|"Landscape with Fall of Icarus" by Pieter Breugel (1558)|
DOOYEWEERD's 15 IRREDUCIBLE LAW-SPHERES
(Also called Aspects/ Modes/ Modalities/ Meaning-sides)
NUCLEUS AND ANALOGICAL MOMENTS
OF THE SPATIAL LAW-SPHERE
NOTE on term: "IMMANENCE PHILOSOPHY" -
"A name for all non-Christian philosophy, which tries to find the ground and integration of reality within the created order. Unlike Christianity, which acknowledges a transcendent Creator above all things, immanence philosophy of necessity absolutizes some feature or aspect of creation itself." (Definition by Albert M. Wolters)
NOTE on term: "RELIGIOUS"
It is highly important not to misunderstand Dooyeweerd’s use of this ambiguous word, currently much-maligned in popular parlance. Dooyeweerd is not at all referring to what is commonly disparaged as “organized religion”. Very far from it. Rather, he is alluding to the concentration point or anchorage of every individual’s deepest selfhood. Dooyeweerd is denoting that which is an ontically core feature of the human being per se. He is talking about what for humans is a universal structural default, namely the restless search of the selfhood for an ultimate point of integration. In this light it might therefore be productive when reading Dooyeweerd to try mentally replacing the word "religious" with "ultimate". (FMF)
* * *8. The urge towards the Origin of all temporality
Thus the cosmic order of time, according to its two basic directions - the foundational or retrocipatory direction and the forward-pointing or anticipatory direction - comes to expression in the very structure of the modalities, while their nuclei express the boundary point or criterion of these two directions of time (the present as boundary between the earlier and later). An understanding of this state of affairs turns out to be of tremendous importance for Christian thought.
For it is in this context that we understand also philosophically what those believers who are secured in Christ can know with certainty in the light of God’s Word: namely that there is nothing within time in which the heart can come to rest, because whatever is embraced by time does not rest in itself but points above and beyond itself, in a dynamic restlessness, to the creaturely - in truth transcendent - Root and the eternal, self-sufficient Origin of all things.
For the entire view of cosmic time in which every modality, in complete non-self-sufficiency, points backwards and forwards to all the other modalities, and in the final limiting aspect of temporal meaning, that of faith, points beyond time itself, is only possible on a scripturally Christian standpoint which reveals to us every absolutization of temporal, creaturely meaning as sinful apostasy from the true God - as idolatry.
Not until we adopt this standpoint do we experience, also in philosophy, that powerful urge in all temporality towards the Origin, an urge that is concentrated religiously in our heart, whence are the issues of life according to the testimony of Scripture [Cf. “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” Prov. 4:23]. And only in Christ Jesus, the new Root of Creation, does this restless striving after the Origin acquire its direction towards the only true God who has revealed himself in his Word.
Theoretical thought which has fallen away from its true Origin in idolatry - the “fleshly mind” in Paul’s sense - searches within time for a self-sufficient point of rest. It performs this search on the basis of an absolutization which sets apart theoretical thought in its transcendental structure by lifting it out of its cosmic coherence without realizing that this transcendental structure lies at the basis of all real thinking in the sense of making it possible.
This concludes our elucidation of the basic antinomy of this immanent standpoint. We shall now turn our attention to the contradictions entailed in the conception of time that flows from this basic antinomy. In the present context a single example will have to do.
NUCLEUS AND ANALOGICAL MOMENTS
OF THE LOGICAL (ANALYTICAL) LAW-SPHERE
9. The inner antinomies of the Eleatic concept of being in connection with a denial of the temporal structure of space. Spatial simultaneity
Parmenides already realized that when the essence of reality, the being of what is, has to be viewed as completely timeless, then one must also exclude the whole temporal diversity and coherence from this metaphysical concept of being. Since this a-temporal being can only be grasped by theoretical thought in its logical structure, it cannot have a character distinct from this thought. Thus he teaches that “thought and being are identical” (Dieks-Kranz, 1960, B. Fr. 3). This concept of being is absolute, supra-temporal, without becoming, imperishable, without multiplicity or movement - it is one continuum.
