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Science, Politics, And Gnosticism [Paperback]

By Eric Voegelin (Author)
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Science, Politics and Gnosticism comprises two essays by Eric Voegelin (1901-85), arguably one of the most provocative and influential political philosophers of the last century. In these essays, Voegelin contends that certain modern movements, including positivism, Hegelianism, Marxism, and the "God is dead" school, are variants of the gnostic tradition he identified in his classic work The New Science of Politics. Voegelin attempts to resolve the intellectual confusion that has resulted from the dominance of gnostic thought by clarifying the distinction between political gnosticism and the philosophy of politics.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   102
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.5" Width: 5.25" Height: 8"
Weight:   0.32 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jan 30, 2005
Publisher   ISI Books
ISBN  1932236481  
ISBN13  9781932236484  

Availability  0 units.

More About Eric Voegelin

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Eric Voegelin was born in 1901 and died in 1985.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Philosophy > General
2Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Philosophy > Political
3Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Politics > General

Reviews - What do customers think about Science, Politics, And Gnosticism?

Great guide to modern politics  Aug 15, 2006
Voegelin has done the public a great service by tracing a common thread of gnosticism amongst modern political philosophies. He goes to Marx's juwish roots in order to expose the theme of the golem that underlies Marxian thought as laid out in Marx's Political and Economic Manuscripts. The Kabbalistic underpinnings of socialistic philosophy forecasts these philosophies as gnostic philosophies.

Although Voegelin indulges in almost pure abstraction (characterisitic of his German education) it is quite accurate since it exposes the naked truth a la Jack Kerouac of these ideas.

The gnostic character of modern philosophies, such as Hegel, Comte, Marx, feminism and so on comes out in the theme of "alienation." Alienation from the rest of society is the result of some form of discord or disharmony. Recourse to a "secret knowledge" will reveal the solution to this problem of disharmony. Applying this secret knowledge will result in an "immanenitizing of the eschaton."

The last concept comes from Roman Catholic scholarship in defining the heresy of gnosticism. In article 676 of the Catholic catechism, it says that: "The AntiChrist's deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgment. The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism, especially the "intrinsically perverse" political form of a secular messianism." Voegelin says that gnosticism tries to bring about a heaven on earth or "immanentize the eschaton." When Kabbalists such as Marx go to the tree of life to get enlightenment to solve problems here and now, zen buddhist like, he tries to be the divine savior of himself.

Thus, Marxism is gnostic since it teaches of alienation of the proletariat whose special knowledge of communism, as embodied in the communist manifesto, assists him in remedying this defect in the socio-economic structure, this disharmony, and the very possibility of this ability to heal his own problem is an immanentizing of the eschaton, of creating heaven on earth without God's help.

The feminist argues that there is discord in the social structure due to patriarchy. The special knowledge of the superiority of matriarchy will remedy this and bring an end to wars, domination and so on. Thus, female chauvanism is to replace male chauvanism (clearly reaching a hypocritical end).

This is just the icing on the cake. Voegelin goes through many ideas, but the aforementioned summary constitutes a common theme uniting all of his discussion in this terse yet dense book.
A lucid yet in-depth scrutiny of the interplay of complex ideals   Jul 4, 2005
Science, Politics & Gnosticism presents two essays, the title piece, "Science, Politics & Gnosticism", and "Ersatz Religion: The Gnostic Mass Movements of Our Time" by Eric Voegelin (1901-85), one of the most influential political philosophers of the twentieth century. Voegelin contends that certain modern movements, including positivism, Hegelianism, Marxism, and the "God is dead" school are variants of the gnostic tradition. Striving to settle the confusion that arises from the dominance of gnostic thought, Voegelin further strives to classify distinctions between political gnosticism and the philosophy of politics. A lucid yet in-depth scrutiny of the interplay of complex ideals and their reverbations upon mass political movements, Science, Politics & Gnosticism is especially recommended reading for advanced students of philosophy and political science.
Political Science on a Rack  Sep 17, 2001
Oh, the visionary has a new system to save the world? Put that in section II B, tray 5, right next to the same idea that sprouted 1000 years ago under a different name.
Voegelin has boiled down the rules for understanding all secular visions of salvation, which invariably play on some human dissatisfaction, the diagnosis of which always omits a key "given" of human nature, which is thus marketed as changeable, but isn't, leading to fanatical attempts to control people, devolving into scaring them into submission with the threat of death.
The opposite of the Christian love ethic which posits a brotherhood in relation to a heavenly Father, according to Voegelin.
Voegelin here achieves a scientific method of explaining how non-christian ideas relate to Christian ideas of social organization. He was very popular in Cold War times, but is also versatile enough here to help with the great conversation we are all having in relation to terrorism. This book is simple, direct and profound.
The Murder of God and other Exhilarating Ideas  Aug 8, 2000
These two essays describe the inability of modern political thought to get a grip on the confusion and horror of the 20th century, mainly because that thought itself has not been immune from the very disorders it seeks to study. The roots of modern disorder are found in "Gnosticism," which is usually defined narrowly as a form of Christian heresy, but thought of by Voegelin as a typical response to the universal human problems of uncertainty, meaninglessness and alienation. Thus seemingly disparate movements like communism, fascism and positivism are placed within a Gnostic tradition stretching back to antiquity.

After describing the characteristics of ancient Gnosticism, Voegelin defines his own approach to the "science of politics," derived mainly from Plato and Aristotle. He then proceeds to analyze thinkers such as Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche and Heidegger and to isolate what he feels to be their dominant motives. The one great theme of all Gnosticisms, ancient or modern, is the desire to do away with the notion of a given, "objective" world. If the project of world-transformation is to be made plausible, then nothing can be seen to be outside of human power. Social reality is a constructed thing, not a thing given or found, thereby allowing it to be "deconstructed."

In the second, shorter essay, "Ersatz Religion," Voegelin describes the complex of ideas characteristic of modern Gnosticism such as millenialism, utopianism and positivism. As the title of the essay suggests, the religious impulse does not die after the murder of God; it gets redirected into "political religions." Politics then becomes a matter of belief and fanaticism, instead of rational discourse and debatable opinions. Despite the abstractness of some of its theoretical concerns, this book is very readable and jargon-free. Those with no prior reading in philosophy may need to look up a term now and again such as "ontology." I recommend it as a good, short introduction to the kind of sober and ordered thought that we so desperately need after the century of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot.

A great place to start  Jul 18, 2000
Eric Voegelin was one of the most profound philosophers of history of the twentieth century. More than any other thinker I know, he was able to articulate a body of thought that recognizes the human need for a grounding in transcendent truth and analyses the vicissitudes of the inevitable search for meaning. His work deserves to be widely read, but perhaps because of its imposing bulk--his masterwork, "Order and History," weighs in at five fat volumes of complex reasoning, vivid exegeses of the symbolic forms of the past five thousand years, and indepth and illuminating readings of philosophers from Parmenides to Heidegger--it is not. "Science, Politics, and Gnosticism" is a perfect hors d'oeuvre of a book, and serves well not as a systematic introduction to the full scope of his vision but as a tasty morsel of his maturing thought at a crucial point in his oeuvre. Voegelin's incisive critique of ideological thinking in this book is lucid and mercifully accessible. I would hope that a reader comes away from this potent little classic inspired to dig deeper into the mine of wisdom that Voegelin's work offers.

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