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Of all the major non-leftist thinkers of the twentieth century, Eric Voegelin (1901-1985) remains, perhaps, the most difficult to understand. While some of his ideas simply pop off the page, most linger in some kind of morass of stumped curiosity within the brain of even the most willing. Indeed, even the most dedicated conservative scholars have to slog through much…

The philosopher Eric Voegelin labored for many years in relative obscurity until his death in 1985. Even now his disciples are drawn largely from conservative academe, which is so marginal as to be something of an oxymoron. Part of Voegelin’s obscurity, to be sure, is the inaccessibility of his prose. Despite occasional flights of poetry, he struggles for both clarity…

Leo Strauss and Eric Voegelin were scholars in the field of political philosophy, yet they did not have an explicit political teaching. They studied the great political philosophers of the past in order to learn lessons that might become living truths for us today. But Strauss and Voegelin did not write political treatises defending a specific political ideology, such as…

The position this essay will attempt to illustrate, if not demonstrate, is that once lost or weakened the tradition of a society can be restored only by a creative and even radical reconstruction of the tradition itself. The problem to which we address our­selves is as complex as it is profound. And clear thought about it is inhibited by the…

Political theorists, like literary and social theorists, occupy a kind of twilight zone in relation to philosophy. Their disciplines are at once empirical and philosophical, an indeterminate status compared to the strictly autonomous unfolding of philosophy. Yet it is by virtue of this difference of perspective that they may have something to contribute to philosophy. The problem, however, is that…

But there is another sort of old age too: the tranquil and serene evening of a life spent in peaceful, blameless, enlightened pursuits. Such, we are told, were the last years of Plato, who died in his eighty-first year while still actively engaged in writing.
— Cicero, On Old Age [1]
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In Volume III of his Order and History, Eric Voegelin reflected…
Voegelin 1

Nearly two decades ago there appeared the first three volumes of Eric Voegelin’s exemplary quest for a theoretically intelligible order of history (Vol. I, Israel and Revelation; Vol. II, The World of the Polis; Vol. III, Plato and Aristotle). The plan projected three more volumes: Empire and Christianity, The Protestant Centuries, and The Crisis of Western Civilization. When the fourth volume was actually…

Eric Voegelin, one of the greatest minds of our times, died on January 19, 1985. We stand in awe, admiration, and affection as we now try to obtain an overview of his achievement. Even a summary is not quite possible at this time. Volume V of Order and History[1] will be published posthumously. In addition, a number of papers may still…




In a time when the faith and freedom of men and women in Europe are challenged by radical atheism[1] and by the fanaticism of secularists, religious extremists and political fundamentalists, public discourse reconsiders the possibility that there is simply no God on the horizon. As Europe is becoming increasingly secular, the moral underpinnings of our Judeo-Christian heritage are shaken, i.e.…