The Eric Voegelin Reader: Politics, History, Consciousness (Paperback)

The Eric Voegelin Reader: Politics, History, Consciousness By Dr. Charles R. Embry, Glenn Hughes Cover Image

The Eric Voegelin Reader: Politics, History, Consciousness (Paperback)


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By the time Eric Voegelin fled Hitler’s regime and made his way to the United States in 1938, he had already written four books criticizing Nazi racism, establishing what would be the focus of his life’s work: to account for the endemic political violence of the twentieth century. One of the most original political philosophers of the period, Voegelin has largely avoided ideological labels or categorizations of his work. Because of this, however, and because no one work or volume of his can do justice to his overall project, his work has been seen as difficult to approach.
Drawing from the University of Missouri Press’s thirty-four-volume edition of The Collected Works of Eric Voegelin (1990-2009), Charles Embry and Glenn Hughes have assembled a selection of representative works of Voegelin, satisfying a longstanding need for a single volume that can serve as a general introduction to Voegelin’s philosophy. The collection includes writings that demonstrate the range and creativity of Voegelin’s thought as it developed from 1956 until his death in 1985 in his search for the history of order in human society.
The Reader begins with excerpts from Autobiographical Reflections (1973), which include an orienting mixture of biographical information, philosophical motivations, and the scope of Voegelin’s project. It reflects key periods of Voegelin’s philosophical development, pivoting on his flight from the Gestapo.
The next section focuses on Voegelin’s understanding of the contemporary need to re-ground political science in a non-positivistic, post-Weberian outlook and method. It begins with Voegelin’s historical survey of science and scientism, followed by his explanation of what political science now requires in his introduction to The New Science of Politics. Also included are two essays that exemplify the practice of this “new science.” Voegelin started his academic career as a political scientist, and these early essays indicate his wide philosophical vision.
Voegelin recognized that a fully responsible “new science of politics” would require the development of a philosophy of history. This led to the writing of his magnum opus, the five-volume Order and History (1956–1985). This section of the Reader includes his introductions to volumes 1, 2 and 4 and his most essential accounts of the theoretical requirements and historical scope of a philosophy of history adequate to present-day scholarship and historical discoveries.
In the course of his career, Voegelin came to understand that political science, political philosophy, and philosophy of history must have as their theoretical nucleus a sound philosophical anthropology based on an accurate philosophy of human consciousness. The next set of writings consists of one late lecture and four late essays that exemplify how Voegelin recovers the wisdom of classical philosophy and the Western religious tradition while criticizing modern misrepresentations of consciousness. The result is Voegelin’s contemporary accounts of the nature of reason, the challenge of truly rational discussion, and the search for divine origins and the life of the human spirit.
During his philosophical journey, Voegelin addressed the historical situatedness of human existence, explicating the historicity of human consciousness in a manner that gave full due to the challenges of acknowledging both human immersion in the story of history and the ability of consciousness to arrive at philosophically valid truths about existence that are transhistorical. The essays in this final section present the culmination of his philosophical meditation on history, consciousness, and reality.
Charles R. Embry is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Texas A&M University-Commerce. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Louisiana Tech University, a Master of Arts degree in Government from Louisiana State University-Baton Rouge, and a PhD. in Political Science from Duke University. He has published articles in Liberal Education and News for Teachers of Political Science (A Publication of the American Political Science Association), as well as numerous poems. His book, Robert B. Heilman and Eric Voegelin: A Friendship in Letters, 1944-1984, was published in 2004 by the University of Missouri Press as a volume in the Eric Voegelin Institute Series in Political Philosophy. Also published by the University of Missouri Press are Philosophy, Literature and Politics: Essays Honoring Ellis Sandoz (2005), which he co-edited with Barry Cooper, The Philosopher and The Storyteller: Eric Voegelin and Twentieth-Century Literature (2008) and Voegelinian Readings of Modern Literature (2011). Professor Embry is married to Polly Detels, retired Associate Professor of History, Texas A&M-Commerce. They live in Bellingham, WA.

Glenn Hughes is Professor of Philosophy at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, where he also holds the St. Mary’s Chair in Catholic Philosophy. He is the author of many articles and a number of books, including Mystery and Myth in the Philosophy of Eric Voegelin (1993), Transcendence and History (2003), and A More Beautiful Question: The Spiritual in Poetry and Art (2011), all published by the University of Missouri Press. His poetry has appeared in many national literary journals and two chapbooks; he has also edited or co-edited four volumes of work by the Northwest poet Robert Sund. He is a regular contributor of original scholarship at national conferences, and has been both a coordinator of and invited lecturer at international meetings and events. Forthcoming in spring, 2017 is a volume of essays co-edited with Charles R. Embry entitled The Timelessness of Proust: Reflections on In Search of Lost Time. Professor Hughes lives in San Antonio, Texas.
Product Details ISBN: 9780826222893
ISBN-10: 0826222897
Publisher: University of Missouri
Publication Date: February 28th, 2023
Pages: 464
Language: English
“The achievement of this volume is superb. Through a selection of his writings perfectly chosen, it makes manifest to everyone the preeminent place of Eric Voegelin in the intellectual landscape of the twentieth century.”—Tilo Schabert, University of Erlangen, author of How World Politics Is Made

“Embry and Hughes have succeeded in presenting a thoroughly accessible and well-crafted introduction to the thought of Eric Voegelin. Providing philosophical readings of substance with erudite commentary, this volume ranges perspicaciously across the eras and interests of Voegelin’s writings and will open to a new audience the grandeur of one of the most penetrating and relevant minds of the twentieth century. The Eric Voegelin Reader is set to become the essential companion to the study of Voegelin’s work.”—James Greenaway, St. Mary’s University, author of The Differentiation of Authority: The Medieval Turn toward Existence

“Organized with meticulous care and framed with introductions of exceptional clarity, this reader provides the perfect entrée into Voegelin’s thought and the rich treasures of his thirty-four-volume Collected Works.  The readings capture, in concentrated form, the full scope of Voegelin’s political and philosophical vision, including the surprising turns in his intellectual development that were born of ever-deepening insights into the nature of reality and human history.  There is no contemporary point of view that cannot be enriched and challenged by Voegelin’s uniquely profound and original ideas. The Eric Voegelin Reader will greatly enhance the ease and quality of such encounters.”—Paul Kidder, Department of Philosophy, Seattle University

“Drawing on a broad variety of Voegelin's work—memoirs, interview, lectures, essays, books—the editors present a very intelligent selection of materials that unfolds his main themes in a clear, logical sequence, and this is also greatly aided by their introduction and explanatory comments with reference to each selection.  This brilliant collection of Voegelin's most luminous texts offers an excellent one-volume introduction to the full range and scope of a major thinker who might otherwise seem rather overwhelming to someone new to his work."—Eugene Webb, University of Washington, author of In Search of the Triune God: The Christian Paths of East and West