This volume of The Collected Works contains essays that were published by Voegelin from 1922 to 1928, the period immediately following his doctoral studies and including a two-year study trip to the United States. They trace his intellectual formation in the 1920s, which resulted in a critique of political science conceived of in exclusively legal terms, and a move toward one that examines the substratum of ideas and structures that provide the meaningful unit of a given political society.
In light of his study trip to the United States, many of the essays reflect the theoretical and practical concerns he examined while there. Just as important, they also show how his experiences abroad amplified the direction his thinking took once he was removed from the tutelage of Hans Kelsen, one of his doctoral advisers.
Voegelin viewed this trip as a turning point in his own intellectual development. Therefore, these essays reflect the growth of this outstanding scholar who was just beginning not only his career, but also an intellectual journey. This journey helped to crystallize and bring forth fundamental reformations of his science, brought on by the new perspective and approaches he experienced abroad.
The topics of the essays range from the highly speculative—theories of state form, the science of Max Weber, the sociology of knowledge, Humean sociology, time and economy, and Kelsen's pure theory of law—to more pragmatic questions such as procedures for amending the American constitution, the workings of the U.S. Federal Reserve Board, class conflict in the United States, and a fascinating account of the deliberations by the French National Assembly that led to the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man. This volume is key in exemplifying the movements in Voegelin's career—from a student to a scholar in his own right. These essays illustrate the works of a thinker in the midst of a crucial transformation of the principles of his science.