced by humans today.' ” Read "Piero Coda's Theology of History: Part 1 –The Trinity and Love."
Existential Truth versus Accepted Doctrine
We begin this week one of Eric Voegelin's great essays, and in this first part he proceeds in narrowing circles like the falcon: "For 'ages' are badly deficient in consciousness and order of intellect–they are the social and historical field of deformed existence which, having slipped from the control of consciousness, tends to usurp the ordering authority of existence . . . . we all have had our encounters with men who, sternly rejecting their humanity, insist on being modern men and, in so-called discussion, try to bury us under the rhetoric of deformed existence." Read some basic insights in part 1 of "Equivalents of Experience and Symbolization: Part 1– What is Permanent?"
Teaching as Truth, Tolerance, and Persuasion
Charles R. Embry continues his limning of Ellis Sandoz' work as a society and institute founder, a conference organizer, a publisher and above all, as a teacher, whose past students describe him in such terms as these: "He has been a model of what a teacher is called to do: to serve. Ellis was never the type of self-aggrandizing professor who shoved his own opinion or ideology into his student’s brains . . ." Read this week part 2 of "Ellis Sandoz as Master Teacher."
". . . The wild deer bedding down . . ."
Poetry Editor Thomas D'Evelyn offers us a poem of the late George Oppen, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet who lived a turbulent life–from wealth to communism to war hero to carpenter–and yet produced this work of tranquility, perhaps a gloss on the 42nd Psalm. Read in Poetry this week "Psalm."
"The Final Art of Europe"
Klaus Vondung concludes his portrayal of the avant-garde artists who embraced the Nazis and makes us ponder our own political frailty: "[Ritual] stood around the fires at the midsummer celebrations of the Hitler Youth, the nightly swearings-in of political leaders, but also at book burnings. In fact the models of the Pergamon Altar and of the Bernini colonnades fused together with nebulous romanticism into political places of worship and sacred halls.” Read this week "Apocalypse in Germany: Part 5–Between the World Wars."
Phronesis as the Virtue of Right Action
Eric Voegelin concludes his exploration of Aristotle's phronesis and shows why one cannot make decisions on the basis of a knowledge of natural law rules: "The justification of an action does not appeal to an immutably correct principle, but to the existentially right order of man. The criterion of a rightly ordered human existence, however, is . . . the openness of man to the divine; the openness in turn is not a proposition about a given, but an event . . . of being . . ." Read this week part 3 of "Natural Law and Aristotle: What is Right by Nature?"
Getting the Important Issues Right
We welcome the return of Margaret Hrezo to VoegelinView. She reviews for us a "culture-wars" book by Roger Kimball that does not quite rise to a Voegelinian understanding of our choices: "Kimball opposes one ideology with another ideology and gives his readers no genuine insight into why, beyond mere preference or blind prejudice, they should prefer the Myth of Permanence and American Exceptionalism to the Myth of Multiculturalism." Read in Book Reviews this week "The Fortunes of Permanence."
"There's only one Theologian"
Back at the time we requested Fr. Brendan Prucell to offer his thoughts on Fred Lawrence's"Eric Voegelin Mystical Philosopher and Scientist," we also asked him a few questions relating to the state of theology and philosophy today: "I wouldn’t say Catholic theology is subject to the Zeitgeist, but some Catholic theologians definitely are–let’s start with an intellectual crook like Eusebius of Caesarea!" Read in Commentary this week "Musings on Voegelin, Theology, and the Church."
“Consistant in Belief, Steadfast in Purpose”
We welcome back Charles R. Embry to VoegelinView. He has studied the life of Ellis Sandoz and consulted those who know him, and now he describes for us Professor Sandoz' career as a teacher, publisher, editor and philosopher, beginning with his first encounter as a young student with Eric Voegelin: "This existential encounter is sometimes so 'drastic' that it effects a change in the student, a change that challenges and perhaps inspires that student to fulfill his potential both as a teacher and as a human being." Read this week part 1 of "Ellis Sandoz as Master Teacher."
