Pfeffer Merrill, Avramenko, and Planinc on Eric Voegelin’s Use of Classical Political Science
Cover of issue 41.1
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How to Cite

Pfeffer Merrill, Avramenko, and Planinc on Eric Voegelin’s Use of Classical Political Science. (2016). The Political Science Reviewer, 41(1), 100-105.


Eric Voegelin was a central figure in the second half of the twentieth century in the effort to restore to us the resources of classical political science for understanding ourselves and our world. Those whom he inspired to take up this task realize that not only must they examine Voegelin’s appropriation of the classic works but they also must independently and directly assess for themselves the classic works. We have been living for several centuries in an era marked by heightened historical consciousness, the consequence of which is as much to estrange us from the past as to know more about it. It was a hallmark of the revival of political philosophy, in the aftermath of World War II and the tyrannies of the twentieth century, to attempt to recover the ancients (principally for our present purposes Plato and Aristotle) as resources to regain our bearings and gather intellectual strength. But, as Voegelin himself pointed out, this cannot be a simple return. There is no such thing as a simple return. We must discern the equivalence between the predicaments of our time and place and the experiences to which the classical thinkers were responding. For example, if the primary object of attention in classical political science was the polis or the ancient city (the alternative being an empire, which is on a scale beyond the human), the primary object of attention in modern politics has for more than three centuries been the “modern state,” not exactly a polis or an empire.

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