Eric Voegelin's Reading of Saint Augustine: Exploring the Symbolism of History and Politics

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Abstract

The essay aims at identifying some prominent topics Voegelin drew from his lifelong reading of Augustine, and which deeply influenced his own way to solve philosophical problems concerning the historicity of political existence and the related time-transcending dimension of human experience. Special care is also devoted to his Augustinian hermeneutics considered on the background of remote and present scholarship. Basing on a broad historical and literary contextualization, Voegelin typically draws from the piece of work considered the experiences of order there expressed through language symbols. The present analysis focuses on the three extended passages in Voegelin’s oevre expressly devoted to an interpretation of Augustinian texts: 1. an early fragment on Conf. X-XI related to a Theory of Government which was never carried out; 2. the final chapter of the lifelong unpublished History of Political Ideas, vol. 1 (CW 19) and 3. the third chapter of A New Science of Politics (1952). The results of the analysis developed in the two book-chapters prove relevant for an adequate understanding of the theoretical frame of Order and History. The chapters are related respectively to the second (books XI-XII) and to the first part of De civitate Dei and disclose the Augustinian use of the two complex symbols of historia sacra and civitas Dei for the further development of Western political history. The interplay of politics and history is well represented in the tension between a pragmatic and a spiritual dimension of history, to which the symbol of historia sacra gives expression. Civitas Dei expresses the tension between justice and politics in history and points toward an (eschatological) solution.
Lingua originaleEnglish
Titolo della pubblicazione ospiteEric Voegelin's Political Reading. From the Ancient Greeks to Modern Times
Pagine43-58
Numero di pagine16
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2021

Serie di pubblicazioni

NomeROUTLEDGE INNOVATIONS IN POLITICAL THEORY

Keywords

  • Eric Voegelin, Saint Augustine, history and politics, politics and religion, history of mankind, theory of justicejustice

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