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
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7
Epilogue

We have tried to study the political religions as knowledgeable persons, so let us, first of all, sum up the conclusion: The life of people in political community cannot be defined as a profane realm, in which we are concerned only with legal questions and the organization of power. A community is also a realm of religious order, and the knowledge of a political condition will be incomplete with respect to a decisive point, firstly, if it does not take into account the religious forces inherent in a society and the symbols through which these are expressed or, secondly, if it does include the religious forces but does not recognize them as such and translates them into areligious categories. Humans live in political society with all traits of their being, from the physical to the spiritual and religious traits. We have only presented examples from the Mediterranean and Western European culture areas, but the thesis is universal and also applies to the political forms in the East. The political community is always integrated in the overall context of human experience of world and God, irrespective of whether the political sphere occupies a subordinate level in the divine order of the hierarchy of being or whether it is deified itself. The language of politics is always interspersed with the ecstasies of religiosity and, thus, becomes a symbol in the concise sense by letting experiences concerned with the contents of the world be permeated with transcendental-divine experiences. Elements of the symbolic expressive forms that we have worked out on the basis of the Mediterranean and European examples can be found in all very advanced civilizations: the hierarchy, in which the sacral substance branches out from a transcendent God to the community of creatures; the ecclesia as the sacral communal substance; the

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