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Muen Liu

A Brief Description of The Ph.D. Project

Title of The Ph.D. Dissertation

The Multiplicity and Equivalence of Order Modes and the Searching for Order: A Study on Eric Voegelin’s Theory of Order


The fundamental question that I intend to answer in the dissertation is how to understand human existence in history and society, be it in the situation of disorder or order. The purpose of the dissertation is to present Eric Voegelin’s theory of order, interpret it as a drama of human existence, illustrate its breakthrough when it comes to the ecumenic ages and inspects the theory of order with Voegelin’s case study of the Chinese ecumene.

Briefly, the whole research will be organized as follows: In the first chapter, I will depict the Voegelinian hermeneutics, the political-social situation and the foundation of the theory of consciousness. In the second chapter, I will demonstrate the principles which will be applied in the theory of order. I want to show that the principles applied in the theory of order appear in various Voegelin’s works. These principles lay the premise and foundation of the theory of order. These principles include the typology of the human soul, the evocation of ideas, the transcendence and immanence, the self-understanding, the representation. In the third chapter, I intend to indicate the structure, process, and dynamics of the theory of order. In the fourth chapter, I will mainly emphasize and evaluate Voegelin’s discourse on China and Voegelin in the Chinese context. In the fifth chapter, I will demonstrate two orientations of Voegelin’s insights concerning searching for the truth of human order in society and history. The first orientation is philosophical meditation, which is partly manifested in In Searching of Order, the unfinished last volume of Order and History. The second kind of orientation is Voegelin’s magnificent studies on orders in history, which can be regarded as a great example of comparative studies. In conclusion, I want to know whether and to what extent Voegelin’s theory of order can help us understand our own socio-political world understand political conflicts and violence, and seek political harmony.

Primary Bibliography from Eric Voegelin

The Political Religion (1938, Die politischen Religionen); The New Science of Politics: An Introduction (1952); Israel and Revelation (1956), The World of the Polis (1957), Plato and Aristotle (1957), The Ecumenic Age (1974), and In Search of Order (1987).