Modernity as the immanentization of the Eschaton : a critical re-evaluation of Eric Voegelin's Gnosis-thesis
Paulíček, Igor (Translator)
Source document: Studia philosophica. 2013, vol. 60, iss. 2, pp. -111
ISSN1803-7445 (print)2336-453X (online)
License: Not specified license
Eric Voegelin formulated one of the most challenging theses about the theological foundations of modern progressivist and revolutionary thought: the character of modernity is essentially Gnostic. The aim of this essay is to show why the early version of Voegelin' Gnosis-thesis, as proposed in his New Science of Politics (1951), is not convincing. I argue that processes of immanentization can be fully explained within the development of Western ecclesiastical thought, without invoking Gnostic sectarianism. From a historical-empirical perspective Gnosticism is, in fact, principally opposed to immanent eschatologies. Joachim of Fiore, who, according to Voegelin, is the originator of modern Gnosticism, aptly illustrates this incompatibility. This essay also aims to show how Voegelin became increasingly aware of this problem and, accordingly, formulated a much more adequate and convincing version of the Gnosis-thesis in The Ecumenic Age (1974). The final section of the essay returns to the question of the relation of Gnosis and revolution.