Escaping the Terror of History. Mircea Eliade and Karl Löwith on the Linear Time
Keywords:Mircea Eliade, Karl Löwith, linear time, cyclical time, religion, history, postsecularism
The article attempts to elaborate a comparative analysis of Mircea Eliade’s and Karl Löwith’s linear time notions. Despite many and far-reaching similarities of their concepts, the existing research lacks such comparison. Both authors present the perception of time as a line as an image that originated in Judaism and was later introduced to the Western culture by the dissemination of Christianity. Both contrast this notion with a primordial scheme of cyclical time that had prevailed within ancient or archaic societies. Eliade and Löwith emphasize the significance of the linear image for the birth and evolution of Western historical reflection, initially in the form of the theology of history and later as the paradigm of historicism. They consider the latter the leading cause of the Western spiritual collapse, which manifested in the twentieth century in existentialistic nihilism or totalitarian barbarity. The article aims to specify all those convergences by indicating an anthropological dimension of both authors’ thoughts. It will lead to outlining Eliade’s and Löwith’s disparate propositions of remedies for the said spiritual crisis. Furthermore, the presentation of both thinker’s views on linearity will make it possible to present Eliade’s complex understanding of Judeo-Christianity and address some controversies that arose around it.