from The Collected Works
The Purpose of Theory (1)
. . . .Theory is not just any opining about human existence in society; it rather is an attempt at formulating the meaning of existence by explicating the content of a definite class of experiences. Its argument is not arbitrary but derives its validity from the aggregate of experiences to which it must permanently refer for empirical control.
Aristotle was the first thinker to recognize this condition of theorizing about man. He coined a term for the man whose character is formed by the aggregate of experiences in question, and he called him the spoudaios, the mature man.The spoudaios is the man who has maximally actualized the potentialities of human nature, who has formed his character into habitual actualization of the dianoetic and ethical virtues, the man who at the fullest of his development is capable of the bios theoretikos. Hence, the science of ethics in the Aristotelian sense is a type study of the spoudaios.Moreover, Aristotle was acutely aware of the practical corollaries of such a theory of man.
In the first place, theory cannot be developed under all conditions by everybody. The theorist need perhaps not be a paragon of virtue himself, but he must, at least, be capable of imaginative re-enactment of the experiences of which theory is an explication; and this faculty can be developed only under certain conditions such as inclination, an economic basis that will allow the investment of years of work into such studies, and a social environment that does not suppress a man when he engages in them.
And, second, theory as an explication of certain experiences is intelligible only to those in whom the explication will stir up parallel experiences as the empirical basis for testing the truth of theory. Unless a theoretical exposition activates the corresponding experiences at least to a degree, it will create the impression of empty talk or will perhaps be rejected as an irrelevant expression of subjective opinions.
A theoretical debate can be conducted only among spoudaioi in the Aristotelian sense; theory has no argument against a man who feels, or pretends to feel, unable of re-enacting the experience. Historically, as a consequence, the discovery of theoretical truth may not at all find acceptance in the surrounding society. Aristotle had no illusions on this point. To be sure, like Plato, he attempted a paradigmatic construction of a social order that would express the truth of the spoudaios, in Politics vii-viii; but he also asserted with firm regret that in none of the Hellenic poleis of his time could there be found a hundred men who were able to form the ruling nucleus of such a society; any attempt at realizing it would be utterly futile. A practical impasse seems to be the result.
THE NEW SCIENCE OF POLITICS, CW Vol 5,
Chapter 2 ‚Representation and Truth
§5 pp 138–139.
[U.Chicago ed., p 64–65]
This quote is taken from a collection of brief Voegelin quotes which can be found HERE