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The New Science of Politics: An Introduction (Walgreen Foundation Lectures)
 
 

The New Science of Politics: An Introduction (Walgreen Foundation Lectures) [Kindle Edition]

Eric Voegelin
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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"Thirty-five years ago few could have predicted that The New Science of Politics would be a best-seller by political theory standards. Compressed within the Draconian economy of the six Walgreen lectures is a complete theory of man, society, and history, presented at the most profound and intellectual level. . . . Voegelin's [work] stands out in bold relief from much of what has passed under the name of political science in recent decades. . . . The New Science is aptly titled, for Voegelin makes clear at the outset that a 'return to the specific content' of premodern political theory is out of the question. . . . The subtitle of the book, An Introduction, clearly indicates that The New Science of Politics is an invitation to join the search for the recovery of our full humanity."—From the new Foreword by Dante Germino

"This book must be considered one of the most enlightening essays on the character of European politics that has appeared in half a century. . . . This is a book powerful and vivid enough to make agreement or disagreement with even its main thesis relatively unimportant."—Times Literary Supplement

"Voegelin . . . is one of the most distinguished interpreters to Americans of the non-liberal streams of European thought. . . . He brings a remarkable breadth of knowledge, and a historical imagination that ranges frequently into brilliant insights and generalizations."—Francis G. Wilson, American Political Science Review

"This book is beautifully constructed . . . his erudition constantly brings a startling illumination."—Martin Wright, International Affairs

"A ledestar to thinking men who seek a restoration of political science on the classic and Christian basis . . . a significant accomplishment in the retheorization of our age."—Anthony Harrigan, Christian Century

