Modernity without Restraint: The Political Religions, the New Science of Politics, and Science, Politics, and Gnosticism

By Manfred Henningsen; Eric Voegelin | Go to book overview

4
The Leviathan

The process by which the Western ecclesia dissolves into political subentities continues throughout the Middle Ages and reaches a decisive stage during the period of Absolutism, when territorial states were increasingly sealing themselves off against each other. Not all regions of Europe reached this stage at the same time: The western nation states were carriers of the development and have remained the great prototypes up until today. They were also the first to think through the theology of the new ecclesia and to reform it as particular communities existing among others, in such intimate worldly political and sacral interpenetration, with state and Church in such close unity that the contradiction between temporal and spiritual become meaningless.

The great theologian of the particular ecclesia with immediacy to God was Thomas Hobbes. He is frequently considered to be the theorist of absolute monarchy, which he is; but he is more than that, because he created the symbol of the Leviathan, the omnipotent state immediately under God and acting upon divine orders.5 The construction of the symbol is based on two steps: first, a natural construction of the personality of the state (Staatsperson), which is to be binding for all times, and then the construction of the natural unity as one Christian ecclesia based on the historical circumstances of the seventeenth century. In order to construct the

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5
Hobbes took the image of the Leviathan from the Bible. The monster is described in Job 40 and 41: “His heart is firm as a rock, firm as the nether millstone. When he raises himself, strong men take fright, bewildered at the lashings of his tail. Sword or spear, dagger or javelin, if they touch him, they have no effect” [41: 24–27]. “He has no equal on earth; for he is made quite without fear. He looks down on all creatures, even the highest; he is king over all proud beasts” [41: 33–34]. [Translator's note: Quote taken from The New English Bible (New York: Oxford University Press, 1970).]

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Modernity without Restraint: The Political Religions, the New Science of Politics, and Science, Politics, and Gnosticism
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • Editor's Introduction 1
  • The Political Religions 19
  • Contents 21
  • Preface 23
  • 1 - The Problem 27
  • 2 - Akhenaton 34
  • 3 - Hierarchy 42
  • 4 - The Leviathan 53
  • 5 - The Inner-Worldly Community 59
  • 7 - Epilogue 70
  • A Note on Sources 72
  • The New Science of Politics - An Introduction 75
  • Contents 77
  • Foreword 79
  • Acknowledgements 81
  • Contents 83
  • Introduction 88
  • 1 - Representation and Existence 109
  • 2 - Representation and Truth 129
  • 3 - The Struggle for Representation in the Roman Empire 149
  • 4 - Gnosticism the Nature of Modernity 175
  • 5 - Gnostic Revolution the Puritan Case 196
  • 6 - The End of Modernity 220
  • Science, Politics, and Gnosticism - Two Essays 243
  • Contents 245
  • Preface to the American Edition 247
  • Part I - Science, Politics, and Gnosticism 249
  • 1 - Introduction 251
  • 2 - Science, Politics, and Gnosticism 257
  • 3 - The Murder of God 278
  • 4 - Note on Hegel's “philosophy of World History” 290
  • Part II - Ersatz Religion the Gnostic Mass Movements of Our Time 293
  • Ersatz Religion 295
  • Index 315
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