lundi 20 novembre 2017

Dooyeweerd: Historical Aspect discloses formative anti-reactionary task. But tradition retains a role.

Dooyeweerd: Historical Aspect discloses formative anti-reactionary task. But tradition retains a role.

Short extract from book 
‘Time, Law, and History: Selected Essays’

In the historical aspect time reveals itself in the modal sense of historical development. (Footnote: According to its subject-side “culture” is “formative control”). Historical “periods” are periods in the execution of the human task of formation and control. They are not mathematically demarcated from each other; the vital cultural factors of an earlier period are absorbed into those of the later cultural period. It is in tradition that historical developmental time fuses past, present and future. This time-order bears, similar to those present in all the subsequent aspects to be discussed, a modal normative character. It imposes on humankind a normative task to be culturally formative: it confronts the inertia of resting in the present or vegetating on the past with the demands of the future. A reaction in history is an anti-normative reaching back to a dead past; in a reactionary way it positions itself against the norm of historical development.

Extract from: Herman Dooyeweerd, ‘Time, Law, and History: Selected Essays’, Collected Works, Series B - Volume 14, Paideia Press 2017, pp 58 (£10.00, $12.95)
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Dooyeweerd: The modal aspects of time and their cosmic continuity.

Dooyeweerd: The modal aspects of time and their cosmic continuity.

Short extract from book 
‘Time, Law, and History: Selected Essays’

Temporal reality functions in a diversity of modal aspects which themselves are not subject to change in time but instead form a constant and basic modal framework within which the individual changeable entities, events, acts, deeds and societal relationships display their variable functions. The modal aspects make possible this variable functioning.

The modal structure does not exhibit the concrete what that is typical of individuality structures, since it reveals the how of reality. Each modal aspect is a functional way of being, a modality or a modal aspect of reality.

In the general theory of modal aspects the Philosophy of the Cosmonomic Idea provisionally brought to light fourteen [subsequently fifteen (FMF)] such modal aspects of temporal reality. According to their law-like structure they are designated as law-spheres. They are that of:

1) quantity [numerical]
2) spatiality, 
3) the aspect of movement [kinematic]
4) [the physical energy aspect,] 
5) the biotic aspect,
6) the feeling (psychical) [sensory] aspect, 
7) the analytical (or logical) aspect, 
8) the historical [cultural, formative power] aspect, 
9) the aspect of symbolical signification [lingual]
10) that of social interaction, 
11) the economic, 
12) the aesthetic, 
13) the jural, 
14) the moral [ethical]  
15) and the faith [pistical/ certitudinal] aspect.

In theoretical-philosophical analysis these modalities are essentially set apart in a theoretical discontinuity. However, within temporal reality they are fitted into a continuous cosmic coherence and, as we shall see, this cosmic coherence is a temporal coherence

As modal aspects of temporal reality they are implicitly modal time-aspects. In other words, within each modality of reality time comes to expression in a distinctive way without being exhausted by any one of them. The modal structure of reality itself is enclosed within cosmic time.

[...] The truth is that all so-called definitions of time are merely definitions of modal aspects of time, where time itself constantly remains the indefinable presupposition.

Extract from: Herman Dooyeweerd, ‘Time, Law, and History: Selected Essays’, Collected Works, Series B - Volume 14, Paideia Press 2017, pp 50-51 & 53. (£10, $12.95)
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lundi 6 novembre 2017

Fascism: Brief Dooyeweerdian Critique

FASCISM: 
Brief Dooyeweerdian Critique
"When the Historical School attempted to understand the whole of culture, language, art, jurisprudence, and the economic and social orders in terms of the historical development of an individual national spirit, it elevated the national character to the status of the origin of all order. It therefore denied the truth that the individual creature always remains subject to law. It argued that if the individual potential of a man or nation is the only law for development and action, then this potential cannot be evaluated in terms of a universally valid law. Accordingly, any nation was considered to act rightly and legitimately if it simply followed the historical fate or goal implicit in its individual potential or disposition." (Herman Dooyeweerd, 'Roots of Western Culture' p 52)
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vendredi 3 novembre 2017

Dooyeweerd: Numerical, Spatial, and Kinetic Aspects of Time discussed in regard to Parmenides, Zeno and Heraclitus.

