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from The Ecumenic Age (1974) 327 From Collected Works of Eric Voegelin, Volume 17: Order and History, Vol. 4: The Ecumenic Age, ed. Michael Franz (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2000), 45–66 and 106–07. [Voegelin begins his sixty-­ two page Introduction to Order and History , Volume 4: The Ecumenic Age by explaining the reasons for the seventeen-­ year gap between the publications of the third and the fourth volumes of the series. Working to complete the project, he had discovered in his studies of empirical materials that some of the theoretical assumptions guiding the initial three volumes were faulty, and thus he was forced to recast his plan for understanding “the order of history that emerges from the history of order .” Most importantly, during the course of his studies Voegelin had, first, found that the unilinear view of historical meaning, formerly believed to have been the “great achievement of Israelites and Christians,” was already a symbolic form—­ which he named “historiogenesis”—­ in empires of the Ancient Near East; and, second , he had come to the radical conclusion that continuing to explicate the story of history in a linear chronological manner was misleading, because “history is not a stream of human beings and their actions in time, but the process of man’s participation in a flux of divine presence that has eschatological direction.” In the sections of the Introduction here included—­approximately one-­ third of the text—­ he substantiates the reasons for his change in program, and delineates some of the central historical transformations and consequent theoretical issues that a truly adequate philosophy of history must address.—Eds.] 328 part five | philosophy of history Introduction (Excerpts) The present volume, The Ecumenic Age, breaks with the program I have developed for Order and History in the preface to volume I of the series. I shall, therefore, recall the program and indicate both the nature and the cause of the break. The opening sentence of the preface formulated the principle that was to govern the projected six volumes of the study: “The order of history emerges from the history of order.” History was conceived as a process of increasingly differentiated insight into the order of being in which man participates by his existence. Such order as can be discerned in the process, including digressions and regressions from the increasing differentiation, would emerge, if the principal types of man’s existence in society, as well the corresponding symbolisms of order, were presented in their historical succession. Following the statement of the principle then, I enumerated the types of order to be covered by the study. They were: (1) The imperial organizations of the Ancient Near East and their existence in the form of the cosmological myth; (2) The revelatory form of existence in history, developed by Moses and the prophets of the Chosen People; (3) The polis and the Hellenic myth, and the development of philosophy as the symbolism of order; (4) The multicivilizational empires since Alexander, and the emergence of Christianity; (5) The modern national state, and the emergence of modern Gnosticism as the symbolic form of order. In carrying out the program, volumes I, Israel and Revelation, II, The World of the Polis, and III, Plato and Aristotle, treated the first three of the types enumerated; the remaining two types were to be treated in the subsequent volumes: IV, Empire and Christianity , V, The Protestant Centuries, and VI, The Crisis of Western Civilization. The study could not be brought to the projected conclusion. As the work on the second sequence of volumes progressed, the 329 the ecumenic age structures that emerged from the historical orders and their symbolization proved more complicated than I had anticipated. They were so refractory indeed that the projected volumes could not accommodate the results of analysis as they accumulated. Not that anything was wrong with the principle of the study; on the contrary, the difficulties arose from the side of the materials when the principle was conscientiously applied. In the first place, as my knowledge of materials increased, the original list of five types of order and symbolization turned out to be regrettably limited; and when the empirical basis on which the study had to rest was broadened so as to conform to the state of the historical sciences, the manuscript swelled to a size that easily would have filled six more volumes in print. That situation was awkward enough. What ultimately broke the project, however, was the impossibility of aligning the empirical types...