Eric Voegelin's Dialogue with the Postmoderns: Searching for Foundations

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This collection of essays endeavors to generate a dialogue between Eric Voegelin and other prominent twentieth-century thinkers and explore some of the more perplexing issues in contemporary political theory. Each essay rests on the underlying question: is it possible or desirable to construct or discover political foundations without resorting to metaphysical or essentialist constructs? The introduction focuses on the two nineteenth-century thinkers, Nietzsche and Husserl, who have framed the debate about modernity and postmodernity; thereafter, the book examines Voegelin's ideas as compared to those of other twentieth-century thinkers.

Discussed within the volume are Levinas and the precedence of ethics, Ricoeur's theory of narrative representation, Deleuze and the philosophy of immanence, Voegelin's relationship to a speech- dimension theory of human behavior, and Patocka's theory of pre- metaphysical transcendence in Socrates. What will impress scholars most about this collection is the provocative dialogue created between Voegelin and other major thinkers of postmodernism that addresses the issue of establishing foundations without foundationalism.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This volume of essays explores a wonderfully fruitful area in the field of Voegelin studies. These essays endeavor to examine the relationship of Voegelin's thought to that of significant postmodernists and their philosophical inspirers. The range of thinkers treated is representative and a few of the essays break new ground in well-argued and convincing ways."—Glenn Hughes

"Eric Voegelin's Dialogue with the Postmoderns will appeal to Voegelin scholars who wish to see the fruitful application of his philosophy to a variety of thinkers who, like him, seek an alternative both to traditional essentialist metaphysics and to modernist naturalism, subjectivism, and foundationalism. The variety of essays is enriching, and each is intriguing in its own right. A very important contribution to the literature on Eric Voegelin."—Thomas McPartland

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780826215642
  • Publisher: University of Missouri Press
  • Publication date: 11/30/2004
  • Pages: 200
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

About the Editors
Peter A. Petrakis is Associate Professor of History and Political Science at Southeastern Louisiana State University in Hammond.
Cecil L. Eubanks is Alumni Professor of Political Science at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. He is the author of Marx and Engels: An Analytical Bibliography.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
1 Voegelin and Ricoeur : recovering science and subjectivity through representation 23
2 Sight, sound, and participatory symbolization : Eric Voegelin's political theory as an attempt to recapture the speech-dimension of human experience 57
3 Immanence/transcendence : Deleuza and Voegelin on the conditions for political order 93
4 Voegelin and Levinas on the "foundations" of ethics and politics : transcendence and immanence revisited 121
5 Politics, metaphysics, and anti-foundationalism in the works of Eric Voegelin and Jan Patocka 145
Epilogue : Peter A. Petrakis and Cecil L. Eubanks 169
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  • Posted January 22, 2009

    collected articles on little-known influential philosopher

    'Voegelin's lifelong meditation on transcendence...led him to search repeatedly and consistently for appropriate symbolizations that provide an understanding of the ground of being without resorting to rigid and dangerous concretizations...We have called that a search for foundations without foundationalism.' What this means is that the influential mid 20th-century philosopher Eric Voegelin searched for ways to stay in touch with the spiritual, historical, and existential fundamentals giving life substance, meaning, and direction without resorting to the extremes of dogma or totalitarianism. By his own experiences as an emigre from Europe threatened by Nazism and his philosophical interests growing out of them, he had a unique, and fertile, understanding of modernism's yearning for new, enriching dimensions of spirituality and for reliable, meaningful stability behind the era's new forms of politics such as Nazism and Communism and the delusions and conceits of modern individuals. Voegelin makes trenchant criticisms of these and other radical, misguided modernist creeds and styles. Gnosticism as arising in the modern era is one aberrant attempt to gain heightened spirituality he criticized especially. A philosopher, not a political scientist or social critic, Voegelin only rarely refers directly to specific errors and evils of modern culture. But one familiar with the contests of the modern world continuing into this day understands those which his work grapples with. The editors, both with Louisiana universities, collect five articles relating Voegelin's voluminous writings with other major late 19th-century and 20th-century philosophers and thinkers. The names Nietzsche, Ricoeur, Deleuze, and Husserl crop up in different essays. Classical sources of Voegelin's extensive works based on a few simple precepts are also discussed. The essays are rounded out with introductory and closing sections by the editors which provide biographical information on Voegelin and put the project of the book into perspective. The collected academic philosophical articles demonstrate the continuing relevance of Voegelin's thinking on the main, though often elusive, issues of modern culture, politics, and individual lives while also serving as an introduction to this philosopher whose influence continues to grow.

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