The Gnostic and the Spoudaios
Cover of issue 41.1
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How to Cite

The Gnostic and the Spoudaios: Aristotle, Voegelin, and the Drama of Being. (2017). The Political Science Reviewer, 41(1), 75-99.


For Eric Voegelin, the murderous ideological movements of the twentieth century epitomized human stupidity. The perpetrators of these crimes, however, were not stupid in the conventional understanding of the word. That is, stupidity is not merely a measure of synaptic activity. For Voegelin, stupidity pertains to the larger structure of human consciousness, which is why he argues that it had become “clear beyond a doubt that the center of a philosophy of politics [has] to be a theory of consciousness.” The methodological paradigm introduced in the New Science of Politics was his first step toward this analysis of consciousness—an analysis that aimed to describe “the concrete human person, in the fullness of his dimensions, including the intellectual and spiritual.” For Voegelin, a human being, in the fullness of his dimensions, does not live in a vacuum. On the contrary, his intellectual and spiritual existences are inextricably bound to the historical community in which he lives out his practical, political, and spiritual life. An analysis of consciousness is thus more than mere psychoanalysis— it is the beginning of political science because political regimes tend to reflect the predominant psychological type they harbor. In short, individual stupidity readily becomes collective stupidity.

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