The High Cost of Divorce from Reality
Like all such myths, it isn't just describing something that happened once upon a time, but what happens every time. As such, it cannot be "surpassed," let alone disproved. Rather, either you get it or you don't, for we don't judge it; rather, it judges us. In other words, it sheds light on the space in which human beings have always lived and always will live (for existence in this space -- the "sensorium of transcendence" -- is what characterizes humanness).
This is just another way of saying that man isn't the measure of truth, but vice versa. If this is not true, then the world is indeed an absolute relativity, and we are reduced to the civilized barbarism of the tenured, where the only appeal is to power, not truth, and the world is divided into victims and the political supermen who will save them. Oh, and the evil conservatives whose "holy grail," in the words of Obama, is to increase human suffering.
Reader ge left a comment to the effect that the state of scholarship has "advanced" since Voegelin's time -- which is no doubt true, in the same sense that politics has advanced between Reagan and Obama, or science between Neils Bohr and Al Gore, or philosophy between Aquinas and Richard Dawkins.
Perhaps I should add that I am not a "Voegelinian," if there is such a thing. Rather, I simply take what strikes me as expressive of truth, and leave the rest. If it doesn't bang the interior Gong, then I consign it to the absurcular wastebin. Like you, I read in order to understand, not imitate.
The following strikes me as unsurpassable truth: "philosophical existence is existence in awareness of man's humanity as constituted by his tension toward the divine ground." For Voegelin, this is a scientific statement, in the original, uncontracted sense of the word.
And if this is the case, then "alienation is the turning away from the ground toward a self that is imagined to be human without being constituted by its relation to the divine presence" (emphasis mine). Indeed, this is the repetition of another of man's permanent mythological possibilities, i.e., the fall into auto-divinization.
Here again, this is either way true or way off. I don't see any other alternative, for as Eckhart might say, you can't be a little bit pregnant with God.
Thus, "Turning toward, and turning away from, the ground become the fundamental categories descriptive of the states of order and disorder in human existence."
This is not an abstract statement. For example, America's founders, in anchoring our very political existence in unalienable rights conferred by the Creator, explicitly turned toward the ground of order. Conversely, Marx -- and all ideologies flowing from him -- explicitly reject this order.
Voegelin calls this "willful turning away from the fundamental experience of reality" a "disease of the mind."
Once again, how could it not be a disease if man is rooted in a real order that the mind has rejected? Any disease of any kind is always a dis-order, a failure to achieve a certain end. And if there is no objective norm for human beings, then there is no such thing as psycho- or pneumopathology. Rather, there is only adaptation to transient conditions, which is precisely what Marx believed.
Turning again to the American revolution, Voegelin says that it is distinguished from, say, the French, or Russian, or National Socialist revolutions in light of the fact that it "was able to create an open society" -- not in the desiccated sense of Popper, but in the vertical sense of being open to the divine ground.
And the culture war -- or red state / blue state divide, or whatever name you want to assign our polarization -- is largely because our intellectuals are so strongly influenced by the European type of revolutionary, anti-Christian intellectualism. Indeed, Obama is our first president totally steeped in this crock, with predictable results all around.
Thus, "what really has happened is an inconsiderate, and partly illiterate intellectual movement," a "massive force of aggressive intellectual dishonesty" that "has polarized itself out of the American social reality," and into a "willful divorce from reality and violent aggressiveness in the pursuit of utopian dreams."
And "Since this intellectual disease is not confined to journalists and television reporters but has penetrated deeply into the academic world, and through the academic world into the education of the younger generation, one must recognize in these trends a danger to democratic government which, after all, has to rely on contact with reality in the population at large."
Hmm. I can't imagine why the tenured would turn away from Voegelin.
(All of the above quoted material taken from Autobiographical Reflections.)