lundi 21 mai 2018

Herman Dooyeweerd: Law as "cosmic a priori structure" versus relativistic Historicism

Poster: "Sacco and Vanzetti" by Ben SHAHN (1958)
(Also called Aspects/ Modes of Consciousness/ Modalities/ Meaning-sides)
This diagram shows the Historical Modality with irreducible kernel (moment) surrounded by its structural analogies (links) to all remaining Aspects. No Aspect can function within Time apart from these analogies. All Aspects, as per the Historical (Cultural Formative) Aspect are irreducible. "Historicism" is in effect an attempt to infringe the irreducibility of all 14 other Aspects by absolutising the Historical. 
“To the question, what is understood here by religion? I reply: the innate impulse of human selfhood to direct itself toward the true or toward a pretended absolute Origin of all temporal diversity of meaning, which it finds focused concentrically in itself." 
(Herman Dooyeweerd, Prolegomena, 
New Critique of Theoretical Thought, p57)
Herman Dooyeweerd: 
Law as "cosmic a priori structure" versus relativistic Historicism
Extracted from:
Herman Dooyeweerd, Time, Law, and History: Selected Essays Series B – Volume 14, ‘Law and History’, Paideia Press, 2017, pp 402-410)

It is a trivial truth that legal history is not economic history or art history.

For ontological historicism, however, there is an immediate problem: what criterion would permit the distinction of these several domains of investigation? Whichever way you look at it, the criterion itself can never be just historical. Without a concept of law one cannot practice legal history. Although that concept, in its subjective theoretical character, will have a history of its own, nevertheless, as law concept it inevitably tries to grasp in theory the constant modal structure which guarantees the jural character of legal phenomena.

Anyone who thinks that the legal historian has constantly to adapt his concept of law to the different popular opinions about law that emerge in the various periods he studies, has not yet understood the nature of the problem we are examining. 

In the first place, the concept of law is an articulated scientific concept which depends on theoretical analysis of the different modal aspects of society. Popular conceptions of what is just and unjust are not theoretical concepts about the jural nature of legal life. Even if it were the case that a given legal system takes its rise from popular convictions, this could not in any way be true of of the modal structure of law itself

Besides, in the second place, reference to different popular standards of what is just and unjust presupposes in the legal historian a concept of law which he could not have derived from those popular conceptions. Only with the help of his definition of law can the legal historian distinguish the legal opinions of a people at a given time from their economic, moral, or creedal convictions, because in the rather problematic popular consciousness the latter are never theoretically differentiated from people’s legal convictions.

Consistent historicism undeniably rests upon a lack of critical insight. A historification of the very modal structure of legal life – the very structure that makes the changing legal phenomena possible – leads to a theoretical elimination of the possibility of a legal history. 

Of course, up to this point my argument has offered nothing new. Ever since the renaissance of Kantian epistemology broke the spell of uncritical positivism, the consensus is that the legal historian, no more than the scientific jurist, can derive his concept of law from the changeable “historical material of experience”. Thus, so long as legal philosophy continues to bow to the dogma of reason’s self-sufficiency, what are its options for rescuing the concept of law from relativistic historicism?

Applying the form-matter scheme if Kantian epistemology, Stammler and Kelsen attempted in different ways to reduce the modal peculiarity of jural phenomena to a transcendental thought-form. The content of positive law then exists as a kind of historical substance of experience which is ordered into logical legal categories only by the theoretical knowing activity.

[…] We could enumerate still other attempts (e.g. that of modern phenomenology) at establishing a “universally valid” concept of law, but in the present context I do not intend to submit all these attempts to any closer critical inspection. In our quest for an intrinsically Christian legal philosophy we cannot follow the paths taken by these schools, if for no other reason than that they all start in the philosophical immanence standpoint which surrenders to the dogma of the intrinsic self-sufficiency of theoretical thought. In any case, they cannot help us achieve our goal. 

That the humanistic thought patterns and rational ideas are “historically determined” can no longer be denied in the present day with it’s tremendous growth of “historical consciousness”. One can acknowledge the fact without becoming entangled in “historicism.”