Voegelin's Essential Flavour
This week Max Arnott concludes his look at the poetic in Eric Voegelin: "But his central insight is that the phenomena of politics and philosophy are poetic, that is, symbolic, potentially luminous for transcendence, and working by persuasion. This insight is, I believe, part of Voegelin's essential flavour. It may explain why he appeals so intensely to a limited audience, and is so widely and thoroughly ignored. That the universe may mean more than itself, that it has a symbolic, not to say sacramental core, is a most disquieting thought.” Read this week part 2 of "The Poetic Core of Eric Voegelin."
". . . came grievances regarding every evil . . ."
Poetry Editor Thomas D'Evelyn turns to modern Italian poet Umberto Saba who lived through the Nazi persecution of Jews in Italy and offered us the distillation of his experience as one victim among millions. Read in Poetry this week "The Goat."
That Way You Get into a Mess
We present this week part 2 of the audio recording, the "Irish Dialogue with Eric Voegelin." In this excerpt, Voegelin discusses the common misuse of terms such as "idea," "system, and "social theory." He reviews the Aristotelian consituents of political science. Go to the Audio page to listen to part 2 of "The Irish Dialogue with Eric Voegelin."
Loving the Destruction of War
Klaus Vondung continues his portrait of the artists who allowed the horror of the World War to shape their vision: "[The dadaists] explicitly rejected sketching out a picture of the new world. . . as 'paradise,' in which 'everyone feels well.' Such a picture and outline of a utopia would have been engendering meaning, and this would have contradicted the central desire of the dadaists to shatter all meaning.” Read about dadism, futurism, Aragon and Dali in "Apocalypse in Germany: Part 4–Between the World Wars."
The Truth of Existence is found in the Reality of Action
We continue this week Eric Voegelin's exposition of the true content of natural law and ethics: "[Ethics] is neither a catalogue of moral principles, nor a retreat of existence from the complexities of the world and a contraction of existence into . . . eschatological expectation as practiced by the existentialist gnostics of our age, but the truth of existence in the reality of action in concrete situations." Read this week part 2 of "Natural Law and Aristotle: What is Right by Nature?"
Bringing to the Fore the Most Fascinating Aspects
We welcome this week Hans-Jörg Sigwart to VoegelinView. Professor Sigwart reviews for us Barry Cooper's intellectual biography of the young Eric Voegelin, Beginning the Quest. Among his observations: ". . . Cooper tries to approach Voegelin’s early texts with a distinct hermeneutic openness. This leaves room for the peculiarities, the obscurities and the originality of this early material. And it brings to the fore lines of continuity as much as substantial changes and reorientations within Voegelin’s intellectual development." Read in Book Reviews this week "For Very Personal Reasons."
A Great Zeal to De-Consecrate Modernity
We are pleased to welcome Steven P. Millies to VoegelinView. Professor Millies reviews for us a recent book by James V. Schall, S.J., entitled The Modern Age. Fr. Schall is himself a well-known student of Voegelin's thought and has himself reviewed for us. Professor Millies finds Fr. Schall's latest book to be uncharacteristically downbeat: "Is the modern age only a playground for the hubris of those who recognize nothing beyond the ego, or is there a better sense in which we can understand the modern age . . . ?" Read in Book Reviews this week "A Warranted Pessimism?"
The Philosophy of Human Affairs
Eric Voegelin explores the Aristotelian foundations of natural law, dissects what Aristotle did and did not say, and tries to explain the epistemological principle that one may not pull "topics" out of thin air unconnected with concrete problems: "Unfortunately even in our day the debate about natural law, having regained renewed momentum, still suffers seriously from the topical character of its object, separated because of this topicality from the experience that lends it meaning." Read this week part 1 of "Natural Law and Aristotle: What is Right by Nature?"
Our Path is Always Shadowed
Paulette Kidder concludes her rich analysis of the unusual structure of Bulgakov's novel, exploring his treatment of the Passion of Christ, the role of Pilate as a stand-in for us, and that of Margarita as a modern model of spiritual courage: “. . .human beings are not meant to enjoy an unimpeded vision of the divine. Our path is always shadowed–we exist in a tension, not in immediate, blinding contact with transcendence.” Read this week part 2 of "The Master and Margarita: Satire and Transcendence."