"Landscape with Fall of Icarus" by Pieter Breugel (1558)

DOOYEWEERD's 15 IRREDUCIBLE LAW-SPHERES 
(Also called Aspects/ Modes/ Modalities/ Meaning-sides)

NUCLEUS AND ANALOGICAL MOMENTS 
OF THE SPATIAL LAW-SPHERE 
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NOTE on term: "IMMANENCE PHILOSOPHY" -
"A name for all non-Christian philosophy, which tries to find the ground and integration of reality within the created order. Unlike Christianity, which acknowledges a transcendent Creator above all things, immanence philosophy of necessity absolutizes some feature or aspect of creation itself." (Definition by Albert M. Wolters)
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NOTE on term: "RELIGIOUS"  
It is highly important not to misunderstand Dooyeweerd’s use of this ambiguous word, currently much-maligned in popular parlance. Dooyeweerd is not at all referring to what is commonly disparaged as “organized religion”. Very far from it. Rather, he is alluding to the concentration point or anchorage of every individual’s deepest selfhood. Dooyeweerd is denoting that which is an ontically core feature of the human being per se. He is talking about what for humans is a universal structural default, namely the restless search of the selfhood for an ultimate point of integration. In this light it might therefore be productive when reading Dooyeweerd to try mentally replacing the word "religious" with "ultimate". (FMF)
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The following is an extract from Herman Dooyeweerd's essay 'My Philosophy of Time: The Problem of Time and Its Antinomies on the Immanence Standpoint', from Chapter 1 of ‘Time, Law, and History: Selected Essays’, Series B, Volume 14, Paideia Press, 2017.
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8. The urge towards the Origin of all temporality

Thus the cosmic order of time, according to its two basic directions - the foundational or retrocipatory direction and the forward-pointing or anticipatory direction - comes to expression in the very structure of the modalities, while their nuclei express the boundary point or criterion of these two directions of time (the present as boundary between the earlier and later). An understanding of this state of affairs turns out to be of tremendous importance for Christian thought.

For it is in this context that we understand also philosophically what those believers who are secured in Christ can know with certainty in the light of God’s Word: namely that there is nothing within time in which the heart can come to rest, because whatever is embraced by time does not rest in itself but points above and beyond itself, in a dynamic restlessness, to the creaturely - in truth transcendent - Root and the eternal, self-sufficient Origin of all things.

For the entire view of cosmic time in which every modality, in complete non-self-sufficiency, points backwards and forwards to all the other modalities, and in the final limiting aspect of temporal meaning, that of faith, points beyond time itself, is only possible on a scripturally Christian standpoint which reveals to us every absolutization of temporal, creaturely meaning as sinful apostasy from the true God - as idolatry.

Not until we adopt this standpoint do we experience, also in philosophy, that powerful urge in all temporality towards the Origin, an urge that is concentrated religiously in our heart, whence are the issues of life according to the testimony of Scripture [Cf. “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” Prov. 4:23]. And only in Christ Jesus, the new Root of Creation, does this restless striving after the Origin acquire its direction towards the only true God who has revealed himself in his Word.

Theoretical thought which has fallen away from its true Origin in idolatry - the “fleshly mind” in Paul’s sense - searches within time for a self-sufficient point of rest. It performs this search on the basis of an absolutization which sets apart theoretical thought in its transcendental structure by lifting it out of its cosmic coherence without realizing that this transcendental structure lies at the basis of all real thinking in the sense of making it possible.

This concludes our elucidation of the basic antinomy of this immanent standpoint. We shall now turn our attention to the contradictions entailed in the conception of time that flows from this basic antinomy. In the present context a single example will have to do.
NUCLEUS AND ANALOGICAL MOMENTS 
OF THE LOGICAL (ANALYTICAL) LAW-SPHERE 

9. The inner antinomies of the Eleatic concept of being in connection with a denial of the temporal structure of space. Spatial simultaneity

Parmenides already realized that when the essence of reality, the being of what is, has to be viewed as completely timeless, then one must also exclude the whole temporal diversity and coherence from this metaphysical concept of being. Since this a-temporal being can only be grasped by theoretical thought in its logical structure, it cannot have a character distinct from this thought. Thus he teaches that “thought and being are identical” (Dieks-Kranz, 1960, B. Fr. 3). This concept of being is absolute, supra-temporal, without becoming, imperishable, without multiplicity or movement - it is one continuum. 

[…] Parmenides, as we know, did not stop at his logically negative predication of his concept of being. The “timeless being” is indentified by him with spherical filled space, an everywhere dense and limited continuum.

