samedi 15 avril 2017

Dooyeweerd: Points of Departure: The Biblical ground-motive as sole guarantor of the Western and Global intellectual community

Photo: Copyright F. MacFhionnlaigh
Points of Departure: 
The Biblical ground-motive as sole guarantor of the Western and Global intellectual community.
'The religious ground-motives in the development of Western civilization are basically the following:

1. The "form-matter" ground-motive of Greek antiquity in alliance with the Roman power motive (imperium).

2. The Scriptural ground-motive of the Christian religion: creation, fall, and redemption through Jesus Christ in communion with the Holy Spirit.

3. The Roman Catholic [Thomistic] ground-motive of "nature-grace", which seeks to combine the two mentioned above.

4. The modern humanistic ground motive of "nature-freedom", in which an attempt is made to bring the three previous motives to a religious synthesis concentrated upon the value of human personality.' 

(Herman Dooyeweerd, Roots of Western Culture: Pagan, Secular, and Christian Options, Paideia Press, 2012, p15) 
Extract from Herman Dooyeweerd, 'Reformation and Scholasticism in Philosophy', Paideia Press 2012, Vol 1 pp 28-31):

It must be established from the outset that the Christian and the non-Christian starting points do not at all stand in the same position with respect to understanding each other religiously. Certainly from the perspective of the Christian starting point, based on the Scriptures, it is entirely possible to penetrate to the religious [ie ultimate] meaning of the starting points and ground-motives that stand in opposition to it. For it is only in the light of the Christian starting point that the latter can be revealed in their most profound meaning. The Christian shares, furthermore, in the solidarity of the human race in its fall into sin. Thus the ground-motives in question cannot be alien to him in a religious [ie ultimate] sense.

It is in the light of the ground-motive of the divine Word-revelation that the true position of the non-Christian ground-motives is established. They are unequivocally a result of the fall. In the redemption accomplished by Christ Jesus the fallen world has been reconciled, not in a speculative and dialectical fashion, but in reality. This means that the non-Christian ground-motives are not dialectically mediated in the ground-motive of Scripture. On the contrary, the divine Word-revelation exposes them as fundamentally false and annihilates them as religious [ie ultimate] starting points, even as it illumines by the light of the divine truth whatever relative moments of truth they may contain. Of themselves the non-Christian ground-motives have nothing to offer the Christian ground-motive by way of complementation. They have no inherent, positive truthfulness to set over against it. The Christian ground-motive, moreover, may not be conceived of as the higher synthesis of all the non-Christian ones; for a synthesis is unable to stand in absolute antithesis to the mutually antithetical elements which it itself has brought to a higher unity.

In its continuing operation, however, the ground-motive of the Christian religion is the only one in a position to guarantee the integrity of the historically determined philosophical community of thought in the West. That is the case, because as a point of departure for philosophy it bars the way to any scientific exclusivism, in which any particular line of thought would seek to elevate its own point of departure, making it the criterion for what does and what does not qualify as science.

If the Christian ground-motive truly has an effect on philosophic thought, it of necessity leads the latter to a radical, transcendental critique, which elucidates the fundamental difference between scientific judgements proper and the supra-scientific pre-judgments which lie at the foundation of their possibility. For this reason the Christian ground-motive refuses to allow any particular philosophical movement to be excluded from the philosophical community because of its point of departure. It relentlessly exposes every philosophical dogmatism, which exalts its own religious [ie ultimate] point of departure to be the criterion for what may qualify as science, and which passes off the so-called autonomy of science as a scientific axiom even though a truly critical inquiry into the structure of scientific thought has never been undertaken. The Christian ground-motive also cuts off at the roots the hubris of schools of thought which entertain the illusion that they themselves have a monopoly on science and which therefore never engage in truly scientific discussion with those who occupy other standpoints. And, finally, it is in possession of the only real key to understanding those religious [ie ultimate] ground-motives over against which it has set itself in radical religious [ie ultimate] antithesis. Therefore, it will allow these [non-Christian] ground-motives to receive their full due in respect of their significance for the internal philosophical stance of the trend of thought controlled by them.

At the same time, however, the Christian ground-motive, with its resources for understanding, reaches out beyond the boundaries of the West and lays the only possible foundation for a genuine intellectual community of mankind, because it penetrates beyond all of the temporal distinctions of race and historical culture to the foundational religious [ie ultimate] community of the human race. It is this basic community, lying at the religious [ie ultimate] centre of human existence, that establishes the possibility of the community of philosophical thought. And since the radical antithesis, resulting from the fall and the redemption in Christ Jesus, was made manifest within this basic community itself as it came into existence through God's creation, the influence of this antithesis must also be felt in the temporal community of thought as soon as the Christian ground-motive comes into play within it as a spiritual dunamis

Nevertheless, just as this absolute antithesis at the spiritual root of humanity does not result in the destruction but rather in the radical preservation of community, it can never lead to the disintegration and dissolution of the historically conditioned philosophic community of thought, as long as the religious dynamic of the Christian ground-motive continues to make itself felt within it. For the Christian religion [ie the ultimate Biblical ground-motive thereof] does not release its grip on fallen man, nor does it leave him out of account; it continually goes in pursuit of him. The radical antithesis it poses is the absolute condition for the preservation of the philosophic community of thought within our sinful society.

Before the outbreak of the Second World War, I presented an argument for all of these points in my essay "The Transcendental Critique of Theoretical Thought: A Contribution toward the Elimination of Exclusivism in Science" ("De transcendentale critiek van het wijsgerig denken: Een bijdrage tot overwinning van het wetenschappelijk exclusivisme der richtingen". Synthese, IV, July 1939, pp 314-39.)

From a non-Christian standpoint there exists no true, ie, religious or spiritual, possibility of understanding with respect to the Christian ground-motive. This possibility cannot exist apart from the life-giving Spirit, who enlightens the spiritual eye and focuses it upon the true centre of life, Jesus Christ. 

Just for this reason the idolatrous ground-motives will continually seek to ban the dunamis of the Scriptural ground-motive from the intellectual community of the West. They constitute, therefore, a constant threat to it in its integral character. They are continually impelled to restrict the intellectual community to the circle of their own actual or presumed adherents. Accordingly, they must present those who engage in philosophy from a Christian standpoint with the choice of either accommodating their philosophic thought to the apostate ground-motive which is temporarily dominant in Western culture, or of seeing themselves excluded from the circle of those who have intellectual standing. 

Since they never arrive at a veritable transcendental critique of theoretical thought, the adherents of these ground-motives are constantly guilty of dogmatically identifying their own supra-theoretical pre-judgments with scientific axioms. As a consequence, misled by the dogma of the autonomy of science, they constantly run the danger of interpreting Western philosophy from its beginnings within the framework of their own modern ground-motives.

In all of these tendencies, they will invariably come to stand in radical antithesis to philosophic thought which is impelled and directed by the Christian ground-motive. For this reason, it has only the appearance of paradox when I assert that the radical antithesis which is posed by the Christian religion is the sole guarantor of the integrity of the intellectual community of the West.

(Extract from Herman Dooyeweerd, 'Reformation and Scholasticism in Philosophy', Paideia Press, 2012, Vol 1, pp 28-31)