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Palingenesis (from Greek palin-, again, + genesis, becoming, birth) is a term used for analogous concepts in historical law, philosophy, theology, politics, geology and biology.

Philosophy and Theology

The word palingenesis or rather palingenesia may be traced back to the Stoics, who used the term for the continual re-creation of the universe by the Demiurgus (Creator) after its absorption into himself. Similarly Philo spoke of Noah and his sons as leaders of a renovation or rebirth of the earth, Plutarch of the transmigration of souls, and Cicero of his own return from exile.

In philosophy it denotes in its broadest sense the theory (e.g. of the Pythagoreans) that the human soul does not die with the body but is born again in new incarnations. It is thus the equivalent of metempsychosis. The term has a narrower and more specific use in the system of Schopenhauer, who applied it to his doctrine that the will does not die but manifests itself afresh in new individuals. He thus repudiates the primitive metempsychosis doctrine which maintains the reincarnation of the particular soul.

Robert Burton in the Anatomy of Melancholy (1628) writes, "The Pythagoreans defend metempsychosis and palingenesia, that souls go from one body to another."

In the Gospel of Matthew Jesus is quoted in Greek (although his historical utterance would most likely have been in Aramaic) using the word "παλιγγενεσια" ("palingenesia") to describe the Last Judgment.


Although Josephus used the term of the national restoration of the Jews, the doctrines which are used to comprise the political ideology of fascism often move to describe it as a "palingenetic ideology", primarily as a result of the notion that fascism itself is the rebirth of a state and/or empire in the image of that which came before it - thus, the ancestral political underpinnings. Specifically academic political theorist Roger Griffin refers to fascism as "palingenetic ultranationalism". The best examples of this can be found with both Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany - Italy looking to establish a palingenetic line between the 20th century regime under Benito Mussolini as being the second incarnation of the Roman Empire, while Adolf Hitler's regime was seen as being the third palingenetic incarnation - beginning first with the Holy Roman Empire ("First Reich") then with Bismarck's German Empire ("Second Reich") and then resulting in Nazi Germany ("Third Reich").


In modern biology (e.g. Haeckel and Fritz Müller), palingenesis has been used for the exact reproduction of ancestral features by inheritance, as opposed to kenogenesis, in which the inherited characteristics are modified by environment.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Palingenesis" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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