Eric Voegelin

POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY in Germany has produced few thinkers of international rank, Eric Voegelin is one of them. Born in Cologne in 1901, Voegelin grew up in Vienna where, following study and research visits to the United States and France, he habilitated in the Law and Social Science faculty at the University of Vienna in 1928 where he taught sociology and political science for a decade.

Upon the withdrawal of his right to lecture, and in view of his impending arrest, in the summer of 1938 Voegelin fled to Switzerland and then to the United States. He taught at several universities before taking a position at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge in 1942. Here he wrote his most important works: the posthumously published History of Political Ideas, The New Science of Politics (1952), and the first three volumes of Order and History (1956/57). These works established him as one of the most important political philosophers of the twentieth-century.

In 1958 Voegelin accepted an appointment at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich where he established the Institut für Politische Wissenschaft. Here he wrote: Science, Politics, and Gnosticism and Anamnesis: Zur Theorie der Geschichte und Politik. On becoming Professor Emeritus in 1968 Voegelin returned to the United States where he continued his research at the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace in Stanford California; from 1969 to 1974 as Henry Salvatori Distinguished Scholar and from 1974 to 1985 as a Senior Research Fellow.

In 1974, after a long delay, The Ecumenic Age - the fourth volume of Order and History - appeared. Voegelin died at the age of eighty-four on January 19, 1985 without having quite completed the fifth and final volume of Order and History. It appeared posthumously under the title, In Search of Order.