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Abstract

The concept of political identity is seen with suspicion in current political discourse. Group identities might trump the rights of individuals and, historically, this has often been the case. This essay argues that the problem of political identity lays in the way in which the concept has been thought of in the context of the modern theory of representation. Following Eric Voegelin’s analysis of representation, which implies a criticism of the modern approach, the essay argues that the concept of political identity (properly understood) is necessary to explain the conditions of existence and persistence of political communities. The proposed view stresses the importance of the concept of „common good“ in political theory and challenges the usual opposition between descriptive and prescriptive accounts of politics. The upshot is that, in order to anesthetize the dangers of political identities, we should not try to eliminate the concept, but we should relocate it in a proper theory of representation.

In: Democracy and Representation

Abstract

This essay discusses the relevance of Aristoteles’s conception of human action and its metaphysical underpinnings for the new methodology of political science that Eric Voegelin presents in his 1952 book The New Science of Politics. This book questions traditional positivist and post-positivist approaches to the analysis of political reality: Voegelin starts by criticizing the underlying Humean dichotomy between facts and values. Instead, Voegelin proposes an approach based on Aristotle’s anthropology, which in turn is based on his metaphysics (which Voegelin does not explain in detail). In the following, this procedure is analyzed by following a train of thought in Voegelin’s book. In doing so, I want to show that more Aristotle would help Voegelin: I argue that a metaphysics of human action such as that developed by neo-Aristotelian analytical metaphysics can strengthen Voegelin’s approach, since it allows a better understanding of his political science.

In: Representation and Truth
The Meaning of Eric Voegelin’s Theory of Representation
The current crisis of liberal democracy has become the focus of constitutional, historical, philosophical, theological, and political analysis. Populism and the growing antipathy toward political elites and their dominance in popular representations are increasingly calling into question the nature of representation and the relationship between representation and democracy. The threat posed to representative democracies by authoritarian political leaders was described by the famous political scientist Eric Voegelin (1901–1985) after the overcoming of fascism in Europe with the words: “If a government is nothing but representative in the constitutional sense, a representative ruler in the existential sense will sooner or later make an end of it; and quite possibly the new existential ruler will not be too representative in the constitutional sense”.
Eric Voegelin-Studies: Supplements flankiert als wissenschaftliche Buchreihe das 2022 startende Eric-Voegelin-Jahrbuch und bietet ein ideales Forum, spezifische Aspekte der dort erscheinenden Beiträge weiter auszuführen. So entstehen Spielräume für kleinere oder größere Monografien sowie Publikationen mehrerer Autor:innen. Wie das Yearbook sind die Supplements als internationales und interdisziplinäres Projekt konzipiert. Sie sollen den wissenschaftlichen Austausch und die internationale Zusammenarbeit über Voegelins Werk erweitern.
Eric Voegelin-Studies: Supplements offers an ideal forum to further elaborate on specific aspects of the contributions in the Yearbook. This creates scope for smaller or larger monographs as well as publications by several authors. The Supplements are conceived as an international and interdisciplinary project. They are intended to expand scholarly exchange and international collaboration on Voegelin’s work.