In the Twilight of Western Thought
Welcome to a study guide for Herman Dooyeweerd’s In the Twilight of Western Thought. It is at the moment a working document. If any one has any comments, criticism or suggestions please make them!
Paul Otto’s excellent paper examining the different versions of the book is now available: ‘In the twilight of Dooyeweerd’s corpus‘ Philosophia Reformata 70
Paul Otto’s excellent paper examining the different versions of the book is now available: ‘In the twilight of Dooyeweerd’s corpus‘ Philosophia Reformata 70
This originally appeared at http://ittowt.blogsome.comSee the archive at https://web.archive.org/web/20130602050109/http://ittowt.blogsome.com/
Introduction to In the Twilight of Western Thought
Dooyeweerd’s book In the Twilight of Western Thought had its origins in a series of lectures that Dooyeweerd delivered in the United States during 1958. The lecture tour was sponsored by the Reformed Fellowship. Dooyeweerd’s original handwritten lectures notes were typed and edited for publication by Dr Henry van Til.
The book comprises eight chapters. The first two chapters examine what Dooyeweerd called the ‘pretended autonomy of theoretical thought’; the next two look at ‘historicism’ (an example of apostate thought); the next three examine the relation between philosophy and religion; and the final one examines anthropology.
Twilight has been published in three editions. The first in 1960 by Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company. An errata sheet was distributed with this edition identifying a number of typographical mistakes. In 1965 a second edition appeared, published by Craig Press (this was reprinted in 1968, 1972, 1975 and 1980), this book took into account the errors identified in the first edition including a mislaced paragraph.
The most recent edition, of 1999, was edited by James K. A. Smith and incorporated into the Collected Works of Herman Dooyeweerd (Series B, Volume 4), published under the general editorship of D. F. M. Strauss by Edwin Mellen Press. Unfortunately, this edition did not take into account the errors found in the first edition.
Paul Otto (2005) has traced the development of the book from its first incarnation in 1960 to the most recent in 1999. He has identified a number of variations (see the table here – reproduced with the author’s kind permission) between the editions.
Introductions to Dooyeweerd
There are a number of useful introductions to Dooyeweerd’s WdW. (A fuller list is available here.) These include:
Books sympathetic to Dooyeweerd’s approach
L Kalsbeek Contours of a Christian Philosophy: An Introduction to Herman Dooyeweerd’s Thought. Wedge: Toronto, 1975. The sub-title accurately describes the book.
J M Spier An Introduction to Christian Philosophy. Craig Press: Nutley , NJ, 1973 (orig 1954). The Christian philosophy in the title is WdW.
S Wolfe A Key to Dooyeweerd. Presbyterian and Reformed: Nutley, NJ, 1978. This introduces Dooyeweerd’s modal theory only and consequently it is much narrower in scope than the other books.
Roy Clouser The Myth of Religious Neutrality. University of Notre Dame Press: Notre Dame, 1991. Somewhat more than an introduction to Dooyeweerd’s thought. In it Clouser expounds and defends some of Dooyeweerd’s views.
Peter Steen The Structure of Dooyeweerd’s Thought. Wedge: Toronto, 1983.
Yong Joon Choi Dialogue and Antithesis.
Books critical of Dooyewerd’s approach
Robert A Morey. The Dooyeweerdian Concept of the Word of God. Presbyterian and Reformed, 1974. A polemic criticising Dooyeweerdian uses of the Word of God.
Vincent Brummer. Transcendental Criticism and Christian Philosophy. T. Wever, 1961.
Ronald H Nash. Dooyeweerd and the Amsterdam Philosophy. Zondervan: Grand Rapids, 1962. This book aims to introduce readers to Dooyeweerd and point out what he perceives as problems that need clarification or revision.
J Douma Another Look at Dooyeweerd: Some Critical Notes Regarding the Philosophy of the Cosmonomic Idea. Premier Publishing, Manitoba, no date.
John M. Frame and Leonard J. Coppes The Amsterdam Philosophy: A Preliminary Critique.
Articles sympathetic to Dooyeweerd’s approach
Roy Clouser. A sketch of Dooyeweerd’s philosophy of science. In Facets of Faith and Science. pp.81-97.
Roy Clouser. The impact of Dooyeweerd’s philosophy on the natural sciences: whence the difference? In Christian Philosophy at the Close of the 20th Century. Ed Griffoen & Balk. Kampen Kok, 1995.
Andrew Hartley. The philosophy of the law idea and the role of the prescientific in statistical inference Journal of the ACMS Dec 2004.
Jacob Klapwijk. The struggle for a Christian philosophy: another look at Dooyeweerd. The Reformed Journal. Volume 30 Issue 2 February 1980. Pages 12-15.
Jacob Klapwijk Dooyeweerd’s Christian philosophy: antithesis and critique. The Reformed Journal Volume 30 Issue 3 March 1980. Pages 20-24.
Richard Russell In defence of Dooyeweerd and of Christian philosophy Spectrum 23:2 Summer 1991. Pages 147-159.
James W. Skillen. Herman Dooyeweerd’s contribution to the philosophy of the social sciences. Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation March 1979. Pages 20-24.
Brian Walsh/ Jon Chaplin. Dooyeweerd’s contribution to a Christian philosophical paradigm.
William Young. Herman Dooyeweerd. In Creative Minds in Contemporary Theology. Edited by Philip Edgcumbe Hughes. Pages 270-305.
William Young The nature of man in the Amsterdam philosophy. Westminster Theological Journal. Vol. 22 no 1 1959 p1-12.
Articles critical of Dooyeweerd’s approach
Lester DeKoster. Editorial: 1. Tour of cosmonomia. The Banner. February 22, 1974. pp. 4-5.
Lester DeKoster Editorial: 2. Bird’s eye view of cosmonomia. The Banner. March 8,1974. pp. 4-5.
Antoni Diller. Herman Dooyeweerd – a profile of his thought. Spectrum 22:2 Summer 1990. pp. 138- 154.
John M. Frame. Toronto, Reformed orthodoxy, and the word of God: Where do we go from here? Vanguard. January-February 1975 . pp. 6-8.
Rushdooney’s Introduction to the 1960 edn
Summary Rushdoony in his introduction to this book does not provide a review but rather ‘an analysis of its general significance’.
R. J. Rushdoony 1916-2001
1. Why, according to Rushdoony, would Dooyeweerd be the first to ‘disclaim originality’ to his approach?
2. What, according to Rushdoony, are the implications of Joseph Haroutunian’s Lust for Power?
3. What points does Rushdoony draw out in his discussion of ‘Rudolf Bultmann on science’?
4. Why does Dooyeweerd use the word motive and not motif?
1. In what ways is Dooyeweerd’s approach to Christian philosophy a development on the biblical foundations of Calvin and Kuyper?