". . . it must be inexhaustible and complete . . ."
Poetry Editor Thomas D'Evelyn looks once more to contemporary poet Les A. Murray who shows us how religion is experienced as poetry writ large and how a poem might be a microcosm of religious experience. Read in Poetry this week "Poetry and Religion."
“Paradise is won in every form”
Klaus Vondung continues this week with an exploration of the the apocalyptic aspirations of the avant garde, and in particular that of the expressionists and the dadaists: "Even if expressionism, activism, futurism, dadaism, surrealism, and formalism in many respects differed and frequently bitterly fought each other, they were all obligated to this basic law: to create a new existence through a new art, not only an aesthetic counterworld.” Read about "redemption through art" in "Apocalypse in Germany: Part 3–Between the World Wars."
Escaping the Apodictic Horizon
Eric Voegelin concludes his Introduction to the American edition of Anamnesis with the recollection of his shocked recognition of Husserl's "three phases" philosophy of history and what consequently had to be done: "Husserl's apocalyptic construct had the purpose of abolishing history thereby to justify the exclusion of the historical dimension from the constitution of man's consciousness; the alternative, therefore, had to reintroduce the historical dimension Husserl wanted to exclude." Read this week part 2 of "Remembrance of Things Past: Escaping the Apodictic Horizon."
An Outpouring of Resistance
We are pleased to welcome Paulette Kidder to VoegelinView. Professor Kidder undertakes to make sense of Mikhail Bulgakov's famous Soviet-era novel, examining the absurdity of officially sponsored atheism as well as the possibilities for spiritually empty dogmatism: “[Our tendency] is to reify the dynamic tension between human and divine into an encounter between a human subject and a 'transcendent object'," and, "In place of a dynamic and continuous movement of 'appeal-response,' we recall only 'an impersonal block of truth.'” Read this week part 1 of "The Master and Margarita: Satire and Transcendence."
"You Have to be a Mystic to get out of the Situation"
We are pleased to offer this week the first part of an Eric Voegelin audio recording, the famous "Irish Dialogue with Eric Voegelin." We must give our thanks to Fr. Brendan Purcell, who provided us with the recorded disk and who may well have held the microphone on this memorable occasion. Go to our Audio page and hear part 1 of "The Irish Dialogue with Eric Voegelin."
News and Notes
This past Wednesday Pope Benedict XVI gave his last general audience. The full text of his comments may be found HERE. One sentence in particular caught our attention:
"I feel I carry everyone in prayer, in a present that is God’s, where I recall every meeting, every voyage, every pastoral visit."
“It is Coming! It is Coming!”
Klaus Vondung considers this week the fervor of Ernst Jünger who conceived of a society in which all was work and the individual was subsumed in the collective: “The perfection of the new man is reflected in his power: he appears ‘as the lord and administrator of the world, as a commanding figure in possession of a previously only dimly sensed absolute power.’” We are forcibly reminded of the disturbed power figures on the scene today when we read "Apocalypse in Germany: Part 2– Between the World Wars."
"They crowd together on warm shoulders of rock . . ."
Poetry Editor Thomas D'Evelyn brings us another poem from Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, the Irish poet and university don, who suggests in contemplating the hermit crabs along the sea shore a moment that evokes traditional religious custom. Read in Poetry this week "Studying the Language."
The Horizon of Consciousness is the Central Issue of Our Time
Eric Voegelin wrote an Introduction to his American edition of Anamnesis in which he described his discovery that both the "schools" and the ideologies shared a limited horizon of consciousness: "Obviously, rational discourse, or the resistance to it, had existential roots far deeper than the debate conducted on the surface. In the interwar years, truth was definitely what did not prevail. The restrictive deformation of existence was a social force that had, and still has, a long course to run." We are pleased to present this week part 1 of "Remembrance of Things Past: The Horizon of Consciousness and the Contempt for Reason."
Pope Benedict and Eric Voegelin
We have been sent a copy of a letter written by Josef Cardinal Ratzinger to Eric Voegelin in 1980. We thought the retirement of Pope Benedict offers an appropriate occasion to show this letter. Read in Commentary this week "Benedict and Voegelin."
