Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Robert D. Knudsen's Calvinistic Philosophy lectures (Disk 22)

This is a continuation of the class lectures on Calvinistic Philosophy given by Robert D. Knudsen at Westminster Theological Seminary.  As before, the information in the audio recordings have not been validated for accuracy (use at your own risk).

Van Til, part 2 (Disk 22)

MY NOTE: Here Knudsen gives a very complex answer to a question asked before the audio started.

Van Til does not have the aversion to antinomie that Dooyeweerd and Vollenhoven. An antinomie will have a logical contradiction in it, but more than just a contradiction. It arises due to a transgression of the bounds of the cosmos. Van Til has never used the principle of the exclusion of the antinomies.

Some say Van Til did not have a workout idea of the boundary as Dooyeweerd and Vollenhoven did. But Van Til did have a strong creator/creature distinction. MY NOTE: this boundary may be implicit but not explicit. It is also in his view of revelation.

Is Van Til closer to Bavinck? According to Van Til, yes and Van Til is closer to Stoker than Vollenhoven and Dooyeweerd.

Van Til does not develop the idea of the cosmonomic structure that Dooyeweerd and Vollenhoven have.

MY NOTE: picking up from disk 21 here:
The idea of the concreteness, all of the items are present from the very beginning. The concrete idealist was one who was aware of the context in which he was starting and have everything there from the beginning and see everything in its unity and aware of its presuppositions. Hegel introduced time into logic itself in an attempt to overcome Kantian's notion of the thing in itself. Van Til says they failed in this attempt.

The idealist says the God of theism must be replaced by the absolute. Van Til questions that and he admits that the idealist is correct in the idea of the unity of thought and being. He (the idealist) is correct in rejecting pragmatism and the idea of ultimate contingency. However a close examination the concrete idealism shows that its presumed absolute cannot embrace all of the facts and remains abstract. Absolute idealism degenerates into pragmatism and pragmatism has already show to be impossible.

Van Til is quite content to insists that Christianity is a rational belief and has grounds for it and is content to enter into argument and we begin with experience (MY NOTE: not sure what he means here).

There is a certain formal agreement with idealism in that there is value in the concrete approach as far as identifying presuppositions and he says that it is impossible to argue directly for God. If you argue directly for God you are doing what the idealists does, that you have to be able to get an idea/essence of God before you can use it as a principle of interpretation and that you have it under control.

For Van Til the transcendental argument is negative argument. You have to presuppose God (the God of the Scriptures) and apart from whom your experience in unintelligible and that would include this notion that if we have presupposed God we are no longer in the situation where it is incumbent on us to define God before we can use God as the ultimate principle of interpretation. All of our thinking has to presuppose the creator/creature distinction.

If there is any predication at all you we have then to be able to unite, to gain a meaningful unity of our experience but apart from Christianity there is no meaningful unity, then we are left with brute, uninterpreted fact.

A form of the argument (as Knudsen has interpreted it) that if you abandon the true transcendent viewpoint a process is set into motion in which one shows that he can get a unitary view of things. Bavinck argued along these lines. If you miss then the true God of the Scriptures, you are bound to worship the creation rather than the creator.

Van Til has attempted to construct a consistent reformed apologetic. He has moved then into a line of transcendental argument. What does that mean? There will be this negative type of argumentation, we argue for the impossibility of contrary. If then one loses the transcendent standpoint and we cannot get a unified position and this inability is an indirect proof of the true starting point.

If you are going to have an apologetic, you must have a point of contact (anknupfunspunkt). The expression in Romans 1 of having known God. The knowledge of God and of ourselves are correlate. We are always in a position of accepting the revelation or we suppress the revelation (covenant keeping or covenant breaking). We are either obedient or disobedient. There is no tertium quid. All these things are involved in Van Til's idea of the analogical relationship between God and man.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Robert D. Knudsen's Calvinistic Philosophy lectures (Disk 21)

This is a continuation of the class lectures on Calvinistic Philosophy given by Robert D. Knudsen at Westminster Theological Seminary.  As before, the information in the audio recordings have not been validated for accuracy (use at your own risk).

