A Friendship That Lasted a Lifetime: The Correspondence between Alfred Schütz and Eric Voegelin

Thursday, August 4, 2011
A Friendship That Lasted a Lifetime: The Correspondence between Alfred Schütz an
A Friendship That Lasted a Lifetime: The Correspondence between Alfred Schütz an

Scholarly correspondence can be as insightful as scholarly work itself, as it often documents the motivating forces of its writers’ intellectual ideas and illuminates their lives. This is especially true of the letters between Alfred Schütz (1899–1959) and Eric Voegelin (1901–85). These two giants of twentieth-century social science shared a remarkable friendship: first meeting as students in Vienna in the 1920s and finding one another to be great partners in discussion; years later being pushed out of Europe by Nazi pressure and going to work at separate American universities. For twenty years they corresponded, thus developing their respective scientific works. The letters bear witness to their friendship during their years in the United States and document the men’s tentative attempts at formulating the theories of lifeworld and gnosis, both terms associated with Schütz and Voegelin today.

The entire collection of 238 letters was printed in German in 2004, but this edited volume, the first to present their correspondence in English, offers a selection of the most important letters: those that contributed to the thinkers’ theoretical discussions and served as background to their most significant thoughts.

The bulk of the letters is located at the Hoover Archives, which holds the Eric Voegelin papers.

Editors Gerhard Wagner and Gilbert Weiss, a Hoover Institution visiting fellow, do not analyze Schütz’s and Voegelin’s works in light of the correspondence but rather present the collection as a framework for new interpretations. This volume is thus a valuable resource in the study of Voegelin’s political philosophy and Schütz’s contributions to American sociology.

For more information on this book, please see the publisher’s website.