The validity of a concept or a judgment cannot be decided by its historical origin, says the so-called critical philosopher, and up to a point he is right! But one should not forget that neo-Kantianism, under the pressure of historicism, meant to protect only the subjective epistemological thought-form of the judgements of law and justice from being historicized. Having chosen its starting-point in the autonomy of reason, neo-Kantianism was obliged to lift these logical forms out of their necessary historical coherence and to proclaim them “free-floating”, self-sufficient, supra-temporal categories or ideas which as such have no historical foundation.

Yet to any deepened historical consciousness this very act of granting independence to subjective humanistic thought-forms and ideas as free-floating, supra-temporal presuppositions of experience or judgement, which are assembled in the abstract category of transcendental consciousness, must appear as pure dogmatism.

“Historicism’ will not be refuted by an epistemological “logicism”. If the first position leads to inner antinomies, the second no less so. Moreover, it remains indefensible against the kernel of truth in the historicist argument that the “thought-forms” themselves betray a dependence on cultural development. One need only to recall the table of categories deduced by Kant, which given its historical dependence upon Newton’s Principia is no longer up to the level of modern physics. Yet these categories and their corresponding “synthetic judgements a priori” were presented as “timeless, universally valid thought-forms making possible all experience of nature in the first place”!

Something more must be said. The subjectivist, essentially nominalist attitude of modern humanist philosophy does not know the difference between the subjective a priori to which both the concept and the idea of law belong, and the cosmic a priori structure of the jural that makes possible and defines all concrete legal phenomena. This structure does not derive its foundational character from subjective human consciousness, but from the constant, temporal world-order that springs from God’s creative will (see New Critique 2:547-548). When you do not distinguish between the modal structure of legal life and our subjective a priori concept of it, you pass off your inevitably historically shaped and fallible subjective insight into the modal nature of legal phenomena for unchangeable and universally valid truth, thus lapsing into an uncritical dogmatism which will in turn be overtaken by the critique of historical consciousness.

The Philosophy of the Cosmonomic Idea has exposed the dogmatic bias of all immanence philosophy. The dogma of the internal autonomy of theoretical thought – the confidence that in thought itself can be found a supra-temporal starting-point absolved in this sense of all temporal contingency – is the fundamental flaw of immanence philosophy. It testifies to a lack of that critical self-reflection which is only possible in the light of the divine Word revelation, because the Word alone can reveal the person to himself. The human selfhood – the heart, the center of human existence from which even theoretical thinking proceeds – is not theoretical but religious in nature. It exists only in the creaturely mode of being of religious dependence upon God. It is, by virtue of the divine world-order, non-self-sufficient! How would it ever be possible to find within theoretical thought, which is only a temporal function of human existence, an autonomous concentration point that transcends the temporal cosmic diversity of meaning?

Modern historicism believes it has finished once and for all with the dogmatic faith in reason of humanistic natural law. Dilthey proposed to replace Descartes’ cogito (I think) with vivo (I live) as the starting-point for a truly critical, historical philosophy. But a basic misunderstanding is at work here. The irrationalist, “hermeneutical” approach of historicism, after all, if it wants to evade a suicidal skepticism, must find its Archimedean point within theoretical thought, even though it emphasizes the depth-layer of thought in what is lived through. For the absolutization of historical development is possible only by way of theoretical abstraction. If theoretical analysis is not first made absolute, the historical cannot be made absolute! The only difference from the Cartesian position is the shift of the Archimedean point from mathematical to historical Reason.

Within historical thought, then, one next has to find a center which in itself is not historically determined since, to pass universally valid judgements, it must be free from all dogmatic ties with particular ideologies. 

[…] But it is obvious that a radical historification of theoretical thought in the manner of Oswald Spengler leads directly into a skepticism that eliminates the very possibility of scientific history. To deny the peculiar laws of theoretical thought and to conceive of the science of history as a merely historical phenomenon is to rob one’s own historical opinion of any claim to truth. Dilthey, in his attempt to arrive via a “Critique of Historical Reason” at the universally valid conditions for the science of history, was keenly aware of this problem. However, having rejected Kant’s idealistic abstraction of a merely formal transcendental consciousness, the only option left to him was to take refuge in the idea of an impersonal historical empathy with the stream of cultural development, a form of self-reflection of cosmic historical life within the science of history. This amounts to demanding from the historian that he transcend his own individual historical determination by transporting himself mentally into an impersonal cosmic historical consciousness, which interprets without any prejudice the development of a culture in terms of its own vital core.