Van Til, part 1 (Disk 21)

Cornelius Van Til born 1895 (MY NOTE: As of this recording, Knudsen states that Van Til was still living and a frequent visitor to the campus).

As he undertook his attempt to develop a consistently Biblical and Reformed apologetic and found (initially) a welcome ally in the Christian philosophy developed by Vollenhoven and Dooyeweerd (MY NOTE: Van Til would later become critical of the philosophy school, but that will be covered later).

Early on his name appeared alongside Dooyeweerd, Vollenhoven, Stoker, etc. in the Philosophie Reformata.

MY NOTE: Here bio information is given on Van Til. This can be found other places on his education credentials.

1928 – 1929 he was an instructor of Apologetics at Princeton Theological Seminary.

From 1929 he was professor of Apologetics at Westminster Theological Seminary.

The development of Van Til's apologetics is based upon his criticism of Idealism (the topic of his doctoral dissertation). The central idea of his thought is that of analogy.

Van Til has sought to carry on Kuyper's work of bringing the kingship of Jesus Christ should come to expression in every area of life. The sovereignty of God is central (along with the others in the school) and radical.

He assumed a double stance to idealism. Here is where Van Til is different. Van Til was faced with a situation where he heard that Christianity and Idealism were unified in their opposition to pragmatism and advocated a view of God and the absolute of idealism was really a better expression of the Christian idea of God. Van Til's position was that the God of Christianity did not square with Idealism.

Van Til did appreciate the concrete approach of absolute idealism where everything refers back to an ultimate starting point. Van Til's method is Transcendental. Van Til concluded that the starting point of idealism was a false one.

Idealists after Kant understood that it was necessary to view the facts under an ultimate principle of interpretation and attempted to go beyond Kant to overcome brute, uninterpreted facts still remaining in the thing in its self (Ding an sich). They attempted to avoid uniting the facts of our sense experience and abstract principle of unity in an external fashion. An attempt was made to arise to a new height to discover a concrete absolute with a reconciliation of fact and logic. Hegel went to the extreme of introducing time into logic.

Van Til was asking is this absolute of the idealist is it really an improvement on the Christian idea of God? The idealists have more of an eminence of God over against the Christian view. Van Til insisted that this absolute had been developed to overcome the split between facts and logic, you're idealists principle is in effect abstract. The idealists has the notion that he has to be able to get an idea of the essence of something before he can use it as a principle of interpretation. If he is going to use God as a principle, then he must have penetrated into the essence of God and define who God is. Van Til regards that as an expression of the autonomy of thought and under such a scheme the only God you can get a hold of is an extension of your own experience. This is a characteristic of idealism that Van Til wants to avoid, the autonomy of man where he denies the creator/creature distinction.

In Van Til's intent there is a scriptural idea that he wants to make foremost. There is the idea of God and Cosmos and the boundary between them. Van Til expresses a thought that is extremely Calvinistic, you cannot grasp in your thought the essence of God or God as he is in himself and you must be content with God as he has reveled himself in revelation.

If instead of truly being the concrete absolute union of principle and sense experience (fact and logic), the concrete absolute is not really concrete and so there is always a residue of brute fact and so there is a contingency that remains and that in idealism there is a direct road to pragmatism where all reality is confusion and brute fact rules and unity is not possible.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Robert D. Knudsen's Calvinistic Philosophy lectures (Disk 19 and 20)

This is a continuation of the class lectures on Calvinistic Philosophy given by Robert D. Knudsen at Westminster Theological Seminary.  As before, the information in the audio recordings have not been validated for accuracy (use at your own risk).

