Eric Voegelin Biography


Eric Hermann Wilhelm Voegelin (VURG-uh-lihn) is one of the most important political philosophers and historians of the twentieth century. He was born to Otto Stefan Voegelin, a civil engineer, and Elisabeth Ruchl Voegelin. In 1910 his family moved to Vienna, Austria, where Voegelin entered a Realgymnasium that had a strong emphasis on ancient and modern languages and the sciences. He completed his Ph.D. in 1922 at the University of Vienna in the political science program of the law faculty. From 1923 to 1924 he was an assistant in the law faculty at the university. In 1924 he received a Laura Spellman Rockefeller Fellowship, which allowed him to study in the United States and France for three years. In 1929 he was appointed as a Privatdozent and then, in 1936, as an associate professor of law at the University of Vienna. In 1932 he married Lissy Onken. In 1938 he was dismissed from his faculty position, largely because of his criticisms of the Nazi ideology on race. That same year he fled to the United States. From 1938 to 1939 he held short-term appointments at Harvard University and Bennington College, and in 1939 he became an assistant professor in the political science department of the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa. Three years later he joined the political science department of Louisiana State University, where he was made Boyd Professor of Government in 1952. In 1958 he accepted an invitation from the University of Munich to hold its first chair in political science. In 1969 he returned to the United States as Henry Salvatori Distinguished Scholar at the Hoover Institution in Stanford, California. He spent the remainder of his career at Stanford.

Of the five books Voegelin published in German before leaving Austria, two dealt critically with the idea of racial superiority and one examined the nature and character of the...

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Cooper, Barry. Eric Voegelin and the Foundations of Modern Political Science. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1999. Examines developments in the philosophy of history and political science.

Cooper, Barry. The Political Theory of Eric Voegelin, Lewiston, N.Y.: E. Mellen Press, 1986. Contains a good discussion of historiogenesis.

Hughes, Glenn. Mystery and Myth in the Philosophy of Eric Voegelin. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1993. Critical study.

McKnight, Stephen A., ed. Eric Voegelin’s Search for Order in History: Expanded Edition. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1987. Provides an interdisciplinary analysis of The New Science of Politics and Order in History.

Ranieri, John J. Eric Voegelin and the Good Society. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1995. Critical study.

Sandoz, Ellis. The Voegelinian Revolution: A Biographical Introduction. New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction, 2000. Sandoz provides an intellectual biography.