Dictionary of Voegelinian Terminology

These extracts from the works of Eric Voegelin and his commentators were compiled by Jack Elliott and are posted here with his permission.

Please note that these selections are in no sense a systematic survey of the literature. They are rather a collection gathered in the course of reading which may serve as a useful tool for others.

In adding cross-references between terms I have usually linked only one usage of a term in each extract. Voegelin uses some terms (for example, "beyond" and "search") in their ordinary senses but which also have special meaning in the context of his work. I have tried to distinguish between the usages, but the decision as to whether to link a term is sometimes a difficult judgement. If you see any cases where a cross-reference is in error or is misleading, please let me know.

Your comments and corrections are always welcome: please e-mail Bill McClain.

Return to the Eric Voegelin Study Page.



"The Good. In Plato, the good as such. A term for the transcendental pole of the tension of existence." [Webb 1981:277]
"Concerning the content of the Agathon nothing can be said at all. That is the fundamental insight of Platonic ethics. The transcendence of the Agathon makes immanent propositions concerning its content impossible.

"The vision of the Agathon does not render a material rule of conduct, but forms the soul through an experience of transcendence. The nature of this experience and the place of the Agathon in it is described by Socrates indirectly through the function of the `offspring' of the good, the sun, in relation to vision (Republic 506e ff)... The Agathon is neither intellect (nous) nor its object (nooumenon) (508c), but that what `gives their truth to the objects of knowledge and the power of knowing to the knower.' The Idea of the Agathon is `the cause of knowledge [episteme] and of truth [aletheia] as far as known' (508e). The analogical elucidation of the Agathon by means of what is most like it (eikon) is then carried one step further. The sun not only provides visibility, but generation, growth, and nurture to the visibles, though it is not itself generation (genesis). And likewise the Agathon not only makes objects knowable, but provides them with their existence and essence, though it is itself beyond (epekeina) essence in dignity and power. The epekeina is Plato's term for `beyond' or `transcendent'... [Voegelin OH 3:112]


"Cause." [Webb 1981:277]
"The term for ground, aition, occurs in the philosophy of Plato and in the philosophy of Aristotle. It has there three meanings which must be distinguished or one gets into trouble right from the beginning. One sense in which the term aition is used in philosophy is that which in physics we call 'cause': recognizable regularity between phenomena in time and space. We had better call that 'the cause' in order to distinguish it.

"There is a second meaning of the term aition, in Aristotle especially. Aition was translated into Latin and preserved through Scholasticism and into neo-Thomism as the doctrine of the four causae: the causa materialis, the causa formalis, the causa efficiens, and the causa finalis. These four causae--material, formal, efficient and final--are something different, of course, from 'the cause' in physics. They have as their model artifacts or organisms, but we are interested at the moment neither in artifacts nor in organisms.

"There was a third meaning of aition in classic philosophy: the ground of existence of man, first of all, then also of other things. The ground of existence, in Platonic and Aristotelian philosophy--but especially in Aristotelian--is the nous: reason or spirit or intellect, whichever of these translations you prefer. Let's call it 'intellect,' or use the Greek word nous. Here the model is man and his experience of such a ground, hence reason is the ground of existence for man, and especially the ground for everything rational in his action. [Voegelin in O'Connor 1980:3-4]

"... the term aition, rendered in modern language as cause, does not have the meaning of cause which the modern reader associates with it. The aitia have nothing to do with cause and effect in the natural sciences; they refer to a relation in the hierarchy of being that we can neutrally term `derivation.' Aristotle can say for instance (Metaphysics 994a3ff.): `The hyletic generation of one thing from another cannot go on ad infinitum (e.g., flesh from earth, earth from air, endless series--man, for example, being moved by air, air by the sun, the sun by strife, and so on without limit.' Obviously Aristotle's etiology is still deeply embedded in the Ionian speculation on the cosmos, which in his turn is still close to the realm of mythical symbolization. The etiology, therefore, must not be understood as having anything to do with the chain of cause and effect in time, in the modern sense. The problem of the limit belongs strictly to the analysis of existence; it has nothing to do with the infinity or createdness of the world." [Voegelin, "On Debate and Existence" CW 12:46]


"Truth, that which is `unhidden' or `uncovered.' In Voegelin, especially `lived' truth, existential truth, the experienced manifestness of `existential consciousness.' Equivalent to episteme." [Webb 1981:277]
double meaning of Aletheia--reality and truth, close to being synonymous with Aristotle's ousia. [Voegelin Anam:160]


"Usually translated as ignorance, folly, rudeness, boorishness. Term used by Plato in the Laws to refer to voluntary ignorance motivated by aversion to truth (consequently a stronger term than `folly' in English). Voegelin says its symptom is an unwillingness to discuss, but its underlying cause is an unwillingness to be drawn into consideration of the transcendental." [Webb 1981:277]


"Literally, friendship. Aquinas's term for the mutual love between God and man." [Webb 1981:277]
"The Christian bending of God in grace toward the soul does not come within the range of these experiences--though, to be sure, in reading Plato one has the feeling of moving continuously on the verge of a breakthrough into this new dimension. The experience of mutuality in the relation with God, of amicitia in the Thomistic sense, of the grace which imposes a supernatural form on the nature of man, is the specific difference of Christian truth. The revelation of this grace in history, through the incarnation of the Logos in Christ, intelligibly fulfilled the adventitious movement of the spirit in the mystic philosophers. The critical authority over the older truth of society which the soul had gained through its opening and its orientation toward the unseen measure [i.e., in Plato] was now confirmed through the revelation of the measure itself." [Voegelin NSP:78]


"the only language that can be used for mystery, and existence is intrinsically mysterious." [Webb 1981:123]


"Remembrance or recollection. In Plato's Meno, the conception that whatever one learns in this life is recalled from the memory of what was known in a former life. In Voegelin's interpretation, a symbol for the recognition that the explication of experience is the bringing into consciousness of what had previously been implicitly present but unconscious." [Webb 1981:277]
"It is improper, and fundamentally incorrect, they tell us, to separate knowing from being. Knowing is intimately dependent upon someone's particular way of being in the world, or, as Michael Polanyi would have it, upon the indwelling of a particular person, so that the emergence of new knowledge is understandable only as the expression of the history of his experiential background and concerns, is not immaterial nor inconsequential when it is a matter of determining what we and others are capable of knowing and how new awarenesses come to be. A person's knowledge, that is to say, his very capacity to discover the truth, is a function of his experiential individuality. This understanding of the intimate connection between knowing and being is, of course, the very heart of the Platonic message, the message that so fascinated Voegelin. Indeed, it is the reason for and the explanation of Voegelin's repeated focusing on recollection (anamnesis), which is but another way of speaking of the exploration of 'tacitnesses.'" [Poirier 1992:261]
"Oblivion and knowledge are modes of consciousness of which the first can be raised into the second through remembrance. Remembering is the activity of consciousness by which the forgotten, i.e. the latent knowledge in consciousness, is raised from unconsciousness into the presence of consciousness. In the Enneads (IV, 3, 30) Plotinus has described this action as the transition from nonarticulate thinking to articulate thinking that perceives itself. Through an act of perceiving attention (antilepsis), the non-articulated knowledge (noema) is transformed into conscious knowledge; and this antileptic knowledge then becomes fixed through language (logos). Remembrance thus, is the process by which non-articulated (ameres) knowledge can be raised into the realm of language-images (to phantistikon) so that, through expression in the pregnant sense of becoming a thing in the external world (eis to exo), it will become linguistically articulated presence in consciousness.

"... I have analyzed how Plato's insight into remembrance changes, and gains in depth, from the early to the late dialogues: ... (c) In Timaeus-Critias, finally, remembrance raises the comprehending knowledge of human-social existence attuned to the order of history and the cosmos from the unconscious into consciousness. The remembrance expands into a philosophy of consciousness in its tensions of conscious and unconscious, of latency and presence of knowledge, of knowing and forgetting, of order and disorder in personal, social and historical existence, as well as to a philosophy of symbols in which these tensions find their linguistic expression. However, the knowledge of man concerning his tension to the divine ground of being remains the center of consciousness; what is remembered is the origins, the beginnings, and the grounds of order in the present existence of man." [Voegelin, "Foreword to 'Anamnesis'" in Lawrence 1984:38-39]

"Consciousness is not a self-contained process that apprehends itself and is able, by analyzing its insights, to arrive at a comprehension of its own nature. Conversely, consciousness is a material process that understands itself to exist in a body and in a world. It consequently understands itself to be part of a wider reality which comprises it...

"The exercises in personal recollection in 1943 provided a path back to the manner in which his [Voegelin's] own mind was formed by his early experiences of the world's wider reality, thus the significance of rooting his investigations in a theory that acknowledged that consciousness is materially constituted.

"Consciousness is not able to become an object for itself. The only plausible starting point for a thinker is one's own consciousness, that is, all the prereflective experiences that have led one to pose questions about the nature of mind and the reality of which it is a part. These experiences may be described as moments of awareness that cause one to apprehend some part of reality as opaque, as something that calls for interpretation. A reflective individual's experiences of this type provide an openness to a diversity of questions about the nature of the world. These experiences are formative of a thinker's mind; they galvanize and provide direction to the process of thinking...

"In order to unravel one's own intellectual position, it seemed necessary to probe one's own consciousness in order to ascertain its constitution by the experiences of life if one desired to be mindful of his or her own cognitive presuppositions. This exploration had to begin with childhood to retrieve the formative experiences of life since they were vital elements in the current makeup of consciousness...

"The recollection of childhood experiences is an effort to recall those archetypal episodes where the world made an impression on the psyche. The nature of these occurrences, though, cannot be ascertained only from these narratives, since such reminiscences can also be understood as creative acts that lead to experiences which inaugurate a search for understanding. Thus, philosophical reflection begins with the elucidation of one's own generative experiences, during which time questions about the nature of existence arise. In this state, one is able to bring rationality to bear on generative experience. It is through this type of reflective process that philosophical clarification of life is attained, and these types of experiences are constitutive of philosophical theories." [Keulman 1990:56-57]

"Philosophical anamnesis does not recover the memory of the events belonging to former lives, but of truths, that is, the structures of the real. This philosophical position can be compared with that of the traditional societies: the myths represent paradigmatic models established by Supernatural Beings, not the series of personal experiences of one individual or another." [Eliade 1963 p. 125]

Anima mundi

"World soul. Latin term for Plato's animate cosmos in the Timaeus. One of the hypostases of Plotinus." [Webb 1981:277]
"the reality of the cosmos in depth" [Voegelin, "Equivalences of Experience and Symbolization in History" in CW 12:127]
"a philosopher's myth: It articulates neither the experience of the primordial field, nor the experience of the psyche, but achieves the imaginative fusion of insights gained by the two types of experience separately. That is not to say that the imaginative play does not express any reality at all. It is true, we have no experience of the depth of the Cosmos as psyche; and Plato himself is careful enough to claim for the psyche and logos of man no more than to be kindred (syngenes) to the divine psyche and logos of the Cosmos. Still, the imaginative play has its hard core of reality as it is motivated by man's trust (pistis) in reality as intelligibly ordered, as a Cosmos. Our perspectival experiences of reality in process may render no more than fragments of insight, the fragmentary elements may be heterogeneous, and they may look even incommensurable, but the trust in the underlying oneness of reality, its coherence, lastingness, constancy of structure, order and intelligibility will inspire the creation of images which express the ordered wholeness sensed in the depth. The most important of these images is the symbol cosmos itself, whose development runs historically parallel with that of the symbol psyche. The result is the eikos mythos whose degree of likeness will depend on the amount of disparate experiences it has achieved to unify persuasively in its imagery. But that is not yet the last word in the matter; for Plato lets Timaeus conclude his story with the assurance that, according to the likely myth, the Cosmos is a zoon empsychon ennoun in very truth (te aletheia). The earlier wavering characterizations of the myth as somewhat less than really true are now superseded by the assertion of its truth in the full sense. The statement is delivered with impenetrable seriousness but in its depth we can sense an ironic smile: The most intimate truth of reality, the truth about the meaning of the cosmic play in which man must act his role with his life as the stake, is a mythopoetic play linking the psyche of man in trust with the depth of the Cosmos." [Voegelin, "Equivalences of Experience and Symbolization in History" in CW 12:127-128]


folly. oblivion. Forgetfulness of one's partnership in the community of being and, consequently, the transformation of assertive participation into self-assertion. [Voegelin OH 5:43]


see Beginning
"Unlimited, indefinite, unbounded. In Anaximander, the 'unlimited' source of all particular things. Because it transcends all limits, it is in principle undefinable. Voegelin uses it (especially in OH, vol. 4) to refer to the pole of the metaxy (q.v.) standing opposite the One (the Beyond). [Webb 1981:277]
"In the myth of the cosmos, which is the immediate background of Anaximander's pronouncements, the Apeiron of non-existence is not merely a negative dimension of the Whole but the reality that is the creative origin or Beginning of existent things, including the life and order of the 'things' called men. Hence, the trust (pistis) in the truth-reality of the Depth, symbolized as the cosmos whose undergirding and overarching order pervasively interpenetrates things in existence, is the mysterious source of than of their reality." [Sandoz 1981:198]
"Consciousness and the context in which it becomes intelligible to itself as life moves on--which it experiences as present both within and outside itself-arise from somewhere. But where? One answer returns for its substance to those who possessed the experience of their own consciousness emerging without a vast social and philosophical mechanism already in existence to `explain' the significance of the experience in mythopoetic terms.
Reality was experienced by Anaximander (fl. 560 B.C.) as a cosmic process in which things emerge from, and disappear into, the non-existence of the Apeiron. Things do not exist out of themselves, all at once and forever; they exist out of the ground to which they return. Hence, to exist means to participate in two modes of reality: (1) In the Apeiron as the timeless arche of things and (2) in the ordered succession of things as the manifestation of the Apeiron in time.[OH 4:174]
"The motion from the darkness of nonexistence into the light of existence is the primary cycle that dominates all lesser cycles. This is brought out in Anaximander's statement:``The origin (arche) of things is the Apeiron... It is necessary for things to perish into that from which they were born; for they pay one another penalty for their injustice (adikia) according to the ordinance of Time.''

"Voegelin contends that the Anaximandrian Apeiron--which he calls the `Ionian truth of the process'--is `present in the background of consciousness when the later thinkers explore specific structures for the case of societies in history.' [OH 4:175] The symbol of the Apeiron as the Boundless, the Depth, serves as a polarity both of the cosmos and the psyche. The opposite polarity, the One of Plato, stands as the noetically discoverable antipode of the Apeiron. It is the height as the Apeiron is the depth." [Keulman 1990:141]


"Imperishability. The characteristic of the gods as symbols of perfection of being. An aspect of the transcendental pole of the tension of existence or metaxy (q.v.)." [Webb 1981:277-278]


"Certain or necessary. Used to refer to knowledge of what must be, as compared with what can be (and may even be)." [Webb 1981:278]


"Leibniz's term for the introspective or reflective apprehension by the mind of its own inner states. Contrasts with 'perception,' which is awareness of something external. Used by Voegelin to refer to self-awareness, a combination of immediate and mediated, reflective self-awareness." [Webb 1981]


"Beginning, principle. Especially ultimate undemonstrable principle, or ultimate underlying substance." [Webb 1981:278]
"About the first of these: The Ionic attempt leans on the figure of cosmogonic speculation and borrowed from it the form of the myth in the sense of a story or narration about events in the cosmos. The arche of the Ionians is not any longer a member of the society of gods, but it stands at the beginning like a god from whose initiative a chain of events passes right down to the being that is experienced here and now. The form of the mythic story imposes on the being of the Ionians the character of becoming, the mythical genesis." [Voegelin Anam:76]


"To immortalize. See 'immortalizing' and 'exodus.'" [Webb 1981:278]

Balance of consciousness, postulate of balance

"Voegelin's term for the precarious awareness of the conditions of existence in the metaxy, easily lost when the experience of being drawn toward the transcendental pole becomes sufficiently vivid to tempt one to expect escape from the metaxy and from the existential tension that characterizes it." [Webb 1981:278]
"The balance of consciousness is what might be called the primary virtue of differentiated consciousness. It consists in not letting the discovery, or the suspicion of the existence, of transcendent being disorient and frighten one in such a way that it lead one to devalue or reject either the immanent or the transcendent pole of being. In other words, one does not let the world as it is be degraded into 'an untruth to be overcome by the truth of transfigured reality'; but neither is the fact and the perfection of transcendent being denied. Rather, one accepts that the meaning of the finite cosmos is incomplete, but fittingly so, as well as that a transcendent fulfillment of that meaning is really discerned in human consciousness. And one accepts, therefore, the life of reason and spirit as that of mediating, of being intermediate between, the truths of finite and of transcendent being, and consequently one accepts also the task of understanding and sanctifying the conditions of finite existence that make it possible to fulfill this function." [Hughes 1993:102]
"It is in the soul of the `thing' man that the struggle between It-reality and thing-reality goes on, symbolized as the pull of the Beyond and the resistant counterpull of the chora--the divine, immortal Beyond and the `mortal beyond.'" [Paul Caringella, "Voegelin: Philosopher of Divine Presence" in Sandoz 1991:191]
"The Classical philosophers' postulate of balance arises, then, from their discovery of the paradox central to reality: reality is a 'recognizably structured process that is recognizably moving beyond its structure.' While the structure is sufficiently static to outlast the philosophers and to endure over the millennia to the present, it is nonetheless 'dynamically alive with theophanic events which point toward an ultimate transfiguration of reality.' The task of the philosopher, in executing the requirement of balance, is 'to preserve the balance between the experienced lastingness [of reality] and the theophanic events in such a manner that the paradox become intelligible as the very structure of existence itself.' This is the definition of the postulate (OH, IV, 227-228).

"This task can be discharged, for instance, by stressing that the differentiating theophanies that constitute meaning in history are exoduses within reality and not exoduses from It; that the God of the Beginning whose creative act established the cosmos and maintains its order is the same as the God of the Beyond whose presence moves the philosopher's quest of the Ground in the process of differentiation climaxing in the discovery of the divine Nous; that the differentiated consciousness--whose reality of reason is both human and divine in the mode of participation (but not identification)--arises in the reality of the cosmos and its lasting order from the Beginning, not the cosmos and its order from consciousness." [Sandoz 1981:234]


"As Voegelin puts it, 'The cosmos of the primary experience... is the whole, to pan, of an earth below and a heaven above--of celestial bodies and their movements; of seasonal changes; of fertility rhythms in plant and animal life; of human life, birth and death; and above all...it is a cosmos full of gods.' The last point is essential. What it means in philosophical terms is that the ground, the purposive origin of things, is perceived or experienced not as 'beyond,' but as contained within the spectrum of spatiotemporal existences. Reality is saturated with divine presence, because the very origins of things are manifest in the cosmos. Divine presence is experienced as 'the gods,' manifest entities, encountered in powers, elements, and regularities in the cosmos, through which they reveal themselves and with which they are more or less convertible. As a result, for the member of ancient society, nature is never encountered as a neutral, impersonal 'It,' but as a 'Thou,' alive with purpose and emotion [OH 4:68].

"It is difficult for us to perform the leap of imagination needed to appreciate the 'intracosmic gods' as signifying something other than naive poetic fancy and superstition, or perhaps a kind of personality-projection or even wish-fulfillment. We may be helped, Voegelin's analysis suggests, by approaching the ancient compact consciousness from the direction of the question of the ground.

"In order to do so, the following distinction should be kept in mind: the question about the ground of something is not that about its temporal or mundane 'beginnings' (although, in archaic consciousness, these two questions are not well distinguished). To ask where a tree 'comes from' in term of vegetative reproduction is not the same as to ask where it ultimately, primordially 'comes from'--that is, what its metaphysical or divine origins are. The reproductive explanation can--as Aristotle takes pains to point out--be stretched out ad infinitum with no rational contradiction [Metaphysics 1071b6-10; Physics 206a9-206b1, 208a5-25, 250b11-252b7]. But the question of the originary 'coming-to-be,' the question about the very fact of existence, carries with it an intrinsic rational demand for an explanation affirming a first beginning, a primary origin, or a first principle. The meaning of traditional mythic thinking is incomprehensible to us unless we distinguish these two types of question and see the latter of them, that of primal emergence, to imply the terminus of a ground, however that ground may be symbolized. As Voegelin writes in his exegesis of Aristotle's understanding of the issue, 'The knowledge that being is not grounded in itself implies the question of the origin, and in this question being is revealed as coming-to-be, albeit not as a coming-to-be in the world of existing things but a coming-to-be from the ground of being.' [Anamnesis, 86. For detail on the distinction between the two types of question, see ibid., 83-88, and Voegelin, "In Search of the Ground," in [O'Connor 1980:3-5]. In ancient societies the myths of origins answer the questions about the ground through creation narratives, which must not be confused with stories about mundane events. 'Through its time of the narrative, which is not the time of becoming in the world, the myth expresses the coming-to-be from the ground of being.' With this distinction between mundane beginnings and primordial beginnings in mind, it is possible to situate compact mythic thinking by stating that it takes place in the conceptual horizon of an imputation of the Beginning of things to other things represented as in or belonging to the cosmos.

"Voegelin has approached the self-understanding of ancient societies, as he has all others, in terms of the manner in which they explain and symbolize order in reality. The compact myths of Beginnings are ways of telling how things became ordered. The way they do this is to describe the derivation of certain cosmic things--such as humans--from other cosmic things--such as the gods. Since all of reality is, for ancient mythic imagination, contained in the finite cosmos, there can be no means of explaining the derivation or meaning of anything other than through reference to some other finite reality. Therefore there flourish, in ancient mythic society, what might be called cross-referential explanations of reality." [Hughes 1993:44-45]

"The mystery of origins is, from the differentiated perspective, the mystery of the How and Why of the emergence of a finite, conditioned universe from a non-finite, unconditioned ground. As Voegelin convincingly argues there is no escaping the question of the ground itself, the question of what it is we ultimately 'come from'; and differentiated reason demands that the presence of finite reality be accorded a non-finite origin or cause. The ultimate purpose of the coming-into-being, therefore, and the manner of its creation, are unknowable to us, transcending finite powers of comprehension. Even the general notions of 'origination,' 'coming from,' 'creation,' 'causation,' and formation' can be applied to the relation between finite being and its transcendent ground only analogically; for the meanings of these terms derive from our understanding of relations between finite beings." [Hughes 1993:90]
"The creational Beginning as an analogical symbol will denote therefore not a beginning in the time dimension of the world, but a beginning in the analogical time of a creation story, the time out of time, as I called it, is the Time of the Tale, of the cosmogonic myth in the bewildering variety of its manifestations in history. By the analogous Beginning, the cosmogonic myth expresses the experience of a lasting cosmos permeated by the divine mystery of its existence, and articulates the truth of a cosmos that is not altogether of this world. The reality of things, it appears, cannot be fully understood in terms of the world and its time; for the things are circumfused by an ambience of mystery that can be understood only in terms of the Myth. Since the divine Beginning, though experienced as real, is not an event in the time of the world, the imaginative creation story is the symbolism necessary for its expression. Moreover, the adequacy of the symbolism to the experience points to the miracle of a mythical imagination that can produce the adequate Tale. We are touching on the problem ... of an imagination and a language that is itself perhaps not altogether of this world." [Voegelin, "The Beginning and the Beyond: A Meditation on Truth" in CW 28:174-175]
"The causal series cannot begin in time because we have no experience of a beginning 'in time'; more precisely, one could say that because we have no experience whatsoever of a time in which something might begin--for the only time of which we do have experience is the inner experience of the illuminated dimension of consciousness, the process that drops away, at both ends, into inexperienceable darkness...

"A mythical symbol is a finite symbol supposed to provide 'transparence' for a tranfinite [sic] process. Examples: a myth of creation, which renders transparent the problem of the beginning of a transfinite process of the world..." [Voegelin Anam:21]

Beginning and the beyond

"...[In OH IV] Voegelin began to use the symbols 'beginning' and 'beyond' as a substitute for his earlier distinction between 'myth' and 'revelation,' the terms he employed in the first three volumes. He did this perhaps to avoid the connotations that 'myth' and 'revelation' carry in the topical debates. 'Beginning' refers to the primary experience of the cosmos which historically found expression in creation myths, while 'beyond' alludes to the revelatory awakening of divine presence in the soul in mystic experience, to the transcendent realm that gives history and the soul and eschatological direction." [Morrissey 1994:283]
"Because of this dual structure [of intentionality and luminosity], consciousness inevitably yields a symbolization of reality in the conceptual form of being-things, when in fact what it knows in the mode of luminosity is the nonthing beyond of things. The beyond can only be experienced through its parousia, its presence. This presence of the beyond is a formative presence that pervades the whole of reality in the form of things. In itself this beyond is nonexperientiable, but since experience somehow reveals the beyond of experience mysteriously present in experience, this beyond needs to be evoked. But in conjuring this beyond, consciousness must inevitably image it in the ambiguous and limited form of being-things, that is, 'objectively' through symbols and concepts, even thought these symbols and concepts refer to no object.

"Reality itself is structured by the being-things of the cosmos and the beyond of things beyond the cosmos. The comprehending reality that includes the thing-reality of the cosmos and its nonthing ground, Voegelin calls the 'It-reality.' The It-reality denotes the reality that comprehends the partners in the community of being: God and the human being, world and society. And so the It-reality is a subject that takes as a predicate the bodily located consciousness called 'the human being' that is a participatory event in the comprehending It-reality...

"This structure of things and their beyond is what constitutes the tensional structure in human existence. Indeed, this dual isomorphism of consciousness and reality must lead one to say that reality is constituted by consciousness while consciousness is constituted by reality, with the provision of course that the primacy always lies with the prior-forming reality [cf. Tillich's ontological structure of reality]. Reality precedes and outlasts any embodied consciousness that participates in its mystery in the mode of existence; and in this formative reality, consciousness always finds itself moving, but only in consciousness can reality 'appear.'

"It is within this formative reality that the concrete consciousness called Eric Voegelin found itself moving in two directions: toward the beginning and toward the beyond. In his zetemic search for order in history he discovered that divine presence is experienced in these two directions and these two only, for no other direction is possible." [Morrissey 1994:119]

"What would then emerge in this search for the beginning is the comprehending reality of the beyond. The beginning of all things points to their beyond. And this search for the true order of the cosmos reveals the quest itself as the 'place,' the bodily located event, when and where reality becomes luminous for its truth. The consciousness of the human being is the site of incarnated truth. It is moving toward the unflawed order beyond the disorder of thingliness. It tells the story of this movement in the flawed language of things. The final upshot of all this is that the quest for truth is ultimately penultimate, for there is always the greater truth whose story needs to be told but can never fully and finally be told. The story of the quest, no matter how luminous, can never put an end to Mystery; it can only deepen the insight into its paradoxic penultimacy." [Morrissey 1994:148]
"The struggle in classic philosophy becomes the quest to unite the God of the beginning who creates an imperfect cosmos with a God of the beyond who orders the human psyche and saves us from the cosmic disorder. Is the creator-god the same as the savior-god?" [Morrissey 1994:158]
"...Voegelin's treatment of the mystery of origins contains a further set of insights that marks a major contribution to the theoretical appreciation of the issue. These are the insights formulated in his analysis of the 'Beginning' and the 'Beyond.'

"Conscious existence, Voegelin explains, discovers through differentiating experiences that it receives its 'formation' not merely through physical processes but also through the nonmaterial presences of nous and pneuma. For the seeker of origins, this discovery refracts the originating ground, as far as human existence is concerned, in the two 'directions' of (1) the transcendent Beginning of cosmic structure (from which human consciousness arises) and (2) the transcendent Beyond of Intelligence or Spirit (which differentiated consciousness recognizes, in the immediacy of presence, as the fullness of its own rational and spiritual identity)...

"Both 'models' of the ground of reality are 'required' by differentiated consciousness; but that simultaneous requirement can prove troublesome. The two, the cosmic ground of things and the 'immediate' ground of consciousness, can appear to be in conflict. That is, once the invisible center of personality is differentiated, it is possible to speculate as to whether one' being as physical, as physically rooted in the cosmos, is not in conflict with one's being as beyond the physical, as moral or spiritual." [Hughes 1993:90-91]

"...it is this struggle for existential order in light of the knowledge of transcendent being that for Voegelin raises the most radical question of all concerning the overall structure of the process of reality. Why, he asks, has the one divine ground formed a finite cosmos that included the human questioner, only to require that questioner to seek, in resistance to existential ignorance and disorder, the ground itself beyond the finite cosmos, and find his or her 'salvation' in increasing degrees of participatory attunement with its truth? This question has been touched upon already... in the discussion of Voegelin's question about why a cosmos formed from its divine Beginning should be moving, in a transfigurative process whose medium is human consciousness, toward a divine Beyond of itself. The human struggle represents a conflict in the very structure of being." [Hughes 1993:103]
"Voegelin later clarified his analysis of the different symbolisms of philosophy and myth by distinguishing the two modes in which man experiences divine reality; the theotes of Colossians 2:9. There is the immediate experience of the divine in the opening of the soul to transcendent being; this can only be expressed in the language of revelation, of which the representative symbol is Plato's Beyond, epekeina (Republic, 509b). There is also the mediated experience of the divine presence as the source of order within the cosmos; this can only be expressed by a cosmogonic myth, describing the creation and maintenance of the cosmos from the Beginning, as in Genesis I:I. The two directions in which divine reality is experienced are a constant, and they must both attain adequate symbolization." [David Walsh, "Philosophy in Voegelin's Work" in Sandoz 1982:146]
"Though the divine reality is one, its presence is experienced in the two modes of the Beyond and the Beginning. The Beyond is present in the immediate experience of movements in the psyche; while the presence of the divine Beginning is mediated through the experience of the existence and intelligible structure of things in the cosmos. The two models require two different types of language for their adequate expression. The immediate presence in the movements of the soul requires the revelatory language of consciousness. This is the language of seeking, searching, and questioning, of ignorance and knowledge concerning the divine ground, of futility, absurdity, anxiety, and alienation of existence, of being moved to seek and question, of being drawn toward the ground, of turning around, of return, illumination, and rebirth. The presence mediated by the existence and order of things in the cosmos requires the mythical language of a creator-god or Demiurge, of a divine force that creates, sustains, and preserves the order of things. If however the oneness of divine reality and its presence in man is experienced with such intensity as it is by the author of the gospel in Christ, even an extraordinary linguistic sensitivity may not guard him against using the two languages indiscriminately in his articulation of the two modes of presence. And that is what happens in the Gospel of John when the author lets the cosmogonic `word' of creation blend into the revelatory `word' spoken to man from the Beyond by the `I am.'" [Voegelin OH 4:17-18]


"not an object, but a context of order in which are placed all experienced complexes of reality after the dissociation of the cosmos." [Voegelin Anam:135]
"The field of being ... arises in the symbol-forming consciousness as an expression of experience, in its most comprehensive reach. The mode of this comprehensive and fundamental experience is implicit in the term community. Being is no mere abstraction, but the concretely apprehended divine Ground; nor is being a thing. Neither abstraction nor thing the term community of being expresses the content of man's inner experience of conscious participation in a whole greater than himself, both like and unlike himself. This embracing whole finds its resting point in the divine Ground, which encompasses all that is. The experienced whole is symbolized as "being" (ousia) in philosophical language. The core of the experience forms as the sense of mutual interpenetration, sameness, and oneness of all that falls within the purview of consciousness.

"This essential oneness, or consubstantiality, is not, however, perfect homogeneity. It is articulated by tensions within the field of consciousness that are identified as distinct polarities. These tensional poles are designated by the symbols that define the structural boundaries of experienced reality. Hence, experienced consubstantiality of being differentiates itself as a community in which man participates as a polarity and member. It is precisely the tension of this partnership that man--and this means the concrete consciousness of each man--experiences and knows as the essence of his being." [Sandoz 1981:147]

"At the beginning of philosophy there is thus the dissociation of a cosmos-full-of-gods into a dedivinized order of things and a divinity whose relations to the newly discovered character of the universe is still unclear. The Hellenic thinkers named that which revealed itself to their differentiating experience being; and ever since then being has been for philosophers the subject of all propositions about order and nature.

"The tremendous problems of the constitution of being that were raised by the act of differentiation could not be mastered on the first try. The Ionic attempt to identify the nature of being by a material arche was no more than the beginning of a process of thought, which is as yet incomplete. We shall briefly characterize its hellenic development in terms of the three main complexes of problems. They have to do with (1) the dependence of philosophy on the myth and its separation from the myth, (2) the relation of the divine to being, and (3) the relation of man and his cognition to being.

"About the first of these: The Ionic attempt leans on the figure of cosmogonic speculation and borrowed from it the form of the myth in the sense of a story or narration about events in the cosmos. The arche of the Ionians is not any longer a member of the society of gods, but it stands at the beginning like a god from whose initiative a chain of events passes right down to the being that is experienced here and now. The form of the mythic story imposes on the being of the Ionians the character of becoming, the mythical genesis [see: beginning]. Since, however, being is experienced not only as a stream but also reveals constant and recurring forms that abide in the midst of flux, the nature of being as a becoming must necessarily be supplemented by its characterization as abiding and recurrent form. Experiences of this kind motivate the speculation about being as eternally immutable. When they are reinforced by the experience of transcendence, they can elevate the character of permanence of being to the point of the truth of being before which 'coming-into-being is quenched' (Parm. B 8 21). This truth, if not logically compelling but still a compelling vision, indeed results in an inclination of philosophy toward form as the true being. Since the original insight into the nature of being as a coming-to-be goes back to the primary experience of the cosmos and its expression in the myth, one can define metaphysics, inasmuch as it narrows the insight to the form-matter pattern, as the extreme anti-mythical form of philosophizing.

"Second, when the order of being no longer comprises the polytheistic gods, the relation of the divine to being remains in that suspension which can still be sensed in the fragments of Anaximenes... The state of suspension is broken only through the experiences of transcendence, especially that of Parmenides; in it there is a recognition of the divine as the Beyond in relation to a world which in turn, through this insight, becomes immanent, i.e., this-side-of-God. Only after this separation there is no more need for the divine mythically and genetically to send off being into its becoming, and the divine can be related to the appearance of the world as the transcendent-creative, the demiurgic reality. Experience of being and experience of transcendence thus are closely linked with each other, inasmuch as the implications of the still compact experience of being of the Ionians fully unfold through the experience of transcendence. Only in the light of the experience of transcendence, God, as well as the things of the world, obtains that relative autonomy that makes it possible to relate them to the common denominator of being.

"When the gods, having become homeless through the dissociation of the cosmos, are again found in the truth of God, and thereby the relation of the divine to the world has become clear, this clarity still leads to new problems, as soon as the relationship is interpreted in the language of being. The difficulties are caused by a slowly vanishing obscurity on a number of points. In order to avoid extended historical investigations, we prefer to formulate them as theses:

"(1) The being of philosophical experience is not a newly discovered entity to be added to the things that are already given in the primary experience of the cosmos.

"(2) The experience of being differentiates the order of things (a) in its autonomy, (b) in the relation of things with each other, and (c) in its relation to the beginning. It discovers the order of the cosmos.

"(3) The divine ground of being is not an existent thing of the type of things existing in the world.

"(4) Things existing in this world, in addition to the order of their autonomous existence and that of their relations to each other, also have a dimension of order in relation to the divine ground of being. There are no things that are merely immanent.

"(5) The world cannot be adequately understood as the sum total of relations of autonomously existing things. That is not possible even when the directly experienced relations are extrapolated into infinity, for the indefinite progression is itself a world-immanent event. The mystery of a world permeated by divine activity is not eliminated by dissociating the transcendental experience of the cosmos into God and world. The impossibility of construing the world as a purely immanent complex of experiences is even today a central problem of theoretical physics.

"The historical-concrete problems will become more understandable in the light of these theses.

"The cosmos is dissociated by the experience of being, but all that it formerly comprised in a compact way, which includes the gods, must now be interpreted in the language of being. In other words, the now world-transcendent God must philosophically be included in the order of being. This is a philosophical necessity--for where and what would be the world's order of being if it issued not from the divine presence as its creative source?--which runs into the difficulty that divine being and worldly being are not things on either side of a spatial dividing line. Rather, they are indices that are placed on being when the cosmos is definitively dissociated by the experience of transcendence. Now being is nothing but a network of relations of order under the primary experience of things given in the cosmos (not in the world), in the right understanding of which we are interested. Hence as we are thinking about being, which itself is no thing (thesis 1), the prephilosophical, cosmic things have a tendency to suggest themselves as models of being. When, as in Parmenides, God is the model of being, then the being of the world is demoted to doxa, in comparison with the eminently-being being of truth; when the nondivine things provide the model for being, the predicates are derived from immanent existence, and even the predicate being itself can apply to God only by way of analogy. The aporia of this type are not soluble on the basis of objectivizing thought about being. In order to solve them, the philosopher must acknowledge that the figures of cosmic primary experience are still present in his thinking about being, and he must include the truth of the primary experience of a divine-worldly cosmos in his philosophy. For the cosmos may indeed by dissociated into divine and worldly being, by the experience of being, but that dissociating knowledge does not dissolve the bond of being between God and World, which we call cosmos...

"Third, and finally, the experience of being confronts us with the problem of the relation between the order of being and the knowing human being. Contrary to the possibility that the order of being might be unknowable for man or that man with his capacity for mental order might confront a being without order, reality demonstrates a remarkable agreement between order of the mind and order of being... The experience of being activates man to the reality of order in himself and in the cosmos... The background of the experience of being is the primary experience of the cosmos in which man is consubstantial with the things of his environment, a partnership that in philosophy is heightened to the wake consciousness of the community of order uniting thought and being...

"The survey has shown that the dissociation of the cosmos began with the Ionic experience of being but was completed only through the experience of transcendence on the part of later thinkers. The partners in the cosmos separate into an immanent world of relatively autonomous things and a transcendent divine ground of being. Between them is man as that being in whom the dissociation occurs, in whom, however, God and world again are united in the manifold of experiences that elicits the rich vocabulary of philia, pistis, elpis, eros, periagoge, epistrophe, etc., as the corresponding manifold of expressions. Where the question is about the autonomous nature of existing things in the world, there is also the question of the nature of God, without whom, understood as transcending the world, there could not be any this-worldly immanence of things with autonomous natures; and wherever God and world are separated by the experience of being, there is also the question of man, who experiences the order of being and himself as an experiencing being. Man enters into the known truth of his own order, i.e., of his nature, through the experience of himself as one who is experiencing order. This ontological complex makes sense only as a whole. Philosophy becomes senseless if it isolates one of its parts without regard to the others." [Voegelin Anam:75-81]

"It is improper, and fundamentally incorrect, they tell us, to separate knowing from being. Knowing is intimately dependent upon someone's particular way of being in the world, or, as Michael Polanyi would have it, upon the indwelling of a particular person, so that the emergence of new knowledge is understandable only as the expression of the history of his experiential background and concerns, is not immaterial nor inconsequential when it is a matter of determining what we and others are capable of knowing and how new awarenesses come to be. A person's knowledge, that is to say, his very capacity to discover the truth, is a function of his experiential individuality. This understanding of the intimate connection between knowing and being is, of course, the very heart of the Platonic message, the message that so fascinated Voegelin. Indeed, it is the reason for and the explanation of Voegelin's repeated focusing on recollection (anamnesis), which is but another way of speaking of the exploration of 'tacitnesses.'" [Poirier 1992:261]

Between, the

See metaxy.


"Translation of Greek epekeina. That which is ultimate and is itself indefinable because it surpasses all categories of understanding. The proportionate goal of the fundamental tension of existence." [Webb 1981:278]
"The acme of his [Voegelin's] noetic analysis lies in his discernment of the structure of beyond in consciousness, revealed in peak moments in history, whereby the ensuing history of revelation is seen to reveal the beyond of history and revelation. This beyond is discerned in the historical advance of differentiating insights that emerge from revelatory experience." [Morrissey 1994:118]
"... the essence of differentiation is the bifurcation of the cosmos into a natural or immanent world and a deeper stratum of reality known solely through consciousness' finding a Beyond to its own (and thus to all finite) nature...

"...The Beyond is not something on the other side of a spatial dividing line. When through searching and passion and insight the extraordinary souls of Israel and Hellas discerned a world-transcendent reality, whether it was the true God of Israel, or Parmenides' Being that is other than the world known by sense experience, or the Platonic-Aristotelian Nous, what they found (or what was revealed to them) was immediately present only in consciousness. The data that forms the 'material' for the insight that the finite cosmos has as its ground a reality that is other than finite being is the 'movement of the soul,' as Voegelin puts it, that discovers its own nature both to presuppose and to be co-constituted by a spiritual reality unrestricted by finite limitations. Unless consciousness finds itself engaged in the questioning tension that so desires to identify the true ground of reality that it finds all the splendors of the cosmos still not enough to explain and satisfy its own restless capacity to think and feel beyond those splendors, then there can be no occasion for an epiphany of transcendence. When such a movement does occur, what has happened, in Voegelin's terms, is that the tension of consciousness toward a reality beyond all cosmic contents has become transparent for its own nature as 'spiritual,' i.e., as related by participation to a ground that is incommensurate with limitation. Of course such a ground is known only in the interiority of meditation and reflection, and so it is nothing in the world that can be pointed to. 'Such terms as immanent and transcendent, external and internal, this world and the other world, and so forth, do not denote objects or their properties ... The terms are exegetic, not descriptive.'

