The Mystery of History

"(1) Why should there be epochs of advancing insight at all? Why is the structure of reality not known in differentiated form at all times?

"(2) Why must the insights be discovered by such rare individuals as prophets, philosophers, and saints? Why is not every man the recipient of the insights?

"(3) Why, when the insights are gained, are they not generally accepted? Why must the epochal truth go through the historical torment of imperfect articulation, evasion, skepticism, disbelief, rejection, deformation, and of renaissances, renovations, rediscoveries, rearticulations, and further differentiations?...

"Since the questions cannot be answered by propositions referring to events in the external world, an epistemologist of the positivist persuasion will dismiss them as pseudo-questions... Within the limits of the positivist horizon, the argument is valid; the questions can indeed not be answered by reference to the world of sense perception. The argument becomes invalid, however, when it goes on to declare the questions, for this reason, to be meaningless... The denial of meaning runs counter to the empirical fact that they rise again and again as meaningful from the experience of reality. Hence the active denial, especially when it appears in the context of a philosophical school or movement, must be characterized as the sectarian idiosyncrasy of men who have lost contact with reality and whose intellectual and spiritual growth has been so badly stunted that the meaning escapes them." -- Eric Voegelin, The Ecumenic Age, pp. 388-389


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