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“Equivalences of Experience and Symbolization in History” (1971)[1] is, in my view, one of Eric Voegelin’s five most important stand-alone essays, along with “Immortality: Experience and Symbol” (1967), “The Gospel and Culture” (1971), “The Beginning and the Beyond: A Meditation on Truth” (written 1974-77), and “Wisdom and the Magic of the Extreme: A Meditation” (1983). It is a writing with relatively few textual references, consisting almost exclusively of a sustained exegesis of the nature and structure of human consciousness in history. Despite its being by far the briefest of these five essays, “Equivalences” addresses questions about so many issues central to philosophy—concerning experience, language and symbols, truth, reality, values, divine being, history, and the structure of consciousness and its historical development—that a proper exposition and “reader’s guide” to the essay would have to extend to the length of a book, and not a short book at that.

The aim of my paper is to examine one element addressed in the course of the essay: the fact that what Voegelin calls “the depth of the cosmos,” or the “underlying oneness of reality,” requires, for each of us, adequate articulation and symbolization, if we are to orient ourselves successfully in existence. In order to pursue my study of this issue, I will need to consider both the overall character of Voegelin’s essay, and some of the principal concerns that initiate and propel it—concerns that coalesce in his analysis of the notion of a cosmic “depth.” But my own theme will be, finally, how symbols of a cosmic depth may or may not be adequate to its reality; may be found wanting for various reasons; and what role they necessarily play both in our being confident that we can attain some understanding of what is constant about the human situation in the process of reality, and in our having faith that our own inevitably personal efforts to “exist in truth” are meaningful...
Equivalences of Experience, and Symbols of the Depth By Which Experience Lives (Part I) by Glenn Hughes

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