The Pretended Autonomy of Philosophical Thought-I
pretended autonomy of thought pp 1-4
Dooyeweerd opens by drawing attention to a problem for claiming a Christian starting point for philosophy: the dogma of the autonomy of theoretical thought. Theoretical reason is held to be self-sufficient, the ultimate judge, thus this dogma implies that thought ought to be independent of religious presuppositions. The idea that thought can be religiously neutral has been elevated to a condition of philosophy.
This idea philosophical that thought can be autonomous faces a number of problems.
There is no common foundation; the presuppositions of Greek, Thomistic and modern secularised thought are different. There is no common basis for different philosophical trends.
Different philosophical trends usually end up arguing at cross-purposes. They are unable to find a way to penetrate to the level of their starting-points. This suggests that the starting points determine the meaning given to this autonomy of thought.
These problems suggest that the dogma of the autonomy of thought needs to be critically investigated.
transcendental criticism pp 4-6
Dooyeweerd then suggests the need to look at the nature of theoretical thought itself. Is this autonomy required by its inner nature? To answer this question requires a transcendental criticism in which the conditions that make theoretical thought possible are sought.
Kant and Husserl both took the autonomy of theoretical thought as a self-evident truth. Both claimed to be radically critical and yet failed to make autonomy into a critical problem.
Dooyewerd does not demand that adherents of the view that thought is autonomous abandon this position, but he does want them to reassess its status by putting it to the test of a transcendental critique.
To understand such a critique we need to examine the structure of theoretical thought. The theoretical attitude of thought and experience display an antithetical structure: the logical and non-logical aspects are opposed.
modal aspects pp 6-9
Our experience has a great diversity of modal aspects. These modal aspects are modalities of meaning, and each has a modal kernel of meaning.
We can tabulate the modal aspects and their kernel as follows:
There has been much discussion over the names and terms used for the different modal aspects and modal kernels as well as their order; however, the main points remain. These are aspects of reality that cannot be reduced to each other.
These modal aspects relate to different special sciences that focus on entities which function within them in a special way; however, these special sciences don’t necessarily tell us about the inner nature and structure of the modal aspects themselves. To understand these requires philosophical insight into the total coherence of the diverse aspects because the modal meaning of an aspect is only unfolded in its coherence with all other aspects.
analogical moments p 9-15
The modal kernels express themselves in what Dooyeweerd terms ‘analogical moments’. These can be retrocipations or anticipations.
If the kernel referred to is part of the preceding aspect then it is a retrocipation; if it refers to the kernel of the successive aspect then it is known as an anticipation.
Dooyeweerd looks at one such example: the meaning kernel of the sensitive aspect.
The meaning kernel of the sensitive aspect is feelings. Emotion, is the sensitive mode of movement and is thus a retrocipation to the movement aspect. Moral feelings is an anticipation to the moral aspect.
‘Was man nicht definieren kann, das sicht man als ein Fuhlen [Fühler] an’ translates as ‘What one cannot define, one sees as with a feeler’.
subject and object pp 15-17
In pre-theoretical thought things are experienced in the coherence of their aspects. Reflection on this integral experience leads Dooyewerd to distinguish between functioning in an aspect as a subject and functioning in n aspect as an object. Moreover, every thing has a leading function, or a qualifying aspect. In modes higher than its leading function (sometimes called its superstratum) it has an object function. For all aspects lower than its leading function (sometimes called the substratum) it has a subject function.
For a tree, its leading function, or qualifying aspect, is biotic. Hence, for aspects lower than the biotic (i.e. numerical, spatial, kinematic and physical) it has a subject function, in other words, it functions ‘actively’: it has a size which can be measured, it takes up an amount of space, it sways in the breeze, it has certain physical properties, and it is a living thing. In the higher modes, it has an object function, i.e. it functions ‘passively’: it can have certain things done to it, but it of itself cannot do them. Its size, type and colour can be perceived, but it cannot perceive itself (sensitive); it cannot name itself but it can be named (lingual); it cannot think, but it can be thought about (analytical); it has a certain economic value but it cannot engage in economics (economic); it can be possessed but it cannot possess (juridical); and so on.
Hence, all things have either a subject or an object function in all modal aspects. Humans alone function actively as subjects in all modal aspects.
naïve experience pp 17-18
Naïve experience comes before all theories; it is not a theory in itself, and cannot be refuted by philosophical arguments. Dooyeweerd describes it as a pre-theoretical datum – it corresponds to the different modal aspects in their entirety. Any theory that cannot take these modal aspects into account must be flawed.
the true starting point pp. 18-
How do we form a logical concept of the non-logical aspects? Having examined the nature of the theoretical thought, and found its characteristic feature to be the antithetical relation between the logical and non-logical aspects, we must require that the logical and non-logical aspects be bought together in synthesis. Dooyeweerd then raises the important question: ‘What is the central reference-point in our consciousness from which this central theoretical synthesis can start?’ (p 19)
It must start outside theoretical thought, otherwise it is bound to the inter-modal synthesis between logical and non-logical thought. It must be transcendent (outside theoretical thought) rather than immanent (within theoretical thought). An immanent philosophy cannot escape the problem of making theoretical thought autonomous. It will inevitably absolutize one of the modal aspects.
absolutization pp 20-
When a modal aspect is absolutized it leads to an –ism. Some –isms are shown in the table below. Absolutization elevates one aspect to become the totality of meaning so that it becomes an idol.
Kant’s transcendental method pp 21- The remainder of the chapter examines Kant’s critical transcendental method and shows that Kant’s real starting point remains in the dark. Dooyeweerd’s radical critique seeks to uncover the starting point. Dooyeweerd’s critique goes further than Kant’s.
Immanuel Kant (1724-1804)
Kant attempted to mediate between rationalism and empiricism. His major works include A Critique of Pure Reason (1781), A Critique of Practical Reason (1788) and A Critique of Judgment (1993)
absolutization One aspect of our experience becomes the totality of meaning; it makes an idol of that aspect
analogical moments Expressions of the kernel meaning of an aspect which refers to the kernels of other aspects. These can be either retrocipations or anticipations
anticipation An analogical moment within a modality that refers to the meaning kernel of a higher mode
antithetical Having an opposition or a strong contrast or an exact opposite
autonomy Derived from two Greek terms auto and nomos, it means without law; i.e. self-governing or guided by its own principles
autonomy of thought The idea that thought is guided by its own principles
cosmic time The ‘medium’ through which the meaning totality is broken up into a modal diversity of aspects
modal aspects The fifteen (or so) irreducible aspects of reality: numerical, spatial and so on. Dooyeweerd also calls them modal spheres, law spheres, modalities, modes or aspects.
modal kernel The internal modality of meaning of an aspect (also called a nuclear moment)
modern secularised Contemporary thought that doesn’t take God into consideration; at the time Dooyeweerd was writing this would have included positivism
naïve thought This is pre-theoretical thought – everyday experience.
