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

3
The Struggle for Representation in the Roman Empire

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The preceding lecture has shown that the problems of representation were not exhausted by internal articulation of a society in historical existence. Society as a whole proved to represent a transcendent truth; and, hence, the concept of representation in the existential sense had to be supplemented by a concept of transcendental representation. And on this new level of the problem, then, arose a further complication through the development of theory as a truth about man in rivalry with the truth represented by society. Even this complication, however, is not the last one. The field of competitive types of truth is historically broadened by the appearance of Christianity. All three of these types enter into the great struggle for the monopoly of existential representation in the Roman Empire. This struggle will form the subject matter of the present lecture; but, before approaching the subject itself, a few terminological and general theoretical points must be clarified. This procedure of bracketing out the general issues will avoid awkward digressions and explanations that otherwise would have to interrupt the political study proper when the questions become acute.

Terminologically, it will be necessary to distinguish between three types of truth. The first of these types is the truth represented by the early empires; it shall be designated as “cosmological truth.” The second type of truth appears in the political culture of Athens and specifically in tragedy; it shall be called “anthropological truth”—with the understanding that the term covers the whole range of problems connected with the psyche as the sensorium of

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