However, we have noted that cosmic time has a universal structure that embraces all law-spheres and functions in each law-sphere in a particular modality. Within the law-sphere of number it expresses itself in a quantitative earlier and later which determines the position of each number in the succession of numbers. And in the original modality of space, cosmic time comes to expression as spatial simultaneity. [Footnote: This naturally cancels the traditional coordination of space and time. Time belongs to a deeper layer of reality than space, because it expresses itself in the latter as one of its modalities.] Thus, the conception of an a-temporal space lacking all multiplicity is internally antinomic. Space does not exist without an analogy of number and without the simultaneity of a spatial multiplicity. Every subjective spatial figure displays an inner multiplicity in the sense of continuous extension and can exist only in a simultaneous extension of this multiplicity. A straight line already supposes a spatial multiplicity as it is bounded by two points. Even a point, although it lacks actual extension, is not defined except through the intersection of two simultaneously extended straight lines or curves.

[…] Zeno, the pupil of Parmenides, follows his teacher in this attempt to demonstrate the impossibility of continuous temporal succession. He does that with the aid of his famous paradoxes, which identify continuous temporal succession with motion. His argumentation dissolves temporal succession into moments of time which he deems timeless but in reality identifies with static spatial points that are given at once without any true succession. This stance actually disproves the claim that this concept of being is timeless, since spatial simultaneity is not timeless, but rather presupposes cosmic time.

Furthermore, the modal meaning of space contains anticipations of the nucleus of motion. 

[…] Heraclitus had indeed absolutized the aspect of motion of temporal reality to be the metaphysical essence of reality. Parmenides, by contrast, in his metaphysical concept of being absolutizes static space.

When Parmenides’ pupil Zeno attempts to demonstrate the logical nothingness of multiplicity and movement, he actually does no more than provide a strict proof for the irreducibility of the original meaning of space to that of number and movement. Thus the attempt to demonstrate the logical nothingness of time, with the diversity and coherence entailed in it, definitively failed.

Subsequent philosophical developments had to abandon this negative assessment of time. Whoever traces the history up to the most recent times (to Einstein, Bergson and Heidegger) will have to acknowledge the correctness of our contention that it is impossible for the immanence standpoint to grasp the cosmic universality of the horizon of time and the many-sidedness of its aspects. The latter constantly drives theoretical thinking into a position where it encloses the horizon of time within one or another aspect. This occurs invariably, whether a Newton defends a purely objectivistic notion of time or a Berkeley and Bergson hold to a purely subjectivistic conception, that is to say, whether time is conceived as order or merely as subjective duration, as an actual state or merely as an ordering form for sensory impressions of consciousness.

But this also ensures that the problem of time at once turns into a veritable wellspring of all the antinomies which continue to characterize the course of development of immanence philosophy.

The Philosophy of the Cosmonomic Idea holds that the origin of these antinomies is grounded in the basic antinomy of the immanence standpoint itself. And this deepest origin is not philosophical but religious in nature.

[…] The problem of time lies on a much deeper and more fundamental level than that of space - with which it was associated for a long time without sufficient justification. Time indeed concerns the entire structure of the cosmos and of the horizon of human experience. It entails the basic question at what point human consciousness transcends the horizon of time. For without this transcendence time cannot be made a philosophical problem.

If we did not transcend time at the deepest concentration point of our existence, our consciousness would of necessity be exhausted by time, which would cancel the possibility of religious self-concentration. The problem of time would have been unknown to us, because time essentially only becomes a problem to us if we are able to take distance from it in what is supra-temporal, which we experience in the deepest core of our being.

Herman Dooyeweerd, ‘Time, Law, and History: Selected Essays’, Series B, Volume 14, Paideia Press, 2017, pp 14-19. (£10, $12.95)
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mercredi 25 octobre 2017

'Jerusalem & Athens’: Dooyeweerd to Van Til (4): "Supra-rational should by no means be confused with irrational."


In your train of thought the matter seems to be quite simple. The Word-revelation results from divine thought. It is mediated to man through ordinary language. Its content is thought-content expressed in words (wrongly identified with concepts). Consequently, listening to Scripture, obeying the voice of God speaking through Christ in Scripture, means making every human thought subject to divine thought expressed in scriptural concepts, so that man has to “think God’s thoughts after him.”

Is this really a biblical view? I am afraid not. Nowhere does the Bible speak of obeying the voice of God in terms of subjecting every human thought to divine thought. The New Testament understanding of obedience is doing the Father’s will revealed in the gospel of Jesus Christ, by believing with all our heart that we belong to him. There is no real obedience to the will of God that does not result from the heart, in the pregnant biblical sense, as the religious center of our existence, which must be regenerated and opened up by the divine moving power of the Holy Ghost. It is exactly this central biblical condition that is lacking in your circumscription of obedience. You do not, of course, at all deny the necessity of rebirth. But I fear that the biblical conception of the religious center of human existence does not fit in with your view of the human nature. 