presuppositions What is taken for granted or presupposed
retrocipation An analogical moment that refers to a meaning kernel of an earlier mode supra-temporal The supra-temporal means literally above the temporal; it includes the eternity of God. This is the realm of faith commitments
temporal horizon This is created reality
theoretical thought Any kind of abstract thought such as philosophy, theology or the sciences
transcendental critique A kantian term used to mean a discovery of the conditions needed for something to operate or be
Thomistic thought Thought associated with Thomas Aquinas
1. What is meant by the autonomy of thought?
2. Why does Dooyeweerd call it the ‘pretended autonomy of thought’?
3. Why is the dogma of theoretical thought facing a critical problem?
4. What does Dooyeweerd mean by a qu[a]estio iuris?
5. Why does philosophy need a transcendental critique of theoretical thought?
6. How is the theoretical attitude of thought characterised?
7. What is meant by the temporal horizon of human experience?
8. Why was the fundamental difference between theoretical and non-theoretical thought entirely misinterpreted?
9. Identify the different analogies in the historical aspect.
10. Which modal aspect will have (a) no anticipations and (b) no retrocipations?
11. What is naïve realism? Why does Dooyeweerd reject it?
12. Why does Kant’s view of the transcendental ego land in ‘pure mythology’?
1. Are there any other problems for claiming a Christian starting point for philosophy?
2. According to Dooyeweerd ‘autonomy’ means different things in different philosophies, what is the meaning of autonomy for Dooyeweerd? How does it relate to the views of autonomy he is arguing against?
3. Does theology have to have philosophical presuppositions?
4. Choose a theological system and identify its philosophical presuppositions.
5. How does supra-theoretical, theoretical and pre-theoretical thought differ?
6. How does Dooyeweerd’s concept cosmic time relate to the supra-temporal and temporal time?
7. Identify the different modal aspects that occur in the chemical element oxygen.
8. Identify the –isms that absolutize the numerical, the spatial and the movement aspects of reality.
9. Compare and contrast Kant’s and Dooyeweerd’s transcendental critique.
Take it further
The Dooyeweerd pages provides a good summary of Dooyeweerd’s thought including the modal aspects: http://www.isi.salford.ac.uk/dooy/summary.html#fwm and http://www.isi.salford.ac.uk/dooy/aspects.html
Glenn Friesen’s definitions
D. F. M. Strauss ‘The order of the modal aspects’ in Contemporary Reflections on the Philosopy of Herman Dooyeweerd.
Spier ch 2 Kalsbeek chs 8-9; 11-14
Clouser ch 11
Wolfe ch 1-13
The Pretended Autonomy of Theoretical Thought - II
Dooyeweerd at the end of his first lecture (Chapter 1) introduces hi theme for this lecture by posing some questions:
What is the nature of the enigmatical I?
How can we arrive at real self-knowledge?
Read the next chapter with these questions in mind.
the enigmatic character of the ego pp 27-30
Chapter 2 takes up where chapter 1 ended: the enigmatic character of the human I. All attempts to understand the central human ego appear to be failures.
Buber’s I–thou relation is examined – the reference to the humanist science ideal will be explained later – as well Binswanger’s concept of ‘meeting in love. Both are found to be ‘empty in themselves’.
Martin Buber (1878-1965)
Buber was an Austrian/ Jewish philosopher, theologian and thinker. He is best know for his work I and Thou (1923)
Ludwig Binswanger (1881 - 1966)
Binswanger was a Swiss psychiatrist and philosopher influenced by existentialism and personalism. He is the author of Being-in-the-World (1963)
the relation to the divine origin pp 30-33 In order to explain the human ego it must be considered in relation to its divine origin. This means we have to go beyond the boundaries of philosophical thought. Nevertheless this is necessary, for the supra-theoretical central motive is of a religious character. The religious impulse of the ego takes its content from religious basic motives. These basic religious motives can either turn the ego towards or away from its true origin. the religious basic motive pp 33-35 The religious basic motive is communal. It rules us even if we are unaware of it. It is bound to two conditions; it must:
give rise to a common belief within the faith aspect
gain a socio-cultural power within the historical aspect of human society; it forms that culture.
the four religious basic motives pp. 35-38
There are four religious basic motives: the Greek form-matter; the biblical creation-fall-redemption; the scholastic nature-grace; and the modern humanistic nature-freedom.
All these, apart from the biblical one, are dualistic – two motives are held in opposition to each other.
the form-matter motive pp 38-41 This is the fundamental motive of Greek thought. It originates from a meeting of two conflicting views the pre-Homerian natural religion – corresponding to matter – and the Olympian gods’ cultural religion – corresponding to form.
creation, fall and redemption pp 41-44
This is the biblical motive. It is the motive of the creation, the radical fall due to sin, and redemption in Jesus Christ. This is the genuine starting point for a Christian philosophy.
nature – grace pp 44-45 The nature-grace motive was introduced by Catholicism. It was an attempt to reconcile the opposed religious motives of Greek and Christian thought.
modern Humanism: freedom-nature motive pp 45-51
The fourth ground motive is that of nature and freedom. Modern Humanism introduced it. It takes two forms: the freedom-motive, with its emphasis on liberty and autonomy; and the nature-motive with its emphasis on the domination of nature through science and mathematics.
Natura naturans means creative nature
Deus sive natura means God is not distinguishable from nature
threefold basic idea 52
This Dooyeweerd calls the ‘cosmonomic idea’.
two key questions pp. 52-3
Dooyeweerd poses two important questions and then goes on to answer them.
How can this criticism have any conclusive force for those who do not accept your religious starting point?
what may be the common basis for a philosophical discussion between those who lack a common starting-point?
the first question answered pp 53-54
The criticism of theoretical thought exposes facts that are of a transcendental significance and can be accepted by all, whatever their philosophical starting point. Common grace means that truths are contained in all philosophies, despite the fact that operate from apostate basic motives.
the second question answered pp 54-7
Dooyeweerd claims that the radical transcendental critique of theoretical thought is of universal value for all philosophy students. Only when we can get to the supra-theoretical presuppositions can we critique each others philosophy.
unsolvable antinomies pp 57- When one modal aspect is reduced to another unsolvable antinomies occur. For example: Zeno’s paradox. The problem arises when length (a spatial aspect) is reduced to a numerical aspect.
ananke This is the Greek term for ‘fate’
central human ego (aka heart, I-ness, selfhood) the concentration point of a human’s existence, ‘the religious root unity’ of humanity.
Origin personality ideal One part of the nature-freedom ground motive. It emphasises the freedom aspect.
religious basic motives (aka religious ground motives) a driving force, a fundamental motivation.
science ideal One part of the nature-freedom ground motive. It emphasises the nature aspect. It comes from the desire to dominate nature.
