This article places Eric Voegelin’s classical study The New Science of Politics in its contemporary context of the political and scholarly debates in the US during the 1940s and 1950s. Against this background, it brings out the important but so far neglected reflections on political power inspiring Voegelin’s argument. Concretely, the following three theses are developed. Regardless of its far-reaching frame of reference in the history of ideas, the New Science is, first, to be understood as a consciously polemical pamphlet addressing immediately contemporary questions. Secondly, as such, it is primarily directed against the understanding of political science as a science of democracy, as it was advocated by Charles Merriam and Harold Lasswell, among others, as the most prominent representatives of the „Chicago School“ in US political science. The core of Voegelin’s criticism is directed against their genuinely „scientistic“ claim to social effectiveness, according to which political science functions primarily as an instrument for the exercise of power. Against this background, Voegelin, thirdly, in his theory of existential and transcendent representation, outlines a decidedly anti-scientistic understanding of political science, at the center of which is a genuinely critical hermeneutics of the various truth- and power-seeking motifs in the self-interpretations of political societies.
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.