Because this impersonal empathy, located within historical development, requires theoretical distance with regard to the individual historical contingency of the investigator, and because the hermeneutical method is explicitly proclaimed to belong to the humanities, it is clear that this notion amounts to the dogmatic, metaphysical elevation of a “free-floating” scientific historical consciousness above the “historical determination” of real society. 

The “impersonal historical consciousness of cultural development” which comes to “self-reflection” only within the science of history is a metaphysical construct of the first order. The so-called “universally valid” historical consciousness, freely floating above historical development – whether or not imagined with “empathy” at its core – is indeed the only possible shelter for modern historicism against a wholesale skepticism. But its very endeavor to escape its skeptical consequences forced it to elevate the historical mode of thought to a “free-floating” and therefore “unconditioned” level divorced from all temporal cosmic coherence. In this way it relapsed necessarily into that uncritical dogmatism which it believed once for all to have conquered by the “historical mode of thought”.

Historical consciousness too has its historical development. The modern form of the hermeneutical method is “historically determined”: it is based upon the foundation of modern culture. Both the science of history and the “sociology of knowledge” are unbreakably intertwined with history. For subjectivistic historicism, the escape into the theoretical abstraction of a “free-floating intelligence” remains internally contradictory. 

Extracted from:
Herman Dooyeweerd, Time, Law, and History: Selected Essays Series B – Volume 14, ‘Law and History’, Paideia Press, 2017, pp 402-410)


mercredi 9 mai 2018

Herman Dooyeweerd: Meaning as the mode of being of created reality

(Also called Aspects/ Modes of Consciousness/ Modalities/ Meaning-sides)
Herman Dooyeweerd: Meaning as the mode of being of created reality
"Being is only to be ascribed to God, 
whereas creation has only meaning."
(A New Critique of Theoretical Thought, p 73, footnote) 

Pieter Bruegel: "Hunters in the Snow" (1565)

"The question: what is meaning? cannot be answered without our reflecting on the Origin and unity of all temporal meaning, because this answer depends on the cosmonomic Idea of philosophical thought. Not a single temporal structure of meaning exists in itself (an sich). That which makes it into meaning lies beyond the limit of time. Meaning is 'ex origine' the convergence of all temporal aspects of existence into one supratemporal focus, and this focus, as we have seen, is the religious root of creation, which has meaning and hence existence only in virtue of the sovereign creative act of God.

 The fulness of meaning is implied in the religious image of God, expressing itself in the root of our cosmos and in the splitting up of that root in time.

This religious fulness of meaning, given only in Christ, as the new root of creation, is not an abstract 'eidos', not an 'Idea', but it implies the fulness of created reality, again directed to God.

Especially in accordance with the Christian confession about Creation, the Fall into sin, and Redemption, it will not do to conceive of created reality as merely the bearer of meaning, as possessing meaning, as is done in immanence-philosophy [ie any philosophy that denies "the supratemporal heart, the religious root that transcends time". (J Glenn Friesen)].

Such a conception remains founded in an Idea of the 'being of what is', which is incompatible with the radically Christian confession of the absolute sovereignty of God, the Creator, and of the fulness of created meaning in Christ. It is especially in conflict with the view resulting from the Christian attitude, stating that no single aspect of the meaning of reality [see above chart] may be depreciated in favour of certain absolutized aspects. 

There is an after-effect of the form-matter scheme of immanence-philosophy discernible in the distinction between reality and meaning. In particular it is the opinion that 'meaning' would be exclusively ideal, supratemporal and abstract — a view found again in THEODOR LITT's conception of thinking in the so-called cultural sciences — which is the foundation of this distinction.

