Monday, September 22, 2008

The dynamic character of reality

Sometimes Dooyeweerd has been accused of articulating a static view of creational structures. Whatever the truth of this I think it does go against his intention as expressed by his statement that “all structures of temporal reality are structures of cosmic time” (NC I 105).

Here is another indication of Dooyeweerd’s desire to stress the dynamic character of temporal reality:

“the entire conception to the effect that temporal reality should be something statically given, a fixed “Vorhandenes”, rests upon a fundamental failure to appreciate the dynamic character of reality in the whole coherence of its different modal aspects. In our view, this dynamic character is guaranteed by the mode of ex-sistence of all created things as meaning, finding no rest in itself, and by the opening-process of temporal reality” (NC I 112)

This theme of creational dynamics is something that Mekkes took up in his philosophical reflection, he wrote that

"right from the beginning reformational philosophy emphasized the dynamic character of creation as being God's first revelation to the creature. That's why it spoke of the ground-motive of creation."
In another place he speaks of the

"thesis of disclosure, a dynamic principle" which is "not secondary with regard to the modalities, as if the latter could be subsequently related to each other in a dynamic relation. It is the dynamics of creaturely meaning which shows itself in those modal aspects. It is the dynamics which is primary."
Mekkes placed at the centre of his philosophical work the themes of creational dynamics, religion as radix and a critique of Reason. These are themes are certainly present in Dooyeweerd, yet it appears that Mekkes came to develop them in distinctive ways. Since Mekkes work is a very difficult and as yet largely untranslated we will have to wait for more work to be done to assess his contribution to reformational philosophy. The glimpses I have seen and the evidence of those he influenced (eg Bob Goudzwaard) suggest to me that he is well worth a serious study.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Reformational presentations at the Metanexus conference

The papers from the Metanexus conference are now on-line. These include the following:

Roy Clouser

A Blueprint for a Non-Reductionist Theory of Reality

Johannes Corrodi Katzenstein

H. Dooyeweerd and E. Voegelin on Transcendence

Adolfo GarcĂ­a de la Sienra

The Economic Sphere

Egbert Schuurman

The Ethics of Responsibility as a Comprehensive Approach: An Application to the Ethics of Technology

James Skillen

The Necessity of a Non-Reductionist Science of Politics

Daniel F. M. Strauss

The Significance of a Non-Reductionist Ontology for the Disciplines of Mathematics and Physics–an Historical and Systematic Analysis

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Critique as unmasking

Dooyeweerd assures his readers that his transcendental critique does not cut each philosophical school off from each other in incommensurable starting-points. It is instead the dogma of theoretical autonomy that threatens genuine philosophical dialogue.

“Our transcendental critique wages a merciless war against the masking of supra-theoretical prejudices as theoretical axioms which are forced upon the opponent on penalty of his being viewed as an outsider in philosophical matters. In other words, it aims its attack against the dogmatic exclusivism of the schools, all of which fancy themselves to possess the monopoly on philosophical truth” (NC I 70)

Dooyeweerd emphasises again and again that it is the Christian understanding of the radicality of evil that cuts off any theoretical pride in claiming to possess the monopoly on theoretical truth. In contrast humanism, under the inspiration of the enlightenment, has become more dogmatic in affirming its supra-theoretical beliefs as irrefutable rational certainties.

Humanism that holds to the autonomy of theoretical thought must conclude that exclusive '
supra-theoretical prejudices' which reside at the base of theoretical thinking must cut off philosophical communication. Dooyeweerd's emphasis on the fundamental antithesis between the central motive of Christianity and that of all other religious impulses which have guided philosophy is surely poof of such obscurantism, yet he insists on the continuing contact between Christian philosophy and immanence philosophy.

“this radical rupture with the starting-points and transcendental ground-Ideas of immanence-philosophy does not mean, that an intrinsically re-formed Christian philosophy should intend to break off philosophical contact with Greek, scholastic, and modern Humanistic philosophy. On the contrary, because of its radical-critical standpoint, the Christian philosophy developed in this work is enabled to enter into the most inward contact with immanence-philosophy”
Dooyeweerd further insists that his philosophy “will never break the community of philosophical thought” because to do so would be to return to a dogmatic conflation of religious pre-suppositions and theoretical axioms (NC I 115). Then a few pages on Dooyeweerd writes that his philosophy “is wedded to the historical development of philosophic and scientific thought with a thousand ties” (NC I 118). It would be good to see more work done on exploring these ties.