About the Author

Eric Voegelin (1901-1985) was Senior Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution at the time of his death. He is the author of numerous books in addition to his major five-volume work Order and History.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 453 KB
  • Print Length: 210 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press; 1 edition (12 Oct 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00ICQO8A2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #351,093 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Eric Voegelin's New Science of Politics is a masterpiece of classical political theory. His analysis rested upon the idea that the modern political theorist have distorted the classical tradition in order to create a new manufactured political Enlightenment theory. The breakdown of philosophy into a series of political ideologies has created the modern tragedy of a bizarre collection of distorted views of human nature. Essenitally, Voegelin used the title New Science of Politics to rediscover the essential foundations of politics based on a theory of human rationalism. The current political theorist tend to view the political nature of representation- which is based on a deformed psychological model of modern man, i.e. Shelley's Frankenstein. The book gives new insights and sources to the essential characteristics of the good society. The book integrates the classical political theories of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle to create a philosophical context to analyze the intellectual "second reality" of the modern period. The idea of another "Heaven Gate" and "Killing Fields" in the post-modern era is contained within the political dialogue of modern political nihilism.
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By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Eric Voegelin New Science of Politics is a masterpiece of classical political theory. His analysis rested upon the idea that the modern political theorist have distorted the classical tradition in order to create a new manufactured political Enlightenment theory. The breakdown of philosophy into a series of political ideologies has created the modern tragedy of bizarre collection of distorted views of human nature. Essentially, Voegelin used the title New Science of Politics to rediscover the essential foundations of politics based on a theory of human rationalism. The current political theorist tend to view the political nature of representation based on a deformed psychological conception of modern man, i.e. Shelley's Frankenstein. The book gives new insights and sources to the essential characteristics of the good society. The book integrates the classical political theories of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle to create a philosophical context to analyze the intellectual "second reality" of the modern period. The idea of another "Heaven's Gate" in the post-modern era is contained within the political dialogue of modern nihilism.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Eric Voegelin's New Science of Politics is a masterpiece of classical political theory. His analysis rested upon the idea that the modern political theorist have distorted the classical tradition in order to create a new manufactured political Enlightenment theory. The breakdown of philosophy into a series of political ideologies has created the modern tragedy of a bizarre collection of distorted views of human nature. Essenitally, Voegelin used the title New Science of Politics to rediscover the essential foundations of politics based on a theory of human rationalism. The current political theorist tend to view the political nature of representation- which is based on a deformed psychological model of modern man, i.e. Shelley's Frankenstein. The book gives new insights and sources to the essential characteristics of the good society. The book integrates the classical political theories of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle to create a philosophical context to analyze the intellectual "second reality" of the modern period. The idea of another "Heaven's Gate" and "Killing Fields" in the post-modern era is contained within the political dialogue of modern political nihilism.
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Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  16 reviews
57 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gnosticism and Political Religions. 25 Jan 2002
By New Age of Barbarism - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
_Modernity Without Restraint_ presents three of Erik Voegelin's essays on the modern political religions, including Marxism, National Socialism, Hegelianism, Nietzschianism, and Heideggerianism. To Voegelin, these thinkers are all best described as "gnostics" and in their effort to create God's Kingdom on Earth seek to "immanentize the Christian eschaton". In "The Political Religions", Voegelin traces back the origin of political religion to the Egyptian worship of the Sun, the cult of Akhenaton. He traverses the history of the Middle Ages, and he shows how the archetype of the Christian apocalypse (a heresy to the orthodox Christian) came to occupy a central role in political religion. He includes a good discussion of the leviathanic state of Thomas Hobbes. Finally he ends with a compelling picture of the National Socialist state embodied in the Fuehrer. Although he was criticized in this essay for not outrightly condemning the National Socialists, Voegelin stated that this in fact just reveals the satanic allure that this political religion holds. To Voegelin, National Socialism is "satanic". In "The New Science of Politics", Voegelin examines various modes of representation from Plato and Aristotle through the Roman Empire. He then discusses the idea of gnosticism; he views the modern political religions as a restoration of the Gnostic heresy (condemned by early Christianity), an attempt to replace faith with certainty and bring about the Kingdom of God on Earth. This idea arose in the apocalyptic tradition, transmitted through the Middle Ages by the followers of Joachim de Fiore. He discusses in particular the case of the English Puritans. According to Voegelin, the modern political philosophies of liberalism, communism, and the philosophy of Thomas Hobbes are under the spell of gnosticism. In "Science, Politics, and Gnosticism", the most interesting of the essays presented, Voegelin delves into the thinkers Hegel, Marx ("an intellectual swindler"), Nietzsche ("the murder of God"), Heidegger, and psychoanalysis and National Socialism. To Voegelin, these thinkers are all "gnostics", and the movements spurred by their philosophies are "ersatz religions".
Voegelin represents an interesting alternative to modernity and liberalism. And this book among his collected works serves as an excellent introduction to the thought of this profound thinker, philosopher of gnosticism.
41 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterful Synthesis 21 Sep 2002
By Jas. Murphy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Eric Voegelin, who died in 1985, is one of the giants of intellectual history and political philosophy. Unfortunately, he is far less well-recognized outside of a small scholarly community than some of the poseurs who foist quack theories on the public under the guise of "political philosophy." The New Science of Politics, based on Voegelin's Walgreen Lectures, can be read as a theoretical companion to his magisterial Order and History, a five-volume elaboration of the theories presented here. Voegelin provides an examination of political community and its representations through symbolic appropriation and the underlying basis of political order throughout history. Equally, Voegelin deals with misappropriation of symbols in the form of Gnosticism, which emerged at the dawn of the middle ages. His diagnostic exercise leads to an examination of modernity, which is characterized by advance and decline, the nature of of our own times. Modernist movements such as Nazism and Communism embody gnostic misappropriation of the symbolization of order. Writing in the immediate postwar period as an Austrian refugee from Hitler, with a command of ancient and modern philosophy and history and access to documentation in a dozen languages, Voegelin both lays the foundation for a return to the Aristotelean tradition of political philosophy and analysis and provides the personal witness of a research physician who has examined the patient at close hand. There is no better short book in our times for accomplishing Dr. Johnson's admonition to clear your mind of cant, or providing a sound basis for recognizing the corruption of intellectual and personal standards in current politics and scholarship, or the infection of scholarship by extremist politics. Voegelin has a number of brilliant students carrying on his work. However, unlike acolytes of Leo Strauss and Allan Bloom and their neo-conservative entourage, who represent a very different and self-referential strain in modern political analysis, Voegelin's students have not populated the high offices of government. Given the power of Voegelin's model presented in The New Science of Politics, I expect and hope that his long-term influence will weigh decisively in the war on modernity and its pernicious supporting social science-based infrastructure. To understand the contours of the problem, The New Science of Politics is an indispensible guide and a model of elegant anlysis and writing.
36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Learned 8 Jan 2001
By Steve Jackson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Eric Voegelin was one of the most learned scholars of the 20th century. This work, which goes beyond what might be considered a "science of politics," is a fairly complete exposition of some of the central themes of philosophy, particularly how they relate to politics. Voegelin's thesis is (in part) roughly as follows: Christianity, particularly in its Augustinian version, dedivinzed the universe. In this process, man saw his limited, creaturely role. However, various revolutionary movements arose which sought to redivinize man and society. These movements were largely "gnostic" in orientation. This gnosticism can be seen in the revolutionary philosophies of our time, such as Comteianism, Marxism, and Nazism. "These Gnostic experiences . . . are the core of the redivinization of society, for the men who fall into these experiences divinize themselves by substituting more massive modes of participation in divinity for faith in the Christian sense." [p. 124.] One gnostic phenomenon Voegelin calls "immanitizing the eschaton" in which revolutionaries attempt to create utopia on earth. They often follow a version of Joachim's "three ages" scheme: for example, Comte's approach to history (theological, metaphysical, and scientific phases); the Marxian three stages of society (primitive, class-based, and communistic); and Nazism with its "Third Reich." [pps. 112-13.]
Voegelin's learning is nothing short of astounding. He is at ease discussing topics as diverse as ancient philosophy, the inscriptions of King Darius I, the Mongol Orders of Submission, and various Puritan literature.
There are a couple problems with this work. First, Voegelin has a rather freewheeling use of the term "gnosticism" which he seems to apply to just about everything he doesn't like. For example, the Protestant Reformation was "the successful invasion of Western institutions by Gnostic movements." [p. 134.] While gnosticism may be an appropriate way to describe various movements that sprung up at the time of the Reformation, this is an unfair characterization of Protestantism as a whole. [See Murray Rothbard's essay "Karl Marx as Religious Eschatologist" in The Logic of Action II.] In fact, Voegelin goes so far as to call Calvin's Institutes a "Gnostic Koran"! [p. 139.] He also sees gnostic elements in Paul and Isaiah, among others. Second, it's kind of hard to determine exactly what Voegelin's own views are. Although he has been praised by many Christian writers, he apparently wasn't a Christian in the traditional sense. He called himself a "mystic." [Michael Franz, Eric Voegelin and the Politics of Spiritual Revolt, p. 70 n. 11.] In fact, David Gordon, echoing R.J. Rushdoony, recently stated that Voegelin was himself a gnostic! [David Gordon, Mises Review, Fall 2000.]
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deep and Profound 18 Mar 2007
By TEK - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
For those of you who are new to Voegelin perhaps a word generally about his work will be helpful. Voegelin was born in Cologne, Germany in 1901. In 1938, he and his wife fled from Germany to the United States. From this context alone it is not surprising that Voegelin is very critical of the Nazis in particular and totalitarian regimes in general. What is perhaps more surprising to those who first come across Voegelin is his claim that regimes such as the Nazis are derivatives of such generally loved intellectual movements as the Enlightenment and Progressivism.