1. What does Dooyeweerd mean by the ‘concentric direction of human thought’?
2. Why are Buber’s and Binswanger’s attempts to explain the human self ‘empty in themselves’?
3. Why does the relation between the human ego and God ‘exceed the boundaries of philosophical thought?
4. Why is the religious ground motive the real starting point of philosophical thought?
5. What effects do the faith-power and the socio-cultural power, which the religious basic motive has, have?
6. In what ways is the nature-grace motive a mutual accommodation of the Christian and Greek religious motives?
7. How does the freedom-nature motive show its ‘central religious character’?
8. How does the ‘inner religious dialectic of the Humanistic basic motive’ show itself?
9. What are the different emphases of the freedom-motive and the nature-motive?
10. How does the science-ideal give rise to a ‘historicistic view of the temporal world’?
11. Why is Christian philosophy a fallible human activity?
12. Why is the cosmonomic idea described as being three fold?
13. If someone doesn’t accept Dooyeweerd’s starting point, how can his criticism have any force?
14. How has Dooyeweerd ‘clearly revealed’ ‘the central influence of the different religious basic motives upon theoretical thought’?
15. Why does a transcendental critique of philosophical thought not result in a general relativism?
1. Examine other concepts of the central human ego? Are they also ‘empty in themselves’?
2. How does a religious basic motive enable understanding between different philosophical trends?
3. Why the necessity of a radical transcendental critique of philosophical thinking?
4. How does Descartes’ philosophy illustrate science-ideal?
5. How is the freedom-motive evident in Romanticism?
6. Is there a common basis for a philosophical discussion?
7. What does the term ‘Word of God’ mean for Dooyeweerd?
Taking it further A summary of Dooyeweerd’s religious ground motives is found at the Dooyeweerd pages: here and here
Glenn Friesen’s pages here
Basden at the Dooyeweerd pages notes that ‘Choi makes a study of Korean religious ground motives using a Dooyeweerdian approach. He identifies the following:
• ‘Korean Shamanism has a ground motive of Hananim-Nature, but is not as dialectical as the ancient Matter-Form motive because Nature spirits acknowledged the supremacy of Hananim (supreme God).
• Korean Buddhism has a ground motive of Kyo-Son (doctrine - meditation).
• Korean Confucianism has a ground motive of I-Ki (li-chi in Chinese), in which I is the universal patterning or forming principle while Ki is the concretizing material and energizing vital force.’
Dooyeweerd’s Roots of Western Culture; Pagan, Secular and Christian options, Wedge Publishing Company, Toronto, Canada, 1979 deals in more depth with religious ground motives.
Kalsbeek ch 5
The Sense of History and the Historical World and Life View-I
This and the subsequent chapter look at ‘historicism’. Historicism is the absolutization of one of the modal aspects. Elsewhere Dooyeweerd wrote:
Historicism is the fatal illness of our ‘dynamic’ times. There is no cure for this decadent view of reality s long as the scriptural creation motive does not regain its complete claim of our life and thought. Historicism robs us of our belief in abiding standards; it undermines our faith in the eternal truths of God’s Word. Historicim claims that everything is relative and historically determined, including one’s belief in lasting value. (Roots p. 61)
In this chapter Dooyeweerd traces the development of historicism from Vico to Spengler and Dilthey.
introduction pp. 61-63
One of the symptoms of the crisis at the end of the nineteenth century was the rise of historicism: a historistic world and life view. History becomes the place from which we view all things; everything is reduced to history. Destiny and inescapable fate rule.
Oswald Spengler’s influential The Decline of the West declared the end of history, and made way for existentialism. Tonybee’s work on world history also shows the influence of Spengler – though it is not so pessimistic.
Oswald Spengler (1880-1936)
Arnold Toynbee (1989-1975) British historian
the origins of historicism pp 63-66 The rise of historicism can be traced back to Vico, but it wasn’t until the time of the Restoration that it gained ground.
Giambattista Vico (1668-1744)
Professor of Rhetoric at the University of Naples and author of The New Science.
Aquinas and the medieval church held to a nature-grace religious motive. Nature can be known by rational thought, but subordinated by a supra-natural grace. This means that philosophy is subjected to ecclesiastical control. It unwittingly paved the way for humanist philosophy initiated by Descartes, where nothing apart from human reason was acknowledged.
Descartes and Hobbes: the science-ideal pp 66-70
Descartes and Hobbes had a mathematical view of the world; the world was a mechanism. This view left no room for autonomous human freedom. This showed up the conflict and tension within the nature-freedom basic motive.
Rene Descartes (1596-1650)
Famous for his ‘cogito ergo sum’, ‘I think, therefore I am’. Author of Meditations on First Philosophy
Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679)
Puritan author of Leviathan (1651). He was a vehement opponent of Descartes.
There was a constant shift in the emphasis either on freedom (the personality-ideal) or on nature (the science-ideal). The emphasis on the science ideal led to God being viewed as the great geometer. Human society was even constructed in this pattern. The state was given absolute sovereignty, consequently it absorbed all human freedom.
Gottfied Wilhelm von Leibniz (1646-1716)
In his Discourse on Metaphysics V he describes God as an excellent geometer and as a good architect.
freedom-motive reaction pp 70-72
The eighteenth century had seen a fundamental criticism of Cartesian philosophy. Locke developed the doctrine of human rights and the liberal state idea. Rouseau once more emphasised freedom. Kant was influenced by Rousseau. Kant placed human freedom in the supra-sensory kingdom of ethics. This meant it could not be proved or refuted.
John Locke (1632-1704)
Influential British philosopher and author of An Essay Concerning Human Understanding
Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778)
Author of The Social Contract (1762)
God was no longer a mathematician but the ‘deified image of the autonomous free human personality in its ethical aspect’.
Nature and freedom were sharply separated. This separation corresponded to the separation of science and faith. However, the science-ideal was not completely overthrown.
restoration period pp 72-78
Post-Kantian idealistic philosophy (eg Hegel and Schelling) rejected the Kantian view of the legalistic ideal human personality, the ethical rule of behaviour can only come from the ‘concrete individuality of the human personality’. This irrationalistic view absolutizes the human subjectivity which was bound to the community. Individuals do not exist, community or nation is everything.
The national mind creates its culture in an organic process of historical development.
Schelling identified nature and the free spirit as two forms of appearance of the absolute. The organic form of nature developed into ever higher forms. History knows no general laws, however it is guided by this organic development which is an expression of the absolute spirit.
Friedrich Julius Stahl (1802-1861)
Lutheran Jew he founded the antirevolutionary party in Germany and was an influence on Groen van Prinsterer.
This Historical School rejected the science-ideal approach; they developed a historistic image of reality.
Many Christians joined the Historical School thinking it gave them an ally against the philosophy of the French revolution without realising it was rooted in a pagan basic motive. The concept of the development of history could be in accordance with the concept of providence.
Stahl accepted the conclusion that the hidden law of history was a rule for human behaviour.