Unrestricted Longing for the Infinite
Thomas McPartland concludes his tour de force presentation of religious consciousness as the core of human nature and of the religious consciousness attainable by the mystic, with a warning: "If the longing for the infinite is publicly denied, explained away, or ridiculed, then the longing (in an act of idolatry) may attach itself to substitute objects in the form of political movements, pouring infinite concern onto these projects.” Read this week "Religious Experience and Historicity: Part 4–Mysticism and Basic Horizon."
"Let There Be Electricity!"
We are pleased to welcome Professor Klaus Vondung to VoegelinView. He examines for us the apocalyptic ferver that existed in Germany following the First World War: " [Ernst] Jünger’s position lay of course far from that of [Bertolt] Brecht and [Johannes] Becher. What connected them to each other was the . . . similarity of the form of their apocalyptic attempts at solving [the crisis].” Today much of it seems absurd; but are we so different? Read this week "Apocalypse in Germany: Part 1– Between the World Wars."
". . . beyond all cherry blossoms . . ."
Poetry Editor Thomas D'Evelyn returns this week to the orient and an example of Medieval Japanese poetry. This poem, arresting in its simplicity, accomplishes what it sets out to do and brings to the reader a moment of calm detachment from the daily buzz. Read in Poetry this week Fugiwara no Teiko's "Waka."
British Analysis, Carl Jung, and some Practical Advice
Eric Voegelin offers some memorable comments during the closing discussion with the St. Thomas More Institute students. Among his observations: "Nobody is obliged to participate in the crisis of his time. He can do something else," and, "Most of the problems you have to handle are commonsense problems . . . about which you perfectly well know what pragmatically can be done." Enjoy this week "In Search of the Ground: Part 5– The Closing Discussion."
Opposing All Obscurantism
Thomas McPartland shows us that in our need for limitless questioning lies the evidence and contour of our consciousness: ". . . we have the determinant of the direction of consciousness. It is that which underpins the flow of the operations. It is a flow of questioning presence. . . . It is, furthermore, normative. It is only by performing in the process of questioning faithfully that one attains anything approximating objectivity.” Read this week "Religious Experience and Historicity: Part 3– Consciousness and Questioning."
News and Notes
This past Wednesday Pope Benedict XVI gave his last general audience. The full text of his comments may be found HERE. One sentence in particular caught our attention:
"I feel I carry everyone in prayer, in a present that is God’s, where I recall every meeting, every voyage, every pastoral visit."
Presenting Technically Competent Argument
Barry Cooper follows his examination of Hannah Arendt by describing Voegelin's scientific treatment of Nazi racism–racism which had descended from perversions of the Pauline balance of homonoia and the Mystical Body: "The new parochial symbolism, therefore, presupposes the Christian form of the mystical body and simply replaces the Christological content, substance, and reality with something else.” Read part 6 of "The Methods of Voegelin, Strauss and Arendt."
All the Issues on the Table
Fr. Brendan Purcell reviews for us a book that surveys the range of current evolutionary issues. Among the contributors are Bruce Gordon, William Dembski, Stephen Meyer, and Ernan McMullin: "Far better than a final settling of the argument for intelligent design, what the editors in their honesty and generosity have done is to open up all the key questions for lively debate." Read in Book Reviews this week "The Nature of Nature."
A Rugged Feeling for Universal Humanity
We welcome the return of Fr. Brendan Purcell who was asked to look at our recently featured appraisal by Frederick Lawrence, "Voegelin as Mystic Philosopher and Scientist," in the light of the passage of time; and he finds it mostly true and useful today: "Voegelin seems to me to have [a similar] role in relation to confessional Christianity that Clement of Alexandria awarded to Greek philosophy." Read in Commentary this week "Voegelin and Theology Today."
Openness is in the Hands of God
Eric Voegelin having given his lecture now invites questions. He treats the students as partners in a conversation, or tries to. One student objects that our relationship with God cannot be proven. Voegelin replies: ”It has nothing to do with proof. Either the openness is a reality and then you can't prove it–you can't prove reality; you can only point to it–or it isn't. Well, it is." Enjoy this week "In Search of the Ground: Part 4– The Opening Discussion."
