Thursday, March 29, 2007

Reformational Philosophy and Critical Theory

What do reformational philosophy and critical theory have in common? On reading James Boham’s article in the Standford Encyclopedia of Philosophy a few things come to mind.

Critical theorists have seen a close link between philosophy and the social sciences. This link is seen mainly in terms of linking normativity and empirical research, which is different from the way Reformational philosophy sees the link. For reformational philosophy the special sciences, of whatever sort, require, or better, have, philosophical presuppositions. There is no distinction between norms and facts that need to be brought together by philosophy (actually critical theory may accept this or at least point in this direction), instead the special sciences should become more aware of their philosophical assumptions, which themselves point beyond any theoretical view to basic religious commitments.

Returning to the issue of normativity, this appears to be another area of similarity. Both emphasis the importance of norms and their universality, but also both seek to see these norms contextualised within different spheres. For critical theory these spheres are different sorts of empirical social research, for reformational philosophy these are basic “life spheres”. This contextual kind of normativity must also, for both, be understood in relation to specific historical circumstances without being reduced to such.

To finish with a third similarity it seems to me that the critical theorist's desire to help effect social transformation of current circumstances is also shared by those in the reformational tradition.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Marx and Critical Theory

This year I am teaching Marx and Engels The German Ideology. So I have been doing some reading on Marx. I seem to be gaining an interest in political philosophy, so with my background in European Philosophy I guess it's not surprising that I am also reading around in Critical Theory. In particular critical theory provides an interesting discussion partner with so called "postmodern" philosophy.
All this makes me anticipate the publication of the following two books even more keenly.
Bob Goudzwaard Hope in Troubled Times
Lambert Zuidervaart Social Philosophy After Adorno

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

James Skillen and Dooyeweerd publishing

I seem to be quite busy these days. On Saturday I was up in Leeds for a meeting about the project to publish Dooyeweerd's collected works. Jim Skillen is overseeing a comprehensive reassessment of the whole project. It was good to meet with people who share an interest in Dooyeweerd's work, unfortunately Jim was delayed in getting to Leeds and I needed to catch a train back to London.

I had been looking forward to meeting Jim, not just to hear about the current state of the publishing project but also because I have been readings his recent two books on politics.
As always, I came back to London convinced of the vital importance of the work that David and Ruth, along with the WYSOCS team, are doing and wanting to find more ways to play my part. It was also in Leeds that I first learnt that a certain novice philosopher will be ending his noviciate here in London with the LSE. There seem to be a number of things coming together ...

Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Reformational Publishing Project

This is an exciting new venture to keep an eye on. Kerry Hollingsworth annouced the project at the international symposium on Ethics in 2005, so it is good to see things progressing. The criteria for selection of titles is that the work in question demonstrate a clear utilization of the systematics of the Philosophy of the Cosmonomic Idea, with the first work to appear being Egbert Schuurman's Technology and The Future. This work will be followed by the Collected Writings of H. Evan Runner, with other works currently in preperation including Willem Ouweneel’s Heart and Soul and Marcel Verburg's intellectual biography of Dooyeweerd entitled Herman Dooyeweerd: The Life and Work of a Dutch Christian-Philosopher. More information here.