Although his contributions to philosophy are revered and his writings have been collected, Eric Voegelin’s persona will inevitably fade with the memories of those who knew him. This book preserves the human element of Voegelin by capturing those valuable personal recollections.
Barry Cooper and Jodi Bruhn conducted intensive interviews with Voegelin’s wife, his closest friends, and his first-generation students—many of whom have since passed on—in order to bring to print everything important about his life and personality. American scholars will especially appreciate the glimpses provided by Voegelin’s German colleagues into his life in Munich, as well as the thoughts of his students in Vienna. Reflections of people such as Paul Caringella, Bruno Schlesinger, and Heinz Barazon capture Voegelin’s greatness and shortcomings alike and also shed new light on his philosophical quest for truth.
By descending progressively further into the past, the book takes readers deeper into the essence of Voegelin as reminiscences become more dramatic. Ranging widely from America back to Germany—with recollections of Gestapo intimidation and eventual emigration—the accounts interweave episodes of pathos, humor, fear, rivalry, and ambition. We witness Voegelin’s persistent and partly self-imposed communication problems and impatience with administrative duties, his respect for prudent political actors and public servants, and his genuine affection not only for his colleagues and best students but also for diligent secretaries and empathetic nurses. Through these recollections, key elements of his personality repeatedly emerge: his intelligence, optimism, and integrity, combined with an acute perception of the significance of his work.
This is the most revealing and comprehensive biographical work yet available on a man known to be captivating as a thinker—and now shown to be equally fascinating as a human being. His own publications attest to his mind and methods; Voegelin Recollected provides a deeper understanding of the man himself.