The historicst world-picture eventually undermined human belief: human belief was the historical product of a particular mind of culture. The radical form of Spengler was held in check by a belief in the progress of humankind. The breakdown of the belief in western civilisation led to the rise of a radical form of historicism.
radical historicism pp 78 – 82
Comte’s positivism subjected Christian and Humanistic belief to the historicist view. Comte’s Positivism restored the scientific mode of thought while retaining the new historicist approach.
Marxism gave Hegel’s idealism view a materialistic slant. Both Marx and Comte had a positive view of the gaol of history.
The more radical form of historicism did not have any positive belief.
Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling (1775-1854)
Schelling, Fichte and Hegel were the three main architects of German idealism.
Augustus Comte (1798-1857)
French founder of Positivism
Karl Heinrich Marx (1818-1883)
William Dilthey (1883-1911)
historicism The absolutization of the historical modal aspect.
Volkstgeist the spirit of the people
1. What is historicism?
2. Why is historicism so pessimistic?
3. How did Spengler’s work pave the way for existentialism?
4. Why is Toynbee’s work not as pessimistic as Spengler’s?
5. How do Comte’s three states illustrate the historicist view?
6. What made many Christian thinkers join the Historical school?
7. Is Marxism a Christian heresy?
8. How did idealism contribute to the development of historicism?
1. At the end of the Cold War Francis Fukuyama wrote an article ‘The end of history?’ National Interest (1989) and a book The End of history and the Last Man in what ways is his work an expression of historicism?
2. Why should historicism prove to be so pessimistic?
3. What were the factors that gave rise to historicism?
Taking it further
Dooyeweerd ‘History, historicism, and norms’ Roots of Western Culture ch 3.
The Sense of History and the Historical World and Life View-II
At the end of the previous lecture/ chapter Dooyeweerd introduces two questions that will be addressed here:
What is the snare in the historicist view of our temporal world in both its forms?
What is the real place and meaning of the historical aspect in the temporal order of our experience?
Read the next chapter with these questions in mind – how does Dooyeweerd answer them?
introduction pp 83-84
Historicism is an absolutization of the historical viewpoint and is one of many isms in philosophy. all isms result I the absolutisation of one of the modal aspects.
Modal aspects are modes and as such relate to the ‘how’ rather than a concrete ‘what’.
historical facts 84-86 To smoke or to drink have historical aspects, they are not however historical facts. Historians are only concerned with the historical extracted from full reality.
analogical moments pp 87- Dooyeweerd now applies the theory of modal aspects with the retrospective and anticipatory analogical moments to the historical aspect. (See 9-15 [9-12])
retrocipations anticipations numerical spatial movement energy (physico-chemical) biotic feeling and sensation logical historical symbolic signification social intercourse economic aesthetic juridicial moral faith or belief
The important thing is to identify the modal kernel of the historical mode.
culture pp 89-93
Vico, under the influence of a humanistic freedom motive set the historical mode over the mathematical and scientific mode of thought. He identified culture with human society, the civil world. For Vico, against Descartes, the creation of culture occurs is a historical process. It is viewed as a separate world to nature; a world of specific historical reality.
The term ‘cultural’ is to be preferred to the term ‘culture’.
The modal kernel of the historical aspect is formative power or control. Hence, historical development is the development of formative power over the world and societal life.
There are two directions of the cultural mode: formative power over persons and formative power over things.
Personkultur = personal culture Sachkultur = subject culture
historical development pp 93-97
Cultural development is to be seen as a biotic analogy in the historical mode. It refers back to the biological aspect. It is founded in the logical mode.
Using the illustration of the battle of Waterloo shows that history cannot be founded on sensory perception alone.
Johan Huizinga (1872-1945)
Dutch historian and author of The Autumn of the Middle Ages (1919)
norms for cultural development pp 97-99
Dooyeweerd then looks at the norm for determining cultural development. In the biological sense development is not ruled by norms, but by the laws of nature. However, in the historical sense cultural development is normative vocation, given to humanity at creation.
differentiated and undifferentiated societies pp 99-106
In general, communities are undifferentiated. A tradition has the monopoly of formative power. The development process only shows analogies of the biotic phases: birth, adolescence, decline. When such communities decline they may go without leaving any trace.
In opened-up cultures cultural development often leads to a conflict between the holders of tradition and those who propound fresh ideas.
The opening-up of human cultures leads to national communities. A nation is not blood and soil. Ethical differences between different groups are integrated into an individual whole.
Leopold von Ranke 1795- 1886
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831)
Totalitarian regimes tend to annihilate the process of cultural differentiation.
Cultural differentiation, integration and individualization, is an objective norm of the unfolding of society. It provides a criterion to distinguish progressive from reactionary tendencies in history.
Georg Frobenius (1849-1917)
Comte and Spencer understand cultural differentiation in a different way to Dooyeweerd. They understand it in a pseudo-natural scientific sense. For Dooyeweerd in a differentiated society family, businesses, school, state and so on are clearly distinguished from each other. Each of the communities has their own sphere of formative power.
The typical structures of society are structures of individuality. All – except marriage and family – have a typical historico-cultural foundation. This means that they can be opened-up and developed.
Kulturkreislehre = culture circles
A German and Austrian movement in ethnology that arose at the end of the nineteenth century.
anticipatory aspects pp 106-110
In the linguistic aspect we have communication by signs with symbolic meaning. In the opening-up process of historical development this linguistic aspect anticipation gives rise to a symbolic signifying of historical facts in terms of for example chronicles and records.
This also leads to social intercourse between nations.
As cultures become differentiated this can lead to a battle between different cultural spheres (eg natural science, industry, commerce). Hence the preservation of harmonious relationships between the cultural spheres is vital.
The aesthetic and economic anticipations reveal themselves in the principle of cultural economy and cultural harmony. It is the violation of these principles that the juridicial anticipation is revealed.
Die Weltgeschichte ist das Weltgericht = The world’s history is the world’s judgment.
individuality structure this is the characteristic created lawful order of concrete things.
1. What makes the historicist position unacceptable for a Christian?
2. What makes an ‘historical fact’?
3. Why is Ranke’s description of history naïve?
4. Why is it important to identify a mode’s kernel?
5. Why does Dooyeweerd prefer ‘cultural’ to ‘culture’?
6. Why is development in history not a metaphor?
7. How does Dooyeweerd distinguish between primitive and opened-up cultures?
8. What characterises the opening-up process of cultural life?
9. What is the role of tradition in culture?
10. How does Dooyeweerd’s view of cultural differentiation differ from Comte’s and Spencer’s?
11. How did German Nazism undermine the national consciousness of Germanic peoples?
12. How does historicism deny the character and meaning of the cultural-historical aspect?
1. What is history?
2. Compare and contrast history and historicism.
3. Compare and contrast one primitive with one opened-up culture
4. How might a primitive culture be opened up?
5. How does the concept of a differentiated community affect the issue of asylum?
Philosophy and Theology - I
introduction pp 113-114
As Dooyeweerd’s philosophy claims to have a radical Christian starting point he has to address the relationship between philosophy and theology. He sharply distinguishes between Christian philosophy and theology.