That the Word-revelation was from the beginning mediated to man through human language is naturally unquestionable. But that verbal language would necessarily signify conceptual thought-contents is a rationalist prejudice that runs counter to the real states of affairs. By means of language we can signify symbolically not only conceptual thought contents, but all sorts of contents of our consciousness, such as subjective moods and emotional feelings, volitional decisions in a concrete situation, our faith in Jesus Christ, pre-theoretical aesthetical and moral experiences, often expressed in short exclamations such as “How wonderful!” or “Shame on you!” etc., which certainly do not give expression to conceptual knowledge of the experiential modes concerned.

The transcendental critique of theoretical thought has shown why true self-knowledge in its biblical sense, i.e., in its dependence upon true knowledge of God, cannot be itself of a conceptual character. The reason is that all conceptual knowledge in its analytical and inter-modal synthetical character presupposes the human ego as its central reference-point, which consequently must be of a supra-modal nature and is not capable of logical analysis. This does not mean, as you suppose, that the human self is placed in a vacuum over against all the conceptual knowledge that we have of everything. The human ego cannot be theoretically opposed to conceptual knowledge since, as the central reference-point of the latter, it transcends every theoretical antithesis.

It would be placed in a vacuum only if we would try to conceive it apart from the three central (and consequently supra-logical) relations without which it loses all meaning and content. I mean its relation to our multi-modal existence and experience in the temporal world, the I-thou relation to our fellow-men, and the religious I-Thou relation to God, in whose image man has been created. Since the last mentioned relation encompasses the two others, we may say that, according to its positive meaning, the human ego is the religious concentration point or center of man’s existence. This is what the Bible, in a pregnant sense, calls the “heart,” from which are the issues of life, from which proceed all sins and in which takes place rebirth out of the Holy Ghost.

The Bible does not speak of this religious center in conceptual terms, no more than Jesus in his night conversation with Nicodemus gave a conceptual circumscription of rebirth as the necessary condition of seeing the kingdom of God. The same holds good with respect to the biblical revelation of creation, man’s fall into sin, and redemption through Jesus Christ. You often speak of the “scriptural concepts of creation, of sin, and of redemption,” as revealed concepts, whose normativity ought to be our basic view of objectivity. But the Word-revelation does not reveal concepts of creation, sin, and redemption.

You do not seem to have seen that words and concepts cannot be identical. “Now, to be sure,” you say, “when we speak of creation, we use concepts. There is no other way of speaking of God and of his relation to man.” What, in my opinion, you should have said is that when we speak of creation, we use human words varying with the language of which we avail ourselves, and multivocal in common parlance. But in biblical usage they have got an identical revelational meaning in so far as they relate to God in his self-revelation as the absolute Origin of all that through his Word has been called into being. This revelational meaning transcends every human concept since it is of a supra-rational character. Supra-rational should by no means be confused with irrational. [bolding by FMF.] It is not, like the latter, the opposite, but the presupposition of the rational, just like the human self-hood is presupposed in every human thought and every human concept. 

God’s self-revelation in Holy Scripture as Creator and Redeemer concerns the central religious relation of man to his absolute Origin. Its true meaning is therefore to be understood by man only if his heart has been opened up to it through the moving power of the Holy Ghost, which is the dunamis of the biblical Word-revelation. What is said here about the dunamis of the Word-revelation and the central role of the heart in the understanding of its meaning is in complete accordance with the biblical testimony (cf. Is 6:10–13; Acts 16:14) and with the opinion of Calvin (cf the citations from the Institutes in New Critique Vol I, pp 516-7). 

But you place it “over against the simple thought-content of Scripture” and are of the opinion that it adds still further to the ambiguity of my transcendental critique. You think so, however, not on biblical ground, but in consequence of a rationalistic view of the Word-revelation and of the religious relation of man to God, which, you feel, is of a rational-ethical character. This rationalism implies also a relapse into a metaphysical theory of the intrinsical divine being and its attributes, which Calvin called a “vacua et meteorica speculatio.” That this theological metaphysics is necessarily involved in antinomies is, in your opinion, not a consequence of its vain attempt to exceed the boundaries of conceptual thought. It is only because of the necessary incompleteness of our theoretical knowledge about God and the created universe. The antinomies exist therefore only seemingly, but are nevertheless inevitable. 