Fidelity to the Transcendental Precepts
Thomas McPartland now takes us through the successive understandings of Consciousness from Brentano through Husserl, Derrida, Sartre and finally to Bernard Lonergan: "A key [Lonergan] point is that insight is the release of the tension of inquiry. There is nothing about the nature of insight, as we experience it, to suggest that it a priori distorts its contents, including those instances when consciousness is its content.” Read "Religious Experience and Historicity: Part 2– Understanding Consciousness."
". . . bright in the here and now . . ."
Poetry Editor Thomas D'Evelyn offers a poem from a contemporary poet we featured here earlier that reminds us of how easily we let our daily routines shut out the meaning and beauty of the present moment. Read in Poetry this week John Burnside's "Lares."
"A Messy Performance"
Barry Cooper concludes this week the exhange between Hannah Arendt and Eric Voegelin concerning The Origins of Totalitarianism. The problem was a nominalist approach that ran no deeper than a taxonomy: " [The] conclusion she drew, 'that either man himself is being destroyed or that freedom does not belong to man's essential capabilities,' was an obvious non sequitur. To recall Voegelin's commonsensical point: totalitarian murderers succeeded only in killing people, not in 'changing human nature.' ” Read part 5 of "The Methods of Voegelin, Strauss and Arendt."
Accepting the Failure of the Cartesian
Arpad Szakolczai concludes his analysis of the Voegelin-Schütz correspondence by showing the patient process by which Voegelin persuaded Schütz to agree with him: " [A late Schütz letter] stated, in no uncertain terms, the central importance the reading of Voegelin’s work had [for him]: ‘from no work of our time have I profited so much, or derived so much pleasure, as I have from yours.’" Read in Book Reviews this week part 2 of "Eric Voegelin and Alfred Schütz: A Friendship That Lasted a Lifetime." Part 1 may also be read HERE.
"We Have Had Them All"
Eric Voegelin concludes his lecture on the Ground, explaining the displacement that occurs when man immanentizes his existence: ”If the nature of man is to be found in his openness toward a divine Ground, you cannot at the same time see the nature of man in having certain kinds of passions or in having a certain race or pigmentation or something like that." Now all the possible displacements have been tried and have failed. Read this week "In Search of the Ground: Part 3– the Exhaustion of Ideologies."
A Radical Refusal to Rely on Sense Experience
We are pleased to welcome the return of Thomas McPartland to Voegelinview. He undertakes to show us how Bernard Lonergan's philosophy of consciousness enables us to grasp Eric Voegelin's approach to religious experience: "The energies . . . are so potent that negotiating the religious dimension of existence may require the utmost care and the most delicate and nuanced understanding . . .” Read "Religious Experience and Historicity: Part 1– Religious Experience as a Constant."
The Rubble of the Symbols from Past Remembrance
Frederick Lawrence's concludes his examination of Voegelin, focussing now on the aptness of Voegelin's appraisal of the theology and ecclesiology of the Church: "And so the whole tendency of Voegelin's approach is in fundamental harmony with contemporary theology's attempts to recover the mystery of the Church." Read this week part 3 of "Eric Voegelin: Mystical Philosopher and Scientist."
"Indifferent to computer-minding, . . ."
Poetry Editor Thomas D'Evelyn has chosen another work of the late British civil servant and poet, C.H. Sisson, whose philosophical, and perhaps mystical, awareness evokes the gap between the Cartesian mind-set and the immediate experience of the real. Read in Poetry this week "Explaining."
Ignoring the Unfolding of Western Spirituality
Barry Cooper turns this week to Hannah Arendt's response to Eric Voegelin's review of The Origins of Totalitarianism, but her response avoided the issues he raised: "Arendt's "principles of relevance" were simply what she deemed proper and necessary. . . . Voegelin's criticism . . . was that [the book's] principle of relevance was overly narrow, and on that question Arendt was silent.” Read part 4 of "The Methods of Voegelin, Strauss and Arendt."