MY NOTE: These lectures appear to be from the Fall of 1980.  Knudsen eluded to the concession speech by President (Jimmy) Carter who lost the 1980 Presidential election to Ronald Reagan.

Dooyeweerd, Part 5 (Disk 19)

Stoker continues more in the line of Bavinck than did Vollenhoven and Dooyeweerd (as does Van Til).

In Stoker we find an emphasis on principles as the presuppositions of our life and thought. Principles serve to give us archai. Then they give us guidance establishing an area or sphere in which they hold. A sphere would be established according to the principles of it. The spheres have a cosmological character. As we act we are already involved in the spheres. These spheres would also have to do with method. Reflecting an idea that was very much alive in Kuyper's day you would have sets of principles and according to Stoker the principle that apply to a particular area have to do with the method. Method has to apply to the particular sphere which pertain to it. It is the principles that are universal and fundamental in contrast to fact or what eventuates (actual). In addition we have value when a fact answers to a principle.

3 major categories
  1. principle
  2. fact
  3. value

In classifying the sciences he distinguished between principle sciences and factual sciences.

Stoker was never so critical as Dooyeweerd was of the substance idea. Do we have to eliminate the idea of substance. Dooyeweerd tried to eliminate the idea of substance. If you define substance as something that exists in itself, which God alone is existent in himself. In contrast Dooyeweerd said the entire cosmos IS meaning. The idea of meaning is set over against substance all the cosmos is meaning and substance only pertains to God. The creation is meaning and this meaning is not symbolic but it refers to the lack of self sufficiency of everything within the cosmos. Something is only in reference to God and the origin, only in its reference to the self as the concentration point and the coherence of things. There is a complete dependence upon God in the created order.

Stoker attempted to retain the substance idea and the cosmos HAS meaning.

What are some of the consequences:

If everything is meaning then by no means can you think that there is then something in the cosmos that is independent from its relationship to God.

Stoker had set his notion of the philosophy of the creation idea over against the idea of revelation of Bavinck and the philosophy of the cosmonomic idea. Creation is the archimedean point. He accepted Law as archimedean point if it is not formal (everything in the cosmos is meaning).

Stoker held it (creation idea) depending on Genesis 1:1 as that which gives us the formal unity of the cosmos. The cosmos then is the creation of God and God is the sovereign creator. The peculiar thing about Stoker's position is that the cosmos is more than revelation it is more than being subject to the law. It is best spoken of as creation.

H. Stoker (Disk 20)

Stoker held that his view can account more for the abnormalism and the vicarious death of Christ. In this idea it is revealed God's actual will and his love of God without exclusion of the wisdom of God or the theoretical will (law principle).

MY NOTE: At this point Knudsen expresses puzzlement at some of the ideas of Stoker. Knudsen does not provide any answers.

The cosmos is subject to God but also dependent upon God. Knudsen is hypothesising that Stoker is given some nuanced meaning to 'subject.'

God preserves the cosmos.

Stoker believed that the creation idea was all inclusive that included all the others (others who held to WdW). He continues to say that the service to God is also meaningful subjection to law but according to ones own sphere.

Knudsen objects to this due to the freedom of man being set over against the law of God.

MY NOTE: Knudsen is doing a lot of Q/A at this point.

Stoker also spoke of the diversity of the cosmos. There is sphere sovereignty and there is also a freedom within the sphere. This principle is the same as sphere sovereignty but applied to another dimension of reality than that of quality and meaning. If one has freedom in own sphere, then it has a sort of self identity which is a fundamental gift of God.

MY NOTE: Knudsen is continuing his perplexity with Stoker.

When Stoker took the idea of creation, he tried to make it relevant philosophically in a way that is impossible. We have our religious stance with all the pattern's of it. This is not philosophical but religious understanding. Stoker attempted to take creation and make it philosophical and equal to the law and an archemedian point.

The idea of creation was associated as a guarantor of an area of freedom. Why? It gives better account to being more than subject to law. There is free activity with ones own sphere of competency.

