Short Eric Voegelin Glossary

This is a glossary of terms used by Eric Voegelin. Some are Greek and Latin words not in common use, others are English words which, although used in their dictionary sense, carry special meaning in the context of his writing. As a convenience, I have included rare words which he uses in their simple dictionary sense (for example, "ochlocracy").

Eugene Webb has a very useful glossary in his Eric Voegelin: Philosopher of History.

For a much larger compilation of extracts from Voegelin and his commentators, see Dictionary of Voegelinian Terminology.

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

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adumbrate. (1) To give a sketchy outline of, (2) To prefigure indistinctly; foreshadow, (3) To disclose partially or guardedly, (4) To overshadow; shadow or obscure.

agathon. the good

aition. ground of order

allotriosis. alienation (Stoics)

amor Dei. love of God (Augustine); openness of the soul towards transcendence

amor sui. love of self

analogia entis. the analogy of being

anamnesis. a recalling to mind; reminiscence; in Plato, the recollection of ideas known in a previous stage of existence


aphorein. the questioner

aphtharsia. imperishing

apodictic. expressing or of the nature of necessary truth or absolute certainty

aporia. an insoluble contradiction or paradox

apostrophe. turning away from the divine ground (Stoics)

apperception. introspective self-consciousness

arche. origin

articulation. the process in which people form themselves into a society for action

aspernatio rationis. the contempt of reason

athanatizein. the activity of immortalizing (Aristotle)


berith. covenant

bios theoretikos. the life of reason; the contemplative life (Aristotle)


chiliasm. millenarianism; the doctrine that Christ will rule bodily on earth for a thousand years

compact. as in "compact experience": perception of reality as composed of aspects not yet distinguished. Contrast "differentiated".

concrete. a real instance, not abstract

consubstantial. composed of the same substance

cosmion. a little world

cosmos. the bond of being between God and world


demonism. in politics: decisions which are beyond rational argument

dialectics. the movement of thought or discussion within the metaxy


differentiated. as opposed to "compact": experience represented by various characteristics

dike. justice

doxa. opinion (Plato); knowledge of phenomena


ecumene. the entire known world of culture that potentially might be organized (Herodotus)

equivalence. the recognizable identity of the reality experienced and symbolized on various levels of differentiation


egophanic revolt. in contrast with "theophany": the epiphany of ego leading to the death of God

eidos. form

elpis. hope

entelechy. the realization of form-giving cause as contrasted with potential existence

epekeina. beyond; transcendent (Plato)

episteme. science

epistrophe. the turning toward the divine ground

eristics. speculative thought that attempts mastery over one of the poles of the metaleptic tension, over the apeiron or the nous

eros. desire for the good and the beautiful

ersatz. substitute

eschatology. belief about or in the end of the world or the last things

eu zen. the good life

eunomia. the good social order

exegesis. explanation or critical interpretation



felix. happy




heimarmene. fate



historiography. the writing of history

homonoia. spiritual agreement between men, the substance of political society (Aristotle); likemindedness (King James Bible, John Dewey); consciousness of kind (Henry Giddings).

hypostasis. a conceptual entity considered as a real existent; EV: the fallacious assumption that the poles of a participatory experience are self-contained entities that form a mysterious contact on the occasion of an experience.


idiotes. the private world of the dreamer (Heraclitus)

immanentism. the doctrine that God or an abstract mind or spirit is contained within, not transcendent to, the world


intellectus unus. one mind; a single cosmic, divine or human consciousness



kalon. the beautiful

kinesis. a feverish movement of disintegration and disorder (Thucydides)

koinai ennoiai. "common concepts" of theology and metaphysics(Stoics)

koran. authoritative writing, superseding all others


libido dominandi. the will to power

logos. word, reason, plan; divine reason as the source of order in the world



material philosophy of history.

metalepsis. reality of divine-human participation; mutual participation

metaphysics. the manipulation of noetic symbols as if they were propositions

metastatic. magical; "metastatic faith": faith that could alter reality. "Metastatic faith is one of the great sources of disorder, if not the principle one, in the contemporary world; and it is a matter of life and death for all of us to understand the phenomenon and to find remedies against it before it destroys us."--OH1:xiii.

metaxy. Plato's In-Between; between subject and object, time and the timeless, human and divine; the metaleptic reality

morbis animi. mentally diseased (Cicero)

mysticism. the articulation of experience beyond any symbolization

myth. A story of an intracosmic ground: taking one thing in the cosmos as the ground of being of another.


noesis. reflective self-understanding. Noetic interpretation: "The tension in political reality that presses beyond the self-understanding of society and pushes the social reality into the position of an object." (syn: political science)

nomos. law; convention

nosos. (nosema) sickness, madness; "nosemates adikas": the sickness of injustice

nous. mind or reason, both human and divine; intellect; "the place where the human ground of order is in accord with the ground of being"; the intellectual self


ochlocracy. mob rule

opaque. as in "opaque symbol": a symbol which has become literalized so that it has lost its original meaning. Contrast with "transparent".


paraclete. holy spirit (meant whimsically)

paraenesis. advice; hortatory composition

parousia. presence

pathos. passion; emotions; experiential complex

peitho. spiritual persuasion

periagoge. the turning around (Plato); the opening of the soul (Bergson)

peripatetic. Aristotelean

philia. love

philodoxy. love of opinion (Plato)

philomythos. love of myth (Aristotle)

philosophy. love of wisdom (Plato)

phronesis. wisdom

pistis. faith

pneuma. spirit; "pneumapathology": spiritual disease (Schelling)

polis. state or society characterized by a sense of community

politeia. constitutions; Politea: Plato's Republic.

politike episteme. political science

Politikos. Plato's Statesman.


primary. as in "primary experience of the cosmos": first in time; does not imply "most important" or "more fundamental"

princeps. originally: any leading Roman citizen


psyche. soul; self; mind; the sensorium of transcendence



ratio. reason

representation. in politics:

  1. in the elemental sense: the various ways in which people speak of "representative government"
  2. in the existential sense: societies as they are actually ordered for action
  3. in the transcendental sense: recognition of an order of truth in transcendent reality

revelation. the differentiation of pneumatic consciousness


saeculum. an age of history

skotosis. the obscuring of sectors of reality (Lonergan)

sophon. the wise

soteriology. the theology of salvation

spoudaios. the mature man (Aristotle)

stasis. ??? (Aristotle)

sub species mortis. in the shadow of death

summodeism. lesser gods viewed as aspects of a higer god

superbia. pride


tetraktys. ??? (Pythagorus)

thanatos. the desire for death

theogony. an account of the origin and descent of the gods

theophany. a visible manifestation of a deity

theophilos. a lover of God


tolerance. the balance between the differentiated Ineffable (the incomprehensibility of the Divine) and the symbolic expression of order

topoi. (?) topics (Aristotle)

transparent. as in "transparent symbol": a symbol which refers to an experienced reality. Contrast with "opaque".

tua res agitur.


ukase. edict


via dolorosa. the path of sorrow; the route of Jesus bearing his cross

viator. in the Christian sense: the wanderer, the pilgrim toward eschatological perfection


world. immanent, finite existence


xynon. the common reality (Heraclitus)


zetein. the seeker

zoon noun echon.

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