" ... the Beyond of finite things can only be manifest through finite reality. It would be in line with Voegelin's thought to say that transcendence is a further dimension of meaning that is revealed when the finite cosmos is recognized to be inadequate as the source of its own meaning. That is, we become aware of strictly transcendent being when we recognize that finite meaning presupposes an ultimate ground of meaning that can only be non-finite. But while our questioning leads us to recognize this non-finite ground, we also recognize it to lie beyond the scope of our finite imagination and understanding. Thus the restricted dimensions of meaning we understand lead us to acknowledge an unrestricted dimension of meaning that we understand to lie beyond our understanding." [Hughes 1993:52-54]

"...is not a thing beyond the things, but the experienced presence, the Parousia, of the formative It-reality in all things. The Parousia of the Beyond, experienced in the present of the quest, thus, imposes on the dimension of external time, with its past, present, and future, the dimension of divine presence. The past is not simply in the past, nor the future simply in the future, for both past and future participate in the presence of the same divine-immortal Beyond that is experienced in the present of the questioner's participatory meditation. We have to speak, therefore, of a flux of presence endowing all the phases--past, present, and future--of external time with the structural dimension of an indelible present. The flux of presence is the experienced Parousia of the Beyond in time, the mode of time in which the It tells its tale through the events of the metaleptic quest by endowing it with the indelible present; it is the time of the It-tale that demands expression through the capitalized Beginning and End when the presence of the Beyond is to be symbolized in the questioner's account of his quest." [Voegelin OH 5:30]
"...is understood not to be a thing among things, but is experienced only in its formative presence, in its Parousia. In relation to the immortal-divine Beyond even the formerly immortal gods now become things deriving their immortality from their contemplation of the truly immortal reality of the divine Beyond. We witness the beginnings of an understanding of the `gods' as a the experience of divine presence in a more compact mode, as well as an awareness that the `intermediate immortality' of the gods does not dissolve into nothingness when the gods are discovered as a compact language in relation to the differentiated language of the Beyond. Moreover, when the Beyond is fully understood as a non-thing, the being things other than the gods can be fully understood in their thingness. They acquire a `nature,' this nature understood as the form they have received as their own through the formative presence of the Beyond. However, this nature of the things, this rerum natura, can then become, regarding its comparatively stable characteristics, an autonomous matter of exploration, so autonomous indeed that its origin in the formative presence of the Beyond can be forgotten and a capitalized Nature will assume the functions of the It-reality." [Voegelin OH 5:31]
"On whether the idea of a Beyond not intrinsically conditioned by space and time is simply an experience--

"[reply from Voegelin] It can simply be experienced as a tensional pole of your experience. It can never be an experience." [Voegelin in Lawrence 1984:110]

"The movement toward the Beyond of the cosmos can become fully articulate only when the Beyond itself has revealed itself. Only when man has become conscious of divine reality as moving his humanity, not through its presence in the cosmos, but through a presence reaching into his soul from the Beyond, can his response become luminous as the immortalizing countermovement toward the Beyond." [Voegelin OH 4:16-17]


"In Christianity, the love of God for man and of man for God or for fellow men when this is an expression of the love of God. Latin translation of the Greek agape. cf. amicitia." [Webb 1981:278]


"1. We can distinguish three type of civilizations:
A. cosmological
B. anthropological (or classical)
C. soteriological
2. They are roughly identical with Toynbee's three generations of civilizations. The main civilizations by generations are:
A. Egyptian, Babylonian
B. Sinic, Indic, Israelitic, Hellenic
C. Far Eastern (with offshoot in Japan), Hindu, Byzantine, (with offshoot in Russia), Islamic, Western
3. The decisive event in the anthropological civilizations is the discovery of the psyche as the sensorium of transcendence...

"1. To the three main types of civilization correspond roughly three main types of legal cultures--roughly, because of the numerous intermediate forms.

A. Cosmological civilizations symbolize order by analogy with cosmic order. The political community is a microcosmos. (Prototype discussed in class: early Chinese symbolism.)
B. Anthropological civilizations symbolize order by analogy with the order of the human soul. And the order of the human soul is achieved through attunement to the unseen transcendent measure. Society is a macroanthropos. (Prototype discussed in class: Plato's conception of society as man written large.)
C. Soteriological civilizations develop more clearly the experience of transcendent revelation and grace that reaches out to all mankind. Spiritual order is differentiated from temporal order. (Prototypes discussed in class: Israelite and Christian revelation, division into spiritual and temporal powers)." [Voegelin, "Supplementary Notes for Students in Jurisprudence Course" in CW 27:76-78]

Closed existence, closure

"Voegelin's term for the mode of existence in which there are internal impediments to a free flow of truth into consciousness and to the pull of the transcendental. Contrasts with 'open existence' (q.v.)." [Webb 1981:278]

Cognitio fidei (or amoris, or spei)

"Knowledge through or by faith (or love, or hope). A more fundamental (and compact, q.v.) cognitive mode, according to Voegelin, than reason. An important element in the preanalytic cognitive matrix from which reason develops." [Webb 1981:278, also see p. 62]

Common sense

"According to Voegelin's interpretation of representatives of the late eighteenth-century school of thought that goes by this name (particularly Thomas Reid), a compact (q.v.) form of rationality made up of good habits of judgment and conduct deriving historically from noetic experience, but without a differentiated knowledge of noesis (q.v.)." [Webb 1981:278-279]


"Voegelin's term for experience having distinguishable features yet to be noticed as distinct. Contrasts with 'differentiated' (q.v.)." [Webb 1981:279]

Complex of consciousness-reality-language

"a something that receives its character as a unit through the pervasive presence of another something, called the paradox of intentionality and luminosity, of thing-ness and It-ness." [Voegelin OH 5:18
"This complex...includes language and truth, together with consciousness and reality. There is no autonomous, nonparadoxic language, ready to be used by man as a system of signs when he wants to refer to the paradoxic structures of reality and consciousness. Words and their meanings are just as much a part of the reality to which they refer as the being things are partners in the comprehending reality; language participates in the paradox of a quest that lets reality become luminous for its truth by pursuing truth as a thing intended." [Voegelin OH 5:17]
"language" as used here apparently includes both concept and symbol, see [Lawrence 1984:57]

Concept vs. symbol

"I try to give symbol the meaning of expressing the consciousness of the paradoxic It-reality and Thing-reality. From such symbolizations, I distinguish concepts as definitional formulations referring to objects which have existence in time and space. For instance, you cannot have a concept of history, because history is not really in time and space for it involves the future and we have no knowledge of the future. There is no 'thing,' history, about which one can talk at all, as we can about this table existing in time and space. The question can then also be raised concerning the existence of finite symbols in mathematical form which perhaps are more than that ... The mathematical form of the universe is a symbol...

"...As far as one can see, a symbol like the beginning of the universe or the universe itself, and so on, is not a concept of anything, but the symbolization of the tension of experience and existence: in time, we exist in relation to the Beyond and so on..." [Voegelin in Lawrence 1984:97]

Voegelin loosely uses the terms so that "concept" is that which intends a thing-reality, while "symbol" expresses the It-reality. He also refers to "the intentionality of conceptualizing science" and "the luminosity of mythic and revelatory symbols." He noted that the "difficulty of assigning precise meanings to the terms" is one of the difficulties associated with the paradoxic structure of language that has become a constant in the philosophers' discourse. Plato recognized the problem and "in the practice of his own philosophizing, coped with it by using both conceptual analysis and mythic symbolization as complementary modes of thought in the quest for truth." [Voegelin OH 5:17-18]
Walker Percy comments on the usage of "symbol" in a form that suggests its association with luminosity rather than intentionality:

"...[Susanne Langer] sets forth to perfection the truly distinctive character of the symbol: that it neither signifies another meaning nor constitutes meaning anew, but that it re-presents something. And so she can speak of the truth and falsity of the art symbol, according as it does or does not succeed in representing its subject.

"If, by the same token, it ever be admitted in the field of cognition that the symbolic transformation is not an end in itself, a `need,' but a means, a means of knowing, even as is the art symbol--then the consequences are serious indeed. For it will be knowledge, not in the sense of possessing 'facts' but in the Thomist and existential sense of identification of the knower with the object known. Is it not possible that this startling semantic insight, that by the word I have the thing, fix it, and rescue it from the flux of Becoming around me, might not confirm and illuminate the mysterious Thomist notion of the interior word, of knowing something by becoming something? that the 'basic need of symbolization' is nothing more or less than the first ascent in the hierarchy of knowledge, the eminently 'natural' and so all the more astonishing instrument by which I transform the sensory content and appropriate it for the stuff of my ideas, and that therefore the activity of knowing cannot be evaluated according to the 'degree to which it fills a biological need,' nor according to the 'degree to which the symbol is articulated,' but by nothing short of Truth itself?" [Percy 1975 pp. 296-297]

Cf. Polanyi: "Symbolization therefore entails something quite different from designation or indication. To designate the United States by its name is structurally the very opposite of symbolizing the United States by a flag. To designate the United States is to integrate A NAME to a country, while to symbolize the United States by a flag is to integrate a country to a flag.

"In surrendering ourselves, we, as selves, are picked up into the meaning of the symbol." [Polanyi 1975:74, 73]

"The intentionality structure of consciousness tends to express itself in concepts; the luminosity structure in symbols. Concepts express or refer to objects in the external world. But symbols arise from the exegesis of the event of luminosity in participatory consciousness in which the truth of the It-reality becomes luminous. They do not refer to objects, in Voegelin's sense, but evoke movements of existence or participatory consciousness. As Voegelin has put it, then, '[t]heir meaning...is not simply a matter of semantic understanding; one should rather speak of their meaning as optimally fulfilled when the movement they evoke in the recipient consciousness is intense and articulate enough to form the existence of its human bearer and to draw him in its turn, into the loving quest of truth'" [Lawrence 1984:57 in part quoting Voegelin "Wisdom and the Magic of the Extreme: A Meditation"]


"Consciousness is a process... in being. The process can be symbolized and differentiated, but not conceptualized and 'grasped' absolutely in rational categories and systems. Neither the ontological status of consciousness nor the existence it transcends is in doubt. The perception of reality is immediate, but the understanding of it, which comes through the screen of the archetypes, is not. But what is perceived and what is understood is reality. Voegelin was not an idealist: existence has ontological status apart from perception or understanding. He was not an empiricist: the truths of reality are not immediately present to the mind, nor do they impose their own meanings absolutely on the mind. We could not label him a rationalist: archetypes are not 'a priori,' but are interpretive constructions that arise out of the primal vision, based in and on primary phenomena. The mind orders sense-perceptions, but not in an 'a priori' manner. The ordering principle in the psyche imposes itself on the phenomena, but the psyche discovered its ordering principle in the structure of the phenomena as they are presented to it in the primal manner of seeing." [Heilke 1990:32]
"Perhaps the most fundamental principle Voegelin offers theology is his insistence on consciousness as the foundational starting point. It is by our consciousness that we are able to participate in and know reality. To understand the structure and dynamics of our consciousness would serve as a foundation for any theological reflection. For Voegelin, consciousness is the in-between reality of participatory experience. The order of human existence in history and society originates in the order of human consciousness.

"Any serious inquiry into reality must be rooted in human experience. This chief canon of contemporary thought should always guide theologians in their foundations and methodology. If theology's foundations are not congruent with, nor grounded in, living human experience then they would be wholly inadequate. Less emphasis would be given to ideas and concepts than to the existential reality of personal experience which grounds all symbolizations of reality. In this regard, Voegelin's method is widely empirical in the best sense. His is an empiricism in the original Greek version of it, not the positivist mode of objectivist perception that is available naively to everyone, but the classical mode of personal appeal, of direct persuasion of those whose inner experience conforms to the symbols, images, and analogies left behind by a seeker of truth, to the virtuous who have been graced by the same experiences illuminated by these symbols wand whose souls are ordered by the same reality they point to. This was the method employed by Socrates' dialectical conversations. It has every right to be called science." [Morrissey 1994:247-248]

"The experience of consciousness is the experience of a process--the only process which we know 'from within.' Because of this its property, the process of consciousness becomes the model of the process as such, the only experiential model to serve as the orientation point of the conceptual apparatus through which we must also grasp the processes that transcend consciousness." [Voegelin Anam:21]
"...Husserl presumed to elevate the notion of the 'I' as experienced in its formal position in the nexus of body and world to the status of a pre-experienceable, transcendental consciousness. To Voegelin, this is simply inadmissible. The 'I' pertains only to a definite individual, and as such is an ontologically derivative phenomenon--since ultimately consciousness ... must be said to belong to the timeless ground of time and meaning, about which we know at least that it is beyond whatever we can know or designate except through metaphorical or analogical hints and speculations. Husserl, in other words, had marched the claims of a 'science' of consciousness proudly but irresponsibly onto the terrain of mystical and mythic symbols.

"As he concludes his letter, Voegelin expresses an abhorrence of the supposedly scientific category of the transcendental ego, regarding it as symptomatic of a modern hubris that rejects the dependence of consciousness on cosmic origins: 'The creation of the transcendental I as the central symbol of philosophy implies the destruction of the cosmic whole within which philosophizing becomes at all possible.' Voegelin makes his own position clear: human consciousness is always an event within a historical context of language, community, world, and cosmos, whose ultimate reference point is a radically transcendent ground of being. Recognition of this full context, as a first principle of any philosophy of consciousness, makes the notion of an 'apodictic beginning' in the modern style of Descartes and Husserl inadmissible. Consciousness is a late event in the unfolding of the cosmos from its mysterious ground; every philosopher and philosophy begins, as Voegelin was later to put it, 'in the middle of the story.'

" ... it should be stressed again that Voegelin never considered his own theory [of consciousness] a novel way of understanding human nature; to him, its merit lies in its recovery of the traditional insights of philosophers, sages, saints, and prophets.

"The most important feature of the letter is Voegelin's insistence that consciousness has the structure not only of an 'I' but also of an 'other-than-I,' since it experiences itself as belonging to the mysterious ground of being. Therefore, the articulation of the meaning of consciousness demands; at some stage, the use of mystical or mythic symbols--that is, symbols that communicate the fact that consciousness participates in a reality whose ultimate meaning transcends human understanding and, in the case of mythical symbols, that suggest an interpretation of that further dimension of meaning consistent with what we do know about reality." [Hughes 1993:20-22]

"The term consciousness, therefore, could no longer mean to me a human consciousness which is conscious of a reality outside man's consciousness, but had to mean the In-Between reality of the participatory pure experience which then analytically can be characterized through such terms as the poles of the experiential tension and the reality of the experiential tension in the metaxy. The term luminosity of consciousness, which I use increasingly, tries to stress this In-Between character of the experience as against the immanentizing language of a human consciousness which, as a subject, is opposed to an object of experience." [Voegelin AR:73]
"...consciousness is not a given to be deduced from outside but an experience of participation in the ground of being whose logos has to be brought to clarity through the meditative exegesis of itself...

"Consciousness is the luminous center radiating the concrete order of human existence into society and history." [Voegelin, "Foreword to 'Anamnesis'" in Lawrence 1984:35-36]

"Our fundamental prereflective experience is not a form of object knowledge. There cannot be a separation between a knowing subject and a known object because the subject is a part of the process it knows. Object knowledge (intentionality in Husserl's sense) is only a substructure within our awareness of this larger reality. Ultimately this comprehensive reality is a process that becomes comprehensible itself in the consciousness of individual human beings." [Keulman 1990:92]
"The term `consciousness' had rarely appeared in the first three volumes [of OH]... There had been no previous indication that the central locus of our humanity was consciousness. In the earlier volumes, the term most often used to suggest the core of our humanity was `human nature.' In The Ecumenic Age, it is noted, in passing, that human nature is simply `classical language' for `the structure of consciousness.'[OH 4:252]

"...This change of terminology, along with the shift of emphasis it contains, removes the ambiguity of such terms as `human nature' and `experiences of transcendence.' It constricts the area affected by the process of differentiation from elemental to elaborated symbolisms, while at the same time broadening the context in which those symbolisms may be understood to operate through time...

"But consciousness cannot be understood as an object freestanding in the world. Rather, in the manner of field-theory, there exist intertwining strata, spatially and temporally manifested, which are interdependent not only for their reality but for their meaning within reality. Among the elements we perceive as distinct from the process of consciousness is the cosmos itself. But this cosmos is not an object among others; it is the background against which all else exists [OH 4:72]. Consciousness evolves within a cosmos that preexists, and it is principally for this reason that this new work begins with reflection on the limitations that awareness must impose on the meaning of events that occur within the field of consciousness. [OH 4:8]

"...the area of meaning is shifted from the `soul' of [NSP and OH 1-3] to the `consciousness' of [OH 4]. Having made this change of terminology and position, Voegelin then proceeds to define sharply the degree to which insights arising within consciousness can be said to condition those aspects of reality that lie beyond consciousness, or beyond what may be called a `transformation boundary' that interfaces consciousness with that intelligible congeries of entities that lie outside consciousness.

"There is, then, an important shift from the elemental symbols of `soul' and `human nature' to the highly specific and differentiated symbolism of `consciousness,' inexorably carrying, as it does, not only the venerable weight of the classical `psyche,' but to some extent that of the Pauline `pneuma' as well..." [Keulman 1990:133-134]

"...it would be helpful to describe briefly the figure Voegelin adopts to characterize the structure of consciousness. He refers to the situation of consciousness as existing in the Metaxy,' Plato's `In-Between.' The figure is well chosen. While it refers specifically to the state between Anaximander's Apeirontic depth and the noetic height of the later philosophers it connotes, in The Ecumenic Age, much more. It is not simply the `In-Between,' the present moment that divides the symbolisms of the Beginning from those of the Beyond, though it is certainly and decisively that.

"...the insights which extend the field of awareness derive from the `motion' of the psyche itself. Like the photon, consciousness possesses no `rest mass.' Consciousness is a processive, not an objective, reality; and like a wave, it cannot be said to possess a `place' or a `time' or to exist without motion. The insights flow not from `outside' or `inside,' but from the movement of the process itself. Even given the nonpredictability of their occurrence in any given situation, the occurrence of such insights is certainly predictable since they are fundamental to process of developing consciousness.

"Thus the division between consciousness and the cosmos ceases to be relevant only when we speak of the entire process, the reality of which both consciousness and cosmos are constituents. In fact, the very differentiation of reality within the process is dependent upon the bipolar `inside-outside' of the individual transformation boundary since that differentiation occurs as the psyche `moves' through perceptions of both consciousness and cosmos.

"...The field through which the development of consciousness takes place extends in relation to a vast and varied pattern of experience. The transformation boundary, which limits and controls the passage of information into concrete individual psyches and the flow of communication outward from them into the world inhabited by others (to whom the communication presents itself as experience), establishes another aspect of reality in that no exterior experience can be unequivocal because it must be transformed by the very act of perception into an intelligible symbolism that relates in some way to the field of individual awareness. Similarly, no internal experience, when transformed into a symbolic communication, can avoid what Cassirer has called `the curse of mediacy' in that the symbol cannot be congruent and equal to the experience as it passes from the psyche into the cosmos." [Keulman 1990:137-138]

Consciousness, structure of

"symbolized by the complex of consciousness-reality-language and the paradox of intentionality and luminosity, of thing-reality and It-reality, is not simply 'there' as the structure of a finite object to be occasionally discovered. It is not a 'thing' to be described or not, but has its reflective presence in consciousness itself. Whatever the mode of consciousness may be in the plurality of its diversification, whether it appears on the scale of compactness and differentiation, or of formation and deformation, it is reflectively present to itself in its symbolization." [Voegelin OH 5:44]
also see [Voegelin, "Meditative Origins of Philosophy" in Lawrence 1984:48ff]

Constants of experience

"The truth is there can never be any symbolism that is exempt from being one more historically equivalent truth. Nor is there an absolute experience that can found such an absolute system. There are only equivalent experiences and their equivalent symbols. To symbolize these constants is not to engage in system building, for the constants lie on the level of 'depth' which is discerned by philosophers examining the process of differentiation in their own consciousness." [Morrissey 1994:129]
"For Voegelin, the abiding and comprehensive constant in human existence is the search for meaning. 'What is permanent in the history of mankind is...man himself in search of his humanity and its order.' ["Equivalences of Experience," 115] This permanent search for truth and order to which Voegelin refers is the immediate and ongoing dynamic principle of each individual and every society, insofar as existence is a struggle for the experience of meaningfulness, of meaning fulfilled." [Hughes 1993:74]
"...if we analyze the search for equivalent experiences engendering equivalent symbolisms, we are driven to conclude that the sought-for constant lies below the equivalent experiences that engender the equivalent symbolisms. This constant may be symbolized as the 'depth,' but 'it does not furnish a substantive content in addition to our experiences of God, man, the world, and society, of existential tension, and of participation.' That is, the 'depth' is not an area whose topography may be charted by various scientific discourses. Then, what is it? We have seen that it is not a reality experienced in addition to those just indicated. Nor is it a 'perspective' on the field of reality as a whole' rather, it indicates, to use Plato's language in the Timaeus, the underlying reality that makes God and man, world and society, partners in a common order, the core experience of which is trust in the oneness of reality, in its coherence, lastingness, and intelligibility. 'There is a depth below consciousness,' Voegelin said, 'but there is no depth below depth in infinite regress.' Accordingly, the depth yields up no permanent truths but only equivalent experiences of the primordial field of reality.

"We may formulate this insight another way: there is no constant in history because the field of equivalent experiences and symbols is not an object or a collective phenomenon about which generalizations might be offered. New insights or new truths are not new realities superior in some way to old ones; they are superior insights into the same reality. What the search for constancy brings up from the depth is the process of reality in the mode of presence in consciousness that

"'Leaves a trail of equivalent symbols in time and space. To this trail we can, then, attach the conventional name of 'history.' History is not a given, as we have said, but a symbol by which we express our experience of the collective as a trail left by the moving presence of the process [Voegelin, "Equivalences of Experience and Symbolization"].'"
[Cooper 1986:211-212]


"Term adopted by Voegelin from John A. Wilson (The Intellectual Adventure of Ancient Man) for the sensed underlying unity of reality, the common participation of all levels of being in the tension of existence toward transcendental (q.v.) perfection." [Webb 1981:279]
"Human experience of transcendent reality presupposes an affinity between the experiencing soul and the experienced reality. This affinity is called 'consubstantiality.'" [Voegelin, "Supplementary Notes for Students in Jurisprudence Course" in CW 27:79]

Cosmological myth

(see also Primary Experience of the Cosmos)
"The cosmological myth is the form within which early humanity, both nonliterate and literate, organized its sense of reality. By narrating stories of how the ordered whole (the universe, we might say) came into being and gained its present shape, early people oriented themselves in the world... (p. 16)

"Prehistoric religion, in Voegelin's terms, was an effort to integrate oneself with the cosmos. Much of the religion of historical humanity has been the same. Indeed, prior to modernity, virtually all peoples who had not made revelation or philosophy the soul of their culture retained as a primary religious goal harmony with nature... (p. 20)

"Intrinsic to Voegelin's notion of the cosmological myth is the sense that all of the participants share in the same single substance of the universal whole. Simply by existing and having a place on the map of reality, they become partners, partakers, of the one stream of existence or being or life... (p.22)

"To speak of the cosmological myth is to imply a holistic relationship with nature. The peoples we have glanced at stand for countless generations of premodern human beings whose basic outlook was holistic. They thought, felt, worried, exulted, and all the rest without dividing themselves into an intellectual part and an emotional part, without dividing nature into widely separated strata of plants, animals, humans, and gods...

"..Prior to modernity, and with significant qualifications for revelational and philosophical peoples, fitting into the cosmic whole, being in tune with the cosmic force, was the matter to which most people turned their attention. The basic goal of cosmological peoples, in other words, was being true to, living out, their deep conviction that the world was a living whole...

"Harmony and power, then, nail down the corners of the cosmological religious map. In India, China, and other Eastern cultural areas, the Hindu, Buddhist, Confucian, and Taoist religious complexes rose atop an older cosmology. Indeed, Voegelin thinks that the Eastern sages, for all their acuteness about human psychology, never really broke with the cosmological myth... Nature has always been so comprehensive or atmospheric a reality that the notion of living within nature as part of an all-embracing system of vital forces has never receded very far. The Indian yogis might learn the pathways to deepest inner self-possession (samadhi). The Chinese social thinkers might work out the intricate relations between goodness (jen) and ritual (li). But seldom if ever did they move away from their assumptions about the cosmic whole to let the transcendent possibilities in these achievements fully flower. Seldom, in other words, did they articulate what the creative power might be in itself, apart from its embodiment in this specific, perhaps contingent, world." (pp. 43-44) [Carmody 1987:16, 20, 22, 43-44]


"In Voegelin's usage, the whole of ordered reality including animate and inanimate nature and the gods. (Not to be confused with the modern conception of `cosmos' as the astrophysical universe.) Encompasses all of reality, including the full range of the tension of existence toward the transcendental. Noetic and pneumatic differentiations of consciousness separate this cosmos into the immanent `world' and the transcendent `divine ground.'" [Webb 1981:279]
"...what Voegelin refers to as the 'cosmos' of the primary experience was not itself an object of cosmological mythic thought, and it does not represent simply another entity. It is indeed a mythic symbol, but one arising only from philosophical reflection on the primary experience. The Greek kosmos means 'the ordered Whole of reality,' which is rather a recondite concern: the common matrix assumed 'behind' the variegated things of experience. The conception cosmos thematizes 'the background of reality against which all existent things exist,' and as such it is an image created by philosophers articulating their 'trust in the underlying oneness of reality, its coherence, lastingness, constancy of structure, order, and intelligibility...'; it specifies the unifying depth from which all specific things stand out as foreground. Describing it in this fashion, we can identify it as an early, semimythical, and semiphilosophical figuration of the ground that is recognized, in more differentiated consciousness, to be beyond all finite, existing things. In other words, cosmos, in Voegelin's use, is a consciously anachronistic but exegetically necessary symbol representing what, for the primary experience of reality, is an originating ground of things as yet known and felt only in, or among, the diverse field of spatiotemporal things." [Hughes 1993 47-48]
"When, in the Ecumenic Age, the cosmological order of empire disintegrated, the truth of revelation and philosophy was to become fatal to the intracosmic gods. Their disappearance from the cosmos `set a de-divinized nature free to be explored by science' (4:8). Science so thoroughly isolated `nature' that the terms `cosmos' and `universe' have become synonyms. The only cosmos we know is the astrophysical universe with all that is in it. Our dictionaries define `cosmos' as `the universe as an ordered whole or system.' This fits the original Greek meaning of `cosmos' as `order' and especially `world order,' but the modern conception lacks what the ancient one had: the view that this order is divine and divinely created. For us, the presence of the universe is a fact, no more. Only some philosophers still ask why there is anything at all and not rather nothing, why things have to be the way they are and not different. Leibniz was the first to make the question explicitly, but the problem is as old as myth, if `a myth is an intracosmic story that explains why things are as they are' (4:224). "One does not bother to explain unless there is something that needs explaining. What needs explaining is the sheer fact of existence, since existence is embedded in nonexistence. Things come into existence and must go out of existence; their lasting is a passing. To exist in passing lastingness is `the primary experience of reality as a tension between existence and non-existence,' `the tension of existence out of non-existence (4:73-74). The problem thus has two aspects. One is the aspect of existence, and the question is why things are as they are. The other aspect is that of the coming into existence, and the question is why and how things came to be in the first place, in the Beginning." [Gregor Sebba, "Prelude and Variations on the Theme of Eric Voegelin" in Sandoz 1982:56-57]
"In the Timaeus, Plato developed the differentiated context of experience and symbolization into which the Hesiodian and Parmenidean concern with the being things, with ta eonta, has to be placed. The dominant symbol expressing the experience of reality now shifts from to eon to to pan, to the All (27C). As synonyms are admitted 'the whole (pas) Cosmos or Uranos'--or 'any other name by which it prefers to be called' (28 B). This All is a 'Living Being' (zoon), comprising all other living beings, including gods and men, within it. As a Living Being it consists of an intelligible structure, the Nous, formatively invested in a life force, the Psyche, which in its turn is embodied in materials accessible to sense perception, in the Soma. The complex of Nous-in Psyche-in Soma symbolizes the structure of cosmic reality, regarding the comprehending All as well as its parts (30 B).

"The quest for truth is concerned with the genesis and structure of the All, and above all with the question whether it is created or uncreated (28 C). The change in the dominant symbol, thus, is accompanied by a transition from Hesiod's biologically successive generations to a demiurgic, creational act. Plato experiences his Cosmos, the All, as an imposition of order (taxis) on a state of primordial disorder (ataxia), as an intelligible work of ordering craftsmanship operating on disorderly materials (30A). Accordingly, the Cosmos, to pan, can neither be a biological unfolding of compact ta eonta, nor a radically differentiated to eon, but has to consist of something that is always being (to on aei) and never has genesis together with a something else that is always becoming (to gignomenon aei) and never has being (27D-28A). It is a composite of nongenetic being and nonbeing genesis, both components characterized by the adverb aei as lasting or everlasting. [Voegelin OH 5:88]


"[Hughes 1993] makes continuous intriguing reference to Heidegger as the closest parallel to Voegelin's enterprise of moving away from the model of subject-object as the metaphor for human knowledge and existence. Within this context Voegelin can appear as a deconstructionist who is as critical as the best of them of the authority of 'objective' knowing. The difference, as Hughes goes on to point out, is the significantly more elaborate philosophy of consciousness which is now being echoed by Derrida's recent reflections on the mystical sources of authority, is Voegelin's recognition of the givenness of the knowledge of order through participation within it." [Walsh 1995]


"Voegelin's term for the loss of culture. He interprets culture as a process in which soul and character are formed through experiences of transcendence and the virtues (such as faith, love, hope, reason) inherent in 'open existence'. Equivalent to 'deformation', but with greater emphasis on the social aspects of the process." [Webb 1981:279]

De-divinization of the world

"A decisive consequence of the leap in being, whether occurring in the pneumatic or noetic mode--through revelation or through philosophy..." succeeding the cosmos of the primary experience. " The new locus of the divine is a "beyond" of existence, a reality experienced as transcending the visible reality. The structure of being itself thereby changes through dissociation and now receives the spatial-metaphorical linguistic indices, immanent and transcendent. The new task faced is relating man's existence, in a world now free of gods, to the divine Ground of being 'located' in the beyond of transcendence. It is at least in part to meet this demand that Greek philosophy developed the symbol participation, in Plato methexis, Aristotle metalepsis.

"Through the experience of transcendent Being symbolized in revelation and philosophy, men gain release from the old imperial order in the cosmological form." [Sandoz 1981:155]


"Voegelin's term for the destruction of the order of the soul, which should be 'formed' by (i.e., should receive its vital principle from) the love of transcendental perfection inherent in the fundamental tension of existence." [Webb 1981:279]


"The constant that will justify the language of equivalent experiences and symbols must be sought on a level deeper than the level of equivalent experiences which engender equivalent symbols.

"This deeper level has indeed been discerned by thinkers who carefully observed the process by which they arrived at more differentiated experiences engendering more differentiated symbols than the symbolisms prevalent at their time. Still compactly the depth is present in the pre-Socratic imitations of the sameness of being and thinking, and of the logos of discourse with the logos of being. On a more differentiated level, the observation of the process has induced Heraclitus, Aeschylus, and Plato to develop the symbol of a 'depth' of the soul from which a new truth of reality can be hauled up to conscious experience; and their symbol of the 'depth' has been preserved as an insight, through a long chain of equivalents, to the contemporary depth psychologies and psychologies of the unconscious. This depth of the soul, however, is experienced by the Hellenic thinkers as a depth beyond articulate experience. It can be expressed by the symbol 'depth,' but it does not furnish a substantive content in addition to our experiences of God, man, the world, and society, of existential tension, and of participation. Hence, we must avoid the fallacy of imagining the depth as an area whose topography can be explored by a science not bound by the limits of our experienced truth of reality." [Voegelin, "Equivalences of Experience and Symbolization in History" in CW 12:123-124]

"The symbol 'depth' indicates a stage in the exegesis of an experience that can be reached only if thought is critically attentive to itself. Only if thought is attentive to every step in articulating an experience will it penetrate to the depth beyond consciousness; if it is inattentive, the symbols engendered by earlier stages will turn into hypostases and block the process. "That journey's end has been reached for the search is the first insight to result from the descent. There is a depth below consciousness, but there is no depth below depth in infinite regress. As the depth, however, renders no truth but the equivalent experiences of the primordial field of reality, the search for a substantive constant of history that would be exempt from the status of an equivalent must be dismissed as fallacious." [Voegelin, "Equivalences of Experience and Symbolization in History" in CW 12:128-129]


"Constructive exchange of thoughts. The characteristic mode of inquiry of genuine philosophy or noesis. Characterized by critical reflectiveness and 'openness'. [Webb 1981:279]


"Voegelin's term for consciousness in which the distinguishable features of a previously 'compact' field of experience are noticed as distinct." [Webb 1981:279]

Differentiation of consciousness

"Voegelin's general phrase for the process by which the discernible features of consciousness as such and its objects are noticed and given expression. May have either noetic or pneumatic emphases. Especially refers to the development of a sense of the distinction between transcendent and immanent, e.g., between truth as such and particular truths, the good as such and particular goods, the transcendental divine ground and the world of immanence. The transcendental pole that is differentiated serves as a point of orientation that orders or structures consciousness." [Webb 1981:279-280]
"When a new differentiation occurs, the area of reality newly articulated will be understood as an area of particular importance; and the overrating of its importance amidst the joy of discovery may lead to the neglect of other areas of reality that were contained in the earlier compact experience but now are neglected. The most important such event of neglect has occurred in the modern age in the wake of the newly differentiated natural sciences." [Voegelin AR:109]


"Justice (considered as a quality of a person), righteousness." [Webb 1981:280]


"Justice, order, law, right." [Webb 1981:280]

Divine, the

(see: Reality, Divine)

Divine, language of

"With respect to the nonhuman aspect of what he describes as the human-divine participation of consciousness, Voegelin is at pains to explain that such terms as the divine, the ground, and so on, are no more than analogical symbols representing the mysterious origin of things. The language of 'the divine' is that of refined analogical symbols derived from myth; the language of 'the ground' is one of analogical speculative symbols. Both of them convey the understanding that our own origin is something mysteriously 'beyond' the range of finite things; their difference lies in the evocation, on the part of the myth-derived language, of an ultimate or ulterior conscious purposiveness. Why does Voegelin, who uses the two types of language interchangeably, feel justified as a philosopher in using the myth-derived language of 'the divine'?

"He might say that in answering these questions it is again helpful to look at the Platonic-Aristotelian breakthroughs. First of all, as we have seen, when the ground first comes into view with the Greeks as a transcendent formative origin, it does so as an ordering Intellect. The language of 'the divine' merely reflects analogically our experience of intellect as conscious and purposive. Further, this is not an intellectual discovery that occurs in an affective vacuum, but rather takes place under particular conditions of existential disposition, which Plato has described and dramatized with great poetic power in his dialogues. Plato specifies philia and eros, especially, as what Voegelin would call the 'concrete modes of the tension' in which the ground reveals itself as timeless being beyond cosmic process.

"Voegelin's emphasis on the participation of human consciousness in its own ground therefore bears crucial implications, as he takes pains to point out, for his conception of 'the divine.' 'The divine,' in Voegelin's philosophy, does not refer to a being, or a substance, that can be defined apart from a consideration of the activities of human consciousness. To be sure, 'the divine' refers to the transcendent ground of finitude and finite consciousness. But--Voegelin insists--this transcending reality is only encountered in its interpenetration with the temporal conditions of consciousness. Only through the discovery of itself as a tension of questioning engaged in transcending the conditions of finitude is consciousness able to discover 'the divine' as a dimension of reality distinct from 'the temporal world.' Such a discovery is therefore an act of dissociating, or differentiating, elements that are indissolubly one in the tension of consciousness. 'The divine' and 'the world' only become clearly distinct from each other when consciousness, which is somehow both at once, identifies them as the opposing limits of its own nature." [Hughes 1993:30-32]

Doctrine and the experience of mystery

"Professor Altizer, if I understand him correctly, identifies `Christianity' with the Christian dogma and is therefore inclined to attribute to my pursuit of `the mystery' an originality which I must modestly decline. There were always Christian thinkers who recognized the difference between experiences of divine reality and the transformation of the insights engendered by the experience into doctrinal propositions. The tension between theologia mystica and theologia dogmatica goes as far back as the Patres...

"As far as my own vocabulary is concerned, I am very conscious of not relying on the language of doctrine, but I am equally conscious of not going beyond the orbit of Christianity when I prefer the experiential symbol `divine reality' to the God of the Creed...

"Having brought the larger range of Christian thought to attention, I can now heartily agree with Professor Altizer in his attribution of a guilt to `Christianity.' It is the guilt of Christian thinkers and Church leaders of having allowed the dogma to separate in the public consciousness of Western civilization from the experience of `the mystery' on which its truth depends. The dogma develops as a socially and culturally necessary protection of insights experientially gained against false propositions; its development is secondary to the truth of experience. If its truth is pretended to be autonomous, its validity will come under attack in any situation of social crisis, when alienation becomes a mass phenomenon; the dogma will then be misunderstood as an `opinion' which one can believe or not, and it will be opposed by counter-opinions which dogmatize the experience of alienated existence. The development of a nominalist and fideist conception of Christianity is the cultural disaster, with its origins in the late Middle Ages, that provokes the reaction of alienated existence in the dogmatic form of the ideologies, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The result is the state of deculturation with which we are all too familiar from our daily talks with students who are caught in the intellectual confusion of a debate that proceeds, not by recourse to experience, but by position and counter-position of opinion. Once truth has degenerated to the level of true doctrine, the return from orthodoxy to `the mystery' is a process that appears to require as many centuries of effort as have gone into the destruction of intellectual and spiritual culture." [Voegelin, CW 12:293-295]


"Voegelin's term for conflict over opinions; motivated by philodoxy." [Webb 1981:280]


"Opinion, judgment. In Greek philosophy, an inferior grade of knowledge as compared with episteme (q.v.). In Parmenides, the realm of particular phenomena as compared with true being. In Plato, knowledge of the sensory world as compared with knowledge of ideas. Voegelin uses the term particularly to refer to externalizing conceptions." [Webb 1981:280, also see Voegelin NSP:30]
"Voegelin emphasizes here [OH2:214-217] that the doxai in Parmenides must not be interpreted as false propositions or untruths, but rather as the ever-inadequate starting point, and periodic resting point, for the search for truth that can never end in true propositions. Within the confines of limited knowing in this world the many doxai are true, but compared to the one transcendent truth of being they appear as delusion. Parmenidean doxa is equivalent to the eikos mythos, the 'likely myth' in Plato's late work, whereas in Socrates' speech doxa is often reduced to appearance or mere opinion that is fervently denounced. In chap. 4 when we look at Voegelin's later theological work we shall see that this Parmenidean tension between delusion-truth is related to his understanding of faith-reason. Faith is the fundamental grasp of the whole of reality that reason is always in search of; reason is always attempting to understand what faith beholds. The search for truth in one's doxa is equivalent to the fides quarens intellectum of St. Anselm. In Voegelin this tension is also closely related to the noetic-pneumatic structure of experience whereby the intentional direction of consciousness in the world of things yields to the luminous direction of consciousness that envisions nonthing reality." [Morrissey 1994:271-27]

Doxic thinking

"In Voegelin's use, thinking that tends to focus on a doxa and to confuse the model with the reality it symbolically represents." [Webb 1981:280]


"A descriptive (not analytical) account of opinions." [Webb 1981:280]


"Voegelin's term for the voluntary, perverse closure of consciousness against reality; a state that may become habitual and unconscious, but never entirely free from the pressure of reality and the anxiety produced by the attempt to evade it. Equivalent to `closed existence.'" [Webb 1981:280]


"The term ecumene, which refers to the humanly inhabited globe, signals an important breakthrough in the self-understanding of people living in this time [the ecumenic age]. The term appears in two separate contexts. It means first of all, the pragmatic ecumene which refers to the unification of all people, actual or potential, by imperial conquest, as in Polybius. It also can refer to the spiritual ecumene which refers to the unification of all humankind under one spiritual force [OH4: on the pragmatic ecumene see pp. 117-133, on the spiritual ecumene see pp. 134-144]. For example. spreading the gospel throughout the world was for Paul the spiritual equivalent of the pragmatic expansion of empires effected by their conquering armies. It led to the rise of Christianity as a new ecumenic religion in the West. In the third century in the East, Mani attempted to found another ecumenic religion based on his eclectic teachings which would have no regional limitations. And in the seventh century Mohammed attempted to combine religion with imperialism in the quest for the true ecumenic religion. The struggle for ecumenic truth, both spiritual and political, began its long course of human affliction on the battlefields of imperial expansion." [Morrissey 1994:98]
"The `ecumene' may be seen as a cosmological symbol that was redefined under the impact of the changes that occurred in the Ecumenic Age. The original term oikoumene, found in the Homeric epics, was part of a symbolism that linked it as a twin to the term okeanos. Oikoumene meant the inhabited world, the earth on which humanity dwells and from which it draws sustenance, while okeanos referred to a `horizon' marking the boundary between human habitation and the world beyond. Okeanos symbolized the penumbra of mystery separating life on earth from death and the gods. As the presuppositions on which this symbolism rested were destroyed, the concept of the ecumene was retained, but its meaning altered; a fragmentation of symbolism corresponded to the alienation of power and spirit we have previously seen. To Polybius, for example, writing in the second century B.C.E., the ecumene is the power field that is the scene of imperial conquest. It is simply a territory, the known inhabited area that can be made the object of imperial organization. In this pragmatic conception, what okeanos symbolized is completely eliminated, and the ecumene is reduced to a geographical expanse. The ecumenic religions, however, also possessed a concept of the ecumene, which reinvested it with a transcendent horizon. The religious ecumene was the potential range of converts (all of those currently living), and the assumption was that conversion would unify the ecumene regardless of what other differences remained. [OH 4:207-209]

"Both concepts had their deficiencies, but the pragmatic ecumene was particularly defective. The unity provided by conquest was, as we have seen, only a spurious one, and the conquest never succeeded in attaining its goal... In establishing an order transcending empire, the ecumenic religions solved this dilemma in principle, but the solution was compromised by their own ecumenic ambitions, which also were frustrated. They, too, found the ecumene a larger field than any one of them was able successfully to penetrate, and they encountered the further problem that ecumenicity is not identical with universality. Those man and women who inhabit the earth at any one time do not comprise the entirety of the human race; their predecessors and successors must also be taken into account...

