This essay examines the function of the concept of human dignity (both as an inherent feature of human existence and as an ideal achievement) in the United Nations's 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It explains why the key framers of the document affirmed an inherent human dignity in order to provide an explanatory basis for the validity of universal human rights while eschewing any religious or metaphysical justification for this affirmation. It argues that the key framers, while aware of (...) the Christian anthropology informing the modern Western concept of the dignity of the person, grasped (1) that the Declaration, to be ratifiable, would need to be free of religious reference, and also (2) that the notion of inherency suffices to suggest heuristically not only a universal human nature but also, crucially, a transcendent reality in which all persons participate. (shrink)
_Transcendence and History_ is an analysis of what philosopher Eric Voegelin described as “the decisive problem of philosophy”: the dilemma of the discovery of transcendent meaning and the impact of this discovery on human self-understanding. The explicit recognition and symbolization of transcendent meaning originally occurred in a few advanced civilizations worldwide during the first millennium?.?.e. The world’s major religious and wisdom traditions are built upon the recognition of transcendent meaning, and our own cultural and linguistic heritage has long since absorbed (...) the postcosmological division of reality into the two dimensions of “transcendence” and “immanence.” But the last three centuries in the West have seen a growing resistance to the idea of transcendent meaning; contemporary and “postmodern” interpretations of the human situation—both popular and intellectual—indicate a widespread eclipse of confidence in the truth of transcendence. In _Transcendence and History_, Glenn Hughes contributes to the understanding of transcendent meaning and the problems associated with it and assists in the philosophical recovery of the legitimacy of the notion of transcendence. Depending primarily on the treatments of transcendence found in the writings of twentieth-century philosophers Eric Voegelin and Bernard Lonergan, Hughes explores the historical discovery of transcendent meaning and then examines what it indicates about the structure of history. Hughes’s main focus, however, is on clarifying the problem of transcendence in relation to historical _existence_. Addressing both layreaders and scholars, Hughes applies the insights and analyses of Voegelin and Lonergan to considerable advantage. _Transcendence and History_ will be of particular value to those who have grappled with the notion of transcendence in the study of philosophy, comparative religion, political theory, history, philosophical anthropology, and art or poetry. By examining transcendent meaning as the key factor in the search for ultimate meaning from ancient societies to the present, the book demonstrates how “the decisive problem of philosophy” both illuminates and presents a vital challenge to contemporary intellectual discourse. (shrink)
The Politics of the Soul: Eric Voegelin on Religious Experience includes eight essays examining one of the most profound studies of religious experience to appear in the last century: that of the political philosopher Eric Voegelin. Voegelin is increasingly recognized as a political theorist of exceptional scope and erudition and the most important philosopher of his time since Toynbee, and his treatment of religious experience is a crucial part of his overall analysis of existence and history. This collection of essays (...) by prominenet Voegelin scholars is the first book to explore the relevance of that analysis to the contemporary understanding of political theory, theology, history, and philosophy of consciousness, and as such it constitutes a significant contribution not only to Voegelin scholarship but to the current quest for theoretical foundations. (shrink)
Revolutions: Finished and Unfinished, From Primal to Final is an important philosophical contribution to the study of revolution. It not only makes new contributions to the study of particular revolutions, but to developing a philosophy of revolution itself. Many of the contributors have been inspired by the philosophical approaches of Eric Voegelin or Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, and the tension between these two social philosophies adds to the philosophical uniqueness and richness of the work.
By examining how the best art and poetry address our need for spiritual orientation, this book makes a valuable contribution to the philosophies of art, literature, and religion, and brings deserved attention to the significance of the ...
This essay examines the songwriting art of Bob Dylan as a vehicle for exploring and clarifying elements in Bernard Lonergan’s analysis of art. The elements focused upon include Lonergan’s treatment of symbols and symbolic meaning as the communicative medium of art, and, at greater length, Lonergan’s account of art’s capacity for what he calls “ulterior significance,” its ability to suggest depths of meaning—including divine or ultimate meaning—that we surmise to lie beyond our comprehension. Examining songs from the full range of (...) Dylan’s fifty-year career, the essay shows that from his early songwriting in the “folk” tradition and his breakthrough achievements of the mid-1960s, Dylan’s best art has been characterized by an unusual concision and power in its use of symbolic imagery, as well as by a recurrent ability to evoke, with artistic originality and effectiveness, mysteries of “ulterior significance.” These analyses are then brought together in a discussion of the religious, often eschatological, character of some of Dylan’s most significant work. (shrink)
This essay responds to Bharat Ranganathan's “Comment” on my essay, “The Concept of Dignity in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights” . Addressing key criticisms in this “Comment,” I make the following points. First, neither the idea of inherent dignity being “imparted” to humans, nor the Universal Declaration's implication—through its use of terms such as “inherent” and “inalienable”—that humans participate in transcendent reality, necessarily presuppose a Christian metaphysics. Second, a concept such as “inherent dignity” must be affirmed to be intrinsically (...) heuristic unless we are to assume that its meaning can be completely known within the conditions of existence; but this affirmation does not render such concepts “indeterminate of sense.” Finally, Ranganathan's distinction between“weak” and “strong” senses of transcendence is untenable. If human truths beyond all contingencies are knowable , then there must be a real dimension of meaning that transcends all contingencies. (shrink)