What is this more than? To what is Law conformity to be contrasted? Can that to which it be contrasted have meaning apart from Law conformity? Law conformity is just as much created as freedom in contrast to Law conformity. It seem that the idea of creation becomes meaningless in this respect. This does not provide us a philosophical criteria for the development of concepts.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Robert D. Knudsen's Calvinistic Philosophy lectures (Disk 17 and 18)

This is a continuation of the class lectures on Calvinistic Philosophy given by Robert D. Knudsen at Westminster Theological Seminary.  As before, the information in the audio recordings have not been validated for accuracy (use at your own risk).

Dooyeweerd Part 3 (Disk 17)

Dooyeweerd thought all along that though itself has a religious root. The way we relate to our presuppositions is through thought itself.

Dooyeweerd never considered the religiousness of thought to be the subjection of thought to metaphysically conceived axioms themselves of a scientific character standing above thought itself.

In everything manifestation of thought there is always a law order holding for it. Thought is shown to be depended upon the divine law (lex divina).

The change from the earlier to the later Dooyeweerd the change came when a critique of thought which had always been present in his thinking but the change came when he said this critique is required by the very structure of thought itself. Van Til called this the restriction and could not accept the restriction.

The reference to the religious foundation comes only in at the third step. Is this a sign that the first two steps are carried out in a neutral way? No theoretical axiom has been introduced dogmatically or any scientific prejudice, he wants to show all a long a religious impulse all along. The false starting point of apostate man causes him to introduce a prejudice.

Only from the Christian point of view is one freed to apprehend the true starting point without introducing prejudice. But this is completely religiously conditioned in either a true or false direction.

If one objects to such argumentation he must admit that he is obliged to render account of the general states of affairs or one has to present methodologically the argument for the consequences of opting against the christian position.

Dooyeweerd, part 4 (Disk 18)

Dooyeweerd's view of the soul

An outstanding characteristic of the WdW has been the critique of traditional theological views of the soul which have pretended to be scriptural. This goes for Dooyeweerd and Vollenhoven (maybe Stoker, not Van Til). For Dooyeweerd it is impossible to lift your theoretical views directly out of the Bible. This includes a theoretical anthropology and it is impossible to require philosophical view to square to scripture. If we've understood the transcendental critique, any philosophical view of the soul will have a religious depth and can be judged to its scripturalness.

Dooyeweerd is certain however, that the scriptures as they address man's heart teaching him that all reality is created do not allow for dualistic philosophical notions that would draw a line or antithesis in the cosmos. Let us say between the rational soul and material body, intellect and sensibility, etc. Scripture teach that man is created and an integral being before God. So it is impossible to grasp what the soul is in contrast with created reality.

In order to gain a proper understanding of Dooyeweerd's view of the soul, this transcendental direction of this thinking must be kept in mind. There is a centripital direction of thought to the 'I' as the one who thinks. In the diversity of cosmic time there is nothing to stop this reflection, there is not thing in it for itself, there is always guidance by a theoretical idea (Law Idea) and there is always reflection upon the presuppositions of thought.

The soul, cosmic time, the various aspects, the unity of the body cannot be grasped in a theoretical concept. They appear in distinct horizons which provide a frame for our experience.

In our total beings there is this constant point back to our creator as covenant beings.

Dooyeweerd has spoken of the supra-temporality of the heart. The heart of man is not contained in within the cosmic diversity of time. If we seek to view the heart of man from within time we'll end up with nothing. This does not mean that then the heart should be sought as an entity outside of time. What it does mean is that man in his integral unity could be understood in terms of a transcendent reference interpreted by God and His revelation.

It is impossible to understand Dooyeweerd's view of the soul apart from the transcendental direction of the self and the transtemporality.

Philosophical thought is lead in the transcendental direction to reflect upon the self and philosophical thought can only point to this in the idea. In this reflection, it critically acknowledges its inability to grasp what the self is apart from God and his revelation (Calvin, Institutes I.i.1).