"Ultimately the development of the ecumenical symbolism converges with historical consciousness. History becomes the substitute to take the place of okeanos. The combination of universal humanity and the process of reality become an equivalent to the obsolete oikoumene/okeanos [OH 4:308]." [Keulman 1990:149-150]

Ecumenic age

"According to Voegelin, the distinguishing feature of the Ecumenic Age is the fundamental division that emerged during this time between the temporal and the spiritual poles of existence. Under the pressures of imperial conquest the compact society of the cosmological empires differentiated into a society ordered by pragmatic and spiritual domains. With the attempt to encompass human reality under one umbrella... the essence of humanity is called into question by those who reflect on the new events. The emphasis of the question of order shifts from the political realm to the spiritual realm. This is so because 'the carriers of spiritual order tend to separate from the societies of their origin because they sense the unsuitability of the concrete society as a vessel for the universality of the spirit.' [OH4: 117] The new events require a new interpretation of the meaning of order and the meaning of the human being. From the disintegration of whole societies, explains Voegelin, 'new experiences of order, new symbolisms for their articulation, and new enterprises for their institutionalization were developed.' [OH4:134] In inchoate form, church and state began to emerge...

"So the pragmatic and the spiritual ecumenes, though distinct, were closely intertwined. The process by which these two ecumenic orders arose can be more clearly depicted in the following developments:

"1. There was the rise and fall of successive empires... which transformed the political landscape of the ethnic societies they overran into a sea of 'senseless misery...' Furthermore, there was a dearth of spiritual substance to unify the new social form because of the absence of a coherent cultural base.

"2. ...Out of this groundswell of turmoil a new realm emerged in which order was experienced. Since it could no longer be found in society, spiritual order was pursued independently from the political realm in personal existence. This contraction provided the fertile soil for the spiritual outbursts and the growth of religions. The one feature these spiritual outbursts held in common was the symbol of a universal humankind, conceived initially by prophets, mystics, and philosophers...

"3. This bifurcation of the pragmatic and the spiritual realms also promoted the alienation of consciousness from reality, as exemplified by gnosticism and apocalypticism. Given the meaninglessness and misery of history, it was easy to conclude that history itself is evil and needs to be overcome by escaping into another world away from this world...

"4. As ecumenic self-understanding developed, there emerged a missionary impulse among the philosophers and religious leaders who saw themselves as representatives of a truth valid for all humankind. What followed was a convergence of their aspirations with the pragmatic aspirations of the empire builders. The coincidence seemed providential. The purpose of an empire was to facilitate the spread of philosophical and religious truth to humankind. This is seen in the Stoic and Christian attitude toward the Roman Empire, which eventually reciprocated the embrace by adopting Stoicism as its philosophy and Christianity as its ecumenic religion. However, as already intimated, this reconciliation between pragmatic and spiritual order, which once again gave history a meaning, was won at a price. Because scripture and doctrine tended toward the objectification of truth they were liable to sever it from its experiential ground. For now the resulting dangers need only be recalled by name: hypostatization, dogmatization, relativization, secularization, egophanic revolt." [Morrissey 1994:97-99]

"[The Ecumenic Age] commences with the conquest of Media by the Persian Cyrus in 550 B.C.E. and extends to the disintegration of the Roman Empire in the sixth century C.E. The era thus begins and ends with imperialism, and empire-building is the central theme of its history. One after another, a succession of empires rise and fall, transforming the political landscape almost beyond recognition. In each instance, the imperial impulse appears, and a small, previously inconsequential society expands, mainly by force, into a huge multicivilizational structure. In the process, the traditional forms of political order are shattered...

"The perplexing factor about these empires was not merely their destructiveness; they also possessed little of an affirmative character to substitute for the societies they annihilated. In this sense, they were not societies at all. They lacked ethical substance because they had not coherent cultural basis... The only authentic purpose that was to be found in them was expansion, but expansion per se is hardly an adequate basis for a society. A certain dynamic in imperial expansion provided an answer of sorts to the problem of meaning, but it was not actually satisfactory. In every instance the expansion eventually came up against insurmountable natural limits, fell short of unifying the known world, and retracted. Eventually, therefore, the problem of meaning had to be confronted.

"The impact of this confrontation was profound. Entire societies were cast into the void. Not only did individual empires have little clearly defined identity and purpose, but the process of imperialism, the longer it continued, seemed pointless. The victims were increasingly left with a sense that history is a succession of events that lead nowhere. The result, typically, was that the realm in which order was sought contracted sharply. Since it could not be discovered in society, it was pursued independently of politics in personal life. This provided a fertile soil for the growth of religion, and explains why the Ecumenic Age was so extraordinarily fertile as the birthplace of religions. But it also promoted the alienation of many from reality, as exemplified by gnosticism and apocalypticism. From the meaninglessness of history it was not a major step to the conclusion that life itself is evil and must be overcome, and this was a step that more than a few were inclined to take.

"Such a loss of balance, however, was not inevitable. Not everyone fell victim to it, and gradually devices were developed to protect against it... The process of creating such protection was central to the development of the ecumenic religions, especially Judaism and Christianity. It entailed, on the one hand, the creation of scripture as a fixed corpus of sacred literature and, on the other, the elaboration of dogma as the authoritative interpretation of religious truth. The assumption was that, together, scripture and dogma would stabilize the truth revealed in the unique events of revelation, and that it could be passed on in a relatively integral form to persons well removed from the original revelation. A similar process took place in philosophy... Philosophy as well became doctrine ... [OH 4:36-43]

"...An ecumenical self-understanding developed among both philosophers and religious leaders: They perceived themselves as representatives of a truth valid for all, and acquired a missionary impulse. As this developed, they became sensitive to the parallel between their aspirations and those of the empire-builders, and they were led to the conclusion that this convergence was more than coincidence. It was providential: The purpose of empire had been to prepare the ground for the spread of religious and philosophical truth... [OH 4:134-137

"This linkage of pragmatic and religious history, in turn, facilitated the embrace of philosophy and the ecumenic religions by the empires. The eventual result of the marriage was ecumenic society--an entirely new social form that represented at least a measure of reconciliation between secular and religious order. This achievement was won, however, at a price, as has been indicated. The devices developed in the Ecumenic Age to safeguard an understanding of the meaning of human nature had the capacity to play another role. Because they tended to objectify this understanding, they were liable to cut it off from its experiential foundations. This entailed the risk of reducing the understanding to the status of a mere opinion that could be accepted or rejected as a matter of personal preference. [OH 4:43-44]

"This risk has been fully realized in recent history, and goes a long way toward accounting for the intellectual confusion of modernity. Much of the history of the modern period consists of a revolt against the symbols inherited from the Ecumenic Age. The meaning of these symbols was deformed through theological and metaphysical dogmatism. By adding more doctrine, however, the modern revolt only succeeded in compounding the problem, so that contemporary errors were stacked on top of medieval ones. The net result is a great block of accumulated symbols that serve only to eclipse reality. [OH 4:58]" [Keulman 1990:144-146]

"In the age of the first ecumenical empires, the first politico-spiritual realms that thought of themselves as worldwide in principle, the cosmological myth moved from essentially local overtones to nearly universal overtones. The rise of civilizations had changed the connotations of reality from the prehistoric human beings' sense of the force field of nature, the system of plants-animals-humans-gods, as experienced in one's local geography, to the more political field of one's enlarged social context, one's urbanized and then imperialized land-and-group. The new ecumenical empires, whose impetus to expand and conquer had no natural limitation, considerably extended this politicization of reality. In their new horizon of the whole inhabited world, the system of plants, animals, human beings, and gods grew dramatically more vast.

"The differentiation one can see takes the line from small tribe, dominating and naming a small patch of territory; to larger city unit, dominating more territory and developing a richer culture; to empire potentially universal, enlisting or conscripting very diverse lands and people, with their perhaps new species of plants, animals, and gods... What originally had been a compact little ball of meaning was in each case rolled out, extended, to serve many more instances...

"Despite this differentiation, Persia and the other ecumenic realms remained outside the perspectives of revelation, philosophy, and modernity, with the partial exception of Greece, where philosophy essentially broke the comprehensiveness of the natural cosmos. Designations at this point are not hard and fast, but in Persia, Rome, and much of Greece, nature or the physical world continued to appear as a single living whole..." [Carmody 1987:39-40]


"Voegelin's term for the tendency of an imperial order (one that embraces a number of particular societies) to seek to attain genuine `universality' by extending its political domination throughout the ecumene (the full range of territory available for such domination)." [Webb 1981:280]


"Husserl's term for that which pertains to the ego or to egology, which is the study of the ego considered as pure consciousness (all other aspects of the thinking individual being `bracketed,' i.e., placed outside consideration, in accord with phenomenological method)." [Webb 1981:280]


A misconstruction of the tension of existence which "consists in eliminating the tension itself and wanting to transform it into a completely resolved possession of wisdom." [Voegelin, "Meditative Origin..." in Lawrence 1984:43]

Eikos mythos

"Likely or probable tale. In Plato, a myth that serves as an analogy for what ultimately lies beyond human comprehension." [Webb 1981:280]


"The Beyond." [Webb 1981:281]


"Theoretical knowledge. In Greek philosophy, true knowledge, as compared with doxa. In Voegelin, knowledge that is the explication of genuine philosophical experience; especially, experiential knowledge of existence as ordered by the love of transcendental perfection of being. Equivalent to theoria." [Webb 1981:281]

Equivalences of experience and symbolization

"In Voegelin, the principle that two symbolisms are equivalent, despite differences of individual form, if they refer recognizably to the same structures in reality." [Webb 1981:281]
"This theory of equivalence was an attempt to overturn the conventional theory of values which dominates the contemporary intellectual scene. The myriad symbols generated throughout human history can no longer be considered as disparate expressions of various cultural experiences relative to one another, but as the multifaceted manifestation of the one search for the divine ground. And so, for Voegelin, the basis of a comparative study of symbols becomes a search for the constants of experience, one constant being the search itself which has been going on for millennia." [Morrissey 1994:84]
"When we engage in comparative studies concerning ancestor cults, initiation ceremonies, coronation rituals, the myths of life eternal or the judgment of the dead in various societies, we do not talk about 'values' but speak of 'equivalent' cults, ceremonies, rites, and myths. Moreover, in doing so we are aware of the differences between the symbols and we know that the sameness which justifies the language of 'equivalences,' thus, implies the theoretical insight that not the symbols themselves but the constants of engendering experience are the true subject matter of our studies.

"What is permanent in the history of mankind is not the symbols but man himself in search of his humanity and its order. Though the issue can be stated clearly and simply, its implications are vast. For a comparative study, if it goes beyond registering the symbols as phenomena and penetrates to the constants of engendering experience, can be conducted only by means of symbols which in their turn are engendered by the constants of which the comparative study is in search. The study of symbols is a reflective inquiry concerning the search for the truth of existential order; it will become, if fully developed, what is conventionally called a philosophy of history." [Voegelin, "Equivalences of Experience and Symbolization in History" in CW 12:115-116]

"The trust in the Cosmos and its depth is the source of the premises--be it the generality of human nature or, in our case, the reality of the process as a moving presence--that we accept as the context of meaning for our concrete engagement in the search of truth. The search for truth makes sense only under the assumption that the truth brought up from the depth of his psyche by man, though it is not the ultimate truth of reality, is representative of the truth in the divine depth of the Cosmos. Behind every equivalent symbol in the historical field stands the man who has engendered it in the course of his search as representative of a truth that is more than equivalent. The search that renders no more than equivalent truth rests ultimately on the faith that, by engaging in it, man participates representatively in the divine drama of truth becoming luminous." [Voegelin, "Equivalences of Experience and Symbolization in History" in CW 12:133]


"From Greek eris: strife. In Plato, contentious reasoning, characteristic of philodoxy. The opposite of `dialectic.'" [Webb 1981:281]


"Desire, love, longing. Voegelin's use of the term, based on Plato's, does not refer (in the manner made popular by Freud) to specifically sexual desire, but to desire as such and especially to desire for the summum bonum implicit in all particular desires for limited goods. As such it is virtually equivalent in Voegelin's usage to the `tension of existence.'" [Webb 1981:281]


"Well-orderedness. In Voegelin's use, specifically existence ordered morally and cognitively by the tension of existence toward the pole of transcendental perfection of being." [Webb 1981:281]

Existential consciousness

"In Voegelin's use, the reflective self-awareness of human existence in the metaxy, i.e., between poles of immanence and transcendence, finitude and infinity, imperfection and perfection, and so on. See also `truth of existence,' `intentional consciousness.'" [Webb 1981:281]
Apparently equivalent to reflective distance, meditation, anamnesis, balance of consciousness, and apperception.


"In Voegelin, the process of transcendence. According to Voegelin `exodus from reality' (which would be escape from the tension of existence) is impossible; what is possible and is in fact the universal calling of humanity is `exodus within reality,' i.e., open existence in the metaxy oriented toward its transcendental pole." [Webb 1981:281]


"In Voegelin, a `luminous perspective' within the process of reality. Voegelin generally follows Aristotle's conception of experience (Met. A, 1) as more than sense data, but less than art or `science' in the sense of episteme." [Webb 1981:281]
"The range of experience is seen to be coextensive with the range of known reality and to be articulated in correlation with the several modes of reality: thingness--experienced through perception; nonexistent reality of consciousness itself--experienced as self-reflective participation in the In-Between; the divine reality of the Ground--experienced noetically as the actualizing Nous, pneumatically as the attracting pulling, drawing Creator-Savior God." [Sandoz 1981:179]

Experience, pure

"By James's account, consciousness as an entity does not exist. What exists as the world-stuff or reality is pure experience, of which knower and known are part and parcel. Thus, there is no material reality to which mind reality (or consciousness) can be contrasted. There is only the homogeneous reality of experience, the that immediately apprehended in the flux of existence as first taken in common experience. It is only be a second `taking' that `pure experience' is further experienced as object and subject, as know and knower, and identified through the other categories of conceptualization in a process of sorting and partitioning. The materia prima of pure experience, however, knows nothing of this whatness. But if consciousness is nonexistent as an entity, this is not to say that the word does not stand for something; and that something is a function. Thoughts do exist, and the function they serve in experience is knowing. Consciousness is the name for that function, for the experience `that things not only are, but get reported, are known.' But even this attenuated meaning of consciousness is spurned by James. is understood as `a kind of external relation, and does not denote a special stuff or way of being,' then the quality of being conscious of experiences can better be `explained by their relations--these relations themselves being [further] experiences--to one another.'

"What does this mean? It means that the primal stuff of `pure experience,' whose reality is immediately apprehended, is known through the relationships it immediately has with different `portions' of the pure experience. These relations are merely dimensions of a unified pure experience: `one of its `terms' becomes the subject or bearer of the knowledge, the knower, the other becomes the object known.' In other words, it is in the experience itself that reality and its interrelationships are known in the instant of its presence, at the level of pure experience; and this analysis applies to the thing known as well as to the subject who knows: the relationship of knowing and consciousness are, then, parts of the that of pure experience, and at least the latter is a superfluous term. Moreover, the analysis applies to nonperceptual experiences no less than to perceptual ones. `The instant field of the present is at all times what I call the `pure experience. It is only virtually or potentially either object or subject as yet. For the time being, it is plain, unqualified actuality, or existence, a simple that... The doubling of it in retrospection into a state of mind and a reality intended thereby, is just one of the acts.'" [Sandoz 1981:173-4]


"Experience is basic to all science. But the experience basic to noetic science is not primarily the perception of external things in phenomenal reality but the apperception of the structure and processes of the participatory reality of consciousness in existential tension to the Ground. In noetic science, experience so understood engenders the symbolisms that let it articulate itself. Experience-symbolism, thus, is a unit: without the experience there is no symbolism, without the symbolism no articulate experience. Both arise at one in the participatory search of the Ground, which differentiates the structure and process of consciousness-reality. The process of search or questing and its attendant symbolization of experience in the movement of differentiation stresses the cognitive and ontic perspective of participatory luminosity, in contrast to the subject-object dichotomy of science as knowledge of object intentionally investigated by the scientist on the model of natural science. That this is the reality of the process of search of the Ground in all its modes is strenuously urged on the basis of critical assessment of the vast source material. That noetic science has not, since antiquity, been so understood is the root of the derailment of philosophy into topical speculation after Aristotle--derailment that continues into the present." [Sandoz 1981:208]


"In chap. 4 when we look at Voegelin's later theological work we shall see that this Parmenidean tension between delusion-truth is related to his understanding of faith-reason. Faith is the fundamental grasp of the whole of reality that reason is always in search of; reason is always attempting to understand what faith beholds. The search for truth in one's doxa is equivalent to the fides quarens intellectum of St. Anselm. In Voegelin this tension is also closely related to the noetic-pneumatic structure of experience whereby the intentional direction of consciousness in the world of things yields to the luminous direction of consciousness that envisions nonthing reality." [Morrissey 1994:272]

Fides formata

"Formed faith. Aquinas's term for the adequate orientation of the soul toward God, not only through correct teachings about Him but also through His love experienced within the soul. According to Aquinas, it is love (caritas) that is the soul or vital principle of faith. A higher faith than fides informis, which, lacking love as its vital principle, is incomplete." [Webb 1981:241-242]

Fides informis

"Unformed faith. Aquinas's term for a proper but rudimentary orientation toward God through the teachings of the Church. A lower level of faith than fides formata." [Webb 1981:282]

Form, historical

"The newly manifested order is authoritative in nature. Now that the human race knows its place in this order it can look back and discover its past; the unity of the race from its origins to the present has become apparent. But equally apparent is the break in existence in time. Humanity has discovered the past as that which was, and is no more, and it has become aware of the open horizon of its future. But this discovery, while it gains a new truth about order, neither gains all of the truth nor establishes an ultimate order of mankind. The itinerary of humanity through time is an unfolding mystery: `[W]e neither know why mankind has a past nor do we know anything about its goal in the future.' [OH 2:5] As human life assumes its new historical form, the question, Where does history lead? arises by necessity and proves perplexing. We only know what has already happened. It is possible to make exiguous steps toward envisioning the future, but not to see its end or even the direction it will take. Only because we stand where we do can we conceive of the course of history as a scheme of directional progress. But this conception is an illusion." [Keulman 1990:87]
"The truth articulated by the Western historical form is not the circumscribed truth of a civilization, nor is it the equally parochial truth of one `higher religion' among others. It communicates, rather, the most profound experiences that have occurred to human beings throughout history. Its validity is universal. It is the representative character of the bearers of the truth of life for humanity that is the essential point. [Keulman 1990:103]

Form, social

"A society's form is the interpretation of institutions and experiences of order [cites OH I:60]. It becomes manifest in constellations of related symbols that literally constitute a society and order it in a distinctive way. A symbolic form of existence creates a society. In the process of being preserved and reaffirmed through ritual observances and reiterated experiences in the tradition of the founding experience, the symbolic form sustains the society. In this manner, a society attains and retains its cultural identity." [Keulman 1990:101-102]

Formation and foundation, order or principle of

Chart [CW 12:289]
Person Society History
Divine Nous ^
Psyche - Noetic      
Psyche - Passions      
Animal Nature      
Vegetative Nature      
Inorganic Nature      
Apeiron - Depth      
In discussing the chart on page 289: "The left vertical column lists the levels in the hierarchy of being from the Nous to the Apeiron. Man participates in all of them; his nature is an epitome of the hierarchy of being. The arrow pointing down indicates the order of formation from the top down [from Divine Nous through Psyche-Noetic, Psyche-Passions, Animal nature, Vegetative nature, Inorganic nature, to Apeiron-Depth]. The arrow pointing up indicates the order of foundation from the bottom up [the reverse of the order of formation].

"The top horizontal column lists the dimensions of man's existence as a person in society and history. The arrow pointing to the right indicates the order of foundation [person through society to history...

"Principle of formation and foundation. The order of formation and foundation must not be inverted or otherwise distorted, as for instance by its transformation into a causality working from the top or the bottom. Specifically, all constructions of phenomena on a higher level as epiphenomena of processes on a lower one, the so-called reductionist fallacies, are excluded as false. This rule, however, does not affect the conditioning causality which is the very essence of foundation. Neither are inversions of the order of foundation in the horizontal column permitted. Specifically, all 'philosophies of history' which hypostatize society or history as an absolute, eclipsing personal existence and its meaning, are excluded as false." [Voegelin, "Reason: The Classic Experience" in CW 12:290]

"the epiphany of structures in reality--be they atoms, molecules, genes, biological species, races, human consciousness, or language--is a mystery inaccessible to explanation." [Voegelin OH 5:17]
the Beyond is "experienced only in its formative presence, in its Parousia." [Voegelin OH 5:31]
The principle of formation is apparently equivalent to logos and reason.
The principle of formation and foundation is barely touched upon by Voegelin. An equivalent discussion comes from P.T. Raju's work on comparative philosophy. After discussing the Western, Indian, and Chinese traditions he concludes: "If we take all the three traditions together, we find three standpoints in philosophy: the inward, the outward, and the middle. As I have said, man's being has two dimensions or two directions, the inward and the outward. [I.e., man is in the In-Between, the metaxy]

"Both the inward and the outward are the directions of man and point to something beyond him: the importance of this truth has not been properly recognized. On the whole, the outward limit is treated as objective and therefore as the objective basis for philosophical explanation, and the inward as merely subjective. This attitude results in materialistic philosophies...

"With respect to value, philosophies that start from the inward limit fare better. The Supreme Spirit is higher than mind, mind higher than life, and life higher than matter. The higher the reality, the higher is its value; and if the highest is the only reality as in Sankara, then it is the only value. Spiritual philosophies then can identify and equate reality and value; and this identity is the motif of the Platonic and Neo-Platonic traditions. But now the problem is: How does the multiplicity come out of the unity? Generally spiritual philosophies maintain that the One is above reason, beyond our powers of understanding. But like a mischief-maker reason demands a rational derivation of the world from what is beyond reason. Reason here is inconsistent with itself, in that, while accepting that the One is beyond reason, it asks for a rational derivation from the One. However, an explanation similar to the one given in deriving the higher from the lower is given also for deriving the lower from the higher. For this also the word evolution is often used. But evolution in the two directions will be intrinsically different. One is evolution of the higher from the lower, of the inward from the outward, of unity from the plurality; the other is the evolution of the lower from the higher, of the outward from the inward, of plurality from unity. The plurality is an emanation, creation, manifestation out of the fullness of the One; just as the unity is an emergence, an evolution, a product, or even a resultant of the plurality. In the histories of the traditions, some philosopher other has accepted one of these views.

"But just as the approach from the limit of outwardness fails to do justice to the conception that ultimate reality is also ultimate value, the approach from the limit of inwardness fails to explain the rationality of the descending orders of being. In the history of philosophy the latter tended to lean towards, and encourage, supernaturalism and even superstition. Indeed, the universe is mysterious. But it is a rational and natural, not a supernatural and superstitious, mystery...

"So the world at every stage is a mystery. Yet it is a natural and rational mystery. Only we cannot abandon all attempts to understand it rationally because it is a mystery. It is as much a mystery that unity evolves out of plurality as that plurality evolves out of unity...

"Matter answers the best to the principle of fixed order. Hence the contention of contemporary physicalism that we should rebuilt our conception of the world in terms of physics. But the difficulty is that, unless we accept the higher realities beforehand, we cannot rebuild them simply with the help of the concepts of physics; much less can we rebuild with them the deeper inner experiences of man, which have an autonomy of their own. Yet, much of the rationality in the universe will be missed if we are content with the inward approach only. And the excesses of this approach are to be checked by the opposite approach and vice versa...

"Thus both the inward and the outward approaches can be made complementary to each other. The excesses and failures of each are checked and made up by the other." [Raju 1970:310-311, 314-316]

      Voegelin                             Raju
      Nous      Beyond    Formation        Inner   The One
      metaxy                               Middle
      Apeiron   Beginning Foundation       Outer   Material things


"Knowledge. Originally a general term in Greek for knowledge of various sorts. Later, especially with the Gnostic movement of the early Christian era, a purported direct, immediate apprehension or vision of truth without the need for critical reflection; the special gift of a spiritual and cognitive elite. According to Voegelin, the claim to gnosis may take intellectual, emotional, and volitional forms." [Webb 1981:282]


"A type of thinking that claims absolute cognitive mastery of reality. Relying as it does on a claim to gnosis, gnosticism considers its knowledge not subject to criticism. As a religious or quasi-religious movement, gnosticism may take transcendentalizing (as in the case of the Gnostic movement of late antiquity) or immanentizing forms (as in the case of Marxism)." [Webb 1981:282]


"God is a mythopoeic symbol arising from discernment of the transcendent pole of the participatory tension of existence that, through a single word or image, evokes 'the mystery that lets all meaningfully structured stories within the process [of reality] be experienced as substories of [a] comprehending story.' [OH 2:137; OH 5:82]" [Hughes 1993:112]


"That upon which something is founded. In the sense of the `divine ground,' Voegelin uses it to refer to the supreme, undefinable, transcendent reality which may be considered either as the source or origin (arche) of both the world and the metaxy or as `the Beyond' that forms existence by drawing it into participation." [Webb 1981:282]

"... the interdependence of nature bespeaks a common origin, a common 'ground,' from which things emerge. This 'ground,' as Voegelin calls it, is also a necessary 'ontological hypothesis': 'That being which is the ground of all experienceable particular being is an ontological hypothesis without which the experienced reality of the ontic nexus in human existence [;] rather it is always strictly transcendence that we can approach only through meditation.'

"Much shall be said in what follows about Voegelin's notion of the ground. But here is should be noted that the argumentation and language Voegelin uses in describing it in 1943 are very close to Kant's analysis of world (unity of nature) and God (ground of being) as transcendental 'Ideas,' pure concepts of reason, necessary for the coherence of our understanding of reality and for practical conduct, but not verifiable as objects. For Kant, only that which can be exhibited in sense experience can be considered an object of 'experience' and something of which one can claim 'objective knowledge'; clearly, something like the 'ground of being' would have to remain, for Kant, a pure concept (or 'ontological hypothesis'). While the Kantian influence on Voegelin's thinking is obvious, it is significant that Voegelin is noticeably shifting weight here to the experienceable origin of his hypothesis. Notice that he does not say we have no experience of the unity of nature or of the ground of being, but no experience of them as objects. There are Kantian presuppositions here in the implicit definition of 'object' as something conforming to the model of what is given to us in sense-perception, but there is also a clear break from Kant's restriction of 'experience' to that which can be incorporated within the conditions of sense-experience. Never in forty years of subsequent work did Voegelin attempt to revise or redefine the basic meanings of 'object' or 'objective knowing' in a way that would have made them the intentional correlates to experience. But nevertheless, during the course of his career he was increasingly willing to ascribe to experience, if not to 'objective experience,' involvement with whatever falls within the range of human wonder and concern. Here he speaks already somewhat inconsistently of the ground of being as both a hypothesis and as something 'meditatively experienced.'

"Voegelin here describes the content of such 'meditative experience' of the ground only to the extent of saying that at its climax 'the intention of consciousness is directed toward the contents of the world, not objectively, though the cogitata, but rather nonobjectively toward the transcendent ground of being.' Such meditation is, we are told, another aspect of the capacity of consciousness for self-transcendence, directed now toward what is 'strictly transcendence.' The origin or ground of being is what finite things invite us to recognize by virtue of their existences presupposing it. It is not a finite thing itself, but a Beyond, which finiteness bears witness to, and it 'cannot be drawn from that Beyond of finiteness into finiteness itself.' Meditative experiences acquaint us with the ground of being in its curious character as a Beyond that we experience as a Beyond." [Hughes 1993:17-19]

"...Voegelin is at pains to explain that such terms as the divine, the ground, and so on, are no more than analogical symbols representing the mysterious origin of things. The language of 'the divine' is that of refined analogical symbols derived from myth; the language of 'the ground' is one of analogical speculative symbols. Both of them convey the understanding that our own origin is something mysteriously 'beyond' the range of finite things; their difference lies in the evocation, on the part of the myth-derived language, of an ultimate or ulterior conscious purposiveness." [Hughes 1993:30]
"That being which is the ground of all experienceable particular being is an ontological hypothesis without which the experienced reality of the ontic nexus in human existence remains incomprehensible [see: depth], but it is nowhere a datum in human existence rather it is always strictly transcendence that we can approach only through meditation. It cannot be drawn from that Beyond of finiteness into finiteness itself. Our human finiteness is always within being. At one place, namely consciousness, this being has the character of illumination, but the illumination clings to this particular level; it illuminates neither the basic being of nature nor the ground of being." [Voegelin Anam:32-33]
"The ground is not a spatially distant thing but a divine presence that becomes manifest in the experience of unrest and the desire to know... [see: reality, Divine]

"The consciousness of questioning unrest in a state of ignorance becomes luminous to itself as a movement in the psyche toward the ground that is present in the psyche as its mover. The precognitive unrest becomes a cognitive consciousness, a noesis, intending the ground as its noema, or noeton; at the same time, the desire (oregesthai) to know becomes the consciousness of the ground as the object of desire, as the orekton (Met. 1072a26 ss). The ground can be reached in this process of thought and be recognized as the object desired by the meditative ascent through the via negativa: the ground is not to be found among the things of the external world, nor among the purposes of hedonistic and political action, but lies beyond this world. Plato has introduced the symbol of the beyond, the epekeina, into philosophical language as the criterion of the creative, divine ground (Rep. 508-509); and Aristotle speaks of the ground as 'eternal, immovable, and separate from the things of sense perception' (Met. 1073b27-31). Positively Plato identifies the One (to hen) that is present as the ground in all things as sophia kai nous (Phileb. 30c-e); and Aristotle identifies the actuality of thought (nou energeia) as the divine life eternal 'for that is what God is' (Met. 1072b27-31). The complex of the nous symbols thus covers all steps in the philosophers' exegesis of man's tension toward the ground of his existence. There is both a human and a divine nous, signifying the human and divine poles of the tension; there is a noesis and a noeton to signify the poles of the cognitive act intending the ground; and there is generally the verb noein to signify the phases of the movement that leads from the questioning unrest to the knowledge of the ground as the nous." [Voegelin Anam:95, 96]


"To draw, drag, pull. In Voegelin, the tension of existence when it is experienced as the power of attraction exercised by the transcendental. Correlative to zetein or zetesis." [Webb 1981:282]


"The search of the Ground in participation is structured by its insight into the hierarchical structure of reality and the self-reflective discovery of questioning reason of the range of participation as layered in ascending grades of greater reality from the physical to the spiritual, rational, and divine. The insight into the hierarchical structure-order of reality is, at the same time, an insight into the hierarchical structure-order of the psyche or consciousness of the self-reflective man whose composite nature is understood as the epitome of all the realms of being and whose specific nature is Nous. Further, Nous is identified both as the site of the experiences of participation in the Ground of being and also, somehow, as the same as the divine Ground experienced in Aristotle." [Sandoz 1981:204-205]


"...historiogenesis is any mythical construct that attempts to account for the origin and cause of society and its order. Since these speculative constructs correspond to the quaternarian structure of being (God, the human being, world, and society), taken together they are equivalent to a philosophy of being on the level of the cosmological myth. But from the standpoint of the Mosaic experience and the philosophic experience, with their understanding of human existence in its immediacy before God, their understanding of human existence in its immediacy before God, historiogenesis is to be seen as a more compact type of symbolism. History, in the strict sense Voegelin understands it, is a clear advance in differentiation beyond historiogenesis, insofar as the latter, by tying the human relation to God to membership in a society and its past, represents a distinctly mediated form of existence. Historiogenetic constructions are thus found in cultural orbits in which the personal being of the individual in the relation to transcendence has not yet fully disengaged from the compactness of the social collective.

"Spengler, Toynbee, and Jaspers (and even Voegelin in his earlier work) failed to unearth historiogenetic symbolisms because they did not penetrate to the experiential forces which motivate the construction of such lines of meaning in history, even though they were obviously incompatible with the empirical evidence. In its origin, historiogenesis is motivated by the anxiety aroused by the vicissitudes of imperial order, the breakdown of empire, and existential alienation. Under the impact of such anxiety the fabrication and manipulation of historical material is easily accounted for. In the age of imperial conquests the historiogenetic symbolists legitimize the new rule by letting it descend from the mythical beginning in an unbroken line. At the price of violating historical reality the new order is sublimated to 'the emergence of order in the cosmos, so that the events would have a meaning that made them worthy of transmission to posterity.' [OH4:59] Through this historical reconstruction that exacted only one line of descent, the imperial conquerors appropriated not only new territory but also the ancestry of the conquered.

"Accordingly, Voegelin came to view any historical construction as a historiogenetic enterprise whenever it attempts to contain historical elements on a single line of meaning while excluding others that do not fit...

"In fact, Voegelin began to realize that this mixing of history and cosmology was a 'millennial constant' which does not disappear as consciousness differentiates. Indeed, it persists even in our own time. Almost all philosophy of history is historiogenetic, including even the Pauline and Augustinian versions,...

"Voegelin came to view this type of manipulation of history as a gnostic enterprise (vestiges of which were present even in his own historiography) which had to be abandoned at all cost. The actual history of consciousness is much too complex and nonlinear to conform to a historian's chronological scheme. In rejecting the unacceptable symbolism of linear history and axis-time, Voegelin argues that, in principle, there can be no solution on the level of phenomena or events in history. One must ultimately return to the structure of consciousness itself. "So the emphasis of Voegelin's study now lies much more on the permanent and recurring features of human experience..." [Morrissey 1994:94-95]

"Historiogenesis is the technical term for a particular type of speculation that occurs in cosmological societies and that links events in pragmatic history with legendary and mythical events leading back to the beginning of the cosmic order. This blend of historiography, mythopoesis, and rational speculation is a complex symbolism that, in Voegelin's words, 'displays a curious tenacity of survival, from cosmological societies proper to contemporary Western societies,' where it reappears in the various speculations on the origin of history. Voegelin was certain he had discovered, in the form of historiogenesis, 'one of the great constants in the search of order from antiquity to the present' (OH, IV, 67). With this discovery, Voegelin had also found something that turned out to have far-reaching implications. Besides being a mytho-speculative symbolism on the origin of society, related to theogony, anthropogony, and cosmogony, historiogenesis connects the here and now of pragmatic history with the 'mystery of existence out of nothing.' The cosmos in which cosmological societies exist is a 'groundless' cosmos--that is to say, there is not yet an experience of a transcendent 'ground' beyond the cosmos (itself not an existent thing) that could kept the cosmos from falling, as it were, into the abyss of waste and corruption manifesting itself in the continuous breakdowns of order against which cosmological societies guard through a rich field of rituals. Historiogenesis, too, recognizes the irreversibility of time with which other cosmological symbolisms and their ritual expressions struggle, but its response to the experience of anxiety in a groundless cosmos bears far greater resemblance to medieval and modern theologies and philosophies of history by virtue of its resolute ordering of the records of reigns and events on a single time line. When Voegelin speaks of historiogenesis as a constant, he means precisely the 'obsession with unilinear history' that enabled him to call historiogenesis and the modern apocalypses of history equivalent symbolisms created to assuage the anxiety of existence.

"Another highly important characteristic of historiogenesis as a constant in the search of order is the result of its concern with irreversible time. What, in historiogenesis, takes on the form of a speculation on the origin of society is the equivalent of the speculation on the arche of being in Ionian philosophy and thus is to be understood as an act of reasoning. The fact that historiogenesis is a cosmological 'style of truth' tends to obscure this equivalence, but an experience of transcendence, though determining a new 'style of truth,' does not abolish the search for the ground of things, the process of reasoning. It differentiates the 'field of non-existence,' but it does not establish a 'beyond' that could be regarded as another thing outside man and the cosmos. The tension between existent things and the ground of existence will always be experienced and constitutes the common center of all symbolisms, whether they are mythical, revelatory, philosophical, or expressions of the modern revolt against transcendence." [Thomas A. Hollweck and Paul Caringella, "Editors' Introduction" in CW 28:xx-xxi]

"Term coined by Voegelin for the type of symbolism developed in speculation on the origin and cause of a society. Along with the other symbolisms of origin collectively (designated by the standard terms, anthropogony, cosmogony, and theogony), it is considered by Voegelin to be the mythic equivalent of a noetic quest for the ground of being." [Webb 1981:282]
"This enterprise [OH through vol. 3] ran aground on the reef of historiogenesis. Voegelin gradually realized that many societies, religions, thinkers, and politicians from ancient Sumeria to present-day Fourth of July speakers had symbolized history as a unilinear stream of meaning that began in a mythical past and culminated in their own existences. Apparently, there is a deep-seated urge in the human spirit to view the passage of time this way. Unhappily, history had to be falsified to get the lines of meaning to work. There was no cycle, no course of history such as The New Science had proclaimed. Voegelin feared that he had succumbed not only to Hegel, as his critics so often assert, but to a millennial temptation that had attracted many, including Augustine and the Deuteronomic Historian, to name two more Western giants. These were people not lightly to be dismissed. Nevertheless, Voegelin decided again that he had been trapped by the debris of idols, and he overthrew his program.

"This turn was not a rejection of the underlying principles of Order and History. There still was the 'process of reality that let its truth emerge into the luminosity of consciousness.' There still were compact and differentiated experiences. There still was the order that emerged in the advancing process of differentiation. However, things were not so simple as Voegelin previously had supposed. Now, he envisaged 'patterns of meaning' that look like a 'web,' and that had to be followed 'backward and forward and sideways.' In the Introduction to The Ecumenic Age, he began to do this kind of tracking and called attention to it, declaring that" 'The Introduction has introduced itself as the form which a philosophy of history has to assume in the present historical situation.' Eventually, he called the new analysis 'mediation,' explaining that it tried 'to clarify the formative center of existence ... and to protect this noetic center against the deformative forces prevalent at the time.' Thus the final shape of Voegelin's quest was meditative philosophy of history." [Rhodes 1992:621-647]

"[Voegelin] has discovered evidence of historical consciousness antedating the Israelites and Greeks by centuries, and that, furthermore, this consciousness finds expression in a symbolic form that is cosmological. In `historiogenesis,' the name given to this newly discovered form [OH 4:7], historical consciousness is unmistakable in events placed on an irreversible time line; at the same time, however, cosmological thinking is equally apparent in shaping the line in terms of myths involving intramundane deities. Historical consciousness and cosmological thinking are not, consequently, nearly so alien as one might think. To complicate the picture further, it also turns out that this blend of history and cosmology is a `millennial constant' that does not disappear as consciousness develops but, on the contrary, persists until the present. In fact, most philosophy of history has taken this form, including even the Pauline and Augustinian versions. The unilinear history that supposedly was engendered by the differentiating events, together with the punctuations of meaning on it, is in reality a cosmological symbolism." [Keulman 1990:142-143]


"Voegelin's term for competing claims to prestigious status made by one society or cultural or religious group against another on the basis of its purported antiquity." [Webb 1981:282]


"...an archetype must be embodied in an individual before it can be visible to the many. The stories of such men and their actions are the substance of history; they establish or sustain the ideas and the structures of a political community. Human experience becomes 'history' when it is articulated in narrative. Consciousness (the primal manner of seeing) determines being (the manner of existence understanding existence). Speech and action are revelations of human consciousness and the subject matter of the stories that are the fabric of history. Thus, history is not directed toward an end, but is a symbol for the recurring quest for an order of being found in human consciousness. History as a topic is nothing more than the story of the quest, revealed in the speech and actions of great men who, by words and deeds, disclosed their souls to others.

