Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Book Meme

This has been going around for a while. Paul Otto’s disclaimer applies.

1. One book that changed your life:
Hans Rookmaaker Modern Art and the Death of a Culture
This was the book that introduced me to reformational thinking and it transformed my outlook on life.

2. One book that you’ve read more than once
Martin Heidegger’s Being and Time.

3. One book you’d want on a desert island:
I think I might go for the complete works of Shakespeare. I haven’t read Shakespeare for ages and I would miss reading philosophy, but I think it would give me enough to think about and plenty of entertainment. Also a fair few plays I have been, very feebly, meaning to read.

4. One book that made you laugh
Terry Pratchett Guards! Guards!

5. One book that made you cry:
Since I don’t really read fiction much I will go for a film. I found Nanni Morretti’s La Stanza del Filgio (The Son’s Room) a very simple and moving film, and that despite a women screaming hysterically and abusively at someone behind us and having to be dragged kicking and screaming out of the auditorium, not a usual occurrence at the NFT.

6. One book that you wish had been written:
Currents and Connections: Tracing the history of philosophy by Calvin Seerveld & J J (Ponti) Venter

7. One book that you wish had never been written:
A.J Ayre Language, Truth and Logic

8. One book you’re currently reading:
How to Read Karl Marx by Ernst Fischer in preparation for teaching Marx and Engels The German Ideology.

9. One book you’ve been meaning to read:
Jurgen Habermas The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity

10. Now tag five people
Since I’ve come to this late I’ll link to some who have already done this: Paul Robinson, Gideon Strauss, Gregory Baus

And I’ll also tag David and Ping, Kenn Hermann and Prosthesis

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Meaning is the being of all that is created

Baus has put up a list of Reformational and/or Neocalvinist Bloggers at Honest2Blog. A few I don’t recognise so I should find time to have a look and add to my links. In the comments the issue of meaning is raised with Paul Robinson indicating that he rejects the notion. I actually considered using Dooyeweerd’s famous quote at the head of this blog:

“Meaning is the being of all that is created and the nature even of our selfhood. It has a religious root and a divine origin.” New Critique I 4

Each of the three volume’s of Dooyeweerd’s magnum opus starts with the notion of meaning very much at the centre. At the start of Volume Two we find this statement:

The specific modal sovereignty of the different aspects of reality (with their various modal law-spheres) appeared to be founded in this cosmic order and at the same time made relative by it. Founded: for the specific modal sovereignty proved to be only possible in the temporal splitting up of the religious fullness of meaning, which in its turn is only given in the transcendental root of our cosmos. Made relative: for the modal law-sphere as a specific aspect of the meaning of temporal reality, proved to have no independent existence in itself, but rather to be interwoven with the temporal coherence of meaning (NC II 3)

A little later Dooyeweerd claims that:

If created things are only the bearers of meaning, they themselves must have another mode of being different from that of the dependent creaturely existence referring beyond and above itself, and in no way self-sufficient. (NC II 31)

The third volume may not start with a similar statement concerning meaning, however one of the main concerns that Dooyeweerd has in the opening pages of this volume is a critique of “the metaphysical concept of substance as a speculative exaggeration of a datum of na├»ve experience” (see the heading of the first section). This becomes particularly clear in his discussion of H.G. Stoker (NC III 62-76) where he states that: “philosophical thought which tries to discover a substantial being of created things as the independent bearer of meaning, must always land in meaningless absolutizations of theoretical abstraction” (NC III 69)

So Dooyeweerd sees his characterization of created reality as meaning, as pivotal for his transcendental critique of theoretical thought, his theory of the modal spheres and his theory of the structures of individuality.

Given this centrality* I am intrigued as to the nature of Paul’s critique and his own positive suggestion (I assume it is more substantive than Danie Strauss’ suggestion that the term “meaning” while legitimate in itself is given priority in a way that evinces a linguistic turn in Dooyeweerd away from his earlier use of organic metaphors). He has also indicated skepticism concerning the idea of law in Dooyeweerd (see here and scroll down to the bottom). I think that this could be potentially very positive as careful criticism is vital if the legacy of Dooyeweerd’s philosophy is to remain reformational rather than fall into an arid Dooyeweerdian-ism. I hope Paul considers publishing something on this before acquiring tenure as an academic philosopher as his suggests.

* This centrality appears to concern Dooyeweerd rather than Vollenhoven who uses the term “subject” for creation as non-self-sufficient. Perhaps Paul is therefore more on the Vollenhoven side of things reformational (at least on this issue).
Paul is clearly not Vollenhovenian on this point as Vollenhoven's notion of 'subject' is based on his view of the law of which Paul is skeptical.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Another motivation

I should warn readers of this blog, if such I have, that my literary output has always been irregular. I cannot write reams. Also - searching for a more convincing excuse - I have various commitments that I do not always carry out with the care and dedication that I should and that have a greater priority than this little venture. As such this blog will happen in-between such commitments while not being disconnected with them, hence: intermezzo.

These have been reasons why I did not start a blog earlier. So why start one now? Well in addition to the reasons given in my first entry I must confess that one of my main motivations for starting a blog was the thought of having an internet page that would link to a lot of the sites I read thus clearing up my increasingly unwieldy favourites list. Hopefully the discipline of writing up my thoughts as well as the responsibility of having an audience, however slight, will do me good. And who knows, maybe something I write will be of worth to others.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Reformational for 10 years

I have been reading reformational books for just over ten years now. After a slowish start I discovered Richard Russell’s Christian Studies Unit, just in time for those formative years at university and so followed a period of fairly intense reading within this thought tradition.

I do my best to keep reading and thinking along reformational lines and this blog will seek to promote such thinking. I am hardly alone, as new reformational (or as some prefer neocalvinist) blogs are appearing all the time. Perhaps a motivation for starting this blog was to continue such a trend. I certainly hope that more people will come to learn of this tradition, especially here in the UK.