But now you will ask me if I myself am not obliged to use concepts of God and the human ego in the threefold transcendental ground-idea whose necessity the transcendental critique has shown. It is true that I used the term limiting idea in this context and you appear to be willing to conceive of the “concept of creation” as a limiting idea. I guess that then the same must hold good with respect to what you call the other revealed concepts. But what is meant by the term “limiting idea” in the transcendental critique of theoretical thought as developed by the Philosophy of the Cosmonomic Idea? Nothing else is meant but the concentric religious turn of our theoretic conceptual thought, which is bound to the modal diversity of our temporal existence and experience to its supra-conceptual presupposita. This means that the genuine conceptual contents of these transcendental limiting ideas do not transcend the modal dimension of our temporal horizon of experience. The same applies to the theological limiting concepts relating to the so-called attributes of God. 

In The Defense of the Faith you deal with these attributes within the traditional framework of a metaphysical theory of being. They are, you say, not to be thought of otherwise than as aspects of the one simple original being; whereas in fact, they are taken from the modal dimension of our temporal horizon of experience and existence in its central relation to God as its absolute Origin. But since they are ascribed to God, such as he has revealed himself to man in Holy Scripture, i.e., within the human horizon of experience and existence, they are to be understood only in the analogical sense of belief as analogies of faith (analogiae fidei) whose material content is exclusively determined by God’s Word-revelation. For, in their sense-proper, the modal aspects of our temporal horizon cannot be ascribed to God’s being as its properties, since they are of a creaturely character. But the analogies of belief, insofar as they relate to God’s self-revelation, are preëminently fit to give expression both to God’s presence in the temporal world and to his absolute transcendence; to his presence, since they imply the whole temporal order of the modal aspects; to his transcendence, since they refer to God’s absoluteness, which transcends every creaturely determination. 

In any case, they cannot be given a metaphysical interpretation as if they would be determinations of God’s absolute being, for they too belong to the modal dimension of the human horizon of experience. Because they refer to God’s absoluteness, they are unbreakably bound to the central religious dimension of this horizon. For it is only in the religious center of his consciousness that man is confronted with the absolute, so that even the absolutizations in apostate philosophical views originate in the central religious impulse of the human heart, which has been led in an erroneous direction. Since the analogical moments in the modal structure of the different aspects of our experiential horizon are arranged in an unbreakable order and meaning-context, their meaning is bound to this context. As to the analogies of belief relating to what metaphysical theology called the “attributes of God’s being,” this implies that they should not be separately called absolute, or be identified with God’s absolute being. 

This is why I cannot agree with your statement that God’s being is exhaustively rational (Ibid., p. 309). My objections concern your whole view of God’s self-revelation in Holy Scripture according to which it would contain a metaphysical theory of the divine being. It is true that it was not your intention to make deductions on the basis of one attribute by itself and that, in line with Calvin, you say that no knowledge of God’s nature is available to man except such as is voluntarily revealed to him by God. But by interpreting God’s self-revelation in Holy Scripture in terms of a metaphysical theory of God’s being, you could not stick to this biblical standpoint. Nowhere can you find in the Bible support for your statement (Ibid., p. 309) that “logic and reality meet first of all in the mind and being of God,” so that God’s being would be “exhaustively rational.” We are, indeed, confronted here with a metaphysical absolutization of the logical analogy of belief in what the Bible reveals about God’s omniscience. [bolding by FMF.]

This appears from what you observe with respect to Leibniz’s distinction between truths of fact and truths of reason. According to you, the Reformed apologist should hold to the truths of fact presented in Scripture only because to him they are truths of reason. It is true that you yourself, as a creaturely human being, are not able to show “the exhaustive logical relationships between the facts of history and nature which are in debate as between believers and unbelievers in Christian theism,” but in the plan of God they function, you say, within an absolute system of logical relations which does not detract anything from their individuality. 

We should, however, realize what Leibniz meant by his distinction between truths of reason and truths of fact. The former are, according to him, those whose opposite is excluded by the logical principle of contradiction. The latter are those whose opposite is not impossible in a logical sense, because they are of a contingent, i.e., not necessary, character. This does, however, not mean that in Leibniz’s opinion the facts would happen by blind chance or that they would lack logical coherence. They happen according to God’s will and are subject to the logical principium rationis sufficientis, which in Leibniz’ logistic view embraces all kinds of causal relationships. 