News and Notes
There has been much comment in the news of late concerning the recently discovered bones of King Richard III of England. Our own Max Arnott looked at Josephine Tey's detective story about Richard some time ago, and you may enjoy reading (or rereading) his review, entitled "And Prayers Come Limping After."
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Man is Man because He is drawn to God
We continue Eric Voegelin's famous lecture on the Ground, on human nature and on community and individual love: ”Nietzsche, for instance, on one occasion said, 'If I did not love other men because they also are an image of God, I would have no particular reason to love them because they are just horrible.' " Read this week "In Search of the Ground: Part 2– Living in Tension is Man's Nature."
Courage in Postmodern Times –Part 2
Rouven Steeves concludes his review of Richard Avramenko's Courage: the Politics of Life and Limb, with gentle reservations, among them: "The reasons for jumping from Greek antiquity to modernity without so much as a note explaining why the intervening two thousand or so years pass by without due analysis remains unaddressed, though this lacuna in Avramenko’s work demands attention." Read in Book Reviews this week part 2 of "Courage in Postmodern Times." And part 1 of the review may be found HERE.
". . . there’s no stopping the undoing. . ."
Poetry Editor Thomas D'Evelyn offers us an Irishwoman's take on that old expression, "Clothes make the man," except in this case, it is about undoing and restoring oneself as a person. Read in Poetry this week Sinéad Morrissey's "Clothes."
News and Notes
We welcome Ronald Srigley to our editorial staff. He has agreed to assume editorial responsibility for the area we call Religious Insight. He may be contacted HERE regarding submissions to VoegelinView.
We welcome Christopher Morrissey to our editorial staff. He has agreed to assume editorial responsibility for classical thought and literature. He may be contacted HERE regarding submissions to VoegelinView.
We have posted guidelines for those interested in contributing to VoegelinView. They may be viewed HERE.
We welcome Charles Embry to our editorial staff. He has agreed to assume editorial responsibility for literature and philosophy. He may be contacted HERE regarding submissions to VoegelinView.
We welcome Scott Segrest as a member of our editorial staff. He will serve as our editor for the American Political Tradition and its antecedents. He may be contacted HERE regarding submissions to VoegelinView.
Embarrassing but Instructive Derailments
Barry Cooper turns this week to Eric Voegelin's review of Hannah Arendt's The Origins of Totalitarianism. Despite the invaluable accumulation of evidence, her theoretical treatment left much to be desired: "[Spiritual] diseases. . . are not caused by superfluousness or resentment. On the contrary, superfluity and resentment are symptoms of the spiritual disease. . . . Arendt was aware of the problem, or she would not have mentioned it. But she was not aware of its significance.” Read part 3 of "The Methods of Voegelin, Strauss and Arendt."
Acting as if we have an Ultimate Purpose
We turn this week to the famous Eric Voegelin lecture in which he lucidly presents the fundamental questions in both philosophy and political science. Among his observations: ”[Students] act as if their lives made sense immortally, even if they deny immortality, deny the existence of a psyche, deny the existence of a Divinity . . . . One shouldn't take their agnosticism too seriously, because in fact they act as if they were not agnostics! " Read this week "In Search of the Ground: Part 1– Causation, Infinite Regression and Rational Action."
sacred, reserved, dedicated, special
In this gray and uncertain new year we welcome the return of Max Arnott. He offers us insights that both amuse and bemuse on the question of poetic meaning: "But a poem, [Paul Valéry] notes, seems to demand that it should be repeated exactly. Part of what a poem is, is that it should be exactly what it is.” Read this week part 1 of "The Poetic Core of Eric Voegelin."
". . . you've missed this on your reading list . . ."
Poetry Editor Thomas D'Evelyn returns this week with a love poem from a contemporary poet, Star Black. She conjures up with a sense of humor the modern poets, their lines and images, but prefers the living love of a real person. Read in Poetry "Rilke's Letter from Rome."
