Eric Voegelin

Written by Eric Voegelin

Eric Voegelin (1901-85) was a German-born American Political Philosopher. He was born in Cologne, and educated in Political Science at the University of Vienna, at which he became Associate Professor of Political Science. In 1938 he and his wife fled from the Nazi forces which had entered Vienna, and emigrated to the United States, where they became citizens in 1944. He spent most of his academic career at the University of Notre Dame, Louisiana State University, the University of Munich and the Hoover Institution of Stanford University. More information can be found at

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Eric Voegelin

Introduction: The Growth of European Nationalism
The development of political ideas after 1700 be­comes increasingly parochial in the sense that problems that are specific to the several national communities are misunderstood as problems of universal import, and the ideas advanced for their solution are misunderstood as a political theory of general validity.
This characterization, however, which is correct for the general structure…
Eric Voegelin

Political Theory and the National State
The wars and revolutions of the twentieth century bring to its end a period that begins with the consolidation of the Western national states in the fifteenth century.
An upheaval of such magnitude, con­vulsing the whole of a civilization, affects not the institutions only but also the sentiments and beliefs that went into their building, the…
Eric Voegelin

Resisting the "Climate of Opinion"
A reflection on classical studies, their purpose and prospects, will properly start from Wolf's definition of classic philology as the study of man's nature as it has become manifest in the Greeks.1
The conception sounds strangely anachronistic today, because it has been overtaken by the two closely related processes of the frag­mentation of science through specialization and…
Eric Voegelin

St. Augustine and Varro's Civil Theology
It is curious that both Saint Ambrose and Saint Augustine, while bitterly engaged in the struggle for existential representation of Christianity, should have been almost completely blind to the nature of the issue [that the Romans had their own theology, though it was more compact.]. Nothing seemed to be at stake but the truth of…
Eric Voegelin

The address which I am to deliver to you today was originally not planned as part of this series of lectures on "The German Univer­sity and the Third Reich.'' His Magnificence1 was so gracious as to invite me personally to give this address that out of respect for the office of rector I couldn't decline such an invitation. Had I,…
Eric Voegelin

The Struggle between Man and his Soul
As the purpose of this inquiry is not a description of symbols but an analysis of the experiences engendering them, our choice of a case is narrowly determined by requirements of method.
For on the one hand, the case selected should be an historically early one, in order to avoid questions which otherwise might arise…
Eric Voegelin

ERIC  O'CONNOR:  I remarked to you yesterday that I had found your use of apeiron a bit ambiguous; it meant "limitless" in a good sense at some times and not at others. Will you clarify that?

ERIC VOEGELIN: The meaning of the apeiron was developed by Anaximander, then used by Plato and everybody in the East. We all have to return…
Eric Voegelin

The search for the constants of human order in society and history is, at present, uncertain of its language.
An older body of concepts is proving inadequate to expressing the search, while a new one has not yet crystallized with sufficient precision.
We still speak of "the permanent values" in the process of history, though we know the language of "values" to…
Eric Voegelin

In classical philosophy "right by nature" was a symbol, with the help of which the philosopher interpreted his noetic experience of right human action.
Through the dogmatization of philosophy, which began with the Stoics and has not been wholly overcome to this day, the symbol of noetic exegesis was gradually separated from its underlying experience and turned, under the title "natural…