Eric Voegelin’s Deconstruction of Race in 1933, by Manfred Henningsen

In “Eric Voegelin’s Deconstruction of Race in 1933,” Manfred Henningsen examines the charges of fascist tendencies leveled against Voegelin due to the publication in 1933 in Germany of his two books on race, Race and State and The History of the Race Idea. Henningsen contends that, far from producing works based on eugenicist ideas, Voegelin warned against the consequences of implementing a race-based movement to resolve the political identity crises afflicting Germany and Austria following World War I. However, Henningsen also presents a critique of aspects of Voegelin’s treatment of political identity formation in the United States, drawing attention to lack of attention Voegelin paid to problematic treatment of Native American populations and to the impression of Voegelin’s acceptance of the “WASP” identity in the United States.

Article available through Philosophy Documentation Center, here.


Manfred Henningsen is a professor of political science at the University of Hawai‘i in Honoluluwas. He was born in 1938 in Flensburg, Germany, and studied political science, literature, and history in West Berlin and Munich before receiving his PhD in 1967 under Eric Voegelin. He followed Voegelin to Stanford in 1969, and was a research fellow at the Hoover Institute until 1970, when came to the University of Hawaii in Honolulu. His publications include books on A. J. Toynbee and universal history (Menschheit und Geschichte [Munich 1967]), European Anti-Americanism since the eighteenth century (Der Fall Amerika [Munich, 1964]) and American political and cultural self- interpretations since the seventeenth century (Der Mythos Amerika, [Frankfurt, 2009]). He is currently preparing a book on comparative regimes of terror and memory.

Manfred Henningsen, “Eric Voegelin’s Deconstruction of Race in 1933,” in “Philosophy and Race,” ed. Alexis Dianda and Robin M. Muller, special issue, Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal 35:1–2 (2014), pp. 207–21.

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