This view has had not had much success in Christian circles, largely as a result of the Greek idea that theology can be philosophical in character.
Parmenides (b. 510 BCE.)
Plato (427-347 BCE)
church fathers pp 14-116
The church Fathers maintained that theology has it own principle of knowledge: Word-revelation. Thus Christian theology has a certainty of knowledge that pagan philosophy lacks. Christian philosophy is a supreme science – it is the true Christian philosophy.
Augustine rejects the idea of philosophical thought being autonomous. However, his view of theology is ambiguous. He uses it to refer to the true knowledge of God and ourselves as well as to the doctrine of the church – in sense theology cannot have a scientific meaning. Christian theology is bound to human thought and cannot be infallible.
Greek thought led Augustine to confuse theoretical Christian theology with the true knowledge of God and self. This view of theology as the queen of the sciences was Aristotelian in origin. Theology became Christian philosophy.
aquinas’ view pp 116-118
Aquinas in his Summa theological maintains that sacred doctrine is necessary ad humanam salutem and is a science.
Theology for Aquinas is higher than philosophy as theology’s knowledge is supernatural. Theology is no longer Christian philosophy.
Philosophy (and natural theology) is an autonomous science – it is based on reason alone. For Aquinas theology is identified with scripture and the doctrine of the Church.
Aquinas (c.1225/7 – 1274)
ad humanam salutem = to human health
Deum et animamscire = God and soul
regina scientiarium = queen of the sciences
sacra scriptura = holy scripture
imagao dei= image of God
barth’s view pp 119-
For Barth Christian philosophy is a contradiction in terms as philosophy comes from human thought corrupted by sin.
Karl Barth (1886-1968)
Barth, like Augustine, also uses theology in an ambiguous way: true knowledge of God in Jesus and the science of truths revealed in the scriptures.
Dooyeweerd stresses the importance of avoiding any ambiguity in the meaning of theology.
The knowledge of God can only be acquired by the operation of God’s Word and his Holy Spirit in the heart of a human – it surpasses theoretical thought.
This theoretical thought is always related to the ‘I’, the human self.
modal aspects pp 121-
Dooyeweerd then goes onto identify the different modal aspects.
The law of God has its unity in the love command, which is addressed to the human heart – the religious centre of human life.
When humanity closed their hearts and turned away from the word of God and attempted to become like gods, the whole of the earth was cursed.
In Christ humanity and the whole temporal order can be redeemed.
This Word-revelation is behind the scientific problem of theology and philosophy. It cannot become the theoretical object of theology.
Theological and philosophical theoretical thought are within the bound of modal aspects.
The different modal aspects give rise to special sciences, which in turn raise fundamental questions.
For example, what is number? What is space? What is extensive movement? These questions are philosophical in character. The sciences do not make modal aspects the object of research.
When a biologist examines water she only investigates it biological function – she does not take into account other modal aspects. The relation between the modal aspects of an individual whole is philosophical – it exceeds the boundaries of the special sciences.
Philosophy provides a total view of the temporal horizon of experience.
The question then is: does Christian dogmatic theology provide a total view? If it does it is identical with Christian philosophy.
Theology, no more than biology or any other special science, provides a total view.
1. Before reading this chapter jot down how you think theology and philosophy relate.
2. In what ways is Augustine’s view of theology ambiguous?
3. How does Augustine and Aquinas’ view of theology and philosophy differ?
4. In Aquinas’ view how does theology and philosophy differ?
5. Why is true self-knowledge necessary to understand the real relation between theology and philosophy?
6. Why are the modal aspects essentially modes of time?
7. Why does theology not provide a total view?
1. Is theology the queen of the sciences?
2. Is philosophy a hand maiden of theology?
3. What other fundamental questions do the other sciences that arise form the aspects give rise to?
Philosophy and Theology - II
This section seeks to address the question: What is the proper scientific study of theology?
God’s revelation in his Word is the source of theological knowledge – it functions as a central starting point.
Theology does not give us a philosophical total view of the relationship between the different modal aspects and so it must be a special science. The proper scientific object of theology is one modal aspect – the aspect of faith.
Many object to faith being made into a modal aspect. But this objection comes from confusing the word-revelation and the scientific character of theology.
To elevate dogmatic theology into a mediator between God’s word and the believer is idolatrous. Salvation does not depend upon theological dogmatics.
Creation, fall and redemption can never become the scientific object of study – rather it is the supra-theological starting point, the key to the knowledge of God and ourselves. This Word-revelation manifests itself in the modal aspects.
faith aspect 137-9
Sin cannot destroy the structure of creation, but it can give it a false direction. The modal aspect of faith is affected in this way – Christian faith, apostatic faith and unbelief function with the modal aspect of faith.
The faith-aspect is not the real act of believing, this comes out of the heart, but qualified by the faith-aspect, it is also present in all other aspects.
The faith-aspect’s modal kernel is the ultimate mode of certitude with the temporal order.
God’s revelation, which is displayed through the diverse aspects of the temporal order, finds its centre in the human heart. It is through the faith-aspect it is related to this religious centre.
If the human heart is open to the Word of God, humanity is capable of understanding God’s phaneros (Rom 1:19) by this innate function of God. But if the heart is closed the faith-aspect becomes closed. The Holy Spirit regenerates the heart, so that the faith-aspect can become open to the Word of God – thus changing its direction.
scholastic groundmotive 139-141
Barth’s view that Christian faith results form a new creative act of God and the Roman Catholic (RC) view that faith is a supra-natural gift of God are both influenced by scholastic basic motives.
The scholastic basic motive has no place for heart as the religious centre and radical unity of human existence. It results in reason becoming the centre of human nature; and does not accept the radical character of the fall into sin.
If human nature does not have a religious centre, how can it be affected by sin? RC doctrine denies the inner conception of human nature. It is this that caused the problem of the relation between theology and philosophy – the distinction between saving theology and profane (or secular) sciences comes from this distinction.
new theology and Barth 141-3
A number of new theology RCs have started to oppose this dualistic view. However, Barthian theology is still permeated by dualism; and yet Barth claims for theology a radically biblical character. barth replaced a dualism of nature/ grace with a view of no contact between nature and grace. Philosophy was the product of sinful natural thought – among the sciences only theology was supposed to be capable of being permeated by Word –revelation.
If Barth is consistent then he must also reject a Christian theology if he rejects a Christian philosophy.
Bath’s dualistic motive of nature and grace led him astray and he supposed that God’s Word was bound to a ‘theological space’.