"If historical experience becomes articulated ideologically, however, the conception of the nature of history itself is changed. History may become the logical expression of a particular idea (ideology) such as race conflict or class conflict. As the expression of the logic of an idea, history becomes fully graspable; its essence, meaning, and direction can be discovered and articulated with the same kind of certainty that it could if it were an object of scientific study. If the forces that propel human history can be discovered and articulated, then, based on the logic of the idea that embodies them, history--that is, the doings of men--can be manipulated to make it 'come out right.' We no longer tell stories, but manipulate what were formerly their subjects, contents, and meaning." [Heilke 1990:143-144]

"In short, history is the unfolding of the human psyche. If philosophy is the meditative analysis of the psyche in its apeirontic depth and noetic height--the undertaking that was first identified by Heraclitus--then historiography is the reconstruction of the unfolding of the psyche through the psyche of the historian." [Morrissey 1994:90]
"History, we therefore conclude, is a symbolic form of existence, of the same class as the cosmological form; and the paradigmatic narrative is, in the historical form, the equivalent of the myth in the cosmological form." [Voegelin OH 1:124]
"The philosophical historian discovers, in other words, that there is an order to human nature that has manifested itself historically. This order and the essentials of the human condition have been known implicitly by thinkers of every period of recorded history--even if many have failed to recognize or acknowledge them. Now and then these central truths of man's existence have been rendered explicit by means of various symbolisms. It is the task of the philosopher of history to recover these insights from forgetfulness, restore them to clarity, and where necessary to carry further the process of their explication. [Webb 1981:10]
"It is in the light of the symbolization of this tension as a movement of Exodus that the intimate linkage between philosophy and history becomes fully clear. It is not merely that philosophical reflection takes place in time and leaves a trail of symbols that need to be reappropriated through historical memory. This is indeed true, but the link is much closer and deeper than that: the fundamental constitutive form of both philosophy and history is the spiritual Exodus that is the conscious realization and willing acceptance of the tension of existence with its transcendental dimension.

"This is a bold statement and one that will not meet with universal acceptance, moving as it does counter to the widespread modern tendency to conceive of history as constituted by what Voegelin would term 'world-immanent' events, that is, events that are located in space and time and observable through the senses. What is often overlooked is that the superior 'reality' of such a world and such events is founded on epistemological and metaphysical assumptions that are frequently left unexamined or even entirely unnoticed because to the unreflective they seem so obvious...

"...there can be events, scarcely perceptible to the observer and unaccountable from an immanentizing point of view--the emergence of a new conception of order, the birth of a new sensitivity to the appeal of truth or of the good, the emergence of a new existential orientation on the basis of fuller experience and understanding--and these may constitute changes that can be recognized as radical and, in a phrase that Voegelin frequently uses, 'epochal,' in that they structure the field of experience into an irreversible 'before' and 'after,' changing the flow of time from mere flux to a directional movement (see, for example, OH, 4:2).

"Events of this sort are what make up history in the full meaning of the term, according to Voegelin--history in the sense of the symbol as it was developed in ancient Israel, the preeminent sense that refers to a movement through time, on a meaningful course, toward an anticipated fulfillment. This, as Voegelin phrases it, is history as a 'form of existence' (OH, 1:127). History, as he put it in an essay of 1944, is not a 'chronological encyclopedia,' but the 'unfolding of a pattern of meaning in time." This unfolding, however, is not an inevitable process, as a philosophy of history of the Hegelian or Marxist type would interpret it. Rather it depends on the free response of individuals within the concrete societies they make up; without that response there may be incidents but no history. What Voegelin's statement means, as his subsequent works have gone on to make clear, is that history in the proper sense of the word--history as lived by one who attends and responds to the calling implicit in the experienced tension of existence--is a process of gradually emerging existential truth, of development, that is, into conscious existence attuned both cognitively [to the True] and ethically [to the Good] to the structure of reality." [Webb 1981:46-49]

"...we have not found a constant in history but the constancy of a process that leaves a trail of equivalent symbols in time and space. To this trail we can, then, attach the conventional name of `history.' History is not a given, as we have said, but a symbol by which we express our experience of the collective as a trail left by the moving presence of the process." [Voegelin, "Equivalences of Experience and Symbolization in History" in CW 12:132]
"History, as the term is now employed [after OH 4], has become not a record of events and their consequences, but a record of the evolution of consciousness from compactness to differentiation. Its epochs become the disequilibrium of consciousness, the search for a new equilibrium and the deformation through which disoriented consciousness may derail in its search for a new balance. The points of disequilibrium become identified with those occasions when a mythopoetic order begins to lose its power of shaping the motion of consciousness forward along the vector from the `Apeirontic depth' to the heights of rational insight. The search becomes identified with the symbol of exodus, whereby consciousness moves from the newly discovered untruth of an existence within the old traditional desiccated symbolisms and forms to seek out the new truth." [Keulman 1990:135]
"...while the events of history are datable in external time, corresponding to the bodily existence of the man who has the experience, the events themselves occur at the intersection of external time with the flux of divine presence, i.e., in the existential time of the metaxy. In the study of the historical process neither of the strata must be neglected. Hence, Plato surveys the evolution of human society on the technological, biological, and organizational level from tribal settlements to the world of the poleis and their federations in his own time, and even stresses the necessity of finding the confederate form of the Hellenic ethnos that can hold its own militarily against the Persian empire (Laws III). Such meaning as this stratum has, however, derives from its function as the bodily and organizational substratum of existential consciousness. The process as a whole has its center of meaning in the flux of presence that has been differentiated by the vision (Laws IV)." [Voegelin, "Wisdom and the Magic of the Extreme: A Meditation" in CW 12:347]
"To understand this new philosophy of consciousness as a philosophy of history, one must be aware of the change in the meaning of the term history. Voegelin is quite clear that he no longer means by history `a stream of human beings and their actions in time' which intrinsically are meaningful [OH 4:6]. History during the Ecumenic Age, for example, appears at the `empirical' level as a senseless or meaningless succession of empires, each searching to represent universal humanity as its source of authority. Meaning `in' history at the `philosophic' level is found [using Western Civilization for the illustration] [brackets are the author's] through the breakthrough (leap in Being) of the Greek philosophers, particularly Plato, and through Judaic-Christian eschatological thought, particularly Paul. In these two occurred a differentiation of experience within man's consciousness which illuminated the structure of reality, the universality of mankind, and the eschatological goal of a transfiguration of reality. Precisely these same themes and others are found in more compact (undifferentiated ) symbolisms in earlier civilizations and non-Western ones, including the Chinese. It is significant that Voegelin is more apt to employ the word process in this volume than history, because process is less apt to mislead one into thinking about a meaningful relationship of ideas and experience to events within the general context of human action unfolding in time, which is a natural connotation of history. What then is meant by history? It is `the process of man's participation in a flux of divine presence that has eschatological direction' [OH 4:6]. [Porter 1975:98]
"Voegelin... repeatedly argued that a historian has to study the problem of meaning in history, but he contended that the historian's efforts could not lead to an understanding of the meaning of history. There is meaning in history because the fundamental concern of humankind is to articulate the purpose of existence. Therefore, these efforts to articulate meaning and purpose are the subject of historical analysis. The historical record of these symbolizations, however, does not add up to an understanding of the meaning of history." [Stephen McKnight, "Voegelin's New Science of History" in Sandoz 1991:57]

History, philosophy of

see also Philosophy
The collective singular history is a neologism of the 18th century. The history, history per se, history in general, denoting the whole sociopolitical fabric upon the globe over time, was unknown before the age of the French Revolution. The term became the central language symbol of the new modes of self-interpretation of Western civilization. Accordingly, the authoritative explication of the novel complex of experiences, newly symbolized as the philosophy of history, underwent formulation between 1750 and 1850.

"In the opening chapters of From Enlightenment to Revolution, Voegelin traced the genesis of the speculative systems of philosophy of history to the erosion of the spiritual substance of Christianity in the face of the dynamics of the Western civilizational process: 'The bearers of Western civilization do not want to be a senseless appendix to the history of antiquity; they want to understand their civilizational existence as meaningful... From the dissatisfaction of being engaged in a civilizational process without meaning there are engendered attempts, beginning with Voltaire, at a reconstruction of meaning through the evocation of a new 'sacred history,'' called the philosophy of history...

"In spite of his radical critique of the great systems of philosophy of history from Voltaire to Hegel, Voegelin does not deny the adequacy of that symbolic form to express the consciousness of contemporary global society. The great systems construe the history of the human species as a closed world-immanent civilizational process charged with the meaning of progressive human self-=redemption from the human condition. Consequently, the process of history is to culminate in the personal and social existence of the representative of the system. '[T]he philosopher of history must,' Voegelin argues against the progressivist position,

therefore, remain critically aware that the past and future of mankind is a horizon that surrounds every present, even though it becomes conscious only through the leap in being. Though we know, by virtue of our existence in historical form, that the truth about order differentiates in the course of history, we neither know why mankind has a past, nor do we know anything about its goal in the future. The millenniums in which the mystery of history has reached the level of consciousness have not diminished the distance from its eternity. The philosopher must beware of the fallacy of transforming the consciousness of an unfolding mystery into the gnosis of a progress in time.
This fallacy destroys the ultimate mystery of human existence...

Voegelin's philosophy of history presents neither an absolute truth nor dogmatic propositions about the meaning of the history. It sets forth rather the meaningful pattern of those constants of engendering experiences of human beings which constitute whatever permanence there is in the history of mankind: man himself in search of his humanity and its order. The comparative study of the empirical material, 'if it goes beyond registering the symbols as phenomena and penetrates to the constants of engendering experience, can be conducted only by means of symbols which in their turn are engendered by the constants that the comparative study is seeking. The study of symbols is a reflective inquiry concerning the search for the truth of existential order; it will become, if fully developed, what is conventionally called a philosophy of history.' ["Equivalences of Experience..."]

"The ideological systems of history of the 18th and 19th centuries failed to embody the existential truth of man's participation in the comprehensive reality of god, man, society, history, and nature in a symbolic form which could serve mankind as a governing principle in its quest for sociopolitical order. This failure, however, and the advancement of the empirical sciences of man, induce the philosopher to engage in the ongoing work of creating the image of reality beyond the dogmatisms of deformed humanity. 'Today we are at the beginning of great philosophical developments, through the development of a philosophy of history that can for the first time explore the phenomenal realm in its global breadth and its temporal depth.' [Anamnesis, p. 278] Most commentators on Voegelin overlook the mutual interdependence of progressing empirical knowledge and experiential penetration of the material in his philosophical inquiry. Further, for all his critique of the contemporary climate of opinion, Voegelin does not give in to the cultural pessimism pervading the various conservatisms, nor is his critique of the age grounded in that mood of doom currently so fashionable. Materialiter, the philosophy of history as the appropriate mode of the self-interpretation of modern man, is legitimized by the 'hard fact that philosophy of history has indeed arisen in the West and nowhere but in the West... For a philosophy of history can arise only where mankind has become historical through existence in the present under God.' Hellas, Israel, and Christianity are at the root of Western philosophy of history." [Jurgen Gebhardt, "Toward the Process of Universal Mankind: The Formation of Voegelin's Philosophy of History" in Sandoz 1982:80-82]

"And what then, for Voegelin, is history in the most general and complete sense, given this analysis? His response may be indicated by drawing out the implications of a theoretical equation he makes during one of his discussions of St. Augustine's theology of history: 'The structure of history is the same as the structure of personal existence.'

"A person's existence gathers its meaning as it unfolds in time. Until its life in time is finished, the meaning of its existence is incomplete. But every person's existence is a striving for fulfillment not merely in its worldly but also in its transcendent meaning. The complete pattern of meaning concerning an individual's existence is therefore constituted, one must say, by the meaning of events that unfold in time (including all synchronic relationships) and then also by the relation of this complete configuration to the meaning of the transcendent ground, from which it derives its being and in which it seeks (knowingly or not) its perfection.

"Similarly, history is the complete process, as yet unfinished, of human meaning unfolding in time, in which diachronic and synchronic lines of meaning point to their fulfillment, penultimately in the completion of that process, but ultimately in the relation of the whole configuration of meaning to the transcendent, mysterious meaning of the Whole. Personal existence, as conscious participation in the divine ground, is structured as an orientation toward a fulfillment of meaning beyond time and space; history, as the common field of human participation in the ground, is likewise structured. And as personal existence can undergo a 'leap' of conversion when it recognizes and accepts its own orientation toward transcendence--a leap that marks the central event in the story of its career in temporal existence--so in history a people or persons can undergo, representatively for all humanity, similar leaps, which mark, in the time of history, the decisive events in the human search for meaning...

"The conclusions to which the foregoing analysis leads converge on one central theme, reiterated throughout The Ecumenic Age: the historical pattern of meaning originates in the variety f human responses to the presence of the divine ground, and the decisive variation in those responses involves the ground compelling its own properly transcendent--and properly rational, free, loving, and creative--nature to become known and responded to in finite consciousness. History is, therefore, in Voegelin's view, the unfolding story of divine revelation through time: ''History' in the sense of an area in reality in which the insight into the meaning of existence advances is the history of theophany.' 'The history of man ... is transacted in a permanent present as the ongoing drama of theophany.'...

"Of the 'meaning of history' as a whole, Voegelin tells us, we can say nothing definite at all, for two reasons: human existence in time is still unfolding, and so the full pattern of its meaning is still 'open toward the future'; and again, that meaning is shrouded in the mystery of its transcendent origins and goal. But this does not mean we know nothing of its direction and sense. What can be discerned of that purpose may be summarized in the most general fashion by saying that it involves a transformation from pre-differentiated consciousness to consciousness emphatically aware of its existence in relation to a meaning that transcends the meaning incarnate in the finite cosmos. And this means that, in Voegelin's view, reality as a whole is engaged in a process of 'transfiguration.'" [Hughes 1993:78-79]

"History is thus the process by which humanity articulates its own nature. This process is heuristic. The experiences that shaped Western civilization illuminate the past, not the future: History thus has no knowable meaning, no essence or shape that can be grasped at any time. Furthermore, even what is understandable about human nature is not explicitly known at all times to all societies. How, then, is a historical philosophy possible?

"One answer is that history is made wherever people live, but that its philosophy is a Western symbolism, the way that Western society articulates its own mode of existence [OH 2:23]. To articulate means to differentiate, to specify explicitly. The philosophy of order and history is thus the symbolic form of Western self-exploration in the light of the experience that has formed this civilization. And this light illuminates not only the new form of existence, but, by contrast, earlier modes of existence as well:

[Without] the creation of history as the inner form of existence in opposition to the cosmological form of order, there would be no problem of the history of mankind; and without the discovery of the logos in the psyche and the world, without the creation of philosophical existence, the problem of history would not be a problem of philosophy [OH 2:7].
"A historical philosophy is therefore not a universal discipline. It arises at the confluence of the three symbolizations of the new truth or order--the Israelitic, the Greek, the Christian--of revelation, philosophy, incarnation. The Church Fathers who first gave expression to philosophy of history perceived that...

"The Hellenic philosophical breakthrough opened up exploration in every direction. 'World' became visible as ordered and lawful; humanity could look upon it as an observer exploring its laws and its order. This opened the way to scientific understanding. But this way left humanity's vital problem untouched. Only to the extent that man was part of the world, a natural object, could he undertake to understand himself scientifically. For the understanding of man as man, for the exploration of his relationship to the source of newly manifested order, a different symbolization was needed. At its heart was the Greek discovery of the soul.

"...What the Greeks discovered was of course neither a material nor a psychological entity. They discovered the fact that humanity can become aware of the order of existence because humanity itself is a part of this existence. The world could be explored when its relative autonomy was seen; the nature of humanity and the nature of its knowledge came into view when its autonomy was recognized as being only partial... The soul becomes the model order that furnishes symbols for ordering society analogically in its image, and the symbolism of the soul unfolds to provide the model for social order. Society can therefore no longer be ordered in the image of the universe: Since the truth of life is experienced by the well-ordered individual, a well-ordered society must be what Plato in a well-known phrase calls `man writ large.'" [Keulman 1990:89-91]


"Like-mindedness. In Aristotle, friendship based on likeness in participation in nous; not the sharing of opinions or positions, but sharing in nous as the dynamic movement elicited by the attraction of transcendental perfection. In Christian thought, the participation of Christians in the nous of Christ. Alexander the Great used the term homonoia to refer to the ideal of peace among the subjects of his ecumenic empire." [Webb 1981:283]


"This cosmos [the oikoumene] has spatial extension and temporal duration. But it has them in the perspective of the habitat. The cosmos is not an object in time and space; extension and duration are the dimensions of reality as experienced from the habitat inside the cosmos. These perspectival dimensions are neither infinite nor finite, but extend toward an `horizon,' that is toward a border where heaven meets earth, where this world is bounded by the world beyond ... Moreover, the horizon is movable. As long as it is compactly symbolized through configurations in space or events in time, the boundary line can be pushed farther out in space through the expansion of historical, evolutionary, geophysical, and astrophysical knowledge. However, though the Horizon is movable, it cannot be abolished. Even when the Horizon recedes so far that space and time become the eikon of the spaceless and timeless ground of being, the experience of the horizon is not `superseded,' or explained away as an illusion, for no enlargement of the horizon carries us beyond the boundary line...

"The experience of the `horizon' as the boundary between the visible expanse of the oikoumene and the divine mystery of its being is still fully alive; and the integral symbolism of oikoumene-okeanos still expresses the In-Between reality of the cosmos as a Whole." [Voegelin OH 4:202-203]

Human nature

"The key concept, human nature, for example, was not developed through inductive logic but as the term for the 'nonexistent reality' of man--i.e., neither a thing nor divinity, but an 'In-Between' (metaxy) of consciousness--which loves the divine Ground of being. The term arose from the concrete experience of a philosophizing man seeking to designate the essence of his humanity." [Sandoz 1981:161]
"At its core human nature, therefore, is the openness of the questioning knowledge and the knowing question about the ground. Through this openness, beyond all contents, images, and models, order flows from the ground of being into man's being." [Voegelin Anam:86]


"Beyond the heavens. Plato's term in the Phaedrus for the realm of ultimate reality beyond the home of the gods." [Webb 1981:283]


"A standing under, support, substance, hence a real being, an individual entity, a thing." [Webb 1981:283]


"Voegelin's term for the process by which features of the metaxy, e.g., the transcendental or immanent poles of the tension of existence, are falsely conceived of a though they were individual entities." [Webb 1981:283]


"The concept of hypostasis (which Voegelin borrowed from Plato) signifies the process of reifying analytical concepts that are, by the act of reification, considered to have independent existence. The term itself generally occurs in the post-war writings of Voegelin, but it appears to my knowledge for the first time in RS." [Heilke 1990:52n]
"Reification is the apprehension of human phenomena as if they were things, that is, in non-human or possibly supra-human terms. Another way of saying this is that reification is the apprehension of the products of human activity as if they were something else than human products--such as fact of nature, results of cosmic laws, or manifestations of divine will. Reification implies that man is capable of forgetting his own authorship of the human world, and further, that the dialectic between man, the producer, and his products is lost to consciousness. The reified world is, by definition, a dehumanized world. It is experienced by man as a strange facticity, an opus alienum over which he has no control rather than as the opus proprium of his own productive activity.

"It will be clear from our previous discussion of objectivation that, as soon as an objective social world is established, the possibility of reification is never far away. The objectivity of the social world means that it confronts man as something outside of himself. The decisive question is whether he still retains the awareness that, however objectivated, the social world was made by men--and, therefore, can be remade by them. In other words, reification can be described as an extreme step in the process of objectivation, whereby the objectivated world loses its comprehensibility as a human enterprise and becomes fixated as a non-human, non-humanizable, inert facticity. Typically, the real relationship between man and his world is reversed in consciousness. Man, the producer of a world, is apprehended as its product, and human activity as an epiphenomenon of non-human world-producing but as being, in their turn, products of the `nature of things.' It must be emphasized that reification is a modality of consciousness, more precisely, a modality of man's objectification of the human world. Even while apprehending the world in reified terms, man continues to produce it. That is, man is capable paradoxically of producing a reality that denies him...

"The analysis of reification is important because it serves as a standing corrective to the reifying propensities of theoretical though in general and sociological thought in particular. It is particularly important for the sociology of knowledge, because it prevents it from falling into an undialectical conception of the relationship between what men do and what they think." [Berger 1967:89, 91]

Ideas (universals)

"In 1945, ... while working on Schelling's theory of mythology and revelation, he [Voegelin] arrived at what seemed to him a crucial realization that eventually made his entire endeavor to that point seem fundamentally misconceived. This realization was that ideas are not what is most fundamental in thought, and have no life of their own, but rather are the symbolic expressions of various kinds of experience and existential stance. Or at least this is what they are at root; they may also become uprooted from their engendering experiences and thereby lose their substance, and in this form they may become both elements and objects of argumentation. The history of ideas as conventionally practiced, in other words, came to seem to Voegelin no more than a game of shadows founded on the illusion that essential meaning could be captured in the form of the husks left behind when philosophy itself had vanished." [Webb 1981:6-7]
"It became increasingly clear to him [Voegelin] in all this that ideas are not entities in history; the real entities are societies, which express their existence in history through an enormously complex set of symbols with this realization Voegelin abandoned the idea of writing a history of ideas and began his inquiry into the variety of symbolic manifestations through which historical societies express their existence, the way in which these differing symbolic forms are related to one another, and the problem of discerning the extent to which the experience symbolized approach reality and thereby provide a basis for order." [Wm. C. Havard, "Voegelin's Changing Conception of History and Consciousness," in McKnight 1978:15]
"turned out to be a secondary conceptual development, beginning with the Stoics, intensified in the High Middle Ages, and radically unfolding since the eighteenth century. Ideas transform symbols, which express experiences, into concepts--which are assumed to refer to a reality other than the reality experienced. And this reality other than the reality experienced does not exist. Hence ideas are liable to deform the truth of the experiences and their symbolization." [Voegelin AR:78]
"Ideas... are based on an antecedent account of the subjects that engender them. These subjects are the nature of man and what Voegelin calls the 'primordial phenomena' of being and existence. The accounts of the primordial phenomena, including man's own nature, are given in the form of archetypical constructions of reality as it is interpreted through the primal manner of seeing." p. 7

"The two basic phenomena germane to our problem, life and man's nature, are experienced as basic givens... the various possible archetypes, which are derived from the basic phenomena, are not attempts at 'explanation,' but are symbolizations of the essential elements and their relationships seen in the basic phenomena." p. 12

"In Voegelin's general conception, an idea is bipolar and tripointed. The two poles of an idea are its objective and subjective elements. The three lateral points are its archetypical, expressive, and experiential contents. This configuration of form and substance is a major factor in creating the structure and establishing the dynamics of a political community. In political theory and practice, we must reckon with ideas as forces in their own right.

"Given that ideas have structure and content, we may well ask how they have either of these... First of all, ideas do not exist as independent entities in a separate realm. They are manifested in material phenomena, arising out of human experiences of material reality. Ideas are only 'given to us' in 'connection with other [forms of] being.' There is 'nothing in our entire sphere of experience' that allows us to assume the existence of ideas not bound to material phenomena, nor can anything 'pre-material' be experienced by us that 'does not appear formed in material' (RS [Rasse und Staat], 109-10). At the same time, an idea is 'not a concept, but the real substance that appears as one in a plurality' (RS, 117).

"Voegelinian ideas have neither 'realmness' nor transcendental status apart from the phenomena in which they occur. Insofar as ideas are one with the physical substance in which they inhere, they are 'separable from it only by an intellectual activity.' Voegelin, we said, was not an idealist: ideas do not establish reality for us, nor do they constitute what is real, but they are seen by an abstracting faculty of the mind. Reality, including the attachment of ideas to material processes and entities, is independent of our mind, our perception, and our abstractions. Ideas, from the point of view of the mind, are abstract general qualities of dynamic relationships or static characteristics that inhere in the phenomena as they are displayed to us through the framework of the primal manner of seeing. Seen from the side of the phenomena of reality, ideas are a constituent part of their being, being manifested in the form that matter and nonmaterial phenomena, animate or inanimate, assume, and in the manifold relationships that these phenomena have to one another.

"The preceding account would indicate that, in the words of Bertrand Russell, ideas have a 'very peculiar kind of being.' Because of the many meanings that have accrued to the word 'idea' in the English language, it might be beneficial, as Russell did, to substitute the word 'universal' for 'idea' here. Keeping this in mind, we see more easily the sense in saying that ideas (universals) do not exist (come into being and pass out of being), but 'subsist' or 'have being.' Ideas do not depend on existent things for themselves 'to be.' However, according to Voegelin, we can only have knowledge of ideas through our experiences of existing things. This is also why, despite ideas having a 'peculiar kind of being.' we continue to predicate of them existentially. Existential descriptions of our experience of ideas are necessary because we use existential language. Our descriptions of ideas, using terms such as 'structure,' 'content,' and 'element,' therefore remain metaphorical. This is also the case when we treat ideas as if they were themselves objects.

"Ideas, therefore, constitute a boundary to language and experience. The formation of some kind of proto-matter (the oneness without form or differentiation) by ideas (through which we distinguish unique entities and also see their unity) in a realm of preexistence (Vorsein) is not a description of experience, nor the possible object of any experience. Proto-matter and idea in this sense are 'analytically removed moments' that express the experience of a 'twinning (Gezweiung) on the levels of being' (RS, 109). To take the two analytical concepts of proto-matter and idea and make them into 'independent entities' that actually exist in a pre-existential realm is to hypostatize the concepts, and so is an attempt to rupture the boundary of the experiences they symbolize. [RS, 109. The concept of hypostasis (which Voegelin borrowed from Plato) signifies the process of reifying analytical concepts that are, by the act of reification, considered to have independent existence. The term itself generally occurs in the post-war writings of Voegelin, but it appears to my knowledge for the first time in RS.]

"Thus far, our outline of Voegelin's conception of ideas has shown it to be close to one interpretation of Plato's. [G.M.A. Grube, in Plato's Thought (Boston, 1958), for example, treats Plato's ideas as reified entities that exist in a realm of their own, and are perhaps mystically accessible to the human mind. (See 26, 35, 49.) Randall, in Plato: Dramatist, doubts that Plato had a doctrine of knowledge at all (198), and further doubts that ideas have any ontological status apart from human speech (196-97). According to Randall, ideas are mythical formations, not 'literal fact' (193). Bertrand Russell (Problems of Philosophy), and Stanley Rosen ('Ideas') fall between these two extremes. Rosen's interpretation of Plato seems to come closest to Voegelin's conception of ideas as we have traced it thus far.]

"Ideas are the 'real substance' of the 'oneness' that is seen in a manifold of exemplars. Voegelin spoke of ideas as entities that are 'seen' in accordance with 'the structure of the speculative field' (RS, 117). If we conceive of a phenomenon 'to be' something, the 'something' that we say 'it is' is the idea we have of it...

"It is in the reciprocal relationship between subsisting idea and the seeing or having mind that we encounter the subjective and objective poles of the idea. The objective pole has been covered in what we have said about the relationship of the idea to matter. The subjective pole of the idea is found in the relationship between the idea and mind, apart from the phenomenon in which the idea is seen. This does not mean that the idea exists in a realm of its own, but that the idea as it is experienced must be real in the minds of those who have it; those people then manifest the idea in their actions, speech, and behavior with respect to the phenomena of which they have the ideas. The subjective pole of the idea is experienced and expressed most strongly in the phenomenon of a community of men. For this reason, Voegelin's entire analysis of the subjective pole takes places within a political context. Insofar as ideas are subjective, they are expressed. Expressions, whether in the form of myth, philosophy, revelation, or some other symbolic form, generally take place within a group of men, so that it makes sense to speak of the subjective nature of the idea within the context of a community." [Heilke 1990:50-54)]

also see [Voegelin, "Responses..." in Lawrence 1984:119]


the ability to "find the way from his participatory experience of reality to its expression through symbols... There is no truth symbolized without man's imaginative power to find the symbols that will express his response to the appeal of reality; but there is no truth to be symbolized without the comprehending It-reality in which such structures as man with his participatory consciousness, experiences of appeal and response, language, and imagination, occur. Through the imaginative power of man the It-reality moves imaginatively toward its truth." [Voegelin OH 5:37-38]
imagination and its imaginative story (myth) are "the necessary and irreplaceable way of speaking of the mystery. And the story is always the expression of faith" [Paul Caringella, "Voegelin: Philosopher of Divine Presence" in Sandoz 1991:177]


"Literally `dwelling in.' Present within limited, mundane reality. The opposite of `transcendent.'" [Webb 1981:283]


"When consciousness of the cosmic bond of being as the background of all philosophy declines, there arise the well-known dangers of the dedivinized world and the unworldy God, the unworldly world as nothing but a nexus of relations between immanent things, and the dedivinized God reduced to mere existence." [Voegelin Anam:79]


(from Greek athanatizein)

"The process of transcendence considered as oriented toward the mode of existence (immortality) of the gods or of the divine `ground.' See also exodus, aphtharsia." [Webb 1981:283]

In-between, the

See metaxy


"Term coined by Voegelin (used principally in `Eternal Being in Time" and `What is Political Reality?') for the language symbols used in the exegesis of existence in the metaxy. Such symbols speak in terms of objects but do not refer to independently existing things. They are neither names, concepts, nor definitions. Rather they indicate poles of the tension of existence. For example, to say that `man participates in being' is to use `man' and `being' not as the names of entities but as pointers with which to explicate the tension of existence. Intended to counter the tendency toward hypostatizing of such symbols." [Webb 1981:283]

Intentional consciousness

"Consciousness oriented toward cognitive objects. Contrasts in Voegelin's use with `existential consciousness.' [Webb 1981:283]


"The property of consciousness whereby it is oriented toward cognitive objects. The `intentional object' is not necessarily an actual entity; it is whatever consciousness is conscious of." [Webb 1981:283-284]
"According to Voegelin, by the eighteenth century consciousness had become deformed by a long tradition of 'metaphysics, ontology, and theology that had made the intentionalist method of dealing with the structures of consciousness convincingly unconvincing.' [OH5:48] The intentionalist thinking that viewed reality in the mode of subject-object could not serve as a foundation for the recovery of consciousness. However, the valiant attempts by Kant, Hegel, and others to restore consciousness to its predogmatic reality was marred by the incorrigible habit of thinking in terms of thing-reality which the prestige of the natural science of the day, particularly Newtonian physics, only reinforced. As the model of experience in Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, this intentionalist form of thinking became further legitimated. Moreover, the role of 'natural reason' in Kant could not adequately lay bare the area of the It-reality which Kant had actually recognized as the numinous dimension beyond the realm of the natural sciences. His symbol Ding-an-sich indeed refers to this dimension of reality, but for Voegelin, the 'in-itself' of a thing cannot itself be a thing; it can only evoke the structure of the It-reality in consciousness, leaving Kant's formulation of the problem wholly inadequate [OH5:49].

"As a result, the dominance of the thing-reality in the imagination of philosophers determined the course of problems as they were to emerge in the German context. Without recounting the whole of Voegelin's analysis of this development, we can say in brief that it inevitably led to the splitting of consciousness into two separate acts of consciousness: the consciousness of a reflective subject who explores the objective facts of his or her own consciousness, and the resulting objectivized consciousness whose exploration becomes a further fact to explore. This intentionalist form of consciousness reduces existential consciousness to an infinite series of subjective acts of reflection." [Morrissey 1994:127-128]


"Direct and immediate apprehension of anything, internal or external to the knowing subject. Gnosticism, as Voegelin uses the term, is characterized by intuitionist cognitive claims." [Webb 1981:284]

Ipsum esse

"Being Itself. In Aquinas, a term for God considered as unlimited, ontologically necessary Being, as compared with finite, contingent beings, which are dependent for their existence on the creative act of God." [Webb 1981:284]


referred to as the "primordial field of reality" in Voegelin, "Equivalences of Experience and Symbolization in History" in CW 12, see [Paul Caringella, "Voegelin: Philosopher of Divine Presence" in Sandoz 1991:189]
the structure of reality in which reality is in the position of a subject, while the consciousness of the human subject is in the position of a "predicative event in the subject 'reality' as it becomes luminous for its truth... [the It-reality] comprehends the partners in being, i.e., God and the world, man and society..." [Voegelin OH 5:15-16]
"Thing-reality and It-reality, though grammatical subjects in propositions, are not entities but tensional poles experienced as mutually participating in the process of reality: the It-reality is the 'comprehending' dimension experienced as present in all things, and the things are experienced as 'transcending' their existence into the It-reality. All thing-reality, we may say, transcends into It-reality, while the It-reality comprehends all thing-reality... The immense manifold of thing-reality carried for him [Hesiod] the diving aura of transcending into the comprehending It-reality, and because of their diving aura all things--earth, heaven, sea, stars, mountains, rivers, trees, animals, men--could imaginatively rise to the divine rank, to the rank of the 'gods.'" [Voegelin OH 5:77]
On the nature of the 'It':

"Let me formulate it very simply. We are sitting here talking. What is it that moves us?" [Voegelin, "Responses..." in Lawrence 1984:108]

"...the comprehending reality...which encompasses its tensional pole of thing-reality and is never to be split off from it, includes among the 'things' comprehended the bodily located consciousness that, reflecting on its own intentional and imaginative search within reality, becomes aware of itself as part of the greater, comprehending reality that is not a 'thing' like the consciousness or the other 'things' consciousness intends, but is the 'All' of reality becoming luminous for its truth in the imaginative symbolizations of the consciousness in its reflective search. The area of reality explored here as the It-reality, the comprehending reality, the 'All' of reality, which later Voegelin finds in the Platonic periechon (comprehending) to pan (all), is the area for which the imagination must find symbols such as "Mystery" or "Vision." This is the area of faith, the area from which, in faith, emerge the respective searches of what later will be called the myth, or the story, of the noetic vision or the pneumatic vision, the stories emerging from imagination as the symbolic expression that the participating consciousness must use to give an account of its vision and its emergence out of and over against earlier myths." [Paul Caringella, "Voegelin: Philosopher of Divine Presence" in Sandoz 1991:184]

Knowing and being

"It is improper, and fundamentally incorrect, they tell us, to separate knowing from being. Knowing is intimately dependent upon someone's particular way of being in the world, or, as Michael Polanyi would have it, upon the indwelling of a particular person, so that the emergence of new knowledge is understandable only as the expression of the history of his experiential background and concerns, is not immaterial nor inconsequential when it is a matter of determining what we and others are capable of knowing and how new awarenesses come to be. A person's knowledge, that is to say, his very capacity to discover the truth, is a function of his experiential individuality. This understanding of the intimate connection between knowing and being is, of course, the very heart of the Platonic message, the message that so fascinated Voegelin. Indeed, it is the reason for and the explanation of Voegelin's repeated focusing on recollection (anamnesis), which is but another way of speaking of the exploration of 'tacitnesses.'" [Poirier 1992:261]


"All language, we are told, is both intentional and luminous. That is, all language is referential, pointing to meanings intended by the subject, and to that extent language is properly conceived of as a tool or a conventional 'set of signifiers'; while at the same time language is granted by reality and is the medium through which reality is illumined, a fact expressed in Heidegger's famous dictum 'Language is the House of Being.' Words and their meanings, as Voegelin says, belong to the story being told by reality as much as to the humans who use them. 'Conceptual analysis,' as language that aims to make rational-critical sense of the world and the subject knowing it, clearly operates out of a dominating awareness of the intentional dimension of consciousness. But other types of language arise from 'listening' to what reality has to say and letting its 'story' be told. 'Mythic and revelatory symbols' fall into this category, as do, though Voegelin does not mention them here, the many voices of art." [Hughes 1993:35]

Language and truth

"...the soul... in the Metaxy of consciousness... explores the experience of divine reality and tries to find the language that will articulate its exegetic movements. ...the language and its truth engendered by the event do not refer to an outside object, but are the language and truth of reality as it becomes luminous in man's consciousness. On another occasion I have concentrated this problem in the statement: The fact of revelation is its content.

"Since the experience has no content but itself, the miracle of reality breaking forth into the language of its truth will move into the center of attention when consciousness differentiates sufficiently to become luminous for its own movements. The language of truth about reality tends historically to be recognized as the truth of language in reality. An important phase in this process is represented by the cosmogony of Genesis. The creation story lets the cosmos, with its hierarchy of being from the inorganic universe, through vegetable and animal life, to man, be spoken into existence by God. Reality is a story spoken in the creative language of God; and in one of its figures, in man who is created in the image of God, reality responds to the mystery of the creative word with the truth of the creation story. Or inversely, from the human side, divine reality must be symbolized analogically as the creative word of God because the experience engenders for its expression the imaginative word of the cosmogonic myth. Reality is an act of divine mythopoesis that becomes luminous for its truth when it evokes the responsive myth from man's experience. [Voegelin, "The Beginning and the Beyond: A Meditation on Truth" in CW 28:185]

Libido dominandi

"Pleasure in dominating, especially intellectual domination." [Webb 1981:284]
"Behind the passions there is at work the lust of existence from the depth (i.e., the injustice on which the law of the cosmos has set the penalty of death in Time). In Christian psychology, this apeirontic lust of existence has become the superbia vitae, or libido dominandi, which serves the theologians as the definition of original sin. The conflict between reason and the passions thus receives its specific character from the participation of the psyche in the metaxy whose poles are apeiron and nous. In the psyche of man, the tension in reality achieves the status of consciousness." [Voegelin Anam:106]


"Reason, rational capacity, definition, intelligible structure, an analytical account (as compared with a myth). A central feature of theoria or episteme." [Webb 1981:284]
"Parmenides called the faculty of the soul that has this vision of being the nous. Nous is the organ of the soul that brings being into experiential grasp. A further faculty, the logos, a term that also appears for the first time with Parmenides, is what articulates the content of being. Together they comprise the 'way to truth' which is conceived as existence-in-tension between the possibility of openness to being and immortality, or closed existence in delusion (doxai) and death. This initial differentiation of the soul reveals a something with an 'inner dimension' which leads toward the border of transcendence. The light in the soul allows a thinker like Parmenides to speculate about transcendent being because he discovers his soul as a sensorium of transcendence...

"The essence of humanity is now conceived to be the movement of the psyche toward the divine wisdom (sophon). It is Heraclitus's achievement to understand the distinctly human character of this participation in being. He asserted that the agreement of the soul with the logos, in the midst of strife and flux, is the condition necessary for human community. Only by following the logos, which is common in every soul and which transcends the world of multiplicity and individuality, can a true community come into existence." [Morrissey 1994:61-62]

Tillich on logos:

"The idea of the divine Logos breaking the silence of God is very profound. It means that the divine abyss in itself is without word, form, object, and voice. It is the infinite silence of the eternal. But out of this divine silence, the Logos breaks forth and opens up what is hidden in this silence. He reveals the divine ground." [p. 22]

"Between God and man there are angels and powers, some good and some evil. But their mediating power is insufficient. The Logos is the real mediator. It is difficult to explain what the word `logos' means, especially to those who are nominalists from birth. It is difficult because this concept is not the description of an individual being, but of a universal principle. If one is not used to thinking in terms of universals as powers of being, such a concept as Logos remains impossible to understand. The concept of the Logos can be explained best against the background of Platonism or medieval realism.

"Logos is the principle of the self-manifestation of God. The Logos is God manifest to himself in himself. Therefore, whenever God appears, either to himself or to others outside himself, it is the Logos which appears...