HUSSERL thinks he can carry ad absurdum the view that natural reality itself would be meaning, by means of the simple remark: meaning cannot be burnt down like a house. And again this remark is founded in the concept of matter and the (semi-Platonic) concept of form of immanence-philosophy: the sensory impressions of nature are 'merely factual reality'; meaning, however, is the 'eidos', the ideal 'Bedeutung' (signification). But, in the Christian attitude the Archimedean-point is radically different from that of immanence-philosophy. If it is admitted that all the aspects of reality [see above chart] are aspects of meaning, and that all individual things exist only in a structure of meaning, so that the burning house itself, as regards its temporal mode of being as a 'thing', has an individual temporal structure of meaning, then HUSSERL's remark loses all its value.

Giuseppe Arcimboldo: 'Fire' (1566)
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. Then with immanence-philosophy it must be possible to abstract meaning from reality.

Then we fall back into the form-matter scheme of immanence-philosophy in whatever different varieties and shades of meaning it may be propounded. Then the religious fulness of meaning of our created cosmos in Christ must be an abstract value or a transcendental Idea and nothing more.

But, if 'meaning' is nothing but the creaturely mode of being under the law, consisting exclusively in a religious relation of dependence on God, then branding the 'philosophy of the cosmonomic Idea' as a kind of 'meaning-idealism' appears to be based on a fundamental misunderstanding.

I trust I have precluded once for all this misconception, which has arisen in a quarter so congenial to this philosophy. The struggle to shake off the fetters of the basic schemes of immanence-philosophy from our thinking is an extremely difficult task, and it is quite explicable that there may arise some misunderstandings.

Should there be some misconception on my part, and should it be possible on biblical grounds to show that (religious) meaning is not the mode of being of created reality, I shall not for a moment hesitate to revise my conception on this point. If I see aright, however, the difference on this head between my view and that of STOKER, mentioned in the Prolegomena, is of a provisional character and is connected with the question raised by him, if Christian philosophy can indeed do without the concept of substance. Now I stick to my opinion that this question can only be considered to some purpose, if beforehand the preliminary question has been answered: What is the creaturely mode of being, what is the being of all created existence? The answer to the latter question is of primary importance; for the sense in which a new concept of substance, if any, is to be taken, depends on this answer.

And that is why I believe that it is not right to criticize the conception of meaning as the creaturely mode of being by means of a concept of substance of which the meaning has not been further defined."
(Herman Dooyeweerd, 
A New Critique of Theoretical Thought, Vol II: pp 30-32)
See also:
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vendredi 27 avril 2018

Herman Dooyeweerd: The central and radical unity of our existence

(Also called Aspects/ Modes of Consciousness/ Modalities/ Meaning-sides)
“To the question, what is understood here by religion? I reply: the innate impulse of human selfhood to direct itself toward the true or toward a pretended absolute Origin of all temporal diversity of meaning, which it finds focused concentrically in itself." 
(Herman Dooyeweerd, Prolegomena
New Critique of Theoretical Thoughtp57)
The central and radical 
unity of our existence
The following is an extract from Herman Dooyeweerd's 
A New Critique of Theoretical Thought, Vol 1, pp 60-64)

The supra-individual character of the starting-point.
The central and radical unity of our existence is at the same time individual and supra-individual; that is to say, in the individual I-ness it points beyond the individual ego toward that which makes the whole of mankind spiritually one in root in its creation, fall and redemption.

According to our Christian faith, all humanity is spiritually included in Adam. In him the whole human race has fallen, and in mankind also the entire temporal cosmos, which was concentrated in it. In Jesus Christ, the entire new humanity is one in root, as the members of one body.

Our I-ness is, in other words, rooted in the spiritual community of mankind. It is no self-sufficient "substance", no "windowless monad", but it lives in the spiritual community of the we, which is directed to a Divine Thou, according to the original meaning of creation.

The meaning of the central command of love.
This is the deep meaning of the central command of love: Thou shalt love God above all and thy neighbour as thyself...

The spirit of community and the religious basic motive.
Now a religious community is maintained by a common spirit, which as a dynamis, as a central motive power, is active in the concentration-point of human existence. This spirit of community works through a religious ground-motive, which gives contents to the central mainspring of the entire attitude of life and thought...

