An accidental blog

"If God is sovereign, then his lordship must extend over all of life, and it cannot be restricted to the walls of the church or within the Christian orbit." Abraham Kuyper Common Grace 1.1.

Thursday, 9 August 2007


Paul Robinson has recently posted something on enkapsis. Here is Robert Knudsen's take on it, from Anakainosis 1(2) pp 4-5.

Enkapsis by Robert D. Knudsen

The term "enkapsis" had its origin in the work of Martin Heidenhain. It was taken over by Theodore Haering, through whom it became better known. The word, which may be said to mean "encapsulation", derives from the Greek enkaptein.

As used in the Philosophy of the Cosmonomic Idea, the term refers to individuality structures in relation, the relation being such that one or more individuality structures are enclosed, or encapsulated, by another, but not in such a way as to be parts of a whole. The relation is such, furthermore, as not to destroy the individuality structure or structures of what has been encapsulated. Further yet, the relation is such that the structure or structures taken up in an enkaptic relation­ship assume new characteristics and activities. They are, it is said, "opened up". The relationship, therefore, is not simply an external one.

When an enkaptic relationship is dissolved, an individuality structure bound up in it reverts to its free form and again assumes the character­istics proper to it.

If in an enkaptic relationship we are not confronted with a whole/part relationship, we are also not confronted with levels. Indeed, one or more individuality structures are encapsulated in another. That is, however, not as levels, where a "higher" level might reach down only to a certain point. Instead, what encapsulates another individuality structure embraces and qualifies the entire enkaptic whole. That is not to say, however, that it assimilates what is encapsulated in it.

In a plant, for example, which embraces enkaptically what are non-liv­ing substances, we have what is a living organism. The entire plant is a living organism, even though it contains non-living indiviuality structures.

The form of a statue, which is aesthetically qualified in an objective fashion, encapsulates the material out of which the statue is made. The material indeed imposes certain limitations on the artist; but the finished product is an aesthetically qualified whole.

Dr. Robert D. Knudsen [was] Associate Professor of Apologetics at Westminster Theological Seminary, Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, Pa. 19118. He is a contributing editor of Philosophia Reformata and Editor-elect for the Dooyeweerd Publication Committee.

1 comment:

Paul said...

Thanks. Yes, see NC III p.634ff. for Haering and Heidenhain. In Synthese Uko Zylstra also notes that Koestler and Weiss use "encapsulating" in their hierarchies.