Word of God and Word-revelation 143-6
Dooyeweerd now turns to examine the significance of the distinction between the Word of God in its actual reality and as the object of theoretical thought.
The Word of God presents itself to us in its full and actual reality through our temporal horizon. The Word came to dwell among us in the incarnation of Jesus. The Word-revelation was also incarnated in the Bible. It is through the modal aspect of faith that we can experience the fat that the scriptures have been inspired by the Holy Spirit. In this central spiritual sense this cannot be the theoretical object of theological thought; rather it is the starting point for theology.
However dogmatic theology can engage in a theoretical reflection of creation, fall and redemption and one can do so from a non-biblical starting point. There is then a difference between creation, fall and redemption as an article of faith which may be the object of theoretical thought and creation, fall and redemption in the central sense as the key to knowledge, which cannot be made into a theological problem. The true knowledge of God, and thus true self-knowledge, are not of a dogmatic-theoretical or of a philosophical nature.
Issues such as the union of the two natures in Christ or the significance of the image of God before and after the fall only arise in the theoretical opposition of the logical and faith aspects of thought. They are theological problems and do not concern the religious centre of our existence.
A view that makes God’s Word dependent upon a theological dogmatics and exegesis is unbiblical.
the radical starting point pp 147-56
The radical starting point, this radical critique of theoretical thought applies both to philosophy and theology. Theoretical thought and its presuppositions are related to the ‘central religious sphere of human consciousnesses; this means that the autonomy of thought is untenable.
Once the confusion between the between the ‘central starting-point’ and the ‘theoretical object’ of theology has been overcome, it is obvious that theology is bound to philosophical fundamentals that are dependent on the ‘religious motive of theoretical thought’.
Dooyeweerd goes on to look briefly at the analogical structure of the faith-aspect and how this throws light upon the six days of creation and Occam’s concept of God’s omnipotence.
William of Occam (or Ockham) (1280-1349) A Franciscan and a nominalist; famous for his razor!
Theology needs a philosophical foundation. Philosophy can provide the theoretical insight into the inner structure and mutual coherence of the different modal aspects. The question is, will the philosophy be subject to a biblical or non-biblical religious basic motive. Philosophical views cannot be rendered harmless by theological or ecclesiastical accommodation – such as Thomism tried with Aristotelianism.
Theologians who deny the possibility of a ‘biblically-founded philosophy’ inevitably take their philosophical presuppositions from ‘autonomous’ philosophy. This has the consequence of inadvertently importing non-biblical concepts into theology. One philosophy cannot be more biblical than another – the biblical position is accepted or not. This does not mean that there are elements of truth in these philosophies, but the total view which they present is ruled by religious basic motives that are not biblical.
We could (over) simplify Dooyeweerd’s conception as follows:
religion -> philosophy -> theology
1. How have the misunderstandings Dooyeweerd describes occurred?
2. How is the faith-aspect related to the heart?
3. What role does the Holy Spirit play?
4. Why was Barth so opposed to a Christian philosophy?
5. What does Dooyeweerd mean by ‘central starting-point’, ‘religious motive of theoretical thought?
6. What is meant by ‘the analogical structure of the faith-aspect’.
7. How does Dooyeweerd understand the ‘days of creation’?
1. What is the proper scientific study of theology?
2. What is the relationship between faith and theology?
3. Is natural reason a deaf, blind and dumb harlot?
4. Does theology need a philosophical foundation?
5. What other theological pseudo-problems arise when the ‘analogical basic theoretical concepts are used in a non-theological sense?
Philosophy and Theology - III
Summary In his third and final lecture on philosophy and theology Dooyeweerd shows the influence of Greek philosophy through Thomism on theology.
introduction pp 157
The Word-revelation and the Christian life of faith are not theoretical in character – they do not need a philosophical foundation. However, dogmatic theology has a scientific character and is thus tied to the theoretical aspect of thought. It is faced with the problem of the relationship between it and the other sciences.
For theology the question is whether its philosophical foundation is Christian philosophy ruled by a biblical motive or whether it is scholastic or humanist philosophy.
scholastic influences pp 158-162 The influence of scholastic philosophy is the more dangerous, primarily because theologians did not recognise its anti-biblical presuppositions.
Philip Melanchthon (1497-1560)
Melanchton and Beza unwittingly allowed a un-biblical nature-grace motive to have increasing influence of Protestant theology and philosophy.
Reason was taken over by theology with its supra-natural source of knowledge. This was a return to Aristotelian Scholasticism. An attack on Aristotelian metaphysics was seen as an attack on the scholastic trend in reformed theology. The influence of Thomistic–Aristotelianiam was even seen in the formation of the Westminster confession – such an attack was thus seen as a deviation from church doctrine.
Thomism was supposed to provide philosophical and theological truth. Philosophy was proven by reason alone; theology was supported by Scripture, which corroborated reason.
A philosophical anthropology – which was incompatible with creation, fall and redemption – was attributed to the Scriptures.
In Roman Catholicism a dispute between philosophy and theology could be resolved by the authority of the church. The Reformation had rejected that authority – so the only source for help was the government. This was seen in the seventeenth century in the Netherlands when the state had to intervene in the disputes between the Cartesians who held that body and soul are accidentally united in human nature. The theologians under the influence of the Thomsitic-Aristotelian view maintained a substantial unity between the body and the soul. In 1656 was issued a resolution which supported the theologians over the philosophers.
the nature-grace motive pp162-172
It wasn’t until the twelfth century that the nature-grace motive entered Christian thought. It was a compromise between Aristotelian and Christian views.
The Aristotelian view was ruled by a Greek form-matter motive.
The form-matter motive arose out of the older nature religions and the younger cultural religions – a conflict between Dionysian and Apollyianian spirits.
Its dualistic character drove Greek philosophical thought into two opposed directions. No synthesis was possible between the two.
Humanity had a double origin – a rational soul, corresponding to the perfect form and harmony of the starry heavens and a material body from the dark imperfect sphere of mother earth. The mind is imprisoned in its material body. It can only escape through leading an ascetic life, so that it may return purified from its body to its home in the sphere of form, measure and harmony.
For Aristotle the rational soul was thought of as the substantial form of the perishable body.
This Aristotelian view is predominant in Thomas Aquinas. Aquinas accepted the dualistic view of humanity. However, this ‘scholastic accommodation’ resulted in ‘insoluble contradictions’.
1. Why does theology but not Word-revelation have a philosophical foundation?
2. What were the problems that the 1656 resolution highlighted?
3. What are the dualisms that emerge from the form-matter motive?
4. What are the main differences between the Dionysian and Apollyianian spirits?
5. What are the ‘insoluble contradictions’ that arose from the ‘scholastic accommodation’?
1. In what ways can Scholasticism be seen in the Westminster Confession?
2. What other influences of Greek philosophy can be seen in theology?
3. What other contradictions does the scholastic accommodation produce?
What is Man?
