Eric Voegelin's History of political ideas. The bones of contention of the political animal

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Abstract

The History of Political Ideas by the German-American philosopher Eric Voegelin (1901-1985) is a monumental work of around 2,600 pages. It remained unpublished during his lifetime, and it came to light through the American edition (1997-1999) and the now completed Portuguese edition (2012-2018). Being the author of the first world edition of an abridged version of the History of Political Ideas ; the translator of the first three volumes of the 2012-2018 Portuguese edition; and the author of The civil philosophy of Eric Voegelin (my 1990 Ph. D diss.) I consider that the History of Political Ideas challenges the present climate of opinion: it subverts the dominant corrosive forces of moral relativism, intolerant neo-positivism, end-of-history obsessions, postmodernist deconstructions, agnosticism, nihilism, new age religions, and the all-pervasive ideology of money. Eric Voegelin achieves all this leading his readers from Antiquity to Modern Age. His monumental work begins with the “spiritual disintegration” of the Greek world, after the peak of Plato and Aristotle, a disintegration that ushered a long process of transition in the self-understanding of man in the Mediterranean world. The series goes through Middle Ages , R enaissance and Reformation as Voegelin analyzes the collapse of imperial Christianity, which led to the rise of autonomous reason and sectarian revolts that reached full development in later centuries. A new form of modern human consciousness replaced the Christian understanding of a divinely created closed cosmos. The collection ends - in a suspensive way - with “The Crisis and the Apocalypse of Man” focused on thinkers such as Comte, Bakunine and Marx; although they experienced true epiphanies, they become self-obsessed to the detriment of the world to which they refer. Such “Apocalypse of Man” must now be challenged, albeit with methodologies and hermeneutic principles other than those that Voegelin himself abandoned some decades ago.

About the authors

Mendo Castro-Henriques

Universidade Católica Portuguesa (UCP)

Email: mendohenriques@ucp.pt
Catholic University of Portugal, School of Human Sciences, Auxiliary Professor, PhD in Political Philosophy Palma de Cima, 1649-023 Lisbon, Portugal

References

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Copyright (c) 2020 Castro-Henriques M.

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