Leibniz maintains the distinction between truths of fact and truths of reason even with respect to God’s mind: the former depend upon God’s will, the latter upon God’s reason. I am afraid that you have not realized that a theological reduction of the truths of fact to Leibniz’ truths of reason would make even the central facts of creation, fall into sin, and redemption a consequence of logical necessity in virtue of the principle of contradiction. This would result in an extreme logicistic view of “God’s world-plan” which would leave no room for the sovereign freedom of God’s will. For God’s will can, in your view only carry out the plan of God, not determine it. I am sure that in fact the author of The Defense of the Faith will never accept this consequence.
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In the above I have tried to answer the questions which you have asked me with respect to the transcendental critique. I could not do so without going into the background of the objections you have alleged against my standpoint. This has doubtless brought to light important differences between your view of a Christian philosophy and that of the Philosophy of the Cosmonomic Idea. At least if I have not misunderstood you on essential points, which might occur because, at times, your terminology is not always clear to me. In this case I shall be happy to be corrected by you, if you should wish to do so in your response.

Sincerely,
Herman Dooyeweerd

(Excerpt from the chapter 'Herman Dooyeweerd: II. CORNELIUS VAN TIL AND THE TRANSCENDENTAL CRITIQUE OF THEORETICAL THOUGHT, in the book Jerusalem and Athens: Critical Discussions on the Philosophy and Apologetics of Cornelius Van Til, Edited by E.R. Geehan, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1974, pp 81-84)
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'Jerusalem & Athens’: Dooyeweerd to Van Til (3): "a typical rationalistic scholastic tendency in your theological thought"


Nowhere have I claimed “to use a transcendental method that is not directly (?) dependent upon the truths of Scripture,” nor have I appealed “to supposedly objective states of affairs that have an objectivity not depending upon the truths of Scripture.” 

Asking myself what may have induced you to ascribe to the Philosophy of the Cosmonomic Idea such a dialectical dualism, I find myself confronted with, what I fear to be, a typical rationalistic scholastic tendency in your theological thought. This tendency reveals itself first in your objections against my distinction between theoretical conceptual knowledge, and the central religious self-knowledge and knowledge of God. On this point you appear to agree with the neo-scholastic thinkers, Robbers and Mrs. Conradie, and in some degree also with van Peursen. I fear your rationalism may go even further than that of the neo-scholastic thinkers mentioned, for the latter have never claimed that philosophical ideas are to be derived from the supra-natural truths of divine revelation, and that is exactly what you seem to defend. In “Biblical Dimensionalism” you mention my rectification of van Peursen’s erroneous assertion that according to Vol 2, p 54 of A New Critique of Theoretical Thought my transcendental idea of cosmic time has been borrowed from revelation. The passage to which van Peursen refers reads in fact as follows: “It is only the biblical religious basic motive that gives the view of time the ultimate direction to the true fulness of meaning intended by our cosmonomic Idea.”

In this context I observed that none of the three transcendental ground-ideas of the Philosophy of the Cosmonomic Idea is to be derived from the biblical basic motive which controls the ultimate direction of its theoretical reflection, since this basic motive is of a supra-theoretical character. Upon this statement you comment as follows: 
“We would ask Dooyeweerd, however, how he can put an intelligible content into the phrase ‘Christian thinking’ in terms of control (beheersen) rather than in terms of derivation (afleiding). If we are to avoid mysticism, then we must do something with the actual revelational content of Scripture. Dooyeweerd needs to borrow nothing from any theologian. But revelation is expressed in thought-content. And it is this thought-content, unmixed with any interpretation of any man, which controls his own thinking. This being the case, what difference remains between the idea of his thinking being controlled (by) or being derived from Scripture. Control without derivation is an empty mystical phrase.” 
In reply to this comment I can only ask the counter question, how it would be possible to derive from the biblical revelation a philosophical idea of cosmic time with its diversity of modal aspects, of which it does not speak in any way.

The Bible does not provide us with philosophical ideas, no more than it gives us natural scientific knowledge or an economic or legal theory. But theoretical thought needs a central starting-point which transcends the modal diversity of our temporal horizon of experience and must consequently be of a supra-theoretical character. It is only by virtue of its supra-theoretical character that this starting-point can give central lead to our theoretical thought. This has been shown by the radical transcendental critique of the theoretical attitude of thought and experience which I have laid at the foundation of all my further philosophical investigations. This critique could be truly radical only because in the three phases of its critical investigation it had its supra-theoretical starting-point in the central ground-motive of the Word-revelation, viz., that of creation, fall into sin, and redemption by Jesus Christ, as the incarnate divine Word, in the communion of the Holy Ghost.

