The Public Interest

Eric Voegelin’s Vision 71

Robert Nisbet

Spring 1983

EVER since his book, The New Science of Politics,was published in 1952, Erie Voegelin s reputation has been located among those thinkers we are prone to call “well known” but not “known well.” A formidable combination of scholarship and prophetic passion has a good deal to do with this condition, though it would be negligent to overlook the interdiction under which the reigning idols of behaviorism and scientism in American thought during the past half century have placed ideas and perspectives like Voegelin’s. Despite the secular inqu,sition to which this extraordinarily rich philosopher has been subjected, Voegelin has not wanted for students and followers, and on the evidence of the four volumes listed above, these students and followers include some minds of analytic power and interpretative acumen. In their respective ways they should do a good deal to accelerate what one of them refers to as “the Voegelinian revolution.” There is little if any scent of hagiography in them, for which both Voegelin and the reader may be grateful.  Where lacunae, contradictions, and obscurities exist in Voegelin’s writings, they are seized upon by the authors and contributors to these volumes. But one and all they are animated by the laudable desire to bring to a wider public the remarkable philosophical, scholarly, and prophetic achievements of their teacher. 

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