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Nathan Harter and Cydney Clark

Eric Voegelin credited Xenophanes with a lesson about the seemliness of symbols: that moment when available symbolizations no longer adequately reflect the order of being. When someone struggles to extricate himself or herself from unseemly symbols, not only is there an opportunity to adopt symbols more attuned to the order of being, but the order of being itself is transformed. In the meantime, the social order founded on those unseemly symbols will fade into illegitimacy unless there is some kind of renewal. The problem is that those responsible for defending the prevailing order regard the person who rejects the prevailing symbolization as a threat, which in a sense he is. A case in point is Shays’s Rebellion. Veterans from the Revolutionary War relied on those symbols to justify their own defiance, 10 years after the Declaration of Independence, rendering it an open question as to what they had originally fought for.