"The Word is not the same thing of which it is the Word. On the other hand, the Word cannot be separated from that of which it is the Word. The Word of god is not identical with God; it is the self-manifestation of God... The Logos is then a word that is spoken toward the outside, toward the creature, through the prophets and the wise men. Logos means both word and reason. If one thinks in Old Testament terms, one would prefer to translate logos by `word'; if one thinks in Greek terms,...then one would translate logos by `reason'. `Reason' here does not mean `reasoning', but refers to the meaningful structure of reality." [Tillich 1968:22, 30-31]


one of the three structural aspects of consciousness, along with intentionality and reflective distance [Voegelin OH 5]
"Since Anamnesis, Voegelin had consistently used the term luminosity to refer to this identity-aspect of the simultaneous identity and non-identity of knower and known, thought and being, and now he names it as a second structural 'dimension' of consciousness.

"The theoretical precision attained by contrasting intentionality with luminosity allows Voegelin to advance in these pages, to some degree, one of the most underdeveloped aspects of his work, the philosophy of language implied by the twofold perspective of his theory." [Hughes 1993:34-35]

"Voegelin has underscored all this by writing that the mystery of the process of reality is 'a dimension of consciousness itself.' In this statement he appears to be conjoining the awareness of mystery with that 'structural dimension' of consciousness he refers to as 'luminosity' in In Search of Order. This is the awareness of one's own consciousness as an event in Being and of one's consubstantiality with the Whole." [Hughes 1993:105-106]
in [Voegelin, "Wisdom and the Magic of the Extreme: A Meditation" in CW 12], the term "mystery" is used in an equivalent role to that of luminosity, cf. [Paul Caringella, "Voegelin: Philosopher of Divine Presence" in Sandoz 1991:182]
consciousness's discovery "that it is participating in a reality in which it has partners comprehended by that reality" [Niemeyer-1989:116, also cf. Webb 1981:146]
the expression in a consciousness of the experience of its own structure, the experience is experienced as wholly present to itself [CW 12:121, 131]
"...the symbol that validly expresses the experience of existence in the Between of thing-reality, including the bodily location of consciousness, and of Beyond-reality..." [Voegelin OH 5:30]
"the luminosity of consciousness is located somewhere 'between' human consciousness in bodily existence and reality intended in its mode of thingness." [Voegelin OH 5:16]
"Cognition of participation, as it is not directed toward an object of the external world, becomes a luminosity in reality itself and consequently, the knower and the known move into the position of tensional poles in a consciousness that we call luminous as far as it engenders the symbols which express the experience of its own structure." [Voegelin, "Equivalences of Experience and Symbolization in History" in CW 12:121]
luminosity appears to be equivalent to Gabriel Marcel's "secondary reflection" and to Martin Buber's "I-Thou relationship"


"...a philosopher's effort to explore the structures of existential consciousness. Meditations have a historical dimension: they try to clarify the formative center of existence, the metaxy, and they protect this noetic center against the deformative forces prevalent at the time... I shall ... summarize the historical characteristics of the meditative process as they have emerged on the present occasion.

"A noetic movement through the metaxy of existential consciousness wants to find the balance of truth between the intentionalist desire to know reality as an object, and the mystery of a reality in which such a desire to know its own truth occurs. Such a movement has to cope with the forces of imagination and language which emerge mysteriously in man's experiential response to the reality of which he is a part. From the experiential response arise, within reality, images of reality and language symbols to express the images. Neither images nor symbols, however, are ultimate. The imagery of intentionalist consciousness is subject to correction by the advances of knowledge concerning the structure of reality as an object; and the comprehensive vision of the mystery finds its imagery corrected by such differentiating events as the noetic and pneumatic revelations. Reality reveals its truth not at once, it appears, but lets it become luminous in a process of history. History, then, turns out to be a process not only of truth becoming luminous, but also of truth becoming deformed and lost by the very forces of imagination and language which let the truth break forth into image and word." [Voegelin, "Wisdom and the Magic of the Extreme: A Meditation" in CW 12:371-372]

"Descartes's meditation is in principle a Christian meditation in the traditional style; it can even be further classified as a meditation of the Augustinian type, and has been made hundreds of times in the history of the human spirit since Augustine. The anonymous author of The Cloud of Unknowing (a meditation of the fourteenth century has formulated the classic theme of the meditation in the following sentence: 'It is needful for thee to bury in a cloud of forgetting all creatures that ever God made, that thou mayest direct thine intent to God Himself.' The goal of the meditation is the gradual elimination of the world content, from the bodily world to the animate, in order to attain the point of transcendence, in which the soul can, in Augustinian language, turn itself in the intentio toward God. This meditation is primarily a process in the biography of the individual who performs it; and the keeping at the point of transcendence and the intentio are an experience of brief duration. Secondarily, the process can be expressed verbally, and this give rise to the literary form of the meditation. Conversely, the reenactment of a meditation that has been put down in words makes possible again an originary meditation in the reader." [letter, Voegelin to Alfred Schuetz, September 17, 1943, in Emberley 1993]


"Participation." [Webb 1981:284]


"Change, transformation, revolution. Term introduced by Voegelin in OH, 1:452, to signify `the change in the constitution of being envisaged by the Israelite prophets.' Subsequently used extensively to refer to all unrealistically expected transformations of man, society, the structure of existence, and so on. The fundamental form of such utopian expectation is that escape from the tension of existence will be possible through movement out of the metaxy toward identity or union with one of its poles." [Webb 1981:284]


"Between. Plato's symbol representing the experience of human existence as 'between' lower and upper poles: man and the divine, imperfection and perfection, ignorance and knowledge, and so on. Equivalent to the symbol of 'participation of being.'" [Webb 1981:284, also pp. 138-147]
"...the fundamental structure in existence..." "...the self-recognizing structure of reality..." [Voegelin, "Wisdom and the Magic of the Extreme: A Meditation" in CW 12:360]
"With explicit homage to the Platonic-Aristotelian analysis as he interprets it, Voegelin lays down the provocative principle for his own theory: consciousness is not exclusively human. Or rather, what is human about consciousness is precisely that it transcends its mere humanity through conscious participation in the ultimate formative origin of its own existence, its own divine ground. Following a formulation of Plato's consciousness is something like a divine-human metaxy, or in-between. It is an intermediate area of reality, in-between the temporal and the timeless, constituted as a questioning and knowing awareness in-between ignorance and knowledge. It is not a merging of the human and divine, but the place of their interplay, where a derived, created being suffers a degree of participatory creativity insofar as it is one with the origin out of which it realizes it has emerged. 'The In-Between of existence is ... the meeting-ground of the human and the divine in a consciousness of their distinction and interpenetration.' [Voegelin, 'On Hegel: a study in sorcery"] It must not be thought that Voegelin is attempting to divinize humanity outright. On the contrary, his emphasis is always upon the limitations of human knowledge and power." [Hughes 1993:28-29]
"It is perhaps more obvious now why Voegelin raises the symbol of metaxy to a position of singular importance in his philosophy. It conveys in his view the signal truth about consciousness insisted upon by both differentiations: that the truly human human is the 'human-divine' sphere 'in-between' the cosmic things and their transcendent ground; that this in-between, established through questioning, is a tension from the finite toward the ground; and that this is the one and only place where the true nature of the divine can, within limits, reveal itself in this world, most glaringly and expressly through the deeds and words of prophets, philosophers, and saints." [Hughes 1993:56]
"... the dissociation of the cosmos began with the Ionic experience of being but was completed only through the experience of transcendence on the part of later thinkers. The partners in the cosmos separate into an immanent world of relatively autonomous things and a transcendent divine ground of being. Between them is man as that being in whom the dissociation occurs, in whom, however, God and world again are united in the manifold of experiences that elicits the rich vocabulary of philia, pistis, elpis, eros, periagoge, epistrophe, etc., as the corresponding manifold of expressions." [Voegelin Anam:81]
"The experience is neither in the subject nor in the world of objects but In-Between, and that mean In-Between the poles of man and of the reality he experiences.

"The In-Between character of experience becomes of particular importance in understanding response to the movements of divine presence, for the experience of such movements is not precisely located in man's stream of consciousness, in the immanentist sense, but in the In-Between of the divine and the human. The experience is the reality of both divine and human presence, and only after it has happened can it be allocated either to man's consciousness or to the context of divinity under the name of revelation. A good number of problems which plague the history of philosophy now become clear, as hypostases of the poles of a pure experience in the sense of William James, or of the metaxy experiences of Plato. By hypostases I mean the fallacious assumption that the poles of the participatory experience are self-contained entities that form a mysterious contact on occasion of an experience. A mystery is there, to be sure, but even a mystery can be clearly expressed by stressing the participatory reality of the experience as the site of consciousness and understanding the poles of the experience as its poles and not as self-contained entities. The problem of reality experienced thus becomes the problem of a flow of participatory reality, in which reality becomes luminous to itself in the case of human consciousness. The term consciousness, therefore, could no longer mean to me a human consciousness which is conscious of a reality outside man's consciousness, but had to mean the In-Between reality of the participatory pure experience which then analytically can be characterized through such terms as the poles of the experiential tension and the reality of the experiential tension in the metaxy. The term luminosity of consciousness, which I use increasingly, tries to stress this In-Between character of the experience as against the immanentizing language of a human consciousness which, as a subject, is opposed to an object of experience.

"This understanding of the In-Between character of consciousness, as well as of its luminosity--which is the luminosity not of a subjective consciousness but of the reality that from both sides enters into the experience--resulted in a better understanding of the problem of symbols..." [Voegelin AR:72-74]

"The life of reason in the classic sense is existence in tension between life and death. The concept of the tension will sharpen the awareness for this 'in-between' character of existence. By 'in-between' I translate the concept of the metaxy developed by Plato in the Symposium and the Philebus.

"Man experiences himself as tending beyond his human imperfection toward the perfection of the divine ground that moves him. The spiritual man, the daimonios aner, as he is moved in his quest of the ground, moves somewhere between knowledge and ignorance (metaxy sophia kai amathia). 'The whole realm of the spiritual (daimonion) is halfway indeed between (metaxy) god and man' (Symp. 202a). Thus the in-between--the metaxy--is not an empty space between the poles of the tension but the 'realm of the spiritual'; it is the reality of 'man's converse with the gods' (202-203), the mutual participation (methexis, metalepsis) of human in divine, and divine in human, reality. The metaxy symbolizes the experience of the noetic quest as a transition of the psyche from mortality to immortality...

"The differentiation of life and death as the moving forces behind reason and the passions requires further refinements in the analysis of the metaxy. Plato has given them in the Philebus by symbolizing the mystery of being as existence between (metaxy) the poles of the one (hen) and the unlimited (apeiron) (16d-e). The one is the divine ground (aitia) that is present as the formative force in all things, to be identified with wisdom and mind (sophia kai nous) (30b-c). The unlimited is Anaximander's apeiron, the cosmic ground (arche) from which things are brought forth into being (genesis) and into which they perish again (phthora), 'for they pay one another penalty for their injustice (adikia) according to the ordinance of Time" (B 1). Behind the passions there is at work the lust of existence from the depth (i.e., the injustice on which the law of the cosmos has set the penalty of death in Time). In Christian psychology, this apeirontic lust of existence has become the superbia vitae, or libido dominandi, which serves the theologians as the definition of original sin. The conflict between reason and the passions thus receives its specific character from the participation of the psyche in the metaxy whose poles are apeiron and nous. In the psyche of man, the tension in reality achieves the status of consciousness." [Voegelin Anam:103, 105-106]

"When existence becomes noetically luminous as the field of pull and counterpull, of the question of life and death, and of the tension between human and divine reality, it also becomes luminous for divine reality as the Beyond of the metaxy which reaches into the metaxy in the participatory event of the movement. There is no In-Between of existence as a self-contained object but only existence experienced as part of a reality which extends beyond the In-Between. This experience of the Beyond (epekeina) of existence experienced, this consciousness of the Beyond of consciousness which constitutes consciousness by reaching into it, is the area of reality which articulates itself through the symbols of mythical imagination." [Voegelin, "The Gospel and Culture" in CW 12:188]


"Participation." [Webb 1981:284]


"Voegelin's primary challenge to theology, then, would be to make sure that its roots lie not in received doctrinal truth but in mystagogy, for any fides in quest of its own intelligibility, whether Platonic or Jewish, Islamic or Christian, must always return in experience to the mystery of the one God beyond the personal God or gods of theology." [Morrissey 1994:250]
"The symbol of the 'mystery' is a term essential to understanding both the early and the later Voegelin. The word is Greek, and in antiquity it had the meaning of a 'secret' or 'something unknown' or 'hidden,' but more often it seems to have referred specifically to the rites, secrets, and instruments of the mystery religions. The usage that Voegelin employs is especially Pauline. A mystery is a secret belonging to God that He may reveal if He wishes, but that frequently, even when revealed, is not fully comprehensible in the understanding. It cannot be penetrated by the intellect, but must be grasped spiritually or by faith. [See 1 Cor. 15:51; Rom. 16:25, but 26b; 1 Cor. 2:6-7 and 10; Eph. 3:9 and 11-12; and especially 1 Tim. 3:9, 16.] Voegelin gave the symbol the meaning of the ungraspable ground of being, and differentiated this great mystery into many smaller problems within the processes of being that also remain mysteries in their essential nature. The nature of existence and the dialectic between transcendent consciousness and existence are two we have already encountered. The essences of the phenomenon of life and the nature of man are two more.

"Although the mysteries of being cannot be grasped, some individuals will nevertheless attempt to puncture the membrane of a particular mystery and examine the phenomena of it in the manner that one examines objects. This is accomplished through the reification of the symbols used in philosophical investigation. One example was Hodgson's dialecticization of symbols that described processes in reality." [Heilke 1990:29-30]

"A refined appreciation of mystery is, for Voegelin, one of the requirements for being a true philosopher. The apperception and acceptance of elemental mysteries is a necessary condition, in his view, for the proper formation of individual character, as well as for the development of adequate social viewpoints and political policies. . . .

"Voegelin holds that we have experienced, during the last few centuries in the West, a peculiar and growing eclipse of the awareness of mystery. Many leading figures of the Enlightenment, as a part of their fight against Church authority, made respect for mystery taboo. Meanwhile, the growing power of the modern natural sciences both in speculative reach and technological invention began to nourish a widespread conviction that the universe could not for long hold back any of its secrets from the human mind. ...

"It will be helpful to clarify at the outset what Voegelin means by mystery. Like Gabriel Marcel, what Voegelin calls mystery is not merely a blank of unknowability facing reason in its effort to expand its holdings, but rather a characteristic of human existence, of the human situation. In other words, it doesn't simply confront us; it defines us. 'A mystery,' writes Marcel, 'is something in which I am myself involved.' Thus in his oft-quoted distinction, a mystery is not simply a 'problem,' something facing me, which may even be insoluble, but which doesn't implicate me in its dilemma and in relation to which I myself remain 'in a non-problematical sphere.' A mystery is something known to be unknowable that pertains to existence itself, making it an unknown that, in some inescapable way, I am. The notion of mystery, as Marcel puts it, introduces 'a sphere where the distinction between what is in me and what is before me loses its meaning and its initial validity.'

"Voegelin's use of the term mystery harmonizes with that of Marcel. The mysteries about which Voegelin writes are depths of meaning whose hiddenness is apparent, and which could be known fully only if reality as a whole were known, while the human knower remains a participant in reality with a limited perspective, unable to fully penetrate the meanings that constitute human existence. Therefore, the unknowns in which we find our lives to be totally implicated are not problems to be solved or not solved, but mysteries to be lived and, so that they may be lived freely and graciously, constantly revealed...

"Now, while mystery is emphatically an existential notion, it remains also a cognitional notion. It refers to something human knowing is aware of but cannot comprehend: a known unknown [cf. Lonergan]. Therefore, the foundation for a convincing philosophical examination of the basic human mysteries must include a general theory of human knowledge or consciousness." [Hughes 1993:1-3]

"When the ground of being is explicitly understood to be unknowable, one discovers 'a blind spot at the center of all human knowledge about man.' Everything that pertains to 'the decisive core' of one's life is haunted by the same dead center of ignorance, because the essence of existence has been revealed to be participation in a process whose ultimate meaning transcends human comprehension. Our deepest concerns, therefore, lead us to mysteries, and four that are specified in Voegelin's writings are the mystery of origins, the mystery of personal meaning, the mystery of history, and the mystery of the relationship between individual destiny and universal history." [Hughes 1993:90]
"Voegelin is a great solver of problems and an even greater inventor of them, if we take the term 'inventing' in the literal sense as `coming upon.' Every answer produces new questions. The most important problems he comes upon are unsolvable. He calls the `mysteries.' These mysteries 'surround' the clearing in which man lives, acts, and strives for an understanding of the encompassing order of being. At the beginning of Voegelin's philosophizing he identified a few of these mysteries. Their number increased with every advance he made. I gave up counting them long ago, for ultimately they are but one great mystery. Only when the light that emanates from it passes through the narrow opening of a philosophizing consciousness does this one mystery diffract into a spectrum of `differentiated' mysteries shining in the surrounding darkness. This is what Voegelin's philosophy looks like, inside." [Gregor Sebba, "Prelude and Variations on the Theme of Eric Voegelin" in Sandoz 1982:5]
"The reality of things, it appears, cannot be fully understood in terms of the world and its time; for the things are circumfused by an ambience of mystery that can be understood only in terms of the Myth." [Voegelin, "The Beginning and the Beyond: A Meditation on Truth" in CW 28:175]
"The Mystery of the historical process is inseparable from the Mystery of a reality which brings forth the universe and the earth, plant and animal life on earth, and ultimately man and his consciousness. Such reflections are definitely not new, but they express, in differentiated form, the experience of divine-cosmic order that has motivated the oldest cosmogonic symbolisms; and that is precisely what they should do, if universal humanity in history is real and not an illusion." [Voegelin OH 4:335]
"To face the Mystery of Reality means to live in the faith that is the substance of things hoped for and the proof of things unseen (Heb. 11:1)" [Voegelin OH 4:329]

Myth, mythos

"Myth, story, tale, fable. Originally any speech or account, not necessarily fictitious. In Plato's philosophical use, an account in story form, as compared with logos (a conceptual, analytic account). Eikos mythos, a likely or probable story, i.e., an analogically illuminating account in the form of a story, as in the cosmogonic myth of the Timaeus, the story of Atlantis in the Critias, and the story of judgment after death in the Gorgias and the Republic." [Webb 1981:284]
"The Timaeus marks an epoch in human history because in it Plato develops the classic philosophy of the myth. In this work the psyche has reached the critical consciousness of the method by which it symbolizes its own experiences. It marks the rise of spiritual consciousness to new levels. With this elevation to new heights (or depths) Plato has now discovered that 'the myth is the ineluctable instrument for communicating the experience of the soul.' [OH3:170] In contradistinction to the people's popular myths, the philosopher's myth expresses through mythical symbols a more differentiated level of consciousness.

"The philosophical use of myth requires great circumspection. It assumes that there exist levels of reality that resist articulation in systematic discourse. It also assumes that the soul reaches beyond the limits of consciousness: 'Beyond this area extends the reality of the soul, vast and darkening in depth, whose movements reach into the small area that is organized as the conscious subject.' [OH3:192] These movements reverberate in consciousness without becoming objectifying entities. These images are not objects, yet they appear to be because 'what enters the consciousness has to assume the 'form of an object' even if it is not an object.' [OH3:192] Thus, the symbols of the myth that express the reverberations in the soul 'can be defined as the refraction of the unconscious in the medium of objectifying consciousness.' [OH3:192]

"Although these mythic symbols do not refer to objects, their meaning is intelligible. We cannot apply to myth an epistemology developed on the model of sense experience of external objects. This would presume that the soul has in its totality the structure of 'intentionality,' that consciousness knows reality solely by intending objects. [OH3:192] Voegelin states that this would amount to 'the anthropomorphic fallacy of forming man in the image of conscious man.' [OH3:193] He goes on to say that this separation between the myth which speaks of realities beyond consciousness and knowledge that is constituted by acts of intentional consciousness 'corresponds to the Christian distinction between the spheres of faith and reason.' [OH3:195] Openness to the truth of the myth, which alone expresses the movements of the soul, is tantamount to the insight that found its classic expression in the Anselmian credo ut intelligam. [OH3:186]" [Morrissey 1994:73]

"... the best authorities (people like Mircea Eliade, for instance, in his recent book, Myth and Reality) agree that a myth is a technique of imputing a ground to an object of experience. That is, if I have experience of man, of the gods, of a piece of landscape, of a temple, or a custom, or an institution--then I want to know, 'Where does it come from?' Then I tell a story of where it comes from, and that where-it-comes-from is now the ground of it, the aition in that sense. That is not an answer. Everything comes ultimately from a transcendent ground--for instance, a Creator-God, or, in a philosophical sense, the nous. But in myth it comes from very specific things: a god has created it, a demi-god has created it, an institution has invented it, or a dynasty has a god for its ancestor...

"This type of imputation of a ground--imputation of existence and manner of existence of a ground--one can now more closely formulate as: imputation towards another intracosmic object or action. There is a general experience of the cosmos; everything is 'within' the cosmos, including the gods, and if you want to explain anything in the cosmos you can explain it only by telling a story: how it originated from something else in the same cosmos. That is what we might call intracosmic relating of things to their ground, to other things or actions within the cosmos; there is nothing outside the cosmos. Thus myth can be defined--I think fairly exactly: there are no exceptions to it--as imputation to other intracosmic things as to a ground. It is myth when you tell a story of an intracosmic ground." [Voegelin in O'Connor 1980:11-12]

"The reality of things, it appears, cannot be fully understood in terms of the world and its time; for the things are circumfused by an ambience of mystery that can be understood only in terms of the Myth." [Voegelin, "The Beginning and the Beyond: A Meditation on Truth" in CW 28:175]
"His [Voegelin] most important thesis is that mythoi, as imaginative answers to questions about the meaning of the Whole, have not become unnecessary as a result of philosophical or scientific discoveries about reality. The ancient myths, founded upon 'intracosmic' experiences of the ground, became incredible, of course, in the wake of the rise of rational-critical thought. But unfortunately, from Voegelin's point of view, those members of the cultural elite in ancient Greece who boldly rejected not only the traditional myths about 'the gods' but also the very fact of divinity itself set the pattern for 'enlightened' generations to come, down to the present. Their mistake, Voegelin would say, is to suppose that the discovery that the finite universe can be explained in terms of structural regularities and impersonal forces--the discovery of 'nature'--dissolves the mystery of formative origins along with its sacred character...

"Voegelin would approve Stanley Rosen's description that 'myth recollects the fragments of man's intermediate existence into the unity of the beginning and the end.' For Voegelin, the most obvious fact about human existence is its 'intermediate' status. Limitation is of the essence of our being: we are human because we have a restricted understanding. Understanding our own restrictions, however, we understand there is a fullness of understanding we lack; aware of our separate, intermediate existences, we are aware of a fullness of reality in which we participate. To long for that fullness of understanding and for fuller participation in being is the dynamic core of our existence, according to Voegelin--and therefore, to understand the meaning of our separate existences understanding the unity of the Whole to which we belong is an unvarying human concern. Myth, for Voegelin, is the 'adequate and exact ... instrument of expression' for articulating and communicating insights into the meaning of the process of reality as a Whole, because (1) the myth does not claim to be a definitive account--it is a 'likely story' that accords with the present state of our knowledge about reality and human nature--and so does not violate our awareness of the limitations of human perspective and (2) the myth tells a story that makes sense of our experiences of purpose and struggle, risk and failure, desire and achievement. In short, it unites the individual and social dramas of our lives within a supervening drama of being. While the ancient myth performed these tasks uncritically, the discovery of the transcendence of the ground has induced a critical awareness that all mythic representation involves the interpretation of the unknown by analogy with the known. And new mythoi have appeared, for example in Plato's dialogues and in the Gospels, that reflect the advances in human self-understanding occasioned by the differentiating insights. There could, perhaps, be yet further adjustments of mythoi in accordance with further advances of insight into personal and historical meaning; but there can never be a replacement of mythoi by definitive knowledge, nor the absence of the human need to fashion an understanding of the supervening context of meaning within which our lives begin and end 'in the middle of the story.' The 'likely truth' of the myth, which begins and completes the story we know ourselves to be acting in, is the only symbolic vehicle we have to consciously unite our lives with the divine unity from which we have emerged--or 'fallen'--into separate existence.

"If the above summary alone were the substance of Voegelin's analysis of myth, however, it would not be particularly unique. Its profounder dimension is provided by the explanation of mythic symbolism in light of Voegelin's theory of consciousness.

"One may recall Voegelin's insistence, from the beginning of his philosophical career, that consciousness, while experienced as individual, also belongs, and is conscious of belonging, to the process of reality within which it occurs... What we respond to in the truly telling mythos (and in the convincing work of art) is not the inventive personality who fashions analogies with facility and discretion in order to show forth the unknown; we respond to the authority of reality itself, moving us to the depths, as we recognize a revelatory authenticity in the complexes of images or the events of the narrative. The compelling myth, arising from the 'depths' of Being, is, Voegelin would say, both human and divine. 'This consciousness of the Beyond of consciousness which constitutes consciousness by reaching into it, is the area of reality which articulates itself through the symbols of mythic imagination.' [Hughes 1993:108-110]

"Myth is not a primitive symbolic form, peculiar to early societies and progressively to be overcome by positive science, but the language in which the experiences of human-divine participation in the In-Between become articulate. When existence becomes noetically luminous as the field of pull and counterpull, of the question of life and death, and of the tension between human and divine reality, it also becomes luminous for divine reality as the Beyond of the metaxy which reaches into the metaxy in the participatory event of the movement. There is no In-Between of existence as a self-contained object but only existence experienced as part of a reality which extends beyond the In-Between. This experience of the Beyond (epekeina) of existence experienced, this consciousness of the Beyond of consciousness which constitutes consciousness by reaching into it, is the area of reality which articulates itself through the symbols of mythical imagination." [Voegelin, CW 12:188]
"Myth is the symbolic language by means of which the soul explores and articulates as conscious experience its participation in the tension of existence. Moreover, says Voegelin, `without the ordering of the whole personality by the truth of the myth the secondary intellectual and moral powers would lose direction'; without the trust that there is a substantial truth with which we are linked through the `cosmic omphalos of the soul,' there could be no ordered seeking after truth OH, 3:186, 184)...

"...mythic language has authority because it emerges into the psyche from the depths in which the soul is united with the living, ensouled cosmos [see anima mundi]--which is to say, from the point in experience at which man enters into participation in the luminosity and love that are the substance of reality itself. There are many mythic symbols, but where they express the concrete experience of involvement in the tension of existence, they cannot be in radical conflict, but cluster, supplement, and support one another: `A myth can never be `untrue' because it would not exist unless it had its experiential basis in the movements of the soul which it symbolizes' ([OH 3] p. 184)" [Webb 1981:125-126]

"The most important feature of the letter [to Schuetz in 1943] is Voegelin's insistence that consciousness has the structure not only of an 'I' but also of an 'other-than-I,' since it experiences itself as belonging to the mysterious ground of being. Therefore, the articulation of the meaning of consciousness demands, at some stage, the use of mystical or mythic symbols--that is, symbols that communicate the fact that consciousness participates in a reality whose ultimate meaning transcends human understanding and, in the case of mythical symbols, that suggest an interpretation of that further dimension of meaning consistent with what we do know about reality. Such symbols are important elements not only in a philosopher's account of reality but also in personal and political life, because a human being is not merely a congeries of spatiotemporal processes, but the meeting-place of these with the timeless ground of meaning, and needs emotional and intellectual orientation in that mysterious destiny. Therefore, he concludes that any attempt to explain consciousness in the manner of a science of indubitable propositions trespasses on the mystery of the ground in which consciousness participates." [Hughes 1993:22]


"Voegelin's term for a speculation (especially regarding ultimate origins and ends) in the medium of myth. A combination of mythopoesis (myth-making) and noesis intermediate between the compactness of cosmological myth and noetic differentiation. [Webb 1981:284-285]


"I have suggested that Voegelin's distinctions and the role that his theory of consciousness plays in his overall thought cannot be properly understood in isolation from a consideration of the workings of narrative in his thought, or, more directly, the work that narrative does in the self-understanding of consciousness. This crucial fact, frequently overlooked, may help to remove some of the overly abstract qualities of Voegelin's reflections. Since existence and consciousness are neither categories nor objects but exegetical symbols, how do we "point" to them, as it were? How do we communicate their qualities, their sheer being-there? We do so by means of symbols. But symbols, isolated from a context, are merely the aesthetic decorations of a polite nihilism. The context, the connecting fabric, is given by a narrative and this narrated context encompasses an existential reflection, as William Thompson explains:
At the very least, narrative brings home the inseparability of form and content, the need to participate in the form to "experience: the content/meaning. The lived, dramatic quality of life (what Voegelin calls the "event" dimension of story), with its "divine-human movements and countermovement," its elements of living activity, tension, struggle, reversal, etc., finds its irreplaceable expression in narrative. But this event dimension of every story involves an attempt to convey "insights into the order of reality." [William Thompson, Christology and Spirituality, Crossroad Publishing Company, NY, 1991, 29-30]
"Thus, Voegelin concludes that "the story is the symbolic form the questioner has to adopt necessarily when he gives an account of his quest as the event of wresting, by the response of his human search to a divine movement, the truth of reality from a reality pregnant with truth yet unrevealed." [Voegelin, OH5: 24]. [p. 42]

"But what sort of a thing, then, is narrative? First, it is neither precisely a "dimension" of consciousness, nor a "constituent," but rather, like language and temporality, for example, a component of consciousness in and through which consciousness and its objects are reflected to consciousness itself. In simple terms, narrative is the primary mode through and in which the "actor on-stage" reflects on his existence "on-stage." Like consciousness, narrative is itself both intentional (a story told by someone about something) and luminous (a story that "emerges from the It-reality" [Voegelin, OH5:24]). The structure of consciousness is thereby replicated along these two dimensions in the structure of narrative.

"Second, a narrative is not, strictly speaking, a form of symbolism, but a mode of symbolization. It is an ordering, so to speak, of the symbols of experience into a concrete whole. [p. 43]

"Narratives range from the simple folk tales and fables that seek to teach childhood lessons, to the larger biographies and autobiographies that tell the story of a human life (and perhaps tell it whole), to the grand myths and wider historical narratives of religious and political communities, [p. 48] to the grandest story of the "It-reality" itself. All such narratives have in common a set of functions that are of immediate concern to the problem of consciousness and to Voegelin's analysis of the structure of being. First, a story displays particularities in such a way that it sheds light on the generalities that constitute its particularities or that constitute the "family resemblance" (to use Wittgenstein's phrase) of its particularities in the whole. Accordingly, these "works of intelligence" permit a kind of inductive reasoning. They illuminate particular principles of conduct or consciousness within the context of our consciousness of the whole. Stories become an inductive guide for prudent reasoning, deliberation, action, and reflection on experience.

"Second, stories display the essentially contingent character of human existence even as they weave these contingencies into a comprehensible whole. Stories are a way of presenting and illuminating complexity, rendering it at least partially transparent, even for those whose analytical faculties are not of the highest quality .

Finally, stories perform these two functions by indirection. They do not use analytical categories to "point" to what is being talked about; rather, they use action, plot, and characters to illustrate or illuminate. [p. 49] [Heilke 1999:42-43, 48-49]


"The activity of nous, the process by which episteme is developed; reflective understanding involving critical self-awareness on the part of the inquirer based on understanding of the nature of inquiry as such. Noesis does not bring knowledge of a previously unknown reality, but differentiated insight into hitherto compactly experienced reality." [Webb 1981:284-285]
"The word noesis derives from the language of classical philosophy, specifically from the word nous, which signifies reason, intelligence, and mind. In the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle contrasts intelligence (nous) with calculative or discursive reasoning (dianoia or logos). Insofar as Voegelin understands political science as the noetic interpretation of political reality, the actual significance of the locution can be implied by stating that noesis is a rendering of political reality similar to that provided by Plato and Aristotle. Thus, understanding the political orientation of Voegelin's work demands some insight into the political aspect of classical philosophy.

"This schema obviates any interpretation of political science that patterns itself in terms of the method of the natural sciences. The noetic explication of political reality, conversely, develops out of the conflict that arises between the self-understanding of a society (as exemplified in its traditions, laws, and institutions) and the reflective individual's experience of both personal and social order." [Keulman 1990:xix]

"As the first attempt at noetic interpretation by the Greek classics may be considered mainly successful, it still serves as the starting point for contemporary philosophical inquiry. An analysis of the classical noesis can distinguish three dimensions. Deliberately setting itself off from the preceding myth, noesis: discerns the substantive structure of consciousness, the ratio; discovers itself, the light of differentiating consciousness illuminating the experience of existence in 'tension'; and discovers the process-character of inquiry in the experience of moving from stages of less to stages of greater clarity and rationality. At this point Voegelin goes beyond Plato and Aristotle and outlines what he calls the 'new noesis.' The Greek noesis essentially contended against the myth. After Aristotle, the symbols fashioned by the classical noesis ... became separated from the experience for the exegesis of which they had been created. This led to a derailment of philosophy in the dogmatism of the schools where the manipulation of propositions was considered the main enterprise, as if the propositions themselves were a surrogate reality...

"To the three dimensions of the classical noesis, Voegelin adds three of his own findings" (a) that of the 'perspective of reality,' the angle of view of consciousness determined by the human situation that leads one to speak of the perspectivism of all human knowledge; (b) the dependence of consciousness on object, which means that consciousness, rather than spinning on itself, is always conscious of something, so that there arises the possibility of misunderstanding, and illusionary, or deliberately false imagery; and (c) the inescapability of 'reality' as that which must concern consciousness, so that the structures of reality are the form in which consciousness and thinking moves." [Keulman 1990:59-60]

Noetic differentiation

"Voegelin's term for the process by which one moves from compact consciousness (which tends to express itself in mythic symbols) to a more differentiated, conceptually articulated awareness of the inquiring consciousness and its structure, including both its reflective character and its orientation toward the transcendental pole of the tension of inquiry, i.e., toward Truth as such. Historically, the birth of philosophy in classical Greece." [Webb 1981:285]
"I have spoken of questioning knowledge and knowing question in order to characterize the experience that I have called noetic, for it is not the experience of some thing, but the experience of questioning rising from the knowledge that man's being has not its ground in itself. The knowledge that being is not grounded in itself implies the question of the origin, and in this question being is revealed as coming-to-be, albeit not as a coming-to-be in the world of existing things but a coming-to-be from the ground of being. The experience of constant and recurring figures in being as temporal becoming leads us to being as form; the noetic experience that transcends being as form and the demiurgic images leads us to coming-to-be out of the ground of being--that coming-to-be that prephilosophically is symbolized by mythical narratives of the genesis of things. Through its time of the narrative [see: tale, the time of], which is not the time of becoming in the world, the myth expresses the coming-to-be from the ground of being." [Voegelin Anam:86]
"The terms noesis, noetic experience, noetic interpretation and the like derive from the technical vocabulary of Classical philosophy, specifically from the term Nous which means severally reason, intelligence, and mind. Aristotle contrasts intelligence (nous) with calculative or discursive reasoning (dianoia or logos) in the Nicomachean Ethics. It may be understood, in its highest aspect, as the intuitive property of rationality (in Bergson's sense) by which fundamental principles of science are grasped without intermediary steps of ratiocination, either deductive or inductive. Insofar as Voegelin specifically defines political science as the noetic interpretation of political reality, the concrete meaning of the expression can be suggested by saying that Noesis is an interpretation of political reality substantially like that given by Plato and Aristotle.

"This preliminary information is not without significance, since it immediately precludes the understanding of political science as a systematizing science of phenomena which models itself methodologically on the natural and mathematical sciences of the external world. The noetic interpretation of political reality, on the contrary, arises out of the tension in existence that forms between the historically grown self-understanding of a society (as found in its laws, customs, institutions, literature, formulations of its political leadership) and the reflective, self-conscious man's experience of existential order (A, 285). The tension in political reality, therefore, is not an external object of experience. Rather, it is an inner experience or apperception in the concrete consciousness of specific individual persons who find themselves at odds with society regarding fundamental issues of existence. This existential tension arises out of the palpable conflict between conventional and noetic truth. The resultant anxiety to live in order, then, provides the impetus for a rational search of the truth of being--the reflective search for the true order of man's existence within the world, society, history, and divine reality. This search--Socrates' zetema in the Republic, for example--is conducted into the vertical dimension of existence, into the depths and heights of consciousness. It seeks to uncover, through a meditative sifting of the contents of experience, the source or configuration of ultimate reality and its order. This introspective quest Voegelin terms the 'search of the Ground'--the aition, arche--or ultimate cause (A, 288, 287-315 passim, 148ff).

"The meditative search of the divine Ground brings to essential clarity awareness of a further existential tension, that between the man and the divine Ground itself. This may be seen superficially as the life of reason as it seeks to justify man's opposition to the in roads into the psyche of disorders prevalent in society by appeal to such principles of order as abstract ideas or philosophical absolutes. Such an intellectualized characterization of the process, however, though partially valid, is insufficient and, in the long run, a major source of error about the philosophical inquiry and the nature of philosophy itself. For it is the experiential, rather than the merely ideational, dimension of the activity that is decisive. Philosophy is born out of the travail of the anxiety of existence. It finds the way toward truth by a search of the divine Ground whose ontological direction is known through a man's experience of participation in the community of being (A, 289). Distinctive to the philosophical effort is the identification and evocation of reason--logos, nous, ratio--as the specific nature of man. It is reason, so understood, that 1) illuminates consciousness; 2) directs, controls and guides man's search for truth; and 3) possesses an intrinsic affinity for (and decisive kinship with) the divine Ground.

"Among the results of the noetic act, therefore, the following may be noticed especially: 1) differentiation in the experiential mode of participation of reason (Nous) to the extent that it is apperceived as the intelligible core of divine Being, the source of all order and truth and the ultimate Ground of being itself; 2) the differentiation of human reason in the symbolic mode of self-reflective cognitive inquiry (zetesis) called philosophy, which illuminates with intelligence the loving search of the divine Ground; 3) the development of conceptual instruments that are both the outcome and the means of the noetic exegesis, that symbolically 'fix' the content of the inquiry in its experiential and conceptual aspects in the consciousness, and that, when taken all together, comprise a fabric of critically authenticated knowledge with convincing claim to objective scientific truth, thus becoming 'political science' and 'philosophy' regarded as subject fields." [Sandoz 1981:156-158]

"The process of noetic exegesis and the verifying experiences upon which truth depends arose out of myth and the primary experience of the divine cosmos. The noetic exegesis supplied a differentiated corrective of the earlier more compact knowledge, but it did not and cannot totally supplant that knowledge." [Sandoz 1981:160-161]

Noetic vs. pneumatic

"In the Greek orbit, the central symbol for this divine-human reality is, as we have seen, nous, usually translated 'intellect' or 'reason'; while in Israel and in Christian culture it is ruach (the Hebrew term) or pneuma (its Greek translation), usually translated 'spirit.' While the symbol pneuma may not be said to be synonymous with the symbol nous, they are functionally equivalent insofar as they both indicate the site where transcendent divine and human consciousness enjoy the intimacy of participation.

