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Eric Voegelin's thought and its significance for political theology

Turner, Francis John (1990) Eric Voegelin's thought and its significance for political theology. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

The philosopher Eric Voegelin (1901-85) held that at the heart of an adequate political philosophy must be a philosophy of consciousness. This study discusses Voegelin's thought in its significance for "political theology", by which is understood that mode of theological thinking which focuses on the relationship of Christian faith to the pursuit of social justice. The study falls into two parts. Part One is an exposition of Voegelin's thought with the perspective of political theology continuously in mind. Chapter One justifies the choice of this perspective. There follow chapters an the symbol of the metaxy, which Voegelin takes from Plato and which is fundamental to his thought, and on the rational structure of symbols and their articulation. Then the modes of symbolic discourse most important for Voegelin are considered in turn: myth, classical philosophy, Christian theology, history, and politics. Part One finishes with a discussion of Voegelin's work on the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures. Part Two concentrates on three topics central to the concerns of Voegelin and political theologians alike. Besides being intrinsically important, these topics permit one to estimate how valuable is Voegelin's work as a resource for political theology. The topics are the relationship between individual and societal transformation; the scope and limits of Christian hope for the attainment of a just social order within history; and the nature of political responsibility and irresponsibility in the light of faith. The thesis ends with a summary of its conclusions. It is argued that Voegelin's thought offers a powerful and constructive challenge to political theologians, but that political theology in turn provides a vantage point which reveals certain serious shortcomings in Voegelin's powerful thought. In particular, it is argued that Voegelin fails to articulate adequately the social implications of his own philosophical principles.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts (Leeds) > School of Humanities (Leeds) > School of Theology & Religious Studies (Leeds)
Depositing User: Ethos Import
Date Deposited: 22 Mar 2010 16:31
Last Modified: 07 Mar 2014 10:21
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/743

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