Since the fall and the promise of the coming Redeemer, there are two central mainsprings operative in the heart of human existence. The first is the dynamis of the Holy Spirit, which by the moving power of God's Word, incarnated in Jesus Christ, re-directs to its Creator the creation that had apostatized in the fall from its true Origin. This dynamis brings man into the relationship of sonship to the Divine Father. Its religious ground-motive is that of the Divine Word-Revelation, which is the key to the understanding of Holy Scripture: the motive of creation, fall, and redemption by Jesus Christ in the communion of the Holy Spirit.

The second central mainspring is that of the spirit of apostasy from the true God. As religious dynamis (power), it leads the human heart in an apostate direction, and is the source of all deification of the creature. It is the source of all absolutizing of the relative even in the theoretical attitude of thought. By virtue of its idolatrous character, its religious ground-motive can receive very diverse contents.

The Greek form-matter motive and the modern Humanistic motive of nature and freedom
In Western thought, this apostate spirit has disclosed itself chiefly in two central motives, namely, (1) that which has dominated the classical Greek world of culture and thought, and which has been brought (since the time of ARISTOTLE) under the fixed designation of the form-matter motive, and (2) that of the modern Humanistic life- and world-view, which, since the time of IMMANUEL KANT, has been called the motive of nature and freedom. Since the 18th century, this latter motive came more and more to dominate the world of Western culture and thought.

The former motive originated from the encounter of the older pre-Homeric Greek religion of life (one of the different nature religions) with the later cultural religion of the Olympic gods. The older religion of life deified the eternally flowing Stream of Life, which is unable to fix itself in any single individual form. But out of this stream there proceed periodically the generations of transitory beings, whose existence is limited by an individual form, as a consequence of which they are subjected to the horrible fate of death, the anangkè or the heimarmen tychè. This motive of the formless eternally flowing Stream of life is the matter-motive of the Greek world of thought. It found its most pregnant expression in the worship of DIONYSUS, which had been imported from Thrace.

On the other hand, the form-motive was the mainspring of the more recent Olympian religion, the religion of form, measure and harmony, which rested essentially upon the deification of the cultural aspect of Greek society (the Olympian gods were personified cultural powers). It acquired its most pregnant expression in the Delphic Apollo as law-giver. The Olympian gods leave mother earth with its ever flowing Stream of life and its threatening anangkè. They acquire Olympus for their seat, and have an immortal individual form, which is not perceptible to the eye of sense. But they have no power over the fate of mortals.

The form-matter motive itself was independent of the mythological forms which it received in the old nature-religions and the new Olympian culture-religion. It has dominated Greek thought from the outset.

The autonomy which philosophic theoria demanded, in opposition to popular belief, implied, as we have observed in an earlier context, only an emancipation from the mythological forms which were bound to sensory representation. It did not at all imply a loosening of philosophic thought from the central religious ground-motive which was born out of the encounter of the culture-religion with the older religion of life.

The modern Humanistic ground-motive of nature and freedom, which we shall presently subject to a detailed investigation in the transcendental criticism of Humanistic philosophy, has taken its rise from the religion of the free autonomous human personality and that of modern science evoked by it, and directed to the domination of nature. It is to be understood only against the background of the three ground-motives that formerly gave the central direction to Western thought, namely, the form-matter motive, the motive of creation, fall and redemption, and the scholastic motive of nature and grace. The last-named motive was introduced by Roman-Catholicism and directed to a religious synthesis between the two former motives.

It is not surprising, that the apostate mainspring can manifest itself in divergent religious motives. For it never directs the attitude of life and thought to the true totality of meaning and the true radix of temporal reality, because this is not possible without the concentric direction to the true Origin.

Idolatrous absolutizing is necessarily directed to the speciality of meaning, which is thereby dissociated from its temporal coherence, and consequently becomes meaningless and void. This is the deep truth in the time-honoured conception of the fall as a privatio, a deprivation of meaning, and as a negation, a nothingness.

