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.
Return to the Eric Voegelin Study Page.
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
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
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)
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
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
entelechy. the realization of form-giving cause as contrasted with potential existence
epekeina. beyond; transcendent (Plato)
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
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
- the permanent presence of the process of reality in which man participates with his conscious existence; the substance of history consists in the experiences in which man gains understanding of his humanity and its limits.
- History is Man written large; and as man's consciousness is the reality of tension toward the divine ground of his existence, history is the struggle between existence in truth and the deficient modes of existence.
- "The unfolding of a pattern of meaning in time"
- movement through time, on a meaningful course, toward an anticipated fulfillment (Eugene Webb)
- The tension of existence, in its orientation toward the divine beyond existence, incarnated as a temporal process (Eugene Webb)
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
pathos. passion; emotions; experiential complex
peitho. spiritual persuasion
periagoge. the turning around (Plato); the opening of the soul (Bergson)
philodoxy. love of opinion (Plato)
philomythos. love of myth (Aristotle)
philosophy. love of wisdom (Plato)
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
representation. in politics:
- in the elemental sense: the various ways in which people speak of "representative government"
- in the existential sense: societies as they are actually ordered for action
- 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
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.
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.