Some Insurmountable Problems Amid Mutual Respect
Barry Cooper continues this week with his study of the interactions between the more open Eric Voegelin and the more guarded Leo Strauss, yet concludes: "From Voegelin's perspective, Strauss had accepted the system of relevance . . . of classical political philosophy. It served Strauss well, and Voegelin maintained the highest regard for his scholarship. . . .” Read part 2 of "The Methods of Voegelin, Strauss and Arendt."
Dogmatics as a Symbolic Web
We conclude Eric Voegelin's famous letter to Alfred Schütz. Here he offers remarkable insights on the proofs for God's existence, the Reformation, and much else: ”What the men of the 18th-century Enlightenment held against Christian dogmatics (enlightened thinkers are repeating it today), namely, that theological statements–unlike statements concerning sense perception–are meaningless because they cannot be verified, is the very starting point of Christian theology." Read this week "Christianity's Decisive Difference: Part 4 –A Great Cooperative Enterprise."
Husserl's Gospel of Philosophical Reason
We welcome Arpad Szakolczai to VoegelinView with his in-depth analysis of the approaches by Eric Voegelin and Alfred Schütz to Husserl and the consequent strain on their friendship: "The ultimate problem with the tradition started by Descartes [is the] closing of experience into [the consciousness of the ego.] [Voegelin] calls for a return to classical thinking, and the search for meaningful, positive anthropological foundations for thinking–like grace, beauty, order, virtue, or the good life." Read in Book Reviews this week part 1 of "Eric Voegelin and Alfred Schütz: A Friendship That Lasted a Lifetime."
What is the Role of Meditation in Voegelinian Science?
We continue with Frederick Lawrence's examination of two views of Voegelin, and find he prefers the meditative emphasis to the modern science emphasis: "Gebhardt rightly fears an obscurantist dedifferentiation in Voegelin studies that would so emphasize the mystical element in his thought as to overshadow the academic pedigree of his new science of politics and expose it to the mockery of religion's cultured despisers," and "[The] key to getting Voegelin right is getting the "meditative problem” right." Read this week part 2 of "Eric Voegelin: Mystical Philosopher and Scientist."
Plato's Political Science Depends on Myth
We welcome the return of Barry Cooper who looks at the scholarly interactions of Eric Voegelin with Leo Strauss and Hannah Arendt. We begin this week with Leo Strauss: "Our present concern, however, is to make clear the terms of Voegelin's analysis of Strauss's political science, and to consider the general question of method.” Read "The Methods of Voegelin, Strauss and Arendt –Part 1, Leo Strauss and Eric Voegelin."
A Critical Cleanup of the First Order
We continue with Eric Voegelin's famous letter to Alfred Schütz in which he offers stunning philosophical insights into the central beliefs of Christianity; among them: ”The achievement of the Trinity dogma is to have combined, in one theological symbol, experiences that must remain differentiated if speculative fallacies are to be avoided." Read this week "Christianity's Decisive Difference: Part 3 –Christology, the Trinity and Mariology."
Is Eric Voegelin a Modern Father of the Church?
Frederick Lawrence took a look at two schools of thought about Eric Voegelin, as represented by Paul Caringella and Juergen Gebhardt, and came to some interesting conclusions: ". . . it is clear that Caringella wished to underline the more mystical dimension of Voegelin's enterprise, and Gebhardt intended to stress Voegelin as Wissenschaftler in the specifically modern, or even Weberian, sense." Read this week part 1 of "Eric Voegelin: Mystical Philosopher and Scientist."
An Interesting Inventory in need of Analysis
We welcome Stefan Rossbach to VoegelinView. He looks at a new book by Richard Landes that considers millenialism through history: "The bulk of the work therefore remains at the level of description, which unfortunately gives us little insight into the struggles of [human souls], " and, "Landes writes from a perspective that always already knows that Lucy will pull away the football." Read in Book Reviews this week "Beyond Exotic Butterflies."
". . . when every light goes out . . ."
Poetry Editor Thomas D'Evelyn offers us a poem of hope when death seems inviting. The author is Nobel Laureate Eugenio Montale who endured the worst of the 20th century and did not need to speculate about the attractions of death. Read in Poetry this week "Little Testament."
