Plato, Gnosticism, Husserl and Voegelin

This video is an excerpt from Voegelin in Toronto. The recording is poor, especially at the beginning. In the second part, Voegelin gives insights about his philosophy of consciousness and how it relates to his interpretation of Plato.

Voegelin developed his philosophy of consciousness from his experience with19th/20th centuries mass movements and ideologies (Fascism, Communism but also Liberalism and Positivism) that he interprets as neognostic attempts to change the structure of reality. The gnostic believe or rather make other believe that structures of reality can be changed by distorting our perception of reality. The gnostic is a magician. Voegelin insists in particular on the fact that Gnostics such as Marx have to censor the experience of consciousness with the “Divine Ground”. They have to prohibit questions about the origin of Being.

Another source of Voegelin’s philosophy of consciousness (which he only developed in its full scope only toward the end of his life) was his critical reception of Husserl’s phenomenology. Voegelin rejects in it the dogmatic of intentionality. Moderns tends to reduce the experience of consciousness to an experience of objects as they are given to a “Transcendental Ego”. For Voegelin, consciousness is not only intentional but also luminous.  Voegelin’s concept of luminosity points in the direct of an experience of participation of consciousness in being itself, through history.

Voegelin’s philosophy of consciousness culminates in his re-appropriation of the platonic concept of Metaxy. In the Metaxy, consciousness experiences its tension toward the “Divine Ground”. The history of consciousness is the history of the attempts of consciousness to symbolize through myths or concepts the experience with the Ground and to translate it into a political order (as Plato does in the Republic).  The integrality of this experience is available from the beginning of time but it is originally compact. It becomes more a more differentiated, throughout history. Plato represents a turning point, “a leap in Being” in the West, comparable though to other spiritual outbursts which took place during the Ecumenic Age (Voegelin’s own version of the Axial Age) in the geographical area comprised between Hellas and China.

This excerpt gives a general idea of the place of Plato in his perspective. About Voegelin’s philosophy of consciousness, one should refer to his Anamnesis and to the last 2 volumes of Order and History (The Ecumenic Age and In Search of an Order).

About Gnosticism, Voegelin famous essay Science, Politics and Gnosticism:

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s