"Voegelin's interpretation of the degree of equivalence between these two terms, and the specific characters of the distinct experiences to which they refer, is one of the more intriguing aspects of his work. To put his conclusions very simply, one might say that the respective terms differ with respect to the 'location' in consciousness that they emphasize: the 'noetic experience' centers in the area where questioning, reasoning, and judging perform their operations, whereas the 'pneumatic experience,' as a 'divine irruption which constitutes [a] new existential consciousness,' takes place at the axial depth of the personality out of which reason and its structures arise. In the noetic experience, as Eugene Webb has summarized it, 'focal awareness ... is directed to the Nous, the questioning consciousness, while the pneumatic center, that level of reality in the depths of the soul at which it is experientially united with being itself, remains in comparative obscurity.' Thus the philosophers are led to explore the structure of questioning consciousness itself, as well as the structure of reality that 'becomes luminous through the noetic theophany'; while exegetes of the pneumatic experience such as St. Paul concentrate upon 'the intensely articulate experience of loving-divine action' at work in the unplumbed depths of the soul." [Hughes 1993:54-56]


"Law, measure." [Webb 1981:285]


"In Voegelin's use, based primarily on Plato and Aristotle, the capacity of seeking episteme under the guidance of attraction toward the transcendental." [Webb 1981:285]
"The core of the philosophers' theophany is the revelation of God as the Nous common to both the cosmos and man." [Sandoz 1981:232-233]
"In the texts of Plato and Aristotle, nous refers to the faculty that thinks, that grasps meaning or intelligibility. But it is not only a capacity for apprehending intelligible patterns or structures in reality; it is also the source of order in the soul, the force whose reasoning and judgments allow the soul to resist disordering influences from the surrounding society. Within the context of human action, then, nous is conceived as both the power to apprehend intelligible order and the force that creates intelligible order. Now, in Greek culture, side by side with the emergence of this understanding of nous, there unfolded the search, beginning with the Ionians, for a unifying primal element or cause from which to explain the order of the material cosmos. In the course of this search it became clear, eventually, that what was needed was an explanatory principle in the nature of a single, formative intelligence that ordered and moved reality; and in the thought of Anaxagoras one sees for the first time the suggestion that it is Nous that guides all things. This is a conception that analogically unites human consciousness, understood as intelligence or reason, with the ground of reality understood as divine ordering intelligence. Thus it is a conception that bridges, at least implicitly, the radical separation between human and divine, mortal and immortal. And it is this insight and conception that is carried forward into much more explicit formulation and analysis in the words of Plato and Aristotle, according to Voegelin, in a manner he explains in the following way: 'By nous [Aristotle] understands both the human capacity for knowing questioning about the ground and also the ground of being itself, which is experienced as the directing mover of questions.' And: 'In the Platonic-Aristotelian experience ... man is moved to his search of the ground by the divine ground of which he is in search.' What is evident in these encapsulating sentences is that Voegelin insists the synonymous application of nous by Plato and Aristotle is to be taken seriously in an ontological sense: the tension of consciousness is not drawn toward the ground as a mere object of possible, or hoped for, knowledge. The ground is consciousness' own identity; human consciousness participates in the ground; the ground is a Thinking or Intelligence that is the fullness of human thinking and intelligence." [Hughes 1993:26-27]
"The nous had attracted the attention of pre-Socratic thinkers, especially of Parmenides and Anaxagoras, in connection with their experiences of intelligible structure in reality. Parmenides had given the name nous to man's faculty of ascending to the vision of being, and the name logos to the faculty of analyzing the content of the vision. He concentrated the preanalytical content of his vision in the nonpropositional exclamation Is! The experience was so intense that it tended toward the identification of nous and being, of noein and einai (B 3): in the rapture of the vision the knower and the known would fuse into the one true reality (aletheia), only to be separated again when the logos became active in exploring the experience and in finding the suitable language symbols for its expression. From the Parmenidean outburst, the classic experience has inherited the noetic endowment of man (the Aristotelian zoon noun echon) that makes his psyche a sensorium of the divine aition, as well as the sensitiveness for the consubstantiality of the human nous with the aition it apperceives. While Parmenides differentiated the noetic faculty to apperceive the ground of existence, Anaxagoras was concerned with the experience of an intelligible structure in reality. Could the divine aition indeed be one of the elements as earlier thinkers who were still closer to the gods of the myth had assumed, or would it not, rather than an element, have to be a formative force that could impose structure on matter? Anaxagoras decided for the nous as the source of intelligible order in the cosmos and was praised highly for his insight by Aristotle. Thus, from the side both of the knower and the known, the experiences of intellectual apperception and of an intelligible structure to be apperceived, having gone their separate ways, were ready now to merge in the discovery of the human psyche as the sensorium of the divine aition and at the same time as the site of its formative manifestation." [Voegelin Anam:94-95]
"Nous is, by Voegelin's account, both the directional factor of consciousness and the substantial structure or order of consciousness. Rationality in existence, therefore, may be identified with what Bergson called the 'openness' of the soul and irrationality with the closure of the soul against (or mistakenness about) the Ground (A, 152, 289, 296).

"... The first sentence of the Metaphysics [of Aristotle] become intelligible in a new sense: 'All men by nature desire to know [the Ground]'(980a). Aristotle developed the noetic exegesis of this perceived desire for the Ground, as well as of the Ground's actualizing attractiveness, through the symbol of the participation (metalepsis) in one another of two entities bearing the name Nous (1072b2off). By Nous he designated both the human capacity for intelligent search of the Ground as well as the Ground of being itself--that which is experienced as the Mover who gives direction to the inquiry. For Aristotle, the first to differentiate concepts out of mythic symbols, synonymity of expression means to be of the same kind, or sameness through generation (genesis). He wrote: 'We must next observe that every thing (ousia) is generated from that which has the same name (ek synonymou)' (1070a4f). 'That thing which communicates to other things the same name (to synonymon) is in relation to them itself the highest thing of that kind (malista auto)' (993b2off). the synonymity of noetic entities implies, therefore, the origin of human reason in the divine Nous. In terms of the mythical symbolism of synonymity-through-genesis, Aristotle understood the tension of consciousness as the reciprocal participation (metalepsis) of two entities of Nous in one another. 'From the side of the human nous, the knowing questions and questioning knowledge (wissende Fragen und fragende Wissen), that is the noetic act (noesis), is cognitive participation in the Ground of being; the noetic participation, however, is possible because it is preceded by participation of the divine in the human nous' (A, 290, 150-52)." [Sandoz 1981:158-159]

First principle common to being, man and science [Sandoz 1981:210]
Summarizing Plotinus: "Out of this eternal ground of everything, in which everything disappears, all things have their origin at the same time. The whole system is a description of the way in which the world and all its forms originate in the ultimate ground of being. The first thing which is originated, like the light which is radiated out of the sun, is what in Greek is called the nous, which can be translated as `mind' or `spirit'. It is the second principle after the ultimate principle, after the ground of being from which it has emanated. This second principle, the nous, is that in which the first principle, the eternal ground, looks at itself. It is the principle of the self-intuition of the eternal. God is manifest to himself in the principle of the nous. This self-intuition of the divine in the nous is the source of all forms and structures, of all possibilities and of what Plato called `ideas'. These `ideas' are the essential potentialities of being. Everything true and beautiful is contained in the nous, in the divine mind and his eternal self-intuition." [Tillich 1968:51-52]

Objective vs. subjective

"Only one problem can and must, be selected because it has a specific bearing on the destruction of science, that is, the attempt at making political science (and the social sciences in general) `objective' through a methodologically rigorous exclusion of all `value-judgments.'

"In order to arrive at clarity about the issue, it must first of all be realized that the terms `value-judgment' and `value-free' science were not part of the philosophical vocabulary before the second half of the nineteenth century. The notion of a value-judgment (Werturteil) is meaningless in itself; it gains its meaning from a situation in which it is opposed to judgments concerning facts (Tatsachenurteile). And this situation was created through the positivistic conceit that only propositions concerning facts of the phenomenal world were `objective,; while judgments concerning the right order of soul and society were `subjective.' Only propositions of the first type could be considered `scientific,' while propositions of the second type expressed personal preferences and decisions, incapable of critical verification and therefore devoid of objective validity. This classification made sense only if the positivistic dogma was accepted on principle; and it could be accepted only by thinkers who did not master the classic and Christian science of man. For neither classic nor Christian ethics and politics contain `value-judgments' but elaborate, empirically and critically, the problems of order which derive from philosophical anthropology as part of a general ontology. Only when ontology as a science was lost, and when consequently ethics and politics could no longer be understood as sciences of the order in which human nature reaches its maximal actualization, was it possible for this realm of knowledge to become suspect as a field of subjective, uncritical opinion." [Voegelin NSP:11-12]

Open existence, openness

"In Voegelin, the mode of existence in which consciousness is consistently and unreservedly oriented toward truth and toward the transcendental pole of the tension of existence. Contrasts with `closed existence'." [Webb 1981:285]
"His insistence on the multifaceted intimacy of men's normal sympathetic relationship to the universe led Voegelin in 1928 to coin the term open self, to symbolize the person who flees from the isolation and loneliness of his merely private existence as an atomized individual to embrace the mysterious togetherness of reality disclosed in pure experience." [Sandoz 1981:175]


"Vision. Platonic term interpreted by Voegelin as referring to the revelatory aspect of the mutual participation of divine and human in each other; what it reveals according to Voegelin is the fundamental order and direction of the process of reality." [Webb 1981:285, also 113]


"By order is meant the structure of reality as experienced as well as the attunement of man to an order that is not of his making--i.e., the cosmic order... In...experiences of social and cosmic disorder, order is reduced to one's own person and is perhaps not to be found even there; these experiences produce certain extreme states of alienation in which death may appear as the release from a prison or as convalescence from the mortal disease of life." [Voegelin AR:75]
"One of the most important theoretical terms in Voegelin's vocabulary was order. By it, he meant 'the structure of reality as experienced as well as the attunement of man to an order that is not of his making--i.e.. the cosmic order.' The attunement of which Voegelin spoke was to be achieved at two levels, in the soul and in the world external to the soul. Clearly, he wished the concept of order to symbolize the same reality that Plato signified with the word kosmos in Gorgias 508a.

[Order in the Soul]

"With respect to the attunement of the soul, the young Voegelin intended 'order' to represent realities such as the internal hierarchy of Plato's just psyche, the moral and noetic virtues of Aristotle's Ethics, and the theological virtues of Christianity. However, his grasp of these excellences probably was affected significantly by the opinion that the soul formed its character in response to its ideas, and, hence, that correct ideas were the things most needful. It was some error like this that made his History 'senseless.'

"With the discovery of experience and symbol came the insight that the soul did not order or disorder itself by getting ideas and conforming itself to them, but by shaping itself directly in response to experienced realities. The analysis of order demanded a theory of consciousness that clarified the realities as experienced and the response that simultaneously was a symbolic word and a formed constitution of the soul...

[Order in History]

"For Voegelin, the order in history was not different from the order in the individual soul; he once stated flatly that: 'There is no history other than the history constituted in the Metaxy of differentiating consciousness.' As he repeatedly made clear ever since the 1950s, the only events that even counted as 'history' for him were those 'experiences in which man gains the understanding of his humanity and together with it the understanding of its limits.' This makes it logical to ask why Voegelin then did not restrict himself simply to the analysis of order in consciousness. Why did he bother with 'history'? The answer is that he saw, or thought he saw, that experiences in the metaxy through which people become aware of the grounds of their order have 'historical' dimensions, in three senses: They produce consciousness of a before and an after of their occurrences. They seem to constitute a process. They become involved in external time when societies articulate themselves for the sake of representation of truth, and they vanish from worldly time when societies decline into deformation, and this makes the events of earthly time a secondary history of rises and falls that participates in the primary history in the metaxy." [Rhodes 1992:621-647]

"So far as I can tell, one will search in vain for a definitive definition of the category of "order" in Voegelin's writings. The final volume of the magnum opus is titled In Search of Order, and that is something to keep in mind as we turn now to a consideration of the question of order and Israel. "Order" was the goal of Voegelin's quest, and because its truth emerges from history, like history it has an eschatological, open-ended character to it. The actual term "order" is a key symbolism which Voegelin seems to have greatly derived from the Greek term kosmos, which can mean in a highly formal way "an ordered process" (OHII, 233-34 [on Heraclitus]). The actual meaning and articulation of this ordered process, however, is in movement, the result of the quality of the participation of the human partners in the community of being. The term "order" should not really be set in opposition to "freedom," as is sometimes done in some treatments of political theory and theology. For freedom in a genuinely human sense is a dimension of the truth of order in Voegelin's understanding of the term. It seems best to return to the preface of OHI for one's bearings on this topic of "order." There it refers to "the order of being of which the order of society is a part" (ix). As the insight into the order of being (i.e., the primordial quaternity) develops, so too does the insight into the order of society. Voegelin uses the term, then, much as he uses the category "history": as an instrument for critical analysis and interpretation (163). The actual term may or may not be present in the materials under consideration, but unless we are to regress into nominalism, the realities evoked by the term are present. "Every society is burdened with the task, under its concrete conditions, of creating an order that will endow the fact of its existence with meaning in terms of ends divine and human" (ix). This social struggle for order reflects the quality of a society's participation in the order of being." [William M. Thompson, "Exodus and Statecraft: A Postlude", in Thompson 2000:257].


"Essence. Aristotle's term for `being' or `entity.' According to Voegelin, Aristotle's term expressed the `things' of the `cosmos', which included both immanent and transcendent dimensions, and should not be translated as `substance,' a term in later, immanentistically conceived metaphysics." [Webb 1981:285]


the formative presence in which the Beyond is experienced [Voegelin OH 5:31]
the experience of the Beyond "is precisely the experience of the tension between its forming and ordering presence and its actuality beyond its ordering force of presence; the experience is what Voegelin calls in Volume V 'the experience of the non-experientiable.'" [Paul Caringella, "Voegelin: Philosopher of Divine Presence" in Sandoz 1991:193]
"...the vision [of Plato] ... differentiates a cosmologically compact consciousness of 'divinity' by revealing the 'One' that has been always present as the divine 'Beyond' and, consequently, the gods of the cosmos as the diversified manifestations of its 'presence' (parousia)." [Voegelin, "Wisdom and the Magic of the Extreme: A Meditation" in CW 12:346]


(Greek metalepsis, methexis, mimesis)

"Refers to sharing the qualities of a supreme exemplar, in which they are present in their perfection. In 'participation in being' being is an analogical term with varying degrees of applicability; it describes existence in the metaxy as a condition between higher and lower degrees of reality." [Webb 1981:285]

"The ground is consciousness' own identity; human consciousness participates in the ground; the ground is a Thinking or Intelligence that is the fullness of human thinking and intelligence.

"The key word here is participates. The use of the concept of participation to indicate the status of something finite in relation to its ontological perfection or fulfillment first appears on the philosophical scene with Plato. Through the Neoplatonists it became a primary category in the thought of the Church Fathers, and it was elaborated by medieval philosophers, especially by Aquinas, into a nuanced principle of metaphysical explanation. Voegelin clearly considers it one of the most important concepts to have emerged from the philosophical explanation of the structure of reality, for he adopts it as his central explanatory term for characterizing the ontological status of consciousness, crediting both Plato and Aristotle with its initial use for that purpose.

"Now the important role played in Plato's thought by methexis (participation, koinonia (communion), and related terms is well recognized, but Voegelin's crediting here of Aristotle might puzzle the historian of philosophy. In the Metaphysics, criticizing Plato's doctrine of Forms, Aristotle sternly dismisses the language of participation as mere 'empty words and poetic metaphors.' Aristotle the logician recognizes that there is something essentially ambiguous about the concept. But, Voegelin would point out, 'the Philosopher' is himself led to use a synonymous term, metalepsis (communion, participation), when attempting to explain how nous is related to the intelligibilities it apprehends: 'Thought (nous) thinks itself through participation (metalepsis) in the object of thought (noeton); for it becomes the object of thought (noetos) through being touched and thought, so that thought (nous) and that which is thought (noeton) are the same.' Voegelin interprets this to mean that the relationship between knower and known, thought and being, is neither a meeting of completely different realities, nor a merging into absolutely identical reality, but something in-between the two: the knower and what is known are, mysteriously, both the same and distinct. That is what participation means, then: a simultaneity of sameness and difference. Voegelin would say that Aristotle, in spite of his criticisms of Plato's use of the notion of participation, doesn't hesitate to use metalepsis to explain the relationship between thought and being because he needs a concept that conveys a simultaneous sameness and difference. For consciousness is conscious of reality and consciousness of being reality; it is conscious of the ground of being and conscious of being the ground of being. Human nous and divine Nous are the same and yet not the same." [Hughes 1993:27-28]

"Voegelin's discovery of the retention in Aristotle's ontology of the mythic experience of substantive participation of man in the divine--and of the divine in man--is of great importance. It enables one to see more clearly the relation of philosophical experience and symbolization to the matrix out of which they differentiated: it exhibits the dependence of philosophy upon the more compact experience of the divinity of the cosmos in decisive respects. Aristotle's participation (metalepsis) is neither merely a metaphor nor merely a means of designating parallel attributes in man and the divine. Rather, it is the noetic expansion of the mythic insight that man's participation in the divine is constitutive of man's being in its specific essence, i.e., in the rational dimension. The philosophical anthropology developed in the Ethics can then be read in a new light. Aristotle's famous analysis that the highest part of man is his active reason--and that man's most perfect happiness is the contemplative life because the noetic activity called 'philosophic wisdom' is the highest virtue of man's highest part and, therefore, most proper to him--climaxes in the description of such a life as more than merely human. 'For it is not insofar as he is man that he will live so, but insofar as something divine is present in him.' Then, paradoxically, Aristotle specifically identifies the very nature of man with reason: Nous is each man himself, the noetic life is the life of man's true self, and hence also the happiest. The paradox dissolves only if proper weight is accorded Aristotelian participation in its full experiential dimension. Man is not as he appears. The core and constitutive factor of the human essence is his 'immortalizing (athanatizein)' participation through reason in the divine Nous or Ground of being. Apart from this man falls short of his own humanity.

"The experience of the consubstantiality of the community of being is neither destroyed nor negated through philosophical differentiation. Rather, it is intensified, achieving analytical clarity. Yet this process entail abstraction which, though an advance, ironically contributes to the subsequent loss of awareness of the engendering experiences articulated in the noetic concepts. From this situation, Voegelin asserts, the derailment of philosophy after Aristotle occurred." [Sandoz 1981:159-160]

"The principle of participation is central to noetic science. It forms the existential basis of man's self-understanding insofar as from earliest times onward men are aware of participating in a structured reality of which they are but a part, one ontologically articulated by the symbolisms man, God, world, and society--the primordial quaternarian structure of being reflected in the earliest cosmological myths. Participation forms, therefore, as both the essence of the knower and the knowable and the inevitable perspective of the inquiry into reality. There is no Archimedean point outside of reality-as-participation available to men. Accordingly, it supplants the subject-object categories of cognition and ontology." [Sandoz 1981:204]
"The mode of cognition in the experience of transcendence is called 'participation.' Participation is not cognition of a world-immanent object or event, and hence cannot result in positive propositions concerning true order. Participation is a movement in the soul, a response to transcendent reality by virtue of consubstantiality. It results in a sensitiveness of the soul for injustice in the concrete situation." [CW 27:79]


"Experience, event, passion, what happens to one, what is undergone. Not to be confused with the popular use of `pitiableness.'" [Webb 1981:286]


"Persuasion. In Voegelin (following Plato), the persuasive communication of (or invitation to) truth, especially the truth of existential order." [Webb 1981:286]


"Turning around, conversion. Plato's term for the cognitive and moral reorientation toward the True and the Good as such." [Webb 1981:286]


"The natural sciences are sciences of phenomena, and the humanities (Geisteswissenschaften) are sciences of substance. Voegelin extracted arguments concerning the difference between substance and phenomena from the works of Giordano Bruno. Phenomena, the object of the natural sciences, are rooted in physical objects and their relations to one another (force, motion, attraction, etc.). Geometrical descriptions, algebraic formulas, and quantified descriptions are all examples of mathematical expressions pertaining to phenomena. Although anchored in physical entities, they are incidental to the substance or the essence of the entities themselves. The appearance of things, presented to the senses, is not their substance or essence, but exists merely at the 'surface of things.'" [Heilke 1990:65]


"Love, especially in the sense of friendship." [Webb 1981:286]


"Voegelin's term (based on Plato's philodoxos) for `love of opinion.' Contrasts with `philosophy' or `love of wisdom' in that it conceives of truth in immanentistic rather than transcendental terms and tends to claim a perfect correspondence between ultimate reality and the ideas or interpretive models used to represent it. Another point of contrast is that whereas philosophy is inherently oriented toward further inquiry through openness to the Question, philodoxy is the expression of a desire to put an end to questioning and thereby to escape from the `tension of existence.' In this respect, philodoxy is a principal manifestation of `closed existence'." [Webb 1981:286]


"Lover of myth. Aristotle's term for one who thinks in the medium of myth and whom he describes as, in a sense, a philosopher." [Webb 1981:286]


(see also History, Philosophy of.)

"The love of wisdom in the sense of transcendental truth. As Voegelin (following Plato) conceives it, philosophy is characterized by the realization that one does not actually possess transcendental truth but is oriented toward it through love. Contrasts with philodoxy (q.v.)." [Webb 1981:286]

"For philosophy is by no means a construing of a field of study; it is a zetema, an endless inquiry into the heights and depths of reality via an exegesis of consciousness. As it proceeds it develops particular interpretive models or symbols which by their mythic and analogical character attempt to circumscribe the nature of reality under analysis. The philosophical rendering of reality is never absolute because by definition it is motivated not by the right view of things (which ultimately belongs to God alone) but by 'openness' and 'existence in truth.' The self-interpretation of consciousness is never achieved once and for all; it is a process in the lifetime of a human being. As a result, the definitions, concepts, and symbols of a philosopher achieved at an earlier stage of his or her zetema are likely to be superceded by those achieved at a later stage. The zetema as an ongoing quest for truth never achieves a final resting point; it comes to a halt only with the death of the philosopher, only then to be taken up by others. Therefore, a philosopher like Voegelin must be read in a way that views the later insights and symbols achieved in the course of his study as qualifying and superseding the earlier ones." [Morrissey 1994:89-90]
"By the time he delivered his Walgreen lectures ... in 1951 ..., it was clear to him [Voegelin] that philosophy in its essential reality was not a set of ideas but a phase--the most reflectively conscious--of an existential process in which one experiences and freely yields oneself to what Voegelin has come to call the 'tension of existence,' the deep longing of the soul for truth and for fullness of life, the pull at the core of the philosopher's being toward a goal that will remain always mysterious but which draws him with imperative force... (p. 7)

"For Voegelin the intellectual enterprise of the philosopher--who by the very nature of his task must be simultaneously a historian of philosophical thought and a philosopher of history--has become the recovery of the experiential ground of philosophy, the descent by way of historical memory through the various levels of symbolization, mythic and conceptual, to the deepest motivating center of the philosophical quest of man for true existence." [Webb 1981:7, 9]

"Historical inquiry, therefore, is an exploration not only of past events and their interrelations but also of the structure of human existence as a process of participation in being. This means that history as a study is in its essential character a philosophical discipline. Similarly, to Voegelin philosophy itself is a process of reflection in which the structure of human existence and its historical character become conscious. As he put it in his essay, 'Eternal Being in Time,' written in 1964, history and philosophy mutually constitute one another (Anam., p. 133). History is a philosophical inquiry, and philosophy is intrinsically historical in structure. Both engage in a double movement that is simultaneously a movement backward in time to reappropriate the past and a movement into the depths of the perpetual present, what Voegelin has called the 'flow of presence,' to appropriate, as far as this is possible to reflective consciousness, the essential structure of human existence." [Webb 1981:17-18]
"... philosophy in the classic sense is not a body of 'ideas' or 'opinions' about the divine ground dispensed by a person who calls himself a 'philosopher,' but a man's responsive pursuit of his questioning unrest to the divine source that has aroused it. This pursuit, however, if it is to be responsive indeed to the divine mover, requires the effort of articulating the experience through appropriate language symbols; and this effort leads to the insights into the noetic structure of the psyche.

"The consciousness of questioning unrest in a state of ignorance becomes luminous to itself as a movement in the psyche toward the ground that is present in the psyche as its mover. The precognitive unrest becomes a cognitive consciousness, a noesis, intending the ground as its noema, or noeton; at the same time, the desire (oregesthai) to know becomes the consciousness of the ground as the object of desire, as the orekton (Met. 1072a26 ss). The ground can be reached in this process of thought and be recognized as the object desired by the meditative ascent through the via negativa: the ground is not to be found among the things of the external world, nor among the purposes of hedonistic and political action, but lies beyond this world." [Voegelin Anam:96]

"Philosophy is the symbolic form par excellance of the noesis mode of participation. It is distinguished by the philosopher's discovery of the self-reflective reason as the specific essence of man and the substance of the psyche (or consciousness), which knows both itself and its affinity with the ultimate divine reality that is its cause, fulfillment, and the Ground of all being. The philosophers' inquiry is the loving search by reason of the divine Reason in which it participates and to which it seeks more perfectly to attune itself in the reciprocal relationship of knower and known, lover and beloved. The core of the philosophical effort, then--and of human nature itself--is openness to the Ground as the vertical tension of existence rendered intelligible through the symbols of rational exegesis called noesis." [Sandoz 1981:185]
"What is philosophy in its authentic form: Probably the clearest example, Voegelin believes, may be seen in Plato. The common modern interpretation of Plato is in the philodoxic mode; it represents his thought as a body of 'Platonic' doctrines and arguments designed to support them. In Voegelin's analysis this is a radical misreading of Plato, for whom 'truth is not a body of propositions about a world-immanent object; it is the world-transcendent summum bonum, experienced as an orienting force in the soul, about which we can speak only in analogical symbols [OH 3:363]. Plato's philosophy, says Voegelin, 'is not a philosophy [in the philodoxic sense], but the symbolic form in which a Dionysiac soul expresses its ascent to God' (p. 70). The substance of philosophy is not to be found in the philosopher's ideas but in the ascent that he enacts, in response to divine calling and grace." [Webb 1981:118-119]
"the creation of an order of symbols through which man's position in the world is understood." [Voegelin German Anam:59 quoted by Gebhardt in Voegelin OH 5:111]
"If philosophy is movement, a thrust toward the unknown, then its concepts cannot be precisely defined abstractions, its propositions are not to be read literally. What, then, are they? Voegelin answers: they are symbolisms expressed in disciplined, rational language. This takes philosophy out of its isolation and places it into a whole historical world of symbolizations beyond the rationalistic world image implanted in us from childhood on." [Sebba 1977:647-648]
"Voegelin's studies led him to discover that philosophy properly so called is man's symbolic articulation and differentiation of his noetic (rational) experience of being, insights into reality and its implications made possible by his participation in the 'In-Between' of matter and spirit, and not, as had come to pass since Enlightenment days, an attempt to mold reality into a scheme consistent with a posited or assumed idea (ideology)." [Robert A. Pascal and James L. Baber, Editors' Introduction to CW 27:xiv]


"Intention, purpose; practical wisdom, prudence. In Aristotle, the understanding that guides ethical virtue. Plato had given the concept a more contemplative emphasis, sometimes treating it as virtually equivalent to nous." [Webb 1981:286]


"The primary message of the Republic, Plato's most famous dialogue, amounts to this: 'The right order of man and society is...an embodiment in historical reality of the idea of the Good, of the Agathon. The embodiment must be undertaken by the man who has seen the Agathon and let his soul be ordered through the vision, by the philosopher.' [OH3:47]... The attack against the corrupt society is not against any political policy or particular social ailment; it is against the disease of the soul. The restoration requires a turning around (periagoge) of the whole soul, from ignorance to the truth of God, from opinion (doxa) about things to knowledge (episteme) of being. [OH3:68] Plato calls paideia 'the art of turning around' toward the agathon. Though periagoge is not conversion in the Christian sense, it does carry the sense of a divine pull from beyond. Paideia, periagoge, and agathon, thus, are intimately connected in Plato's philosophy of order. [OH3:115-116]" [Morrissey 1994:69]
"The Platonic realm of ideas was one of the symbols that expressed the philosopher's experience of transcendence." [???]

Platonism and Aristotelianism

"Voegelin takes his bearings on the visionary experience of transcendence. Accordingly, he opts for the Platonic image of seeing rather than the Aristotelian image of the identity of the knower with the known. The experience of vision was prototypically formulated by Plato and later taken up by Christian mystics who inherited the Platonic/Augustinian tradition of the illuminatio divina. As a religious thinker Voegelin is situated in this tradition. On the basis of this luminous way to truth, he is generally not interested in the epistemological, transcendental, or phenomenological concerns of modern philosophy which by and large prescind from experiences of transcendence. This is why he generally discounts consciousness understood as intentionality in favor of consciousness understood as luminosity, which for him is the proper, exalted mode for encountering divine truth. Rather than beginning from the Aristotelian/Thomistic agent intellect, Voegelin begins with the interior illumination of divine presence evoked by religious experiences. Compared to Aristotle, Voegelin finds in Plato a greater experiential richness in his treatment of the one that lies beyond the range of human understanding. All knowledge occurs within the light of this oneness and lures human minds toward its truth. Where Aristotle is stronger in defining the various defining forms of the many, Plato is stronger in articulating the experience of relatedness to the unformed one beyond the many. The whole of being in its transcendent mystery is at the center of Plato's philosophy, while Aristotle is generally more concerned with knowing the material forms of immanent being. Accordingly, Voegelin adopts a view of consciousness as relational and participatory and thus is generally keen on Plato's mythopoeic constructions in his discourses on divine being. The divine is the mover of human intelligence and thus becomes the immanent 'object' of the noetic search. Lonergan too perceives an immanent source of transcendence in human intelligence, but his neoscholastic heritage makes him formulate it in terms of an agent intellect that knows being by possessing a sufficiency of evidence and reason that is verified in judgment. Voegelin finds in the Platonic nous a more helpful articulation of metaleptic consciousness, one that knows being through meditative, anamnetic reflection.

"In Voegelin's understanding of human existence the distinction held by Aquinas, Scotus, and other scholastics between the supernatural light of God and the natural light of the created intellect becomes virtually indiscernible. The question surrounding this issue is of course how nature and grace are interwoven in the soul's ascent toward God. The Aristotelian/Thomistic orientation tended to view human nature as an autonomous power of individual substance. Thus, there arises the notion of the idea of God that is innate in the mind, allowing humans to know God through the unaided power of their own natural capacity. This understanding of human nature diverged from the Platonic/Augustinian view of the soul as an opening to the infinite light of God within the very structure of its being. In this view, one would have to say that the nature of humans is openness to transcendent grace--the conclusion being that a nature that is not fulfilled by grace is not living according to its true nature. What follows, therefore, is that there can be no facile division between nature and grace, reason and revelation, or revelation and natural theology. Because of the mutual participation of being and existence in one another, reason and revelation, nature and grace are not dichotomous processes. In the core experience of openness to the mystery of being, they are intimately related." [Morrissey 1994:218-219]


"A disposition to take more than one's share." [Webb 1981:286]


fullness. [Webb 1981:264 or Voegelin OH 4:251]

Pleromatic metaxy

"...the fullest Parousia in the metaxy... It is the presence of divine reality, the presence of the Beyond in a fullness of formative force; but it is not a 'fullness of the Beyond,' or else it, the Beyond, would be comprehended, and we would be out of the Middle in some nowhere of Being." [Paul Caringella, "Voegelin: Philosopher of Divine Presence" in Sandoz 1991:193]


"Wind, air, breath, spirit. In Voegelin's use, the presence of the transcendental pole of the tension of existence as a force ordering the soul from within. An equivalent symbol for helkein." [Webb 1981:286]

Pneumatic differentiation

"Voegelin's term for the awakening of the soul both by and to the experience of the pull (helkein) in the tension of existence toward transcendental perfection; the emergent realization of the absolutely transcendent character of the pole. Historically, the realization among both ancient Israelites and early Christians of the absolute distinction between God and the created realm." [Webb 1981:286-287]

Political reality

"Voegelin employs the notion of `political reality' to refer to the reality generated by the consciousness of specific individuals whose experiences and symbolic expressions produce a social field that also has the character of a historical field. The assumption here is that the problems of order in society and history arise from the order of consciousness. The theory of consciousness can for this reason be placed at the center of political theory." [Keulman 1990:xv]


"Desire, yearning, longing (for mundane fulfillments). Defined by Voegelin as `a powerful desire to reach out indefinitely toward the unknown and unheard of.' Used especially to refer to Alexander the Great's unlimited ambitions." [Webb 1981:287]

Presence, indelible

"Through his vision Plato can understand the historical process as a flux of divine presence. Every phase of the flux has the structure of a divine-human encounter; every phase is an event of man's responding, or refusing to respond, to the presence of the divine ordering appeal. The consciousness of divine presence as the formative appeal endows every such event with the indelible character of a 'present.' Unfortunately, this part of the vision has never attracted sufficient attention to have developed a satisfactory terminology beyond Plato's own pareinai and parousia. By introducing the term indelible present we shall be able to speak more fluently and intelligibly of this important insight into the structure of history. Moreover, the term should help to dissolve at least some of the confusion that has accumulated around the problem in our time through the analytically questionable use of the terms Being and Parousia in certain hermeneutical enterprises, such as Heidegger's `fundamental ontology.'

"The `indelible present' in the sense here intended does not belong to the external time of the material cosmos. The past, present, and future of external time are overlaid by a `present' that is constituted by the presence of the `God' revealed in Plato's vision. The vision, thus, reveals modes of time whose stratification corresponds to the stratification of being in man's existence. By his body, man partakes of the material and organic cosmos; by this psyche he participates in divine immortality. By his bodily life, he is destined to die; by his death to the body, he is destined to live. Man is conscious of being the `mortal-immortal' of Heraclitus' vision (Heraclitus B 62). Hence, while the events of history are datable in external time, corresponding to the bodily existence of the man who has the experience, the events themselves occur at the intersection of external time with the flux of divine presence, i.e. in the existential time of the metaxy. Such meaning as this stratum has, however, derives from its function as the bodily and organizational substratum of existential consciousness. The process as a whole has its center of meaning in the flux of presence that has been differentiated by the vision (Laws IV.

"The vision reveals the indelible present as the center of meaning in the events of history." [Voegelin, "Wisdom and the Magic of the Extreme: A Meditation" in CW 12:346-]

Primary experience of the cosmos

"The primary experience of the cosmos may be loosely defined as what is felt and known about reality prior to philosophical or spiritually differentiated revelations about it. It is the bedrock experience of belonging to an ordered totality of things, a cosmos, that in its movements, origins, and meanings is complete within itself. [quotes from OH 4:68] '...and above all, it is a cosmos full of gods.' The last point is essential. What it means in philosophical terms is that the ground, the purposive origin of things, is perceived or experienced not as 'beyond,' but as contained within the spectrum of spatiotemporal existences. Reality is saturated with divine presence, because the very origins of things are manifest in the cosmos... As a result, for the member of ancient society, nature is never encountered as a neutral, impersonal 'It,' but as a 'Thou,' alive with purpose and emotion." [Hughes 1993:43-44]
"Reality is, for every human being, initially and overwhelmingly the cosmos of the primary experience, into which we are born and which even the relatively rare achievements of articulate experiences of transcendence do not annul but supplement. With a tone of admonishment for those whose intellectual or spiritual sophistication might seduce them into forgetting it, Voegelin emphasizes that the primary experience of the cosmos in which the divine presence of the ground is compactly experienced always remains the condition within which the differentiation of a divine Beyond, and of a nous or spirit in human existence, takes place. 'The differentiation of existential truth does not abolish the cosmos in which the event occurs.' [OH 4:8-9] 'Compactness and differentiation [are not] simply historical stages of consciousness, the one succeeding the other in time, but poles of a tensional process in which the revelation of the Beyond has to overcome progressively a hard core of compact resistance without ever dissolving it completely.'" [Hughes 1993:52]
"[Discussing OH4] What, if anything, is permanent in this endless process of history? For Voegelin, there are three fundamental dynamics in human experience which remain constant.

"First, there is the primary experience of reality which can be expressed as follows: Whatever comes into being must perish; nothing that exists is its own ground of existence; existence is an intermediate movement between being and nonbeing; pure being and pure nothing are the same, and their truth is the movement from one to the other, i.e., becoming. This primal experience was given its classic formulation by Anaximander's dictum: 'The origin (arche) of things is the Apeiron... It is necessary for things to perish into that from which they were born; for they pay one another penalty for their injustice (adikia) according to the ordinance of time.' [OH4:174-176]

"Second, there arises the etiological question of the ground: 'What is this mysterious ground the existent things don't carry within themselves but nevertheless carry with them as a sort of matrix of existence?' [OH4:74] Whatever the ground is, it must be something--not a thing among other existent things, but the nonexistent origin of all things. "Third, there are various answers promulgated by the questioning consciousness. History has provided a plethora of examples, all structurally equivalent: Plato's divine nous; Aristotle's prote arche; the Amon-Re of Egypt; the Israelite creator-God; the pre-and transmundane God of Christianity; the Neoplatonic world-soul; Hegel's immanent Geist; Bergson's elan vital; Heidegger's epigonic Being; etc. Voegelin explains that these various answers to the question of the ground are not simply relative to one another on a scale of truth [OH4:75]. They are, however, indicative of the ontic constants and equivalents symbolizations of human consciousness:

For the answers make sense only in relation to the questions they answer; the questions, furthermore, make sense only in relation to the concrete experiences of reality from which they have arisen; and the concrete experiences, together with their linguistic articulation, finally, make sense only in the cultural context which sets limits to both the direction and range of intelligible differentiation. Only the complex of experience-question-answer as a whole is a constant of consciousness... No answer, thus, is the ultimate truth in whose possession mankind could live happily forever after, because no answer can abolish the historical process of consciousness from which it has emerged. [OH4:75]
"In modern philosophy, this constant complex of experience-question-answer was given its archetypal formulation by Leibniz's two metaphysical questions: Why is there something, why not nothing? and Why do things have to be as they are and not different? Leibniz's answer was simple: 'This ultimate reason is called God.' [OH4:73-74]" [Morrissey 1994:96-97]


"Breath, vital principle, soul. In Voegelin's use, a comprehensive term for the process in which the pull toward the transcendental pole of the tension of existence is sensed and responded to; includes varying degrees of consciousness." [Webb 1981:287]
"The Hellenic thinkers have transformed the older term into the symbol for a site or matrix of experience that surrounds and comprehends the area of conscious experience. In its new symbolic meaning, the psyche has depth and its depth is unbounded; one can descend into the depth and explore it; like a diver man can drag up from the depth a truth about reality that hitherto had not been articulate insight; the exploration will result in an augmentation of meaning in conscious experience; but the awareness of continuity between consciousness and depth will also permit the language of an augmentation of meaning in the psyche." [Voegelin, "Equivalences of Experience and Symbolization in History" in CW 12:124-125]
"By extending the structure of equivalence from the historical field of symbols through the experiences to the depth, we recognize the psyche of man as an area of reality whose structure extends continuously from the depth to the manifestations of consciousness." [Voegelin, "Equivalences of Experience and Symbolization in History" in CW 12:129]
"The experience of divine reality ... occurs in the psyche of a man who is solidly rooted by his body in the external world, but the psyche itself exists in the Metaxy, in the tension toward the divine ground of being. It is the sensorium for divine reality and the site of its luminous presence. Even more, it is the site in which the comprehensive reality becomes luminous to itself and engenders the language in which we speak of a reality that comprehends both an external world and the mystery of its Beginning and Beyond, as well as the metaleptic psyche in which the experience occurs and engenders its language. In the experience, not only the truth of divine reality becomes luminous but, at the same time, the truth of the world in which the experience occurs." [Voegelin, "The Beginning and the Beyond: A Meditation on Truth" in CW 28:184-185]

Quest for truth

(see also: search, story of the quest)

an event in cosmic reality that ultimately appears to be the "place" at which reality reveals itself in its structural complexity of thing-reality and It-reality. [Voegelin OH 5:101-102]

The quest for truth "can do no more than explore the structures in the divine mystery of the complex reality and, through the analysis of the experienced responses to the tensional pulls, arrive at some clarity about its own function in the drama in which it participates." [Voegelin OH 5:116]
Interpreting the Timaeus, "The quest for truth is concerned with the genesis and structure of the All, and above all with the question whether it is created or uncreated." [Voegelin OH 5:88]

Question, the

"Voegelin's term for the tension of existence in its aspect as a questioning unrest seeking not simply particular truth, but still more the transcendental pole of truth as such: 'not just any question but the quest concerning the mysterious ground of all being.' Expresses itself in mythopoetic as well as noetic acts." [Webb 1981]
"The Question as a 'structure inherent to the experience of reality' (OH, IV, 317) takes a variety of forms and may be explicit (as in Leibniz) or implicitly (as in Anaximander and Heraclitus) when only answers were given. In its various modes, it structures the process of the search of the Ground of being; and its very asking implies an Answer just as answers given imply the Question, even if the responsive answers given imply the Question, even if the responsive answers of men out of the several experiential horizons of myth, philosophy, revelation, and the meditative styles of India and China provide in their equivalence no more than representative truth. It is through the differentiation of the Question that compact truth dissolves to differentiate as the advance of truth in history. History is thus understood to be the dimension of reality in the In-Between in which the luminosity of the meaning of the Whole increases and in which the process of the Whole is experienced as moving in the direction of 'eminent reality.'...

"...other aspects of the Question may be summarized. In the first place, as we saw, the Question symbolizes the experience of the Mystery of Reality as existence out of nonexistence. It yields understanding of the In-Between reality of the existence of things in the cosmos as the In-Between reality in precarious balance, partaking of nonexistence because under sentence of being born to perish 'according to the ordinance of Time' (Anaximander). Secondly, however, the Question as a reflective movement in the process of consciousness in a man has direction toward eminent reality, e.g., in the sense of the mortal whose quest is immortality (Heraclitus/Aristotle). Thirdly, the philosophical process of immortalizing in the In-Between, forming through erotic tension as the 'desire' to know the Ground and more perfectly participate in its Reason through attunement, is experienced as a passion and as a cooperative divine-human enterprise decisively structured by the actualizing attractiveness of the divine Nous (Plato/Aristotle). The differentiated process of the Question is the process of direction-giving ratio, of insightful knowing questions and questioning answers, through which the self-reflective meditation of a questing or 'spiritual' man moves because he feels drawn (hence directed) toward the transcendent divine Ground variously experienced-symbolized as the Beyond of existence that is the Good (Republic) or the Beautiful (Symposium) or the Third God Nous who pulls the golden cord of reason in human consciousness (Laws). Finally, the process of consciousness of a man as he quests is experienced-symbolized as a structure of faith in search of understanding, as the fides quaerens intellectum of Anselm's language presupposed by Leibniz' 'answer,' for instance." [Sandoz 1981:196-198]

"The Question capitalized is not a question concerning the nature of this or that object in the external world, but a structure inherent to the experience of reality. As a consequence, it does not appear in the same form at all times, but shares by its varying modes the advance of experience from compactness to differentiation. The meaning of the Question can be ascertained, therefore, only by tracing the modes from the setting in the primary experience of the cosmos, through transitional forms, to their setting in the context of noetic and pneumatic differentiations.

