Gnostic Wars the Cold War in the Context of a History of Western Spirituality

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In this exposition of important and yet often neglected developments in the history of Western spirituality, Stefan Rossbach reminds us of the philosophical and spiritual underpinnings of the Cold War era. He argues that the conflict's main protagonists - representing the "Third Rome" and the "New World" respectively - drew on the traditions of apocalypticism, millenarianism and "Gnostic" spirituality for the formation and articulation of their self-understanding as the key agents of providential history. In order to characterize the attitudes reflected in these traditions, "Gnostic Wars" offers a historical analysis of conceptions of subjectivity and spiritual order which imply the possibility, and indeed the necessity, of a radical "externalization of evil". Beginning with the "Gnostic" systems of late Antiquity, the analysis follows "lines of meaning" which extend, through the millenarianism of the late Middle Ages and the Hermeticism and "Christian Cabala" of the Renaissance, right up to the present. From the long-term perspective which is thereby established, the spectre of a man-made nuclear apocalypse appears as the latest and most dramatic expression of an outlook on the human condition which refuses to accept limits in the imposition of human designs on the world. The concluding discussion of the paradoxical continuities that underlie the sense of epoch evoked by the end of the Cold War highlights this work's implications for our understanding of contemporary international politics
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Archival date: 2017-02-02
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