The Search for Order in History

Thomas D’Andrea (University of Cambridge) and James Nolan (Williams College)

August 1-13, 2016

This two-week seminar will focus on the driving force behind the establishment and maintenance of political society: the search for that right order in collective human affairs that will reflect the truth of human existence. The seminar will have three interrelated sections: the first will examine some of the key texts in which Eric Voegelin spells out a critical hermeneutic for the ordering experiences and constructions that lie behind human existence in political society. The second section will examine the Christian transformation of the conception of political order in classical antiquity by an examination of Etienne Gilson’s seminal Gifford Lectures, “The Spirit of Medieval Philosophy,” and the third section will consider the distinctive mindset and experiences behind the construction of political order in the American Republic through the eyes of Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America. The seminar is open to advanced undergraduates (including graduating seniors) and graduate students with interests in moral philosophy, politics, sociology, and economics.