It is fitting, given that the previous lecture dealt with the problems in anthropology that arise from theology accommodating to non-Christian philosophy, that Dooyeweerd’s final lecture should deal with the question ‘What does it mean to be human?’ or as Dooyeweerd puts it: ‘What is man?’
The question ‘What is man?’ is central in European thinking – from Plato onwards. In the late fifties it was not merely a theological question – it was a cry of distress. Technological advances have reduced humanity to a depersonalised ‘mass-man’; there was a rise of spiritual nihilism – a loss of faith: God is dead. Humanity is lost in a world of meaninglessness.
A belief in absolute truth has been eroded and this has left no room for a strong faith. It has been replaced by technical methods and organization, but these cannot save western civilization. The technical development of the West will destroy civilization unless a way is found to restore human personality.
existentialist response 176-8
The cry ‘What is man?’ has become more than a theoretical question, it is a question of ‘to be or not to be’. This is one reason why the personalistic and existentialistic trends are so popular at the time Dooyeweerd was writing.
The intellect is no longer the centre of human nature. The struggle for existence characterizes humanity’s life. The human ego is free but is confronted with the fear of death, a dark nothingness. It is a pessimistic view of humanity.
Other existential thinkers looked to Martin Buber and the communal relations in life. We can only know ourselves in relation to each other, by meeting in live.
a critique of the responses 178-180
The problem with these responses is that they do not get to the root of the problem. The symptoms cannot be explained by external causes. They are the result of a religious process of apostasy. This started with a belief in the self-sufficiency of the rational human personality.
The question ‘What is man?’ cannot be explained by man himself.
The special sciences that study humanity only consider humanity from a particular viewpoint. They cannot answer the question ‘What is man himself, in the central unity of his existence, in his selfhood?’ This is because they are bound to the temporal order of our existence.
the material constellation of the human body, and the electromagnetic forces operating in it
the functions of organic life
insight into the emotional life of feeling and will
informs us about the development of human culture
the human faculty of expressing thoughts and feelings by means of words and symbolical signs
the study of the economic aspects of life
the juridicial aspects of human life
All these aspects are related to the central unity of our consciousness, our ego, our I. The I surpasses this diversity of aspects.
Existentialism was right in that self-knowledge cannot come by means of scientific research; however, it pretended its own approach did lead to self-knowledge.
Dooyeweerd’s conception of the I 181-185
Philosophical thought is bound to the temporal order of human experience. Its central I, however, goes beyond this temporal order. The human I is something of a mystery. It is nothing in itself but needs to be conceived as part of three central relations.
1. It is related to the whole of temporal existence as it our central reference point of our experience of the temporal world.
2. It is in an essential communal relation to the egos of others.
3. It points beyond itself to the divine Origin.
We cannot identify our ego with any of the aspects of our temporal existence.
We are communal creatures – but we cannot understand the I or the relation between the I and others merely from the temporal order. The inter-personal relation cannot lead to real self-knowledge, it must point beyond itself to the ultimate relations gip between the human I and God. Thus Calvin: ‘The true knowledge of ourselves is dependent on true knowledge of God’. This does not mean, however, that theology can lead us to a true knowledge of ourselves and more than philosophy or any other special science can. This knowledge can only come from the Word revelation operating in the heart of man.
Body and soul 185-
The traditional scholastic theological view that man is composed of an immortal, rational soul and a mortal, material soul was an accommodation to Greek philosophy, which viewed reason as the centre of human existence. in this image of man there is no room for the heart as the spiritual root of all temporal manifestations of human life. It is not the result of a creation, fall and redemption perspective.
The word-revelation is not dependent on fallible theological interpretations. It can only be explained by the Holy Spirit who opens and addresses our hearts. creation, fall and redemption is the starting point of all theological and philosophical thought.
divine Word revelation: creation, fall and redemption 187-
For many Christians the central theme of divine Word revelation, ie creation, fall and redemption is only a theological knowledge and it has not become the central motive power.
God as creator is the absolute origin of everything. God reveals himself to man. Man is the image of God. In the heart of man is the entire diversity of aspects and faculties of the temporal world concentrated.
We have an innate religious impulse to serve the living God. Love for God also implies that we serve each other. There is no neutral sphere in life.
The fall into sin affects the heart – there is an illusion that we can be like God. The fall has not destroyed the innate religious impulse to seek God, it has, however, led it in an apostate direction.
We fall into idolatry by seeking God and self in the world and by elevating one of the aspects of the temporal world.
Only Jesus Christ can restore the religious centre of human nature. Redemption means the rebirth of the heart. There can be no self-knowledge apart from Jesus. Our worldview must be reformed in a Christocentric sense.
It is possible to give an orthodox and theoretical explanation of faith and yet not find oneself in the grip of the Word of God; creation, fall and redemption has not become a central basic motive.
An example of this is the view of man as having two spheres: natural and supra-natural. This is the result of a nature and grace groundmotive.
This view is found in the Roman catholic church and despite the reformation is also found in scholastic Lutheran and Reformed theology. This is because the scholastic basic motive of nature and grace continued to influence theologians and this has resulted in a dualism into the entire view of man.
The question: ‘What is man?’ cannot be answered by man, but has been answered by God’s Word revelation.
1. What does Dooyeweerd mean by a ‘mass-man’?
2. Why does theological opinion testify to a lack of self-knowledge?
3. Why is Dooyeweerd persuaded that existentialism cannot ‘penetrate to the real center and root of our existence’?
4. What are three central relations that give the human I meaning?
5. Why cannot inter-personal relationships lead to a real self-knowledge?
6. How does Dooyeweerd describe the heart?
7. What does it mean to be the image of God?
1. What are the reasons for the secularization of humanity?
2. How can the church avoid the depersonalization of congregational life?
3. How has postmodernism affected the view of what it means to be human?
4. What does Dooyeweerd mean by the ‘heart’?
5. What does Dooyeweerd mean by ‘Word-revelation’?
Taking it further
Herman Dooyeweerd ‘The theory of man in the philosophy of the law idea: 32 propositions on anthropology’ (mimeo) (no date)
Philosophia Reformata 1993 contains several articles dealing with Dooyeweerd’s view of humanity. Harry Fernhout ‘Man, faith and religion in Kuyper, Bavinck and Dooyeweerd’ M. Phil ICS, Toronto
Genesis 1  (allusion) 1:28 91  2: 2 …  3:5 188  8:21 f
1 Kings 15:3 f
Psalms 51: 10 f 139 189  139:7-8 189 
Jeremiah 17: 9-10 f 51:10 f
Matthew 6:21 f
Mark 12: 20-31 189  12:30 f
Luke 6:32 184  11: 52 
John 1:14  5 185 
Romans 1:19 138  10:10 f
1 Corinthians 1:23 
Square brackets denote Mellen press edn f denotes footnote