vendredi 27 avril 2018

Herman Dooyeweerd: The central and radical unity of our existence

“To illustrate totality and temporality, Dooyeweerd uses the image of the prism. Totality is analogous to white light before it is refracted by a prism into many colours. In this analogy, the prism is cosmic time, which refracts the totality into the differentiated and  individuated temporal reality. The unrefracted light is the time-transcending or supratemporal totality of meaning of our cosmos, both as to its law and subject sides. And just as this unrefracted light has its origin in the Source of light, so this supratemporal totality of meaning has its origin in the Arché or Origin by whom and to whom it has been created. The totality and deeper unity of meaning ‘must transcend its modal diversity’ (NC I, 102; WdW I, 66-67).” J. Glenn Friesen, p7 Dooyeweerd, Spann, and the Philosophy of Totality’ (pdf)

(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)