December 12, 2023

History, Abstraction, and the Problem of Ideology - Michael Federici


The Imaginative Conservative:

Michael P. Federici is Professor of Political Science at Mercyhurst University and Director of the National Humanities Institute’s Center for Constitutional Studies. He is the author of The Political Philosophy of Alexander Hamilton.

An excerpt from, "A Thinker You Should Know: Eric Voegelin" By Michael Federici, The Imaginative Conservative, December 27, 2017:

Voegelin’s work is not well known outside a relatively small group of academics and their students. Yet within this domain Voegelin’s influence is impressive. His work has inspired a growing secondary literature and his political philosophy has been applied to a variety of topics in a broad range of academic fields. His philosophy of history and philosophy of consciousness have influenced the work of thinkers who are significant in their own right. Among these are Gerhart Niemeyer, Flannery O’Connor, David Walsh, Marion Montgomery, Russell Kirk, James L. Wiser, Ellis Sandoz, Dante Germino, and J├╝rgen Gebhardt. Further evidence of Voegelin’s influence is the creation in 1987 of the Voegelin Institute at Louisiania State University and the establishment of the Centre for Voegelin Studies in the Department of Religions and Theology at the University of Manchester. But while Voegelin’s work has influenced several first-rate scholars, his political theory has not found its way into the broader culture.

Faced with widespread and profound cultural, social, and moral decay, Voegelin theorized that the West had lost its consciousness of certain historical experiences vital to the formation of political, social, and existential order. In Voegelin’s terms, historical experiences and their corresponding language symbols illuminated the truth of reality. Language was necessary to articulate “experiences of order” and preserve them over time, since such experiences were rare. The truth of existence embodied in experience was an ordering force because it attuned the open soul to the Agathon (the Good). And a just political and social order, like the just soul, is dependent on this sort of attunement. Unfortunately, historical experience cannot have an ordering effect if the language symbols that preserve it lose their original meaning, as occurs when they are transformed or obscured by ideological movements. Such movements act to detach language symbols from their engendering experiences.

Video Title: History, Abstraction, and the Problem of Ideology - Michael Federici. Source: Intercollegiate Studies Institute. Date Published: September 21, 2021. Description:

This lecture was given at the 2021 National Honors Conference in Williamsburg, VA.