In my various explanations of the transcendental critique both within and outside my work, A New Critique of Theoretical Thought, I have always emphasized its biblical starting-point. What, then, so I ask myself again, may have made you think that this critique would be not “directly” dependent upon the transcendent “biblical truths?” It seems to me that it is again a certain rationalistic view of the divine Word-revelation that hinders you from seeing the fundamental difference and the true relation between the central religious and the theoretical-conceptual sphere of knowledge. The difference you apparently deny, and this is why the question concerning their true relation does in fact not come up for discussion in your train of thought. 

This appears, in my opinion, from your objections to what I have observed with respect to true self-knowledge and true knowledge of God in their unbreakable coherence, and especially with respect to the central ground-motive of the biblical revelation as moving power or dunamis addressing itself primarily to the heart or the religious center of our existence. As to the first point you ask me (1) how I may avoid falling into the trap of Kant’s idea of the primacy of practical reason, and (2) how I can avoid placing the self in a vacuum over against all the conceptual knowledge that we have of anything.
"Why not rather say that since a true knowledge of self and the world depends upon a true knowledge of God and since the knowledge of God about himself, about man, and about the world was mediated to man from the beginning through ordinary language, including conceptual terms, we now, as sinners saved by Christ, subordinate all our thinking to the truths of Scripture.… Listening to Scripture, obeying the voice of God speaking through Christ in Scripture, means making every human thought subject to divine thought. In Christ, says Dooyeweerd, our hearts are enlightened. But who then is Christ? He is what the Bible says he is in thoughts expressed in words, in concepts. Dooyeweerd speaks of the ‘central dunamis’ of the Divine ‘Word’ as taking hold of us in the depth of our being. If this idea of dunamis is not to lead us into a Kantian sort of noumenal, then it must be based upon the spoken Word, full of thought-content.… Dooyeweerd’s discussion of the dunamis of the divine revelation as over against the simple thought-content of Scripture adds still further to the ambiguity contained in what he says about the transcendental method.… Why did not Dooyeweerd tell van Peursen that his basic view of objectivity is the normativity of the Scriptural concepts of creation, of sin and of redemption? … It is concepts that need interpretation, yes, by human concepts based on revealed concepts. The whole attempt at reforming philosophical thought in terms of the modalities of thought as set forth by Dooyeweerd breaks down unless he reforms the concept of dunamis.”
I guess this ample quotation sheds a clear light on the rationalist tendency in your thought in consequence of which you are unable to escape dilemmas which the Philosophy of the Cosmonomic Idea has unmasked as polarly opposite absolutizations.

Rationalism as absolutization of conceptual thought evokes necessarily irrationalism as its alternative. The objectivism implied in traditional scholastic rationalism evokes as its alternative subjectivism, etc. It is consequently quite understandable that from your standpoint you consider my distinction between conceptual knowledge and central religious knowledge a result of an irrationalist mystical view of the latter. In line with Robbers and van Peursen you interpret this distinction as a separation, so that the central supra-conceptual sphere and the conceptual sphere of knowledge are conceived of as opposite to, and independent of, each other. In this way the distinction is naturally transformed into a dialectical tension, testifying to a dualistic trend in my thought. In my discussion with van Peursen I have dwelled at length on this radical misrepresentation of my view and I have given an ample rectification. You do not go into this rectification, and I fear that so long as you stick to this rationalist standpoint you will not be able to understand what I have written in this context.

(Excerpt from the chapter 'Herman Dooyeweerd: II. CORNELIUS VAN TIL AND THE TRANSCENDENTAL CRITIQUE OF THEORETICAL THOUGHT, in the book Jerusalem and Athens: Critical Discussions on the Philosophy and Apologetics of Cornelius Van Til, Edited by E.R. Geehan, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1974, pp 81-84)

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'Jerusalem & Athens’: Dooyeweerd to Van Til (2): "states of affairs" such as 2x2=4 are not "brute facts"


The innate religious impulse of the human heart does not result from man’s apostate nature, but, as we observed above, from his creation in the image of God.

I was therefore really surprised by your comment on the ambiguous use of the term “religious” in my transcendental critique. “The basic trouble,” you said, “is that the term religious is used by both Dooyeweerd and Berkouwer first in one way and then in another. Basically it means for them the biblical scheme of things.… But then they also use the term religious in a general sense of any position that recognizes the need of religious presuppositions in addition to logical thought or theoretical reason.”

You apparently view this general use of the term (that for the rest of this form is not to be found with me) in close connection with (1) the contradistinction between a transcendent and a transcendental critique and my rejection of the former; (2) my supposed idea that the “states of affairs” “have an objectivity” apart from the biblical presuppositions; and, (3) in particular, my supposed view “that irrationalism and subjectivism can be answered without reference to biblical content.”