"In the setting of the primary experience, the Question appears as the motivating force in the act of symbolizing the origin of things through the myth, i.e., by a story which relates one thing, or complex of things, to another intracosmic thing as the ground of its existence; the myth is the answer to a question concerning the ground, even if the question itself, or the problem of the Question capitalized, is not spelled out... [Voegelin OH 4:317]

"Conventionally historians, philosophers, and theologians are concerned with the answers to the Question. What I am trying to do here is to analyze the Question as a constant structure in the experience of reality and, since the experience is part of reality, in the structure of reality itself. A few results can now be formulated:

"(1) In the three cases analyzed, the Question is recognizably the constant in various modes of experience.

"(2) The cases, furthermore, are not random manifestations of the constant but reveal, in their succession, a definite pattern of meaning, inasmuch as the Question itself emerges from the compact mode of cosmological truth into the differentiated truth of existence...

"(3) The cases, finally, reveal the structures in reality that are experienced not as givens beyond question, but as raising the questions in search of answers. They are: (a) The existence of the cosmos; (b) the hierarchy and diversification of being; (c) the experience of questioning as the constituent of humanity; (d) the leap in existential truth through noetic and pneumatic illuminations of consciousness; (e) the process of history in which the differentiations of questioning consciousness and the leaps in truth occur; and (f) the eschatological movement in the process beyond its structure.

"The results, once they are formulated in this manner, will shed light on further problems. The structures enumerated under (3) are not coordinate, but variously related to one another in the process of the Question as it differentiates. The questions concerning the existence of the cosmos and the essence of its order (3a and 3b) differentiate earlier than the questions concerning the process of consciousness (3e and 3f), and the two groups are linked historically by the differentiation of questioning consciousness and its noetic and pneumatic illumination (3c and 3d)." [Voegelin OH 4:326-327]


the directional factor of knowledge in the tension toward the ground which is the material structure of consciousness and its order [Voegelin Anam:149]


"The `most real.' Term for God or the divine ground considered as supreme reality." [Webb 1981:287]


"The new ontology that emerges from Voegelin's analysis as presented in Anamnesis is founded in the reality of experience in the In-Between of participatory consciousness. Reality is 'no closed rational system'; neither idealism nor materialism provide satisfactory accounts of it. Voegelin tends to avoid the terms metaphysics and ontology, as well as being and becoming, because of the connotations these terms carry. He prefers simply to speak of reality when symbolizing the comprehensive range of the Is. The theory of knowledge and the science of reality tend to merge in his account, for what is is strictly what is experienced by the reality called 'man,' in the participation in the In-Between called 'consciousness,' within which the tensional awarenesses of realities encountered and expressed in language are engendered." [Sandoz 1981:186]
"Reality, at its deepest level, is not a `thing' or a `fact,' but an existential tension which is structured, through the poles of `world' and `Beyond,' as a pull toward the perfect fullness and luminosity of being that is symbolized in the language of myth by the realm of the divine. The substance of reality, in other words, at least as far as it can be known by man in epistemic experience, is nothing other than the love of God. This is, again, to speak mythically; but to articulate in all of its experiential richness a philosophical penetration into the living depths of existence no other language can be fully effective. Existential reality is not known through an objectifying `look' which could subject it to cognitive mastery in the philodoxic mode, but only through the involvement of the whole person surrendering, entrusting, and committing himself to it." [Webb 1981:126]
"...it is the divine ground that is ultimately real, while all created reality may be described as a myth--a myth not in the sense that it is false but in the sense that its truth is an analogical imaging forth of the eminent reality of the ground. Seen in this light, time and history are mythic representations of the eternal presence that is the ultimate standard of reality." [Webb 1981:145]
"Reality, as a whole, however, is more comprehensive than the psyche which becomes luminous within it. Human existence in the metaxy is a mystery embedded in mystery. Above it is the divine Beyond, and below it are the depths which lie beneath articulate experience, but from which meaning can emerge as it becomes the experience that engenders the analogical symbols that make it consciously present." [Webb 1981:146]

Reality, divine

"Divine reality is being revealed to man in two fundamental modes of experience: in the experience of divine creativity in the cosmos; and in the experience of divine ordering presence in the soul.

"The two modes are always structures in man's consciousness of divine reality, but they are not always conscious in the form of reflected knowledge. The experience is the area of reality where the revelatory appeal from the divine side meets with the questing response from the human side, and reflective meditation on the response is preceded by millennia of less reflected response in the form of cosmological symbolization. Only late in history, when man becomes aware of himself, of his spirit and intellect, as an active partner in the cognition of divine reality, will the two modes be discerned and adequately symbolized. Only when the response becomes luminous to itself as a quest for the divine ground, and when the quest becomes an act of reflective questioning, will man find himself moving either in the direction of divine creativity toward a Beginning of things, or in the direction of the ordering presence within his soul toward a divine Beyond as its source." [Voegelin, "The Beginning and the Beyond: A Meditation on Truth" in CW 28:173]

Reality, existent and nonexistent

"In order to convey the genuine difficulties and perplexities involved in grasping that the ground is not another cosmic thing, not something perceivable by the senses, and therefore to the undiscerning indistinguishable from nonreality pure and simple, Voegelin in some places describes the ground as 'non-existent reality,' reserving the term existence for spatio-temporally conditioned phenomena. This leads him to define the tension toward the ground as 'a tension between existence and non-existence,' allowing his intended meaning of 'a tension between temporally conditioned existence and the divine fullness of being in which it participates' to be supplemented by the phrase's unavoidable connotation of 'a tension between spatiotemporal existence and nothingness.' This is not scholarly mischief or obscurantism--though it may be perceived as such--but gentle dialectical craftsmanship responsive to the fact that for Voegelin's readers, as for those first called to move beyond the primary experience of the cosmos, the differentiation of a reality determined by criteria other than the experiences of sense and imagination is an undertaking fraught with perils of misunderstanding." [Hughes 1993:48-49]
"The key concept, human nature, ... was not developed through inductive logic but as the term for the 'nonexistent reality' of man--i.e., neither a thing nor divinity, but an 'In-Between' (metaxy) of consciousness--which loves the divine Ground of being." [Sandoz 1981:161]
"The fundamental tension of experienced reality is the mysterious tension of existence out of nonexistence. The fundamental tension is symbolized in the cosmos itself in early myth. The cosmos is not a thing among others; rather it is the embracing whole and 'background' of reality against which all existent things exist' including the quaternarian structure of reality in the mode of existence articulated as God, man, world, and society. Symbolized as intracosmic areas of reality, their truth 'derives from the experience of an underlying, intangible embracingness, from a something that can supply existence, consubstantiality, and order to all areas of reality even though it does not itself belong as an existent thing to any one of these areas.' Not as an existent thing among others, but as the 'background of reality against which all existent things exist,' thus, the cosmos 'has reality in the mode of nonexistence' (OH, IV, 72-73). There are, then, two modes of reality: 'Reality in the mode of existence is experienced as immersed in reality in the mode of nonexistence and, inversely, nonexistence reaches into existence. The process has the character of an In-Between reality, governed by the tension of life and death' (OH, IV, 174).

"Here we have Voegelin's exegesis of the earliest extant pronouncements by philosophers 'on the process of reality and its structure,' those by Anaximander (fl. 560 B.C.), and Heraclitus (fl. 500 B.C.). In Anaximander's words: ''The origin (arche) of things is the Apeiron [Depth; Boundless]... It is necessary for things to perish into that from which they were born, for they pay one another penalty for their injustice (adikia) according to the ordinance of Time.'' Reality experienced and so symbolized in Anaximander is a cosmic process in which things emerge from, only to disappear again into, the nonexistent reality of the Depth (Apeiron). Things do not owe their existence to themselves; they exist for a time and lapse back into the nonexistence out of which their existence came. 'Hence, to exist means to participate in two modes of reality: (I) In the Apeiron as the timeless arche of things and (2) in the ordered succession of things as the manifestation of the Apeiron in time.'" [Sandoz 1981:192-193]

Reality, problem of

"Voegelin discovered years ago that the fundamental philosophical problem is the nature of reality. Unfortunately, this is exactly the problem that many modern philosophers tend to neglect or assume to have been resolved in some commonsense fashion or regard as meaningless and 'unverifiable.' If, however, one attempts, as Marx did, to abolish the 'problem of reality,' one also abolishes philosophy." [Keulman 1990:82]


"It is the Nous meditatively discovered in antiquity by the mystic philosophers, differentiated in the Classical period by Plato and Aristotle, and now further differentiated in the thought of Voegelin. In its widest perspective it is, in its several dimensions, concretely discovered to be the First Principle common to being, man, and science...

"Reason is the principle of science, because it is a principle of both reality and consciousness; and, in the analysis of the Classical experience, reason is shown to be the highest principle common to man and divine Being. The recovery of the full meaning of Nous (Reason, Mind, Intelligence, Thought, as it is translated in various contexts) is itself a major achievement of Voegelin's work... Reason, as a principle of the noetic science, is both a structure and a process. It is both formal and substantive. It determines the form of the inquiry as the structure of man's participation in the metaxy of existence as that inquiry explores the tension toward the divine Ground of reality. Its content is attunement to the truth of reality experienced, which manifests itself in personal, social, and historical order and in resistance to disorder in the several dimensions of human existence.

"Reason, then, is the principle of existence in the mode of truth. Its discovery in antiquity, and its renewed vitality as manifested in noetic science, Voegelin shows, arises in the experience of resistance to disorder and untruth... Through its discovery in a sequence of increasingly more differentiated by philosophers resisting untruth and exploring truth out of an awareness of their own ignorance, the specifically human nature is constituted whose reality becomes transparent for its truth as a structure of Reason.

"The key is not the finished experience symbolized in Nous. Rather, it is the origin of the discovery form which the differentiation arises. The origin lies in a man's experience of restless wondering as that is pulled toward the eminent reality that stirs the man to restlessness and wondering as the first act of the meditative ascent of Noesis or philosophizing. At this level, reason is the 'something' in man that experiences shame in the recognition of his ignorance or that resists through as-yet-unclear motives the deformation of his own existence and that of other men by destructive forces in the social field. The 'something' in this tension of ignorance or resistance has its setting in the thing called man and in the part of man called psyche, the soul or consciousness. Consciousness is the site of the experiences of restless wondering and ignorance; and the sensorium that reflects on its wondering and ignorance and asks questions about them in the analytical rise of successive wondering, questioning, and answering is, then, further circumscribed to be named Reason. Recognition of direction in the experience is especially significant. For the process of questing as a movement in the soul is not entirely self-induced by man. It is experienced as an attraction toward higher reality that is prefiguratively known in the restlessness of wondering itself and in the awareness of ignorance about what ought to be known. These `knowing' dimensions of the experiences, then, move to clarity in the differentiating rise of the philosopher to the point of the outburst of the symbolism in articulation of the name. That higher something is the divine Nous or Ground (arche, aition), experienced as the controlling reality to which the nous in man is responsive.

"The discovery of Nous, then, is the revelation of the divine Ground." [Sandoz 1981:210-212]

"[ten meanings of Reason in Plato and Aristotle:]

"1. the consciousness of existing from a Ground, an awareness filed with content and not empty. Reason is thereby the instrument for handling world-immanent reality. Rebellion against reason since the eighteenth century creates a void in this dimension that must then be filed by substitutes.

"2. the transcendence of human existence, thereby establishing the poles of consciousness: immanent-transcendent.

"3. the creative Ground of existence which attracts man to itself.

"4. the sensorium whereby man understands himself to exist from a Ground.

"5. the articulation of this understanding through universal ideas.

"6. the perseverance through lifetime of concern about one's relation to the Ground, generative of existential virtue: phronesis (wisdom, prudence), philia (friendship), and athanatizein (to immortalize human existence).

"7. the effort to order existence by the insight gained through understanding the self to be existentially linked to the Ground and attuned to it: the major intellectual operation of so translating consequences of this insight as to form daily habits in accordance with it.

"8. the persuasive effort to induce conscious participation of the self, and other men's conscious participation, in transcendent reason (Plato's peitho). The problem of communicating and propagating the truth of being.

"9. the constituent of man through his participation in (the reason of) the Ground; or the constituent force in man qua human through participation in the divine Nous which is his specific essence.

"10. the constituent of society as the homonoia or 'like-mindedness' of Everyman in a community formed through recognition of the reason common to all men. In Aristotle, if love within the community is not based upon regard for the divinity of reason in the other man, then the political friendship (philia politike) on which a well-ordered community depends cannot exist. The source of the Christian notion of 'human dignity' is the common divinity in all men. Nietzche perceived that if that is surrendered then there is no reason to love anybody, one consequence of which is the loss of the sense and force of obligation in society and, hence, of its cohesiveness." ` [Voegelin from the 1967 Candler Lectures either quoted or paraphrased by Sandoz in Emberley 1993:308-309]


"Consideration of experience by way of a mediating interpretive model. Contrasts with immediacy of experience." [Webb 1981:287]

Reflective distance

"...Voegelin introduces a dimension of consciousness which has been present throughout his work but that he only now develops explicitly. In addition to the paradox of intentionality and luminosity there is a third dimension of consciousness that is aware of this paradox which he characterizes as a 'reflectively distancing remembrance.' It is the dimension of noetic consciousness that Plato in a more compact language called anamnesis. Voegelin has cultivated this aspect of consciousness into a philosophical discipline. He calls it simply 'reflective distance.'" [Morrissey 1994:123]
"Assuming such a critical awareness of Plato's part, there is still nothing in his work like a reflective exegesis of the structures of consciousness in the manner of Voegelin's theory of 'tension,' 'poles,' 'intentionality,' and 'luminosity.' That greater theoretical refinement of analysis, Voegelin would argue, is due to the third structural dimension of consciousness beyond its intentionality and luminosity, its reflective distance to itself, becoming sufficiently recognized, explored, and articulated. Plato's writings, Voegelin would say, with their magnificent balance of logos and mythos, speak to us implicitly of his 'reflectively distancing remembrance' of both the individual and participatory dimensions of consciousness; but in Plato, the self-analysis of consciousness is not yet so differentiated that reflective distance itself comes into view. Voegelin's specification and analysis of it as a third structure of consciousness is offered, in In Search of Order, as a distinct theoretical advance over both the classical philosophies and also those of modernity insofar as the latter, especially German Idealism, inadequately explain the relation of the reflexive capacities of consciousness, which they explore in detail, to its other structures; and this advance, he maintains, has a retroactive bearing on the proper interpretation of his own earlier work--for he now claims the essentials of his own theory of consciousness to be an analysis in the medium of 'reflective symbols.'" [Hughes 1993:36-37]
"Voegelin's term for the realization of the difference between the experience of existence as an event of conscious 'participation' (q.v.) in being and the expression of this event in language symbols. This is an essential ingredient, according to Voegelin, in the 'balance of consciousness' (q.v.) and involves the conception of truth not as information but as a growth of luminosity in the process of reality. contrasts with 'doxic thinking' (q.v.) and claims to gnosis (q.v.)." [Webb 1981]
"In contemporary philosophy, however, we have no terminology to deal with these problems of formation and deformation. I have, therefore chosen the phrase reflective distance as a technical term to denote Plato's awareness of the problem. It is meant to bring to conceptual clarity the difference between reality becoming reflectively luminous in consciousness and the collapse of reflective luminosity into self-reflective identity.

"The reflective distance between the movements of the divine-human encounter and their articulation through symbols will bring itself forcefully to the thinker's attention when a differentiation of truth on the level of the participatory experience cannot be adequately articulated by the symbols available in the social and historical environment. New symbols will have to be found, and older symbols will have to change their meaning. That is Plato's problem as he finds himself reflectively confronted with his participatory 'vision.'" [Voegelin, "Wisdom and the Magic of the Extreme: A Meditation" in CW 12:345]

a dimension of consciousness in which one is aware of the paradox of consciousness, equivalent to anamnesis [Voegelin OH 5:41]
the term emphasizes that "the reflective acts of consciousness and the concomitant reflective symbolizations [are] the authentic area of the philosophical inquiry" [Jurgen Gebhardt, in Epilogue of Voegelin OH 5:116], also referred to by Voegelin as "the balance of consciousness" or "wisdom" [Paul Caringella, "Voegelin: Philosopher of Divine Presence" in Sandoz 1991:182]
"I would like to speak of a further component in the structure of consciousness, which I am calling 'reflective distance.' In reflective distance the entire problem of luminosity and intentionality is now transposed into a language of reflection, in which this problem is spoken about as if there were a reality independent of reflection." [Voegelin, "Med. Origin ..." in Lawrence 1984:50]
"In reflective distance, the questioner rather experiences his speech as the divine silence breaking creatively forth in the imaginative word that will illuminate the quest as the questioner's movement of return to the ineffable silence." [Voegelin OH 5:103]
"This balance of noetic or reflective consciousness is the specific differentiating attainment of philosophizing insofar as it articulates the dimension of reflective distance in consciousness. By introducing the term 'reflective distance' Voegelin designates the reflective acts of consciousness and the concomitant reflective symbolization as the authentic area of the philosophical inquiry. Reflective distance bridges the gap between the 'absolute' truth experienced by a person and the 'relative' truth documenting itself in the historical manifold of human self-expression. Reflective distance brings out the interplay between the philosopher's imaginative attempts at symbolization and the remembering activity of his consciousness that is noetic anamnesis. The language of reflective distance refers analytically to the personal dimension of human existence in terms of the meditative complex of consciousness-reality-language which provides the symbols with their contextual validity; it relates to the social dimension of human existence in terms of a social field of public consciousness which furnishes the mutual understanding of existentially committed human beings. And, finally, it is concerned with the historical dimension of human existence in terms of man's search for his humanity and its order which assigns to the symbols their validity in the context of their historical equivalences. From this critical analysis of the philosophical inquiry comes forth the reflective language framing the symbolic form of modern man's questioning, which is the subject matter of the present volume.

"Voegelin's analysis of the reflective dimension of consciousness is informed by Hegel's attempt at recovering the experiential roots of consciousness. In opposition to, and as corrective of, the symbolism of reflective identity, Voegelin says, he has formulated the symbolism of reflective distance. Following the lead of Hegel's self-analysis in the Phaenomenologie des Geistes, Voegelin reenacts by means of anamnesis the true story of the unfolding reflective consciousness from its mythopoetic origins in Hesiod to its full differentiation in Plato-Socrates. In the course of his penetrating reinterpretation of Platonic philosophy Voegelin lays out his own exegesis of the questioning consciousness. The process of questioning unravels with great analytical care the structural whole of reality consciously experienced as the meaningful epiphany of material, animal and human being in reality." [Jurgen Gebhardt in epilogue to Voegelin OH 5:116-117]

Reflective symbols

"That greater theoretical refinement of analysis, Voegelin would argue, is due to the third structural dimension of consciousness beyond its intentionality and luminosity, its reflective distance to itself, becoming sufficiently recognized, explored, and articulated ... Voegelin's specification and analysis of it as a third structure of consciousness is offered, in In Search of Order, as a distinct theoretical advance over both the classical philosophies and also those of modernity ... and this advance, he maintains, has a retroactive bearing on the proper interpretation of his own earlier work--for he now claims the essentials of his own theory of consciousness to be an analysis in the medium of 'reflective symbols.'

"These distinctions help us to understand just what Voegelin's theory is, in contradistinction to other types of philosophy of consciousness. He himself asks the question, rhetorically, as In Search of Order proceeds: are the terms of his own analysis--such as tension, luminosity, and so on--to be taken as unambiguous concepts? as evocative luminous symbols? The answer is neither. They belong, he claims, to a third genus of formulation distinct from the other two. The 'tension' of participatory consciousness, the 'poles' of the tension and its 'metaxy,' 'intentionality' and 'luminosity,' are neither the hard and fast categories of a definitive logical or scientific account of consciousness, nor mythopoeic symbols providing assistance in spiritual practice but, as Voegelin now calls them, 'reflective symbols,' heuristic categories that identify, from the perspective of reflective distance, the primitive complex of elements that consciousness encounters when it achieves an adequately differentiated understanding of its own ontological structure." [Hughes 1993:36-37]


"Distinctive to radical empiricism is James's insistence (against the whole argument of Hume and his successors) that relationship aspects of reality experienced are every bit as authentic as things experienced. Thus he insists that, `To be radical, an empiricism must neither admit into its constructions any element that is not directly experienced, nor exclude from them any element that is directly experienced. For such a philosophy, the relations that connect experiences must themselves be experienced relations, and any kind of relation experienced must be accounted as `real' as anything else in the system.'

"This means, in contrast to ordinary empiricism, that conjunctive and disjunctive relations are integral to pure experience... `Every examiner of the sensible life in concreto must see that relations of every sort, of time, space, difference, likeness, change, rate, cause, or what not, are just as integral members of the flux as disjunctive relations are...With, near, next, like, from, towards, against, because, for, through, my--these words designate types of conjunctive relations arranged in a roughly ascending order of intimacy and inclusiveness.'" [Sandoz 1981:175]

see Experience, Pure.

Representation, theory of

"...is mainly concerned with identifying and analyzing the modes of ordering truth which have emerged in history clad in the mantle of authority, whether of a society or of a paradigmatic figure such as a prophet or philosopher. ... such ordering truth arises willy-nilly in a society as the self-interpretation of reality. It finds expression in elaborate symbolisms, communicating the fundamental consensus of the society and shaping the fabric of its institutional life and the personal and public lives of its people. It forms the belief structure which is the distinctive foundation of association in society; and it also shapes the essential humanity of the individual members of the society by supplying meaning in their existence as participants in a reality which they experience as transcending merely private existence. Such ordering truth, then, has the status of existential representation, in that it articulates in an authoritative way the meaning of human existence in society and history. ...the appearance of such commanding personalities as the prophets of Israel and the philosophers of Hellas carries important consequences. The differentiated insight into the order of reality therewith gained creates a critical tension of new truth at odds with the societies' self-interpretations. Such theoretically superior truth may, in varying degrees, be assimilated into the societies' self-interpretations as dimensions of them, or it may be rejected and the bearers destroyed. In either case, the now-familiar two sets of symbolisms through which human existence is represented result. These coexist and overlap..." [Sandoz 1981:98-99]

Representative humanity

"...for reasons unknown (which might be said to be the mystery behind the configuration of history), not all men are endowed equally with spirituality; and even when they are endowed with spiritual sensitivity, insights into order develop only gradually in the course of time. Every new insight begins with a single person, who receives it, one might say, as a representative of the whole of humanity. As a matter of fact, the very idea that there is a humanity, that there is a mankind, and that one can generalize about man, appears only when certain revelatory insights occur. These are spiritual outbursts. We now recognize that man is that being who is capable of insight into true order, the order of true existence and of God, which can only be understood through the orders actually existent in history. That would be the definition of man from which all ideas of a general conception of man must begin. Before such spiritual outbursts, no general conception of man is possible... Only when spiritual insights are attained does man become defined as that being who receives his order through existence from God. There is therefore a tremendous importance attaching to these spiritual outbursts and insights. The recipients of such insights act as representatives of humanity, with the obligation to communicate their insights to all mankind. Every prophet, every philosopher, every enlightened person ... comes as an element of disorder in his society, because he has received an insight into the true order, which is different from the established order. Thus, every new insight into order is the beginning of a revolution of more or less considerable dimensions.

"This element of representative humanity is a real factor, not only in these outbursts of ancient times ..., but also in the present day... It is the element of representativeness that gives momentum to all of the modern ideological movements. The representatives or leaders of such movements feel themselves to be the representatives of mankind, and they feel that everyone must be converted to the representative type of truth. The category of representative humanity thus runs from antiquity down to the modern era, to the contemporary political mass movements, conducted by sectarians like Comte and his positivist movement, the progressivists, and so on." [Voegelin, "Configurations of history" CW 12:111-112]


"With respect to the relationship of science (and especially metaphysics) and revelation, Augustine seems to me in principle to have shown the way. Revealed knowledge is, in the building of human knowledge, that knowledge of the pregivens of perception (sapientia, closely related to the Aristotelian nous as distinguished from episteme). To these pregivens belongs the experience of man of himself as esse, nosse, velle, the inseparable primal experience: I am as knowing and willing being: I know myself as being and willing; I will myself as a being and a knowing human. (For Augustine in the worldly sphere, the symbol of the trinity: the Father-Being; the Son-the recognizable order; the Spirit-the process of being in history. To these pregivens belongs further the being of God beyond time (in the just characterized dimensions of creation, order, and dynamic) and the human knowledge of this being through 'revelation.' Within this knowledge pregiven by sapientia stirs the philosophic episteme." [Letter, Voegelin to Strauss, April 22, 1951, in Emberley 1993:82-83]

Revelation and reason

"'Reason,' Voegelin discovered, did not mean the utterly independent light of human intellect, not did 'revelation' mean the totally arbitrary obedience of the human soul. Such are merely the caricatures of reason and revelation that developed in the history of philosophy as a result of an all-too-ready acceptance of the divorce between the two...

"What made it possible for Voegelin to go some distance in unraveling the confusion was his momentous discovery that behind the ideas lay another and more fundamental level of living experiences and symbols. They too could be investigated by a scholar, since they had been given linguistic expression. By retracing the process of discovery one could get back to the preanalytic experiences and the symbols in which they had been most directly expressed. This made it possible to deal with problems as they existed in immediate reality, before they had been distorted through the lens of conceptual debates. When this was done, Voegelin discovered, the so-called problems frequently disappeared. The reason-revelation dichotomy was a dogmatic imposition on a more complex living reality that was in no way structured by such an awareness.

"The classical philosophers did not assume that they were only using their unaided 'natural' reason. On the contrary, they identified Nous as a divine reality in which the human nous participates and knows through participation. Voegelin for a long time still retained the fundamental distinction between revelation and philosophy as, along with myth, the three irreducible symbolic forms. But in The Ecumenic Age he abandoned the distinction because, as he explained, philosophy was itself a mode of revelation. Consciousness of divine reality occurs in the two fundamental modes of the immediate awareness of divine presence, drawing the soul from the Platonic Beyond (epekeina, Republic 509b), and the mediated experience of divine presence ordering the cosmos from the Genesis Beginning (bereshit, Genesis 1:1). Revelation and myth now become the irreducible symbolic forms. On Voegelin's view there would be no knowledge of divine Being unless God had revealed himself to man; there would not even be a search for the divine ground if the ground itself were not already present in the soul as the source of its movement. At the same time, advances in man's consciousness of divine reality do not provide any comprehensive illumination of the order of the whole. There still remains a need to symbolize the divine ordering of the cosmos in accordance with the divinity disclosed within the soul. Revelation never dispenses with the need for a form of cosmogonic myth, and much of what we understand by the content of the Judaic and Christian revelations consists of such an extrapolation to the order of the whole.

"In what way then do Greek philosophy and the revelation of Judaism and Christianity differ? Voegelin's answer seems to be to deny any qualitative difference; they are both forms of theophany, revelations of the 'fullness of divine reality' (theotes, Col. 2:9), and are to be distinguished primarily by the directions pursued in elaborating their experiences and by the degrees of differentiation in the correlative myths that arise from them. Voegelin's clearest statement on the relationship between philosophy and revelation is to be found in his chapter on St. Paul, where he draws attention to the parallels between the philosophers and the apostle. 'That is to be expected,' he remarks, 'since both the saint and the philosophers articulate the order constituted by man's response to a theophany. The accent, however, has shifted decisively from the divinely noetic order incarnate in the world to the divinely pneumatic salvation from its disorder, from the paradox of reality to the abolition of the paradox, from the experience of the directional movement to its consummation.' He distinguishes them as noetic and pneumatic theophanies, depending on which dimension of the experience is emphasized. Philosophy unfolds the noetic or rational order that emanates from its pneumatic contact with the divine; revelation looks toward the consummation of its pneumatic experience but also remains aware of the requirement for a noetic ordering of the community.

"On this view the two symbolisms are correlative. Judaism and Christianity provide a greater differentiation of the transcendent divine pneuma that reveals itself within history as the Redeemer of mankind. Philosophy contains greater noetic precision and the rational categories so essential to the creation of individual and social order within history. Far from being opposed, they are derived from a common source in the illuminative experience of theophany, and their elaboration unfolds between the poles of the struggle to realize order in existence and the pull toward the eternal order beyond all struggle with existence. On any basis this is a reconsideration of one of the long-standing disputes of Western civilization. It is replete with consequences for all areas of human life and it may well be Voegelin's greatest theoretical achievement...

"Voegelin's genius was to have understood the continuity between them. He saw that reason and revelation are one in the experiential openness to the divine ground from which both philosophy and religion spring...

"Voegelin's integration of reason and revelation has been achieved, not by reducing the biblical experience to the level of philosophy, but by raising the philosophical explorations up to the level of the revelatory events. Instead of looking toward a least common denominator of the two, he has sought to relate them as levels or strata that reach back in depth to the primary experiences of the human race...

"The unity between reason and revelation and between all the symbolic forms of human history can be articulated through a theory of equivalences of compactness and differentiation. It enables us to understand how one symbolism emerges from another, for example philosophy from the world of the myth. How could it emerge if it were not already in some way implicitly present within the earlier form? And if it did emerge, how was it recognized as superior to the preceding symbolism if it did not constitute an advance in articulating what was already known? At the same time, compactness and differentiation constitute a theoretical approach that preserves the validity of all the historical symbolizations of order. Differentiation occurs within a context structured by the earlier more compact symbolic forms. The later developments do not render the earlier obsolete, they are differentiations only of a part of the whole. Symbolizations of the whole, of the cosmos, remain the same as far back as we care to trace them.

"The relationship between philosophy and revelation is not of course simply an advance from compactness to differentiation, since philosophy is in some respects more differentiated than revelation and in some ways less. They are more properly characterized as parallel differentiations that struggle with their own surrounding compactness. But even where they are not parallel and apparently opposed, as in regard to the creation of the world, the necessity of divine redemption, or the incarnation of God in human nature, they are not necessarily in conflict. The differences can be resolved in light of the movement from compact cosmological formulations to the more differentiated transcendent horizon." [David Walsh in Emberley 1993:356-359, 366-368]

"One of the grand constructions that has survived historically and which need to be cleared away is ... the theological distinction between natural reason and revelation, which goes back to the middle ages. In my view, there is no such thing as either natural reason or revelation. Instead, what we are dealing with here is a misconstruction, made in the interests of a theological systematization, of certain real entitative structures. They are to be designated more proximately as follows: On the one hand we have a so-called philosophical development that, prescinding from the fact that it is philosophical, is also an ethnic development; that is to say an occurrence that took place within Hellenic culture... On the other hand, there is the so-called revelatory culture, which goes back to Israel and the movement of Judaism, which then had its culmination in Christ. Here we have an ethnically Israelite culture. Thus, we have to do with the categories of two ethnic cultures, each of which is concerned with the quest for truth, but in quite different forms. These distinguishable forms then get transmogrified into the form of the natural and that of the divinely revealed quest for the truth, for the purpose of letting the Judeo-Christian form dominate.

"In terms of history, of course, the entire matter looks quite different. Within the overall history of the Hellenes, every Hellenic thinker since the time for which we have literary inscriptions, which is to say, since Hesiod, has been aware that whatever he has to say comes not from his natural reason, but from divine revelation; and further, that he lives out a tension of searching and receiving, that is, in a twofold movement of a divine-human kind, which sets forth from the divine...

"On the other side we have the problem of the Israelite-Christian quest for truth, which once again is accentuated differently. If we wish to establish the ethnic difference, then we shall find that among the Greeks the accent always falls on the search, on the zetesis. Once a truth is discovered, then whatever was hitherto believed, for example, a mythically more compact image of the gods, is relegated to the category of the pseudos (of falsehood or lie). In the Israelite context, the matter looks otherwise. The predecessors are not put down as liars or falsifiers, but as persons who had also seen a truth already, but who now have to be interpreted anew as well... Here contexts of interpretation are produced in which the old truth is newly interpreted, even if this new truth no longer has very much to do with old...

"We are dealing therefore with two different types of quest for truth. Now when these two different ethnic cultures are brought into an imperial context, as occurred in the great ecumenic empires, there are mutual cultural influences; from this results the attempt to formulate a type of truth which somehow joins together the most successful of the different quests after truth that have taken place previously. This was the problem from which a Jewish theology arose for the first time with Philo, and then a Christian theology in marked dependency upon Philonic theology: a theology which unites revelational elements from the Israelite-Jewish context with the philosophical language which stems from the Hellenic context. So there emerges from the great events in cultural history such as the formation of the ecumenic empires a mixed culture in which one seeks to bring into equilibrium ethnic differences through a systematic doctrine of natural reason and pneumatic revelation. Such a systematic doctrine, which tries to bring revelation and natural reason into one construction, belongs among the things that have to be cleared away today." [Voegelin, "Meditative Origin ..." in Lawrence 1984:44-46]

also cf. [Hughes 1993:39]

Schelling, F.

"However, in the course of his Platonic quest for the ordering principle in a despiritualized society, the spiritual realist Voegelin discovers that it is the work of Schelling that 'establishes a new level of consciousness and critique; and by virtue of this achievement [Schelling's work] becomes of increasing importance in a time of crisis as the point of orientation for those who wish to gain a sold foothold in the surrounding mess of decadent traditions, conflicting eschatologies, phenomenal speculations and obsessions, ideologies and creeds, blind hatreds and orgiastic destructions.' [CW 25:242]
"In Schelling Voegelin recognizes a kindred mind whose ideas 'can be a point of orientation for the understanding of the crisis because they are not engulfed in the crisis themselves.' Voegelin sees Schelling's system as 'the last gigantic effort to bind into a balanced whole the tensions of the European late civilization before they break asunder in the crisis of our time.' [CW 25:240-241] But in Voegelin's view Schelling's philosophy 'marks the end of a period, not a beginning.' ["Last Orientations"] Thus, Voegelin does not suggest a return to Schelling, whose 'grandiose effort...to reestablish a philosophy of substance...failed to become the starting point for a civilizational restoration:...the destruction of the speculation on substance under the impact of the model of mathematical science went on.' [CW 25:176] What Schelling did establish was the new level of consciousness and critique that was necessitated by the advancement of science. This new level of consciousness was a critical awareness of the source of speculation, the soul, and of the knowledge that would enable us to construct the universal process, i.e., the course of natural and human events understood as a meaningful unfolding of the universe. The process of the universe can be made intelligible, i.e., becomes history, through an anamnestic dialogue that is going on in the soul, and this dialogue provides the means by which the meaning of the external process is extracted from the soul: 'Anthropology is now systematically made the key to speculation; nothing must enter into the content of speculation that cannot be found in human nature, in its depth as well as in its heights, in the limitation of its existence as well as in its openness toward transcendent reality.' [CW 25:210] In Voegelin's mind, Schelling's philosophy of historical and political existence established the insight that philosophy is identical with history, and history with the science of the soul. ["Last Orientations"] 'History receives meaning from the soul, while the soul discovers the historical meanings as strata in its existence.' [CW 25:240] In the intellectual history of Voegelin this 'last orientation' elucidates his turn from the history of political ideas to a material philosophy of history..." [Jurgen Gebhardt, "Toward the Process of Universal Mankind: The Formation of Voegelin's Philosophy of History" in Sandoz 1982:68-69]
"Anamnesis raises the comprehensive knowledge of human-social existence, attuned to the order of the cosmos and history, from unconsciousness into the presence of consciousness. Voegelin's philosophy claims to be a paradigmatic reenactment of the Platonic anamnesis within the horizon of the present age. But it is to Schelling that Voegelin owes the insight into the anamnestic constitution of knowledge of the soul--determining history as the science of the soul. Referring to the Weltalter, Voegelin summarizes Schelling's idea of history as 'the immersion of the materials into the meaning that is welling up from the unconscious of the soul of the historian.' ["Last Orientations"] The source of 'meaning' is now clearly circumscribed as the anamnestic dialogue that is going on in the soul. This anamnesis is neither completed nor will it be completed soon, and we do not know, therefore, the meaning of history as a whole; the future is still open... The 'dialectic' of this dialogue of the soul is 'a striving for consciousness through anamnesis.' ["Last Orientations"] 'The truth of speculation is neither 'given' in vision nor does it result, as it were, 'automatically' from the dialectical movement of an idea; it is an elaborated, reflective truth that has to be verified permanently by recourse to the anamnestic dialogue.' ["Last Orientations"] The discovery of the anamnestic dialogue was, in my opinion, crucial to Voegelin's new attempt at the symbolic interpretation, in terms of a philosophy of history, of the historical unfolding of mankind. In the long run, however, not only the interpretative pattern of the historical process changed but also its original theoretical underpinnings, its metaphysics and ontology, were discarded in favor of a philosophy of consciousness and reality." [Jurgen Gebhardt, "Toward the Process of Universal Mankind: The Formation of Voegelin's Philosophy of History" in Sandoz 1982:78]


"Science starts from the prescientific existence of man, from his participation in the world with his body, soul, intellect, and spirit, from his primary grip on all the realms of being that is assured to him because his own nature is their epitome. And from this primary cognitive participation, turgid with passion, rises the arduous way, the methodos, toward the dispassionate gaze on the order of being in the theoretical attitude. The question whether in the concrete case the way was the right one, however, can be decided only by looking back from the end to the beginning. If the method has brought to essential clarity the dimly seen, then it was adequate; if it has failed to do so, or even if it has brought to essential clarity something in which concretely we were not interested, then it has proved inadequate...

"The use of method as the criterion of science abolishes theoretical relevance. As a consequence, all propositions concerning facts will be promoted to the dignity of science, regardless of their relevance, as long as they result from a correct use of method. Since the ocean of facts is infinite, a prodigious expansion of science in the sociological sense becomes possible, giving employment to scientistic technicians and leading to the fantastic accumulation of irrelevant knowledge through huge `research projects' whose most interesting feature is the quantifiable expense that has gone into their production." [Voegelin NSP:5-6, 8]


"The reductionist theory that all reality should be knowable by the methods of the natural sciences (especially mathematical, quantitative method). Tends to involve the expectation of control of man through scientific knowledge and technique." [Webb 1981:287]


"Darkening, turning toward darkness. Voluntary ignorance. Term coined by Bernard Lonergan and used by Voegelin for the attitude seeking `eclipse of reality.'" [Webb 1981:287]


"...all that men say about the ultimate meaning of existence is finally traceable either to this fundamental anxiety or to the experience of alienation. The characteristic response to these experiences is to seek the Ground. The symbolisms of the myth of the divine cosmos that precede the specific differentiation of Nous by the philosophers display a rational component of search of the ultimate cause; and the evinced presence of this process permits classification of many ancient myths under the categories of theogony, cosmogony, anthropogeny, and historiogenesis..." [Sandoz 1981:165]
"Both Plato's eroticism of the search (zetesis) and Aristotle's intellectually more aggressive aporein recognize in `man the questioner' the man moved by God to ask the questions that will lead him toward the cause (arche) of being. The search itself is the evidence of existential unrest; in the act of questioning, man's experience of his tension (tasis) toward the divine ground breaks forth in the word of inquiry as a prayer for the Word of the answer. Question and answer are intimately related one toward the other; the search moves in the metaxy, as Plato has called it, in the In-Between of poverty and wealth, of human and divine; the question is knowing, but its knowledge is yet the trembling of a question that may reach the true answer or miss it. This luminous search in which the finding of the true answer depends on asking the true question, and the asking of the true question on the spiritual apprehension of the true answer, is the life of reason...

"Question and answer are held together, and related to one another, by the event of the search. Man, however, though he is truly the questioner, can also deform his humanity by refusing to ask the questions, or by loading them with premises devised to make the search impossible...