Sin as privatio and as dynamis. No dialectical relation between creation and fall.
However, the central dynamis of the spirit of apostasy is no "nothing"; it springs from the creation, and cannot become operative beyond the limits in which it is bound to the divine order of meaning. Only by virtue of the religious concentration [concentric] impulse, which is concreated [ie created at the same time] in the human heart, can the latter direct itself to idols. The dynamis of sin can unfold itself only in subjection to the religious concentration-law of human existence. Therefore, the apostle PAUL says, that without the law there is no sin and that there is a law of sin.

Consequently, there can be no inner contradiction between creation and fall as long as they are understood in their Biblical sense. A contradiction would exist, if, and only if, sin were to have not merely an imaginary but a real power in itself, independent of creation.

The dialectical character of the apostate ground-motives. Religious and theoretic dialectic.
On the contrary, it belongs to the inner nature of the idolatrous ground-motives, that they conceal in themselves a religious antithesis.

For the absolutizing of special modal aspects of meaning, which in the nature of the case are relative, evokes the correlata of these latter. These correlata now in religious consciousness claim an absoluteness opposed to that of the deified aspects.

This brings a religious dialectic into these basic motives, that is to say, they are in fact composed of two religious motives, which, as implacable opposites, drive human action and thought continually in opposite directions, from one pole to the other. I have subjected this religious dialectic to a detailed investigation in the first volume of my new trilogy, Reformation and Scholasticism in Philosophy. And I demonstrated, that this dialectic is quite different from the theoretical one which is inherent in the intentional antithetical gegenstand-relation of theoretic thought.

For theoretical antithesis is by nature relative and requires a theoretical synthesis to be performed by the thinking "self". On the other hand, an antithesis in the religious starting-point of theoretical thought does not allow of a genuine synthesis. In the central religious sphere the antithesis necessarily assumes an absolute character, because no starting-point beyond the religious one is to be found from which a synthesis could he effectuated.

(Herman Dooyeweerd, A New Critique of Theoretical ThoughtVol 1, pp 60-64)

samedi 14 avril 2018

J. Glenn Friesen: New Research on Groen van Prinsterer and the idea of Sphere Sovereignty

(Also called Aspects/ Modes of Consciousness/ Modalities/ Meaning-sides) 
New Research on 
Groen van Prinsterer 
and the idea of 
Sphere Sovereignty
by J. Glenn Friesen
PDF Download HERE (26 pages)

Historians of reformational philosophy often claim that Abraham Kuyper obtained the idea of “Sovereignty in its own sphere” from Guillaume Groen van Prinsterer. But very little historical research has been done on Groen’s sources for and development of this idea. The first use of the Dutch phrase “souvereiniteit in eigen sfeer” is much earlier than previously thought; it was used in 1853 by J.I. Doedes, an associate of the “ethical theologian” Chantepie de la Saussaye. Groen became aware of the ideas of Franz von Baader through journals founded by them, and by reading and corresponding with them and others like J.H. Gunning Jr., and Friedrich Fabri. Groen himself owned copies of some of Baader’s books. Groen also relied strongly on the work of the jurist Friedrich Julius Stahl, who was 37 years younger than Baader, but taught for a while at the same Munich university, and shared Baader’s anti-revolutionary ideas.

Sphere sovereignty or "souvereiniteit in eigen kring"; church, state and school; G. Groen van Prinsterer; Abraham Kuyper; Friedrich Julius Stahl; Anti-Revolutionary; Franz von Baader; Herman Dooyeweerd

From pdf page 22:
"12. To say that institutions A and B have sphere sovereignty in relation to each other, we need some kind of organicist model of head and limbs, of center and periphery. Just as all modes of consciousness relate to a central selfhood or heart, all institutions relate to a central Body of Christ, or New Root. These ideas of heart and root are not found in classical Calvinism. They are found in Baader (Friesen 2015, 82-3).

13. Dooyeweerd, following Baader, insists that the organic center is above time so that it may (as supratemporal selfhood) govern the refracted temporal and peripheral modes of consciousness and (as supratemporal Body of Christ) govern temporal institutions. Classical Calvinism does not have Dooyeweerd’s distinctions of time, supratemporal and eternal. They are found in Baader (Friesen 2015, 36-38, 52-55)." 
Visit also Dr J. Glenn Friesen's webpages:

J. Glenn Friesen's