Biographical Supplement

Recollection of Early Memories

Anamnesis is the Greek word for remembrance. Voegelin's recollection of 20 experiences as an infant and small boy formed the basis of his anamnetic experiments, which allowed him to apprehend being without the intervention of reflective distortions. These experiences, recorded in 1943, later became the core of his philosophy of consciousness. Very helpful here is the Editor's Introduction to Anamnesis by David Walsh.

Voegelin's American Sojourn, 1924-1926

Before immigration to the US in 1938, Voegelin had spent two years as a research fellow in the US—from the Fall of 1924 to the end of 1926. He was the first Austrian recipient of a Laura Spellman Rockefeller Memorial research fellowship and attended class at Columbia, Harvard, Wisconsin and finally at Yale.

Among the great scholars he heard were Franklin Giddings and John Dewey at Columbia, Alfred North Whitehead and Roscoe Pound at Harvard, and John R. Commons at Wisconsin. He spent his final semester at Yale Law School.

In New York he became friends with the students of the great geneticist Thomas Hunt Morgan and from that developed a life-long interest in biology. He also absorbed the philsophy of George Santayana and William James. As a result of these experiences he rejected European Idealism.


In Europe it was necessary for a scholar to become "habilitated" before he could attain a permanent position in the academy. For Voegelin this meant publishing his collected essays on his experiences in America during the 1924 to 1926. Some of these essays remain important to this day and are found in Volume 1 of the Collected Works. This is in addition to his doctoral work which was completed in 1922 and is now found in Volume 32 of the Collected Works. He took his degree in law, not in philosophy or political science, and worked under TWO doctor-fathers, Othmar Span and Hans Kelsen, the latter of whom drafted the Austrian constitution of 1920 and who remains well known to legal theorists in the US for his development of the "pure theory of law."

Voegelin and His Analysis of Racism

Voegelin wrote two books on race and racism, Race and State and The History of the Race Idea from Ray to Carus. They were both published in 1933. The materials on evolution are timeless and compelling yet today. Of the latter book, Voegelin himself said, "[The Nazi annexation of Austria] is the reason why this book, which I consider one of my better efforts, has remained practically unknown, though it would be of considerable help in the contemporary, rather dilettantic, debates between evolutionists and anti-evolutionists." Autobiographical Reflections, Chapter 7.

Early Teaching in the US

Voegelin needed help to emigrate from Europe to the US; this help came in the form of a temporary appointment to teach at Harvard. Then he taught briefly at Bennington in Vermont. After these experiences he chose to distance himself from the emigré scholar community and from the "climate of opinion" found on the East Coast and took a teaching position at the U. of Alabama in Birmingham. There he learned Hebrew, adding to his previously acquired Latin, Greek, Italian, English, Russian, and French. After a few years there he was persuaded to move to Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.

Max Weber

Voegelin deeply admired Max Weber and this admiration is abundantly clear from his several essays about Weber's work. But he was also aware of Weber's limitations and his both sympathetic and sorrowful critique of Weber in The New Science of Politics is one of the more remarkable passages found in that most remarkable book. See also Voegelin's "The Greatness of Max Weber" found in Hitler and the Germans , "Max Weber" in VOL 7—Published Essays 1922-1928 , and "Max Weber" in VOL 8—Published Essays 1929-1933 . For brief excerpts on Weber look at the Subject Table of Contents on this website.

General Sequence of Publications

Voegelin's first five books were published in German. In recent years they have been translated into English. They include On the Form of the American Mind, Race and State, The History of the Race Idea from Ray to Carus, The Authoritarian State, and Political Religions. Three volumes of essays originally published in German, Volumes 7, 8 and 9 of the Collected Works, have also been recently published. There then followed in English, The New Science of Politics and the first three volumes of Order and History.

Returning to Munich in 1958, Voegelin published Anamnesis and what became in English, Science, Politics and Gnosticism. Volumes IV and V of Order and History were written in English after Voegelin's return to the US in 1968. Much of his most important work was published in essay form, often following public lectures. These were mostly written in English and occupy Volumes 10-12 of the Collected Works.

The History of Political Ideas in 8 Volumes (CW 19-26) was written in English but not published during his lifetime. He permitted extracts to be published and "removed" certain sections to use in Order and History. His Nature of the Law, and related Legal Writings (CW 27) containing a later version of his theoretical analysis of law and critique of Hans Kelsen found earlier in The Authoritarian State, (CW 4), appeared originally as a handout for his students. Some of his most profound writing was published after his death and is found in What is History? and Other Late Unpublished Writings, (CW 28).

Eric Voegelin: International
Bibliography 1921-2000

The editor was the late Geoffrey L. Price and the bibliography was published by Wilhelm Fink Verlag, Munich, 2000. It contains separate sections for primary, secondary and tertiary sources, the first two divided into books, articles, reviews, etc. There is a "union list" for primary sources showing everything arranged chronologically. For a fairly recent list of books about Voegelin, see the Bibliography compiled by Bill McClain.