Staying Shallow to Avoid Love
Charles Embry concludes his consideration of Flannery O'Connor's The Violent Bear it Away, employing Voegelinian tools to reach the key issue, the refusal to love: "It is love, all-encompassing, all-embracing, unconditional, mystical love that he rejects; and as with Tarwater’s response to his fear of the intimacy of creation, Rayber struggles to maintain a shallow perception of reality.” Read part 3 of "Novel of Divine Presence."
When the Limits of Rational Inquiry are Reached
We continue with Eric Voegelin's famous letter to Alfred Schütz. In this part he discusses the limits of inquiry, the Pauline compromises, and living in faith: ”I can accept amor Dei intellectualis for philosophers, but what about the poor devils who have no philosophical background? The Christian fides caritate formata with its considerably richer emotional and voluntaristic content really seems to me preferable." Read this week "Christianity's Decisive Difference: Part 2–The Sacrificium Intellectus."
Courage in Postmodern Times
Rouven Steeves returns this week with a detailed description and analysis of Richard Avramenko's new book, Courage: the Politics of Life and Limb. Among Steeves' observations: "Courage is then an often unwanted guest but for reasons that are not always sound and more often than not are detrimental to human community . . ." Read in Book Reviews this week part 1 of "Courage in Postmodern Times."
". . your husk is in infinity . . ."
Poetry Editor Thomas D'Evelyn begins the new year with a look at a poem from Rainer Maria Rilke, the early 20th Century German Poet whose religious sensiibility outshone most of his contemporaries and seems complementary to Eric Voegelin's own. Read in Poetry this week "Buddha in Glory."
The Terrible Speed of Mercy
Charles Embry continues this week his exploration of Flannery O'Connor's The Violent Bear it Away, and among his observations: "I think it is this enlarged view of the human scene that the fiction writer has to cultivate if he is ever going to write stories that have any chance of becoming a permanent part of our literature.” Read part 2 of "Novel of Divine Presence."
The Intrusion of Transcendence into Human Affairs
This week we begin a letter written on January 1, 1953 – 60 years ago today – from Eric Voegelin to his oldest and dearest friend, Alfred Schütz. Voegelin asserts his indifference to Christianity and then blithely offers his brilliant exposition of its necessity. Along the way, he describes grace ”. . . as the experienced intrusion of transcendence into human life which can break in from outside so overwhelmingly that it may call human freedom into question, as it did with Paul or Augustine." Read this week "Christianity's Decisive Difference: Part 1– The Forced Intervention of Grace."
A Sea of Ignorance
We welcome the return of William Petropulos to VoegelinView. In his Letter from Munich he reports on a day-long conference held on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the publication of Eric Voegelin's The New Science of Politics. There was both enthusiasm and incomprehension: "It is very difficult to reach people who have never thought about faith in any but a dogmatic way." Read in Commentary this week "Commanding the Tides."
Intruding Politics, and Ultimately Christmas, into Scripture
Sylvie Courtine-Denamy concludes her introduction to Eric Voegelin's Israel and Revelation with a review of the theologians' reactions to a book that examined Israel from the point of view of politics: " [Voegelin] nevertheless gives a negative appraisal of Israel’s fate, supplanted as [Israel] is by the universal revelation of God in Christ." Read this week "Eric Voegelin’s Israel and Revelation: part 2–A Mixed Reception from the Theologians."
Let Them Fight
At a time when clouds gather and some are fearful that the American experiment is in danger, we present Ellis Sandoz' summation of the background, intent, and conditions for the success of the U.S. Constitution. Among his observations: "In its operations, then, the American political order of separated, checked, and balanced central powers and divided powers throughout the federal system concretely compose an 'invitation to struggle' . . .” Read a well-weighed appraisal in "Some Reflections on the Constitution."
Beginning at the Borders of Mystery
Charles Embry returns to VoegelinView with his analysis of a novel by the formidable Flannery O'Connor, who shares purpose if not method with Eric Voegelin: "Because there exist striking parallels between [ Voegelin and O’Connor ], I will first focus on the theoretical principles that O’Connor expressed in her prose writings and letters before I approach the novel itself.” Read this week part 1 of "Novel of Divine Presence."
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