Taken together, the three works published in this volume provide a good basis for understanding how Voegelin comes to this conclusion. In this regard, "The New Science of Politics" is probably the most comprehensive work of the three. However, I would make two suggestions to those who are considering tackling this volume. First, read the first and third (that is, "The Political Religions" and "Science, Politics, and Gnosticism") before reading "The New Science of Politics". I think that the first and third pieces are much easier to read, even though they are less encompassing overall. Second, read "The New Science of Politics" twice. I read that installment for the first time about a year ago and I feel that I understood a lot more the second time around.

Voegelin is a great thinker, and his works in this volume provide a different, and yet very profound way of looking at modern Western society. I think Voegelin's construction of Gnosticism is right on as a critique of the modern psyche. I would recommend this book to anyone looking to explore the work of Voegelin; this is a great place to start. The writing is fairly difficult, but you don't have to understand everything to take a lot from this book.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Intro to Voegelin 27 April 2007
By TEK - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This was the first of Voegelin's works that I ever read, and I think it is a great intro to his thought. First of all, "The New Science of Politics" is one of his more important works. His construction of modern gnosticism within this piece is a very significant challenge to the foundation values that are the hallmark of modernity.

If this is the first of Voegelin's works that you will be reading, and if you're anything like me, this will be a very hard book to get through. The writing is very hard, and that is compounded by the fact that the concepts being discussed are so profound. If you get a vague idea of what Voegelin is trying to say after reading this book then you are doing just fine. I read this book first, and then read Modernity Without Restraint: The Political Religions, The New Science of Politics, and Science, Politics, and Gnosticism (Collected Works of Eric Voegelin, Volume 5), which includes this book along with two others related to modern gnosticism. I learned a lot more and understood Voegelin a lot more clearly the second time I read this work; so if you find yourself confused, keep on going and you'll get there...

A couple other of Voegelin's collected works that deal with the topic of modern gnosticism are: Published Essays: 1940-1952 (Collected Works of Eric Voegelin, Volume 10); Published Essays: 1953-1965 (The Collected Works of Eric Voegelin, Volume 11); and Published Essays: 1966-1985 (The Collected Works of Eric Voegelin, Volume 12). The last of those three deals with modern gnosticism the least, so start with the first two if you're looking for addition material.

Voegelin is a great thinker and his work is very challenging. Yet I think his ideas contain profound truths that moderns like us would do well to consider. Five stars for a classic piece of conservative political philosophy.
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