"Since the question concerns the humanity of man, it is the same today as it ever has been in the past, but today it is so badly distorted through the Western deculturation process that it must, first, be disentangled from the intellectually disordered language in which we indiscriminately speak of the meaning of life, or the meaning of existence, or the fact of existence which has no meaning, or the meaning which must be given to the fact of existence, and so forth, as if life were a given and meaning a property it has or does not have. "Well, existence is not a fact. If anything, existence is the nonfact of a disturbing movement in the In-Between of ignorance and knowledge, of time and timelessness, of imperfection and perfection, of hope and fulfillment, and ultimately of life an death. From the experience of this movement, from the anxiety of losing the right direction in this In-Between of darkness and light, arises the inquiry concerning the meaning of life. But it does arise only because life is experienced as man's participation in a movement with a direction to be found or missed; if man's existence were not a movement but a fact, it not only would have no meaning but the question of meaning could not even arise." [Voegelin, "The Gospel and Culture" CW 12:175-176]

Second reality

"Voegelin's term, drawn from Robert Musil, for a fictitious world imagined as true by a person using it to mask and thereby `eclipse' genuine reality." [Webb 1981:288]
"Consciousness will inevitably form images and representations of reality as of something other than itself, but can and occasionally will form images that miss reality and sometimes even substitute an ersatz-reality, or, as Musil has called it, a 'Second Reality.'" [Keulman 1990:61]


"According to Voegelin (OH, 4:196), `a polite word for `deculturation''". [Webb 1981:288]

Society, self-illumination of

"Human society is not merely a fact, or an event, in the external world to be studied by an observer like a natural phenomenon. Though it has externality as one of its important components, it is as a whole a little world, a cosmion, illuminated with meaning from within by the human beings who continuously create and bear it as the mode and condition of their self-realization. It is illuminated through an elaborate symbolism, in various degrees of compactness and differentiation--from rite, through myth, to theory--and this symbolism illuminates it with meaning in so far as the symbols make the internal structure of such a cosmion, the relations between its members and groups of members, as well as its existence as a whole, transparent for the mystery of human existence. The self-illumination of society through symbols is an integral part of social reality, and one may even say its essential part, for through such symbolization the members of a society experience it as more than an accident or a convenience; they experience it as of their human essence. And, inversely, the symbols express the experience that man is fully man by virtue of his participation in a whole which transcends his particular existence, by virtue of his participation in the xynon, the common, as Heraclitus called it ..." [Voegelin NSP:27-28]


"In Sanskrit as in most languages the word for self or soul was originally a word meaning breath. This is the meaning of atman in Rig Veda x. 16. 3." [Lyon 1957:145]
"By spirit we understand the openness of man to the divine ground of his existence: by estrangement from the spirit, the closure and the revolt against the ground. Through spirit man actualizes his potential to partake of the divine. He rises thereby to the imago Dei which it is his destiny to be. Spirit in this classical sense of nous, is that which all men have in common, the xynon as Heraclitus has called it. Through the life of the spirit, which is common to all, the existence of man becomes existence in community. In the openness of the common spirit there develops the public life of society." p. 7

"Spirit is the openness of man to the divine ground of his existence; for Aristotle the yearning questioning after the ground is the beginning of all philosophizing." p. 21 [Voegelin, "The German University and the Order of German Society" in CW 12:7,21]


"Serious, earnest person. Aristotle's term for the `mature' rational and ethical person, the fully developed human being capable of intelligent thought and responsible decision and action." [Webb 1981:288]

Story of the quest

(see also: quest for truth; search; tale, the saving; tale, the time of the)
"[In OH4 Voegelin broke with the idea of "leaps in being"] without, however, abandoning the leading principle, 'The order of history is the history of order.' As he pursued this principle into more and more cultures and civilizations, finding ever new historical materials, it became clear to him that these materials just would not permit their arrangement on any line, straight or crooked. What happened, and conveyed order to history, was man's response to the divine appeal in a great variety of manners but with the same universal meaning. Voegelin's emphasis shifted from the symbol of 'leap' to the symbol of The Story.

"'The story is the symbolic form the questioner has to adopt necessarily when he gives an account of his quest of wresting, by the response of his human search to a divine movement, the truth of reality from a reality pregnant with truth but not yet revealed.' The experience itself is common to humans who are in any way sensitive to wonderment with this world, its forms energies, beauties, variety of things, all of which looks as if it wanted to convey to us a message. The 'great quests for truth' are events of deciphering this yet unspoken message of the It-reality.

"These events, however, 'do not occur in a vacuum. They occur in social fields, constituted by older experiences of order and symbolizations of their truth, now experienced by the questioner to have fallen into disorder and decline. The quest for truth is a movement of resistance to the prevalent disorder; it is an effort to attune the concretely disordered existence again to the truth of the It-reality, and attempt to create a new field of existential order in competition with the fields whose claim has become doubtful' ([OH5] p. 25). How do such 'stories' create order? Voegelin says, when the story speaks with an authority commonly present in everybody's consciousness, however inarticulate, deformed, or suppressed the consciousness in the concrete case may be." Otherwise put, the story will remain but a private utterance remaining idiosyncratic to a particular author unless the author,'in the course of his quest, finds the words that indeed speaks what is common to man's existence as a partner in the comprehending reality' ([OH5] p. 26). What Voegelin has described here is not merely the paradoxic structure of consciousness but of truth: Truth is (a) a human narrative cast in the language of intentionality, or 'thingness'; (b) a story not only about but of, it It-reality, an event 'in which the It-reality becomes luminous for its truth.' These two aspects must not be separated which they would be if passed off 'as a narrative told either by a revelatory God or by an intelligent human being.' It is both, Voegelin insists, and 'it has this paradoxic character inasmuch as it is not a plain narration of things, but at the same time a symbolism' of the human beginning of order as an act of participation in the divine Beginning. Now to the properly historical dimension.

"The story would be unthinkable, unexperienceable, incomprehensible if, by any chance, it could be told by a human being apart not only from the social world with its history but also from Creation of which the entire social world is a part. To this proposition, it seems to me, nobody can deny assent. Voegelin puts this commonsense insight now in the form of a concept: 'The story cannot begin unless it starts in the middle.' That means that each story is preceded by other stories with which it is in some relation concerning truth or untruth. It also means that 'the Platonic metaxy cannot be the last word in the matter; if it were, we would not have to engage in a quest of our own but could simply reprint Plato's dialogues; the mere fact that we refer to the Platonic analysis in the context of our own forcefully suggests that the problems surrounding 'the middle' are not exhausted by the symbolism of the metaxy' ([OH5] p. 28). An now come Voegelin's conclusion containing, in a nutshell, his new philosophy of history: 'In the pursuit of questioning, thus, we encounter a plurality of middles, validating a plurality of quests, telling a plurality of stories, all having valid beginnings.'" [Niemeyer-1989:119-121]

"the word that evokes order from disorder by the force of its truth...

"[it] will have the authority of truth only if it is attuned to a comprehending reality that itself is a story of pneumatic evocation of order from disorder.

"The character of truth, thus, attaches to the story by virtue of its paradoxic structure of being both a narrative and an event:

"(1) As a narrative, the story of the quest conveys insights into the order of reality by language in the mode of intentionality. The human narrative refers to reality intended in the mode of thing-ness.

"(2) As an event, the story emerges from the It-reality; its language articulates an experience in the metaxy of divine-human movements and countermovements. The story is an event in which the It-reality becomes luminous for its truth. Under the aspect of this second structure the language of the story is not narratively referential but luminously symbolic." [Voegelin OH 5:25-26]


"From Latin substantia: standing under. In Voegelin's use the underlying reality of anything. Not to be confused with the use of the term in traditional metaphysics, where it refers to an independently existing entity. See also hypostasis." [Webb 1981:288]
"The natural sciences are sciences of phenomena, and the humanities (Geisteswissenschaften) are sciences of substance. Voegelin extracted arguments concerning the difference between substance and phenomena from the works of Giordano Bruno. Phenomena, the object of the natural sciences, are rooted in physical objects and their relations to one another (force, motion, attraction, etc.). Geometrical descriptions, algebraic formulas, and quantified descriptions are all examples of mathematical expressions pertaining to phenomena. Although anchored in physical entities, they are incidental to the substance or the essence of the entities themselves. The appearance of things, presented to the senses, is not their substance or essence, but exists merely at the 'surface of things.'

"The substance or essence of things is not accessible to the senses, but inheres in reality and is experienced in or by the mind or soul. According to Bruno, it is perceived by a 'vision of the spirit.' The truth of being, substance, 'starts from the sense,' but is not 'in the senses': 'in the object of the senses it is as in a mirror, in reason it is in the form of argument and discourse, in the intellect in the form of principle and conclusion, and in the spirit it is in its proper and living form.' We remember that Voegelin held ideas to be the 'real substance that appears as one in a plurality.' If ideas are a typical example of substance, and an integral part of being that cannot be discovered by the senses, then it would seem that we may translate Bruno's statement to mean that the substance of things, namely essence, being, ideas, etc., must be extracted from the phenomena of our senses by what we earlier called the 'intellectual activity of analytical removal.' Substance includes 'man in society and history.' Man in society and man in history are not primarily empirical phenomena, but largely configurations of meaning that are created and sustained on the basis of ideas and symbolizations of immediate experiences of (or in) the soul. Consequently, if we study society as we would a phenomenon of the natural sciences, we would find 'a stream of human action, articulated by behaviour patterns and purposes of highly questionable unity.' If we study the same society in terms of its substance, we will find configurations of meaning, symbols, ideas, and noninstitutional relationships that are the 'emotional and volitional substance; that constitute a society in its fullness." [Heilke 1990:65-66]

Summum bonum

"The `greatest good.' Equivalent Latin term for the agathon in Plato; the `divine measure,' or `transcendental perfection.'" [Webb 1981:288]

Symbolism (primary and secondary)

"In Voegelin's use of the term, `primary symbolism' expresses genuine philosophical or spiritual experience. Correct interpretation of it requires parallel experience on the part of the interpreter. `Secondary symbolism' replaces primary when the original symbol is separated from its engendering experience and used to refer to some experience (either actual or purported) differing from the original." [Webb 1981:288]


"the language phenomena engendered by the process of participatory experience. The language symbols expressing an experience are not inventions of an immanentist human consciousness; rather, they are engendered in the process of participation itself. Language, therefore, participates in the metaxy character of consciousness. A symbol is neither a human conventional sign signifying a reality outside consciousness nor, as in certain theological constructions, a word of God conveniently transmitted in the language the recipient can understand. It is engendered by the divine-human encounter and participates, therefore, as much in divine as in human reality." [Voegelin AR:74]
"Myth, philosophy, revelation, and mysticism are symbolic forms of human existence that optimally express distinctively different, though related, kinds of experiences and communicate ordering knowledge of reality. The truth of them all lies at the level of the experiences they articulate, not at the level of the symbols themselves.

"The experience of participation is, in its compact as well as differentiated modes, attended by anxiety of a fall from existence into the nothingness of the nonexistence encompassing the reality of man and all that is. Myth, philosophy, revelation, and mysticism all assuage this anxiety by rendering partially intelligible the mystery of the structure and order of being and by attuning human existence to it in their unique ways. To repeat: 'Our knowledge of order remains primarily mythic, even after the noetic experience has differentiated the realm of consciousness and the noetic exegesis has made its Logos explicit' (A, 290)." [Sandoz 1981:184-185]

"the symbols of religion and philosophy are not "simple description[s] of objects but [are] an existential ascent or movement into luminosity of existence, to heightened participation in being." [Webb 1981:123]
"The raison d'etre of the symbol lies in the human urge to express that which is inherently inexpressible. This desire may well be that impelling force that sponsors all creative endeavor, the attempt to effect a restitution of a positive and affirming experience of order in a new form and on a more refined level. ... The symbolic meaning of a phenomenon links the human with the cosmic, the casual with the causal, disorder with order, and it justifies a word like universe which, without these more extensive implications, would be meaningless, a dismembered and chaotic pluralism.

"One of the errors in many theories of symbolization lies in opposing the symbolic to the historical. Starting from the premise that there are symbols--and, in fact, there are many--which exist only within their own symbolic structure, the inappropriate conclusion is then drawn that nearly all events that appear to be both historical and symbolic--in other words, to be decisively significant in history--may be perceived simply as symbolic matter transformed into legend and then into history." [Keulman 1990:78]

"Humanity requires knowledge not only about how things are and how they work, but also about the meaning of things. Early humans expressed their understanding in symbols created to render intelligible the relations and tensions between God and humanity, world and society, within the limits of experience and oriented by it. These symbols interpret the unknown in analogy to that which is known or believed to be known. A characteristic feature in the process of symbolization is the attempt at making reality as intelligible as possible through fashioning symbols that interpret the recondite dimensions of life by analogy with the really, or supposedly, known." [Keulman 1990:83]

Tale, the saving

"The search in the In-Between moves from the question of life and death to the answer in the saving tale. The question, however, does not arise from a vacuum, but from a field of reality, and points toward answers of a certain type; and the saving tale, be it Plato's Pamphylian myth or John's Gospel, is not an answer given at random, but must recognizably fit the reality of existence which in the question is presupposed as truly experienced. Question and answer are intimately related to one another in the movement as an intelligible whole. This relationship which constitutes the truth of the tale, requires further analysis... "The Saving Tale is not a recipe for the abolition of the anthelkein in existence but the confirmation of life through death in this war [world?]. The death of Socrates which, just as the death of Jesus, could have been physically avoided, is representative because it authenticates the truth of reality...

"...John makes it, furthermore, clear that there is no `message' of Christ but the event of the divine Logos becoming present in the world through the representative life and death of a man. The closing words of the great prayer before the Passion express the substance of this event:

"`Father, Righteous One, the world has not known you, but I have known you, and they know that you have sent me.

To them I have made known your name, and shall make it known, that the love by which you loved me will be in them, and I in them.' (17:25-26)

"To follow Christ means to continue the event of divine presence in society and history: `As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world' (17:18). And finally, since there is no doctrine to be taught but only the story to be told of God's pull becoming effective in the world through Christ, the Saving Tale that answers the question of life and death can be reduced to the brief statement:
"`And this is life eternal: To know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.' (17:3)"
"With an admirable economy of means, John symbolizes the pull of the golden cord, its occurrence as an historical event in the representative man, the illumination of existence through the movement from the question of life and death initiated by the pull to the saving answer, the creation of a social field through the transmission of the insight to the followers, and ultimately the duties incumbent on John to promulgate the event to mankind at large through writing the Gospel as a literary document..." [Voegelin, The Gospel and culture," CW 12:182-183, 186]

Tale, the time of the

(see: Time, Consciousness of)
"The time out of time, as I called it, is the Time of the Tale, of the cosmogonic myth in the bewildering variety of its manifestations in history. By the analogous Beginning, the cosmogonic myth expresses the experience of a lasting cosmos permeated by the divine mystery of its existence, and articulates the truth of a cosmos that is not altogether of this world. The reality of things, it appears, cannot be fully understood in terms of the world and its time; for the things are circumfused by an ambience of mystery that can be understood only in terms of the Myth. Since the divine Beginning, though experienced as real, is not an event in the time of the world, the imaginative creation story is the symbolism necessary for its expression. Moreover, the adequacy of the symbolism to the experience points to the miracle of a mythical imagination that can produce the adequate Tale. We are touching on the problem, to be treated more explicitly later, of an imagination and a language that is itself perhaps not altogether of this world." [Voegelin, "The Beginning and the Beyond: A Meditation on Truth" in CW 28:175]


"End, purpose, goal, completion. The objective or completion of a process of development. In Aristotle, the purpose or `final cause' of a process." [Webb 1981:288]

Tension of existence

"A condition of tending toward a goal. Voegelin uses the term especially to refer to what he calls the 'tension of existence,' the fundamental experience of longing for transcendental fulfillment, the Beyond, the summum bonum." [Webb 1981:288]
"... Voegelin's basic conception that the roots of philosophical thinking, in the true sense of the word (that is, of an existential quest for being through the right ordering of the soul), lie in the fundamental experience of what he has come to call the 'tension of existence.'

"In Voegelin's own life this tension expressed itself first in the childhood experiences of wonder, awe, fear, perplexity, and longing. Later it expressed itself as the force of philosophical questioning and the revolt against restrictive horizons. Retrospectively he discovered that the tension had always been present, but that it could take a variety of forms according to the intellectual, moral, and spiritual situation of the person in whom it lives. It is not an emotion, but something more basic; it can express itself in the form of emotion, but it can also express itself in the form of worship, inquiry, moral concern, poetry, the arts, and so on. As the term 'tension' indicates, what it is most basically is a tendency or tending, a fundamental reaching toward a fullness that can be apprehended under many aspects, but that is not exhausted in any of them. It is a longing for life, for maximal participation in being. It is an unrestricted, radical 'Question' that hungers and thirsts after all possible truth--not just the answers to particular, determinate questions, but understanding of all forms of reality and, beyond them, of an ultimacy that in their various, limited ways they analogically exemplify. Similarly, this tension may be described as an unrestricted love rising from the deepest level of the soul and longing for enjoyment of all possible good, both limited goods and the unlimited good beyond them of which they serve as intimations.

"That this tension or longing is unrestricted does not, however, immediately become apparent. For the child, or for the adult lacking reflectiveness and maturity of experience, the experienced tension may take the conscious form only of particular appetites: for pleasure, for power, for prestige, for perpetual mundane existence free from death, and so on...

"There will probably be many, on the other hand, to whom the proposition that human existence is characterized by a fundamental, direction-giving tension will seem debatable at best. Certainly its truth is not directly evident from the form of the proposition, nor is it analytically derivable from any other self-evident truth. For one who does not recognize the experience to which it refers, it will seem to be simply an idea, deriving from a history of such ideas, and serving as a presupposition from which Voegelin's thought will seem to be a set of deductions. It will be best to recognize straightforwardly the problem this presents. The experience of existential tension is indeed the starting point of Voegelin's thought, which may be described generally as the working out of the implications of that experience. And it cannot be logically proved, precisely because it is not an idea or a proposition but an experience. From a logical point of view it is indeed a presupposition. But from the point of view of the individual who recognizes the experience as his own, there can be no question regarding the reality of the experience and the truth of the proposition that describes it: for him it is empirically confirmable, even if not according to positivistic canons of what constitutes the empirical...

"When the fundamental tension of existence becomes conscious, so that one realizes its unrestricted character and its directional tendency, then one can begin to appropriate one's existence as structured by the tension. This means that one's historical existence ceases to be a movement bounded by particular mundane goals and becomes a movement directed beyond the world--a movement that Voegelin, drawing characteristically on the historically developed ancient symbolism for the tension, refers to as an Exodus." [Webb 1981:38-41, 46]

"The participation of men in reality is not diffuse and random but forms directionally toward ultimate or eminent reality. This eminent reality (realissimum) is called God, and by various other names that symbolically designate the experience of the divinity of the ultimate reality, or Ground of being. The fundamental tension as stated abstractly is experienced concretely in a variety of modes, such as the philosophers' erotic tension toward the Ground which forms as the love of Wisdom in Plato; the Heraclitean and Pauline love, faith, and hope; the immortalizing quest of the mortal in Heraclitus and Aristotle; the restless wondering that stirs the questioning consciousness into the desire to know in all men and rises to the joyous willingness to apperceive in the spiritually sensitive and mature men of Plato and Aristotle; the amore Dei and intentio animi in Augustine; the faith in search of understanding in the mystic's experience articulated in Anselm." [Sandoz 1981:204]

Tension between intentionality and luminosity

Intentionality and luminosity are "experienced as the moving forces of consciousness... Hence, the process of reality becoming luminous is further structured by the consciousness of the two moving forces, of the tensions between them, and of the responsibility to keep their movements in such balance that the image resulting from their interactions will not distort the truth of reality" [Voegelin, "Wisdom and the Magic of the Extreme: A Meditation" in CW 12:245]


"To wonder. The experience from which Aristotle said philosophy begins. An aspect of what Voegelin calls the `tension of existence'; equivalent to the Question." [Webb 1981:288]


"A manifestation of the divine." [Webb 1981:2]


"In Plato and Aristotle, contemplative wisdom; equivalent to episteme." [Webb 1981:288]
"A further answer to the third question, regarding communication as an intelligible part of the development of the mind, may be resolved by referring to a discussion of Aristotle's theoria. In The New Science of Politics, theoria is described as that type of rational construction and communication among mature individuals who are `capable of imaginative reenactment of the experiences of which theory is an explication... Theory as an explication of certain experiences is intelligible only to those in whom the explication will stir up parallel experiences as the empirical basis for testing the truth of theory.' [NSP 64] Theory, in this context, seems not so much a technical term as a description of meaningful communication as opposed to mere opinion. Simultaneously, it exemplifies the highest form of communicative consciousness. But unless a theoretical explanation awakens a similar experience in another, it will create the impression of empty talk or possibly be repudiated as an irrelevant expression of subjective opinions [NSP 64-65]." [Keulman 1990:138-139]

Thing-reality, thingness

The structure of reality in which reality is an object to an intending consciousness. [Voegelin OH 5:15]

Third god, the

"In Plato's Laws, nous considered as the divine source of order manifest after the ages of Kronos (the first god) and Zeus (the second god)." [Webb 1981:288]

Time, consciousness of

"This center of energy, whatever may be its nature, is engaged in a process, a process that cannot be observed from without, like the movement of a planet or the decomposition of a crystal. Rather, it has the character of an inner 'illumination'; i.e., it is not blind but can be experienced in its dimensions of past and future [cf. Mann's preface to Joseph and his Brothers]. The problem of past and future as dimensions of consciousness must be distinguished from the 'external' past and future. Knowing a fact of history on the basis of sources or predicting an event on the basis of laws of development are complex derived phenomena. Above all, one must avoid the misconception that the dimensions of consciousness are something like empty stretches on which data can be entered, the misconception that there is something like a time-problem 'as such', apart form the process of a substance. I do not remember something that lies 'in the past,' but I have a past because I can make present a completed process of consciousness--either through a deliberate effort of my attention or in less transparent processes of so-called 'free associations.' Past and future are the present illuminatory dimensions of the process in which the energy center is engaged.

"In the illuminatory dimensions of past and present, one becomes aware not of empty spaces but of the structures of a finite process between birth and death... The causal series cannot begin in time because we have no experience of a beginning 'in time'; more precisely, one could say that because we have no experience whatsoever of a time in which something might begin--for the only time of which we do have experience is the inner experience of the illuminated dimension of consciousness, the process that drops away, at both ends, into inexperienceable darkness." [Voegelin Anam:20-21]

To pan

The Whole, the All, the Cosmos.

Transcendence, experience of

"'Philosophizing,' said Voegelin, 'seems to me to be in essence the interpretation of experiences of transcendence.' [Opitz and Sebba (ed.), The Philosophy of Order, p. 450] These experiences cannot be proved any more than sense experience can be proved. Yet there is nothing esoteric about such experiences. Insofar as everyone experiences reality, everyone has experiences of transcendence, at least on a limited level. A philosopher who experiences his or her consciousness as transcending discovers the ground of philosophizing, and no special belief is required to substantiate it, for it is self-evident. To deny the self-transcending nature of one's consciousness would be to deny one's own experience. Such a denial is certainly possible, but then one would not be operating rationally; one would be closed to the reality one is trying to investigate. One may arrive at a number of different conclusions but one cannot in good faith deny the nature of transcending consciousness." [Morrissey 1994:43]
"...the experience of a type of being beyond all world-immanent being.

"7. Experiences of transcendence have a great variety. Heraclitus has diagnosed the three types of love, hope, and faith with regard to a world-transcendent spiritual being, the nous Plato relies on Eros, Thanatos, and Dike as the key experiences of transcendence. Philosophy in its original meaning is love of the sophon, that is, of the all-wise world-transcendent being.

"8. Experiences of transcendence have a large amplitude from positive to negative. Examples: love, hope, faith, trust, doubt, unbelief, anxiety, forsakenness, despair, skepticism, indifference, active hatred, hedonistic escapes, Pascal's divertissements, and so forth.

"9. Transcendent being--in the language of religion, God--can be identified in philosophical language variously as nous (Heraclitus, Aristotle), agathon (Plato), logos (Heraclitus, Stoics, Christianity), and so forth.

"10. Once the soul has 'opened,' transcendent being becomes the source of order in community (Plato: 'God is the Measure'). The order, insofar as it is constituted through orientation toward, or participation in, transcendent being, can be designated by a technical term as homonoia (Aristotle, Alexander, Christianity).

"11. With regard to the transcendent source of order in the soul, all men are equal. The discovery of transcendent divinity as the source of order is paralleled by the discovery of mankind. 'Mankind' in this sense is not a particular group of human beings at any given time, but indeed the 'open society' of all men extending into the unknown future. The idea of 'mankind' has nothing to do with the idea of a 'world-government' established over a group of contemporaneously living human beings." [CW 27:76-77]

"To illustrate the extent to which men's judgments are constantly made in transcendental terms, Voegelin referred the questioner to virtually any newspaper headline involving what were then the early stages of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. The meanings attached by the protagonists in this competition were invariably cast in terms that extended far beyond the pragmatic results of getting the rockets into outer space; in almost every instance, cosmic significance was attached to the achievement in relation to one or the other great power's view of itself. Much more than the actual state of science and technology was at stake: both countries were dealing in symbols that transcended the ordinary, immediately observable state of existence; each was articulating its meaning as an entity that had an existence beyond the finite men and materials temporarily engaged in a particular activity. Voegelin's answer simply called attention to a basic fact open to observation at the most elementary empirical level: man is continually reaching beyond the limits of his finite existence, regardless of whether this experience in transcendence is at the higher levels of philosophy or revealed religion or is associated, as in the illustration at hand, with a less conscious, but no less real, projection of a state of pragmatic action into a judgment involving transcendental implications." [Wm. C. Havard in McKnight 1978:13-14]


"From Latin transcendere: to go beyond, surpass. General term for that which extends or lies beyond some set of limits; may be relative (beyond some particular limits) or absolute (beyond all possible limits). The opposite of 'immanent'. See also 'the Beyond,' 'ground.'" [Webb 1981:]


"General term for that which is `transcendent,' but tending to refer to absolute rather than relative transcendence. In medieval usage, the term for attributes that cannot be circumscribed by the boundaries of the Aristotelian categories; the medieval transcendentia or `transcendentals' are: ens (being), unum (one), bonum (good), verum (true), res (thing), and aliquid (something)." [Webb 1981:289]


"Truth is not a body of propositions about a world-immanent object; it is the world-transcendent summum bonum experienced as an orienting force in the soul, about which we can speak only in analogical symbols." [Voegelin in Voegelin OH 3 quoted by Russell Kirk]

Truth of existence

Voegelin's term for transcendentally oriented conscious existence; involves the experience of: (1) finiteness and creatureliness; (2) dissatisfaction with imperfection and a sense of transcendental perfection; (3) the luminosity or manifestness of such experience in consciousness; (4) the self-transcending tendency of consciousness seeking fullness of truth. [Webb 1981]
"The truth of existence in erotic tension conveyed by the prophetess Diotima to Socrates ... is not an information about the reality but the event in which the process of reality becomes luminous to itself. It is not an information received, but an insight arising from the dialogue of the soul when it 'dialectically' investigates its own suspense 'between knowledge and ignorance.' When the insight arises, it has the character of the 'truth,' because it is the exegesis of the erotic tension experienced; but it does arise only when the tension is experienced in such a manner that it breaks forth in its own dialogical exegesis." [Voegelin OH 4:186]
"... the awareness of the fundamental structure of existence together with the willingness to accept it as the condicio humana." [Voegelin "On Debate and Existence" CW 12:49]
"The truth of being does not cease to be the truth of existence simply because a corrupt society and its leaders choose to ignore it or even because they resolutely deny its very existence. The truth of existence is part of being itself." [Sandoz 1981:140]

Truth of reality

"is not an ultimate piece of information given to an outside observer but reality itself becoming luminous in the events of experience and imaginative symbolization. Truth is a perspective of reality, arising from man's participation, with his conscious existence, in the reality of which he is a part. Hence, the consciousness of a reality intended as its object by the desire to know is accompanied by the consciousness of the quest as an event within the reality intended: the human intentionality of the quest is surrounded by the divine mystery of the reality in which it occurs..." [Voegelin, "Wisdom and the Magic of the Extreme: A Meditation" in CW 12]
"The most intimate truth of reality, the truth about the meaning of the cosmic play in which man must act his role with his life as the stake, is a mythopoetic play linking the psyche of man in trust with the depth of the Cosmos." [Voegelin, "Equivalences of Experience and Symbolization in History" in CW 12]

Truth of the quest

"not a true doctrine resulting from an intentionalist investigation of objects, but a balanced state of existence, formed in reflective distance to the process of meditative wandering through the paradoxic manifold of tensions" [Voegelin OH 5:100]

Universality, universal

"Voegelin's term for the experience of the pull (helkein) of the transcendental in the tension of existence as the source of existential order for all human beings. Also refers to the order so constituted." [Webb 1981:289]

Untruth of existence

"... a revolt against the condicio humana and the attempt to overlay its reality by the construction of a Second Reality." [Voegelin, "On Debate and Existence" in CW 12:49]


"Now, beginning with The Ecumenic Age, but increasingly in his major works after it, Voegelin employs the word vision, drawn from Plato's use of the term opsis, as a technical category to signify precisely these 'human-divine symbols of mythical imagination.' 'The 'vision' is not somebody's fancy but the imaginative power of response to the reality seen; and the reality seen is the cause (aition) of this power (dynamis).' Therefore, it is inappropriate, he says, to speak of the 'subject' or 'object' of the vision ... Vision, one might say, is the symbolic expression of meaning correlative to the experience of mystery insofar as, in Marcel's description, it is 'a sphere where the distinction between what is in me and what is before me loses its meaning and its initial validity.' As Voegelin puts it, the language of the vision 'does not merely refer to reality but is reality itself emerging as the luminous 'word' from the divine-human encounter.' ...

"One advantage of the term, significant from the point of view of Voegelin's attempt to develop a truly adequate theory of consciousness, is that it gives him a theoretical category to refer specifically to the cognitional activity comprising every genuine mythopoeic response to the mystery of luminous participation. Although he nowhere spells the fact out clearly, Voegelin appears to have adopted 'vision' as a differentiated philosophical category referring to a specific capacity or structure in consciousness, like the structures of intentionality and luminosity and the overall structure of consciousness as a metaxy. These structures are able to be distinguished, of course, through the additional capacity of 'reflective distance,' which enables consciousness to grasp and articulate its own nature. Vision would therefore be what Voegelin calls, in In Search of Order, a 'reflective symbol,' specifically the symbol that in his later work heuristically identifies all acts of imaginative experience and expression that convincingly establish for a person, a people, or a tradition, a supervening context of meaning regarding the participation of conscious existence in the Whole of reality." [Hughes 1993:110-112]


"In Voegelin's use, not a quantity of territory but a substantive order involving the experience of `universality'. Contrasts in this respect with ecumene, which in Voegelin's interpretation is a territorial term. According to Voegelin, the symbol `world' developed historically when the `cosmos' separated in the differentiated consciousness of existence into its immanent (symbolized by `world') and transcendent (symbolized by `God') components. `World' in this sense involves an ordering orientation toward transcendental perfection of being." [Webb 1981:289]
two primary usages of the term: Western Christian and Ancient-Pagan.

"...the first meaning of `world' given by the Oxford Dictionary is that of `human existence', and further of a state, or phase, or mode of existence. The meaning obviously originates in the Christian ambience in which we speak of this world and the world beyond, of worldly and saintly existence, of going into or retreating from the world, of an old and a new world... Only in the second and third place does the Dictionary list the meanings more readily associated with 'world', that is, of the earth or the universe, of the human race, the whole of mankind or part of it, of the world of fashion, the great world, and so forth.

"I used Liddell and Scott and Georges for information on the meanings of the word in classical times. In Greek, kosmos primarily signifies a kind of order. Kosmos is the order in which people sit or lie, behave or do not behave, the order in which things are or no longer are; it can be good behaviour, discipline, a natural or established order; moreover, it can mean an order as well as its regulator or artificer, and consequently a beautifully designed artifact such as an ornament or decoration; and finally it can mean order in the 'cosmic' sense--the universe and its order, the order of the earth, of the heavens, and of the underworld. In later Greek, kosmos became synonymous with ecumene, the inhabited world, ...and at the same time it blends into the Christian meaning of 'this world' which in the Oxford Dictionary is listed first...

"Both the ancient and modern sets of meaning include the elements of territory and people that become predominant in the instrumentalist conception of world-empire; but they contain a good deal more. There seems to be alive in them a desire to express linguistically a substantive order pervading all levels of being as well as being as a whole. Furthermore, while they have in common the desire to pervade all realms of being, they achieve their purpose not in the same manner--there seems to be more than one way to conceive of the world... In the ancient set, the accent lies on the visible an external, on the cosmic order in a pre-eminent sense; in the Christian set, it lies on the internal order of man. The differences of meaning apparently reflect the actual historical process in which the experience of human existence under a world-transcendent God has differentiated from the primary, more compact experience of existence in a cosmos that includes both gods and men." [Voegelin World Empire:177-178]


"Inquiry. In Voegelin's use (following Plato), an existential inquiry, the process of the conceptual self-illumination of the soul; a search for truth, both cognitive and existential." [Webb 1981:289]
"For philosophy is by no means a construing of a field of study; it is a zetema, an endless inquiry into the heights and depths of reality via an exegesis of consciousness. As it proceeds it develops particular interpretive models or symbols which by their mythic and analogical character attempt to circumscribe the nature of reality under analysis... The zetema as an ongoing quest for truth never achieves a final resting point; it comes to a halt only with the death of the philosopher, only then to be taken up by others...

"Secondly, as the questing consciousness of the philosopher makes the truth of reality luminous, one can speak of a never-ending zetema within history. This larger zetema is constituted by the advances achieved by every philosophical and historical inquiry that builds upon past achievements. This zetema advancing through history, which is formed and deformed by the forces of order and disorder and which must be captured and recaptured by the philosopher's meditative process, is the truth of reality becoming ever luminous through image, symbol, and word." [Morrissey 1994:89-90]

"As Voegelin underscored so often, the zetema of any philosopher is an unfinished story within the larger unfinished story of history which remains a prevailing mystery. Both the philosopher's quest and the process of history are structured by the same unknown divine mystery that pulls all participants in the cosmos to its unknown end." [Morrissey 1994:117]


"Search, seeking. In Voegelin's use, that aspect of the dynamics of the tension of existence in which it is experienced as a seeking or striving toward the transcendental pole of the tension. Correlative to helkein." [Webb 1981:289]


[Berger 1967] Berger, Peter L., and Thomas Luckmann, The Social Construction of Reality: a Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge, Anchor Books, Doubleday, Garden City, New York, 1967.

[Carmody 1987] Carmody, John, and Denise Lardner Carmody, Interpreting the Religious Experience, Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1987.

[Cooper 1986] Cooper, Barry, The Political Theory of Eric Voegelin, Toronto Studies in Theology, vol 10, Edwin Mellen Press 1986.

[CW 12] Ellis Sandoz (editor), The Collected Works of Eric Voegelin, vol 12, Published Essays 1966-1985, LSU Press, 1990.

[CW 25] edited with an introduction by Jurgen Gebhardt and Thomas A. Hollweck, The Collected Works of Eric Voegelin, vol 25, History of Political Ideas, vol. 7, The New Order and Last Orientation, University of Missouri Press, Columbia, Missouri, 1999.

[CW 27] Robert Anthony Pascal, James Lee Babin, and John William Corrington (editors), The Collected Works of Eric Voegelin, vol 27, The Nature of the Law and Related Legal Writings, LSU Press, 1991

[CW 28] Thomas A. Hollweck and Paul Caringella (editors), The Collected Works of Eric Voegelin, vol 28, What is History? And Other Late Unpublished Writings, LSU Press, 1990

[Eliade 1963] Eliade, Mircea, Myth and Reality, Harper and Row, New York 1963.

[Emberley 1993] Emberley, Peter, and Barry Cooper (translators and eds.), Faith and Political Philosophy: the Correspondence Between Leo Strauss and Eric Voegelin, 1934-1964, Pennsylvania State University Press, University Park, Pennsylvania, 1993.

[Franz 1992] Franz, Michael, Eric Voegelin and the Politics of Spiritual Revolt: The Roots of Modern Ideology, LSU Press, 1992.

[Heilke 1990] Heilke, Thomas, Voegelin on the Idea of Race: An Analysis of Modern European Racism, Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 1990.

[Heilke 1999] Heilke, Thomas, Eric Voegelin: In Quest of Reality, Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham, Maryland, 1999.

[Hughes 1993] Hughes, Glenn, Mystery and Myth in the Philosophy of Eric Voegelin, University of Missouri Press, Columbia, Missouri, 1993.

[Keulman 1990] Keulman, Kenneth, The Balance of Consciousness: Eric Voegelin's Political Theory, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1990.

[Lawrence 1984] Lawrence, Fred (ed.), The Beginning and the Beyond: Papers from the Gadamer and Voegelin Conferences, Scholar's Press, Chico, California, 1984.

[Lyon 1957] Lyon, Quinter Marcellus, The Great Religions, Odyssey Press, N.Y., 1957.

[McKnight 1978] McKnight, Stephen A., Eric Voegelin's Search for Order in History, LSU Press, Baton Rouge, La, 1978.

[Morrissey 1984] Morrissey, Michael P., Consciousness and Transcendence: The Theology of Eric Voegelin, University of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame, Indiana, 1994.

[Niemeyer 1989] Niemeyer, Gerhart, "God and Man, World and Society: the Last Work of Eric Voegelin", The Review of Politics 51:107-123, 1989.

[O'Connor 1980] O'Connor, R. Eric (ed.), Conversations with Eric Voegelin, Thomas More Institutional Papers/76, Montreal: Perry Printing Limited 1980.

[Percy 1975] Percy, Walker, The Message in the Bottle: How Queer Man is, How Queer Language is, and What One has to Do with the Other, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, NY, 1975.

[Poirier 1992] Poirier, Maben Walter, "Knowing and Being" (review of Autobiographical Reflections), Modern Age 34:259-262.

[Polanyi 1975] Polanyi, Michael, and Harry Prosch, Meaning University of Chicago Press, Chicago, Illinois, 1975.

[Porter 1975] Porter, J.M., "A Philosophy of History as a Philosophy of Consciousness", Denver Quarterly 10:96-104. 1975.

[Raju 1970] Raju, P.T., Introduction to Comparative Philosophy, Southern Illinois University Press,Carbondale, 1970.

[Rhodes 1992] Rhodes, James M., "On Voegelin: His Collected Works and His Significance," Review of Politics, vol. 54, pp. 621-647, 1992.

[Sandoz 1981] Sandoz, Ellis, The Voegelinian Revolution: a Biographical Introduction, LSU Press, Baton Rouge, La, 1981.

[Sandoz 1982] Sandoz, Ellis (ed.), Eric Voegelin's Thought: a Critical Appraisal, Duke University Press, Durham, N.C., 1982.

[Sandoz 1991] Sandoz, Ellis (ed.), Eric Voegelin's Significance for the Modern Mind, LSU Press, Baton Rouge, La., 1991.

[Sebba 1977] Sebba, Gregor, "Prelude and Variations on the Theme of Eric Voegelin," Southern Review 13:646-76, 1977.

[Thompson 2000] William M. Thompson and David L. Morse (eds.), Voegelin's Israel and Revelation: An Interdisciplinary Debate and Anthology, Marquette University Press, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 2000.

[Tillich 1968] Tillich, Paul, A History of Christian Thought, Simon & Schuster, NY, 1968.

[Voegelin Anam] Voegelin, Eric, Anamnesis (trans. and ed. by Gerhart Niemeyer), University of Notre Dame Press 1978.

[Voegelin AR] Voegelin, Eric, Autobiographical Reflections, edited by Ellis Sandoz, LSU Press, 1989.

[Voegelin German Anam] Voegelin, Eric, Anamnesis: Zur Theorie der Geschichte und Politick, R. Piper & Co, Munich, 1966.

[Voegelin NSP] Voegelin, Eric, The New Science of Politics: an Introduction, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1952.

[Voegelin OH 1] Voegelin, Eric, Order and History, vol. 1, Israel and Revelation, LSU Press, Baton Rouge, La., 1956.

[Voegelin OH 3] Voegelin, Eric, Order and History, vol. 3, Plato and Aristotle, LSU Press, Baton Rouge, La., 1957.

[Voegelin OH 4] Voegelin, Eric, Order and History, vol. 4, The Ecumenic Age, LSU Press, Baton Rouge, La., 1974.

[Voegelin OH 5] Voegelin, Eric, Order and History, vol. 5, In Search of Order, LSU Press, Baton Rouge, La., 1987.

[Voegelin World Empire] Voegelin, Eric, "World Empire and the Unity of Mankind", in International Affairs, 38:170-83, 1962.

[Walsh 1995] Walsh, David, "Eric Voegelin and Our Disordered Spirit" (review of Franz 1992 and Hughes 1993), in Review of Politics, 57:133-134, 1995.

[Webb 1981] Webb, Eugene, Eric Voegelin: Philosopher of History, University of Washington Press, Seattle, Washington, 1981.

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Bill McClain (wmcclain@watershade.net)