ABSTRACT

This chapter explores more philosophical work where ‘evidence’ in the conventional sense of the word can be thin on the ground and not much thicker in the air. Eric Voegelin’s account of what modernity owes to what came before grows out of the same large diagnostic ambitions, but rather than the philosophy of history, he sees the culprit as the spirit of modern science and its relationship with politics. The utopianism of modern totalitarian movements, the certainties with which their leaders expressed their convictions, and the somewhat haphazard co-opting of science to pursue them were, so Voegelin claimed, all basically gnostic moves. Human beings are desiring animals, not in the sense that an animal desires an object because it wants to eat or survive, but uniquely, through being aware of the desiring of other desiring creatures, their fellow human beings.