A Voegelin Tidbit– Disoriented Human Beings

Eric Voegelin

I’m always on the lookout for original thinking on the larger patterns of history, as a way to get a reading on where we are, and as a way to tell what time it is. Voegelin satisfies.

Here is a brief summary of one note I jotted while listening to an early-1970s recording of Voegelin himself, speaking on the meaning of history:

He says that history moves in three steps. First there is an era of order, which then invariably disintegrates, leading to (and this is the part I love) the “disordered construction of reality by disoriented human beings.” It’s as though the periods of disintegration create societies that suffer from a kind of collective post-traumatic stress disorder, preventing them from returning to a (new) state of order. Voegelin’s metaphor for such a troubled society is the metaphor of “dis-orientation,” of aimlessness. To this apt metaphor he adds the insight that lost human beings construct realities that are distorted and disordered. We do this as a way to soothe, or to mask, or perhaps even as a futile attempt to annihilate, this nagging sense of lostness.

We 21st-century Americans are disoriented, and have constructed a disordered reality. That’s not to say that everything is going to hell in a handbasket tomorrow. It just means that general distrust– of others and of institutions– is growing; that our fetish for seeking security through state-sponsored violence and through unrestrained acquisitiveness is eroding our humanity; and that, despite historically unprecedented widespread material abundance, we rank strangely high in measures of unhappiness, like suicide rates and addictions.

In order to be healthy today, people must, to some degree, resist some (not all) of the attractions of the distorted reality in which we live and move.

.: The Eric Voegelin Institute :..


One thought on “A Voegelin Tidbit– Disoriented Human Beings

  1. To be a sinner is to be inherently disoriented.
    Sin is the presumption of and thus the always dramatized separation from the Living God.
    There is no real existence until sin is transcended. All actions and all states of experience are empty, painful, problematic, and sinful until the presumption of separation from the Living Divine Being is utterly transcended.

    There is no truly human life without Divine Communion, or the submission/surrender of the entire conscious and functional being to the Absolute Divine Reality within which it depends completely, even for the next breath. Without such Divine Communion, there is no true humanity, no real responsibility, and no real freedom. Without Divine Communion the individual is simply a functional entity living an unconscious adventure of pre-patterned functional relations. There is no sacred or Divine plane to his or her awareness.

    Sin is the worst cancer in the universe. It is the worst sickness. It is the most horrific disease. Its implications cover the entirety of everyone’s life. The world is filled with its symptoms and reeks with its torments and potentials, coming from all directions, most of which people cannot even see.

    Put more simply, if you begin with the presumption of sin, as does Christianity, then you will inevitably create a human world that is saturated with sin. And there is not a damn thing anyone can do about it because it will inevitably be more of the same.

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