Volume 86, Issue 4, Fall 2012
Experiences of Order and Reason and Their Modern Ideological Destruction in Voegelin’s Work
The present study aims to provide a critical analysis of the account of modernity and modern thinkers done by the Austrian philosopher Eric Voegelin, arguably one of the most important political thinkers of the twentieth century. Eric Voegelin is a leading figure among those who considered it pertinent to speak about a crisis of modernity, primarily seen as a crisis of the spirit. The present study stresses Voegelin’s original analysis of “the ideological soul” of modern thinkers, his effort to go beyond a merely descriptive approach, and to define ideological thinking as a spiritually diseased pattern of thought rooted in an existential attitude. At the same time, I critically discuss some problematic consequences of Voegelin’s position, the possible flaws in his treatment of modern philosophers, perhaps too harshly seen as “intellectual swindlers” whose main concern was the distortion of fundamental experiences.