The first point can now be considered settled as resting on a misunderstanding. 

As to the third point I must remark that I have rejected both rationalism and irrationalism, both subjectivism and objectivism from the biblical view concerning the correlation and mutual irreducibility of law and subject. 

As to the second point, I wonder how you could ascribe to me the opinion that the “states of affairs” would have an objectivity which gives them a neutral position over against the biblical presuppositions of my transcendental critique. You have apparently deduced this opinion from my explanation of my standpoint with respect to the “states of affairs” in the controversy with van Peursen in the year 1960 of Philosophia Reformata. You seem to have been particularly impressed by van Peursen’s question if there does not exist a dialectical tension between my statement that there are undeniable states of affairs which can be discovered by both Christian and non-Christian scholars, and my thesis according to which, for instance, the statement 2 x 2 = 4 has no truth in itself, but can function only within the total dynamical meaning-context of our experiential horizon. 

You understood van Peursen’s question as follows: “On the one hand, … Dooyeweerd tells us that the truths of arithmetic must be seen as a part of the whole cosmic structure as this in turn is seen in the light of Christian truth, and then again he speaks of it as though it were a truth independent of this Christian scheme.” 

This was not exactly the point in van Peursen’s question. Van Peursen started from the erroneous opinion that I would have conceived the “states of affairs” in the sense of “brute facts” apart from their meaning. If this were true there would naturally exist a striking antinomy between my conception of the “states of affairs” and my fundamental view concerning the meaning-character of creaturely reality. In my reply I gave therefore, once more, an ample exposition of my conception concerning this point. In this exposition I stressed the fact that the “states of affairs” have never been conceived by me as “brute facts” in the sense of a positivistic empiricism.

The “states of affairs” presenting themselves within the temporal order of our experience are, in my opinion, of a dynamic meaning-character, i.e. they refer outside and above themselves to the universal meaning-context in time, to the creaturely unity of root and to the absolute Origin of all meaning. This was the religious presupposition resulting from the biblical ground-motive of my philosophical thought. But it would naturally be a serious error to suppose that this religious presupposition as such would provide us with a philosophical insight into the transcendental meaning-structures of our temporal world.

To acquire such an insight we need, in the first place, a careful investigation of a great number of “states of affairs” which appear to be helpful to a theoretical analysis of these meaning-structures, but which, as such, must be considered independent of our subjective philosophical interpretation. Van Peursen wrongly considered my insistence on this latter point as an indication of an objectivistic view of the “states of affairs.”

In fact it was nothing but a result of my biblical conviction that the “states of affairs” in which the transcendental meaning-structures of our temporal horizon of experience reveal themselves are not founded in our subjective consciousness, but in the divine order of creation to which our subjective experience is subject. For this very reason they also cannot be dependent upon the religious conviction of the investigator, so that they may be discovered in a particular context by both Christian and non-Christian thinkers.

It is not so that the discovery of “states of affairs” which turn out to be of great importance for our insight into the modal meaning-structure of a transcendental aspect, is seen by everybody in that way. It may be that they are immediately given a philosophical interpretation which is incompatible with the modal meaning-structure of the aspect concerned. 

The “states of affairs” may also be too hastily interpreted in terms of a particular conception of the modal meaning-structure concerned which turns out to be liable to justified criticism. This is why I consider it a critical requirement to suspend our philosophical interpretation of the “states of affairs” at issue until we have so many of them at our disposal, relating to all the modal aspects of our temporal experiential world which until now we have learned to distinguish, that we can try to conceive them in a philosophical total view. 

In this whole explanation to van Peursen of my standpoint with respect to the “states of affairs” there is not a trace to be found of the ambiguity which you think to have discovered in it. Nowhere have I said that the “states of affairs,” lying at the foundation of my philosophical theory of the modal spheres, have an “objectivity” apart from the “biblical presuppositions.” On the contrary, I have stressed the fact that they are founded in the divine order of creation. Nowhere have I claimed “to use a transcendental method that is not directly (?) dependent upon the truths of Scripture,” nor have I appealed “to supposedly objective states of affairs that have an objectivity not depending upon the truths of Scripture.” 

(Excerpt from the chapter 'Herman Dooyeweerd: II. CORNELIUS VAN TIL AND THE TRANSCENDENTAL CRITIQUE OF THEORETICAL THOUGHT, in the book Jerusalem and Athens: Critical Discussions on the Philosophy and Apologetics of Cornelius Van Til, Edited by E.R. Geehan, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1974, pp 78-81)

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