© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2011 DOI: 10.1163/156852911X567842 Religion and the Arts 15 (2011) 338–368 brill.nl/rart RELIGION and the ARTS Diagnosing Modernity: Eric Voegelin’s Impact on the Worldview of Walker Percy Grant Kaplan * Saint Louis University Abstract The works of Walker Percy have long been of interest to Catholic intellectuals, philoso- phers, and theologians. In particular, his social and cultural critique of modernity has found a wide reception. This article traces the inﬂuence of Eric Voegelin on Walker Percy, espe- cially on his later ﬁction. Although previous scholarship has identiﬁed Voegelin’s inﬂuence on Percy, it has failed to appreciate its breadth. This article corrects previous scholarship and presents an understanding of this inﬂuence by comparing both ﬁgures’ analysis of language, scientism, and modern Gnosticism. Keywords Walker Percy, Eric Voegelin, modernity, Gnosticism, scientism, dystopia B efore he became a novelist, Walker Percy studied medicine. His pri- mary medical interest was pathology. In a later essay, he explained the connection between his medical studies and his vocation as a novelist: “My original vocation was medicine and for this reason my literary concerns are perhaps more diagnostic and therapeutic than they otherwise would be.” 1 The following article analyzes Percy
Religion and the Arts – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2011
Keywords: dystopia; Walker Percy; Gnosticism; modernity; scientism; Eric Voegelin
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