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

Rossbach, Stefan (1999) Gnostic Wars: The Cold War in the Context of a History of Western Spirituality. Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, 257 pp. ISBN 978-0748610242 . (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

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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.

Item Type: Book
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
J Political Science > JC Political theory
J Political Science > JZ International relations
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Politics and International Relations
Depositing User: Stefan Rossbach
Date Deposited: 14 Jun 2009 17:56
Last Modified: 05 Jun 2014 13:29
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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