[…] Parmenides, as we know, did not stop at his logically negative predication of his concept of being. The “timeless being” is indentified by him with spherical filled space, an everywhere dense and limited continuum.
However, we have noted that cosmic time has a universal structure that embraces all law-spheres and functions in each law-sphere in a particular modality. Within the law-sphere of number it expresses itself in a quantitative earlier and later which determines the position of each number in the succession of numbers. And in the original modality of space, cosmic time comes to expression as spatial simultaneity. [Footnote: This naturally cancels the traditional coordination of space and time. Time belongs to a deeper layer of reality than space, because it expresses itself in the latter as one of its modalities.] Thus, the conception of an a-temporal space lacking all multiplicity is internally antinomic. Space does not exist without an analogy of number and without the simultaneity of a spatial multiplicity. Every subjective spatial figure displays an inner multiplicity in the sense of continuous extension and can exist only in a simultaneous extension of this multiplicity. A straight line already supposes a spatial multiplicity as it is bounded by two points. Even a point, although it lacks actual extension, is not defined except through the intersection of two simultaneously extended straight lines or curves.
[…] Zeno, the pupil of Parmenides, follows his teacher in this attempt to demonstrate the impossibility of continuous temporal succession. He does that with the aid of his famous paradoxes, which identify continuous temporal succession with motion. His argumentation dissolves temporal succession into moments of time which he deems timeless but in reality identifies with static spatial points that are given at once without any true succession. This stance actually disproves the claim that this concept of being is timeless, since spatial simultaneity is not timeless, but rather presupposes cosmic time.
Furthermore, the modal meaning of space contains anticipations of the nucleus of motion.
[…] Heraclitus had indeed absolutized the aspect of motion of temporal reality to be the metaphysical essence of reality. Parmenides, by contrast, in his metaphysical concept of being absolutizes static space.
When Parmenides’ pupil Zeno attempts to demonstrate the logical nothingness of multiplicity and movement, he actually does no more than provide a strict proof for the irreducibility of the original meaning of space to that of number and movement. Thus the attempt to demonstrate the logical nothingness of time, with the diversity and coherence entailed in it, definitively failed.
Subsequent philosophical developments had to abandon this negative assessment of time. Whoever traces the history up to the most recent times (to Einstein, Bergson and Heidegger) will have to acknowledge the correctness of our contention that it is impossible for the immanence standpoint to grasp the cosmic universality of the horizon of time and the many-sidedness of its aspects. The latter constantly drives theoretical thinking into a position where it encloses the horizon of time within one or another aspect. This occurs invariably, whether a Newton defends a purely objectivistic notion of time or a Berkeley and Bergson hold to a purely subjectivistic conception, that is to say, whether time is conceived as order or merely as subjective duration, as an actual state or merely as an ordering form for sensory impressions of consciousness.
But this also ensures that the problem of time at once turns into a veritable wellspring of all the antinomies which continue to characterize the course of development of immanence philosophy.
The Philosophy of the Cosmonomic Idea holds that the origin of these antinomies is grounded in the basic antinomy of the immanence standpoint itself. And this deepest origin is not philosophical but religious in nature.
[…] The problem of time lies on a much deeper and more fundamental level than that of space - with which it was associated for a long time without sufficient justification. Time indeed concerns the entire structure of the cosmos and of the horizon of human experience. It entails the basic question at what point human consciousness transcends the horizon of time. For without this transcendence time cannot be made a philosophical problem.
If we did not transcend time at the deepest concentration point of our existence, our consciousness would of necessity be exhausted by time, which would cancel the possibility of religious self-concentration. The problem of time would have been unknown to us, because time essentially only becomes a problem to us if we are able to take distance from it in what is supra-temporal, which we experience in the deepest core of our being.
Herman Dooyeweerd, ‘Time, Law, and History: Selected Essays’, Series B, Volume 14, Paideia Press, 2017, pp 14-19. (£10, $12.95)