Now if there were a philosophical view of the soul, then the transcendental direction would have been abolished. There would be a line drawn through the creation, one part of the creation over against the other in your self reflection. In the reflection on itself it comes to reflection on its intergral root and destruction of the universality in its own sphere.

If one is to learn what the soul is he cannot lean on philosophy. He must listen to the word of God and theology has to be dependent upon revelation (as is philosophy).

In Dooyeweerd's anthropology the basic distinction was between the heart and the entire function mantle of man's body. The heart is only in its relation to the true/false concentration point. It is it point at which the various strands of life are concentrated. This concentration point is not construable in the diversity of time.

The situation is understood in terms of God's revelation which speaks to the heart of man.

Dooyeweerd says the body is an act structure in which all the aspects of the body function in an centered unity. Dooyeweerd rejects the idea of substance in the description of man.

Dooyeweerd called the development of the theroetical anthropology as the crowning point of his philosophy. He never did finish the development of this view.

Transtemporality idea

  1. The fullness of meaning is not found in anything that is temporal.
  2. In our experience there will always a tendency to dispers in a multiplicity of directions each of which if allowed to develop unrestrained would mean a fall into meaninglessness.
  3. Meaning is perserved not by following one of the dispirsed tendencies (#2) but by concentrating on the fullness of meaning.
  4. Concentrating on the fullness is by way of a reflection on oneself in ones covenant relation to God who has revealed himself in Christ.
  5. This reflection is a reflection on the self in its total involved directedness to its origin.
  6. Whether the self will stand in this fundamental covenental relationship of obedient response is a question of the true direction of the heart.

The tendency to dispurse in time is not the result of sin, but becoming bound to it is.

There is an end of the trail character to the self reflection. One may not speculate, but be content in knowing oneself in the revelation context.

Hendrik G. Stoker

Stoker for many years has been sympathetic but critically oriented representative of the Calvinistic philosophy.

Stoker has been spoken of as the first South African philosopher to have gained recognition in the US and Europe.

In 1935 he published an article in the Evangelical Quarterly (volume 7) called the possibility of a calvinistic philosophy. In the article he said there was need on a calvinistic basis for a calvinistic philosophy that is truly a philosophy. He maintained that there was too great a confusion between theology and philosophy. Furthermore, too much attention had been given to detail work without basis of building of a comprehensive system based on a reformed world and life view. There was inclusion of elements that did not belong within this framework. Stoker sought to erect a philosophy based on a calvinistic worldview.

Stokers position reflects the same spirit as Vollenhoven and Dooyeweerd but it has its own cachet. Stoker remained closer to the line preceding Dooyeweerd (stands closer to Bavinck).

Three differences

  1. We find in Stoker an emphasis on principles.
  2. Stoker has never been so critical of the substance idea.
  3. He had difficultly with the idea that the cosmos is mean (he would say it has meaning).

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Robert D. Knudsen's Calvinistic Philosophy lectures (Disks 16)

This is a continuation of the class lectures on Calvinistic Philosophy given by Robert D. Knudsen at Westminster Theological Seminary.  As before, the information in the audio recordings have not been validated for accuracy (use at your own risk).

Dooyeweerd, part 2 (disk 16)

Intergral to this position that it is possible only from the law idea of the Christian faith to conceive of the order God has placed in the cosmos.  From any other position we cannot see the cosmic coherence in its true proportions and relationship to the origin.  Apostate thinking will absolutize one or more of the created aspects of reality.  That will lead to elevating one or more of these aspects to the origin of meaning or we shall try to arrange to aspects under a logically conceived denominator.

We have the idea of the origin, the deeper unity and the coherence of the meaning of the cosmos.  The cosmos in its meaning concentrates on the heart of man, man in his totality as he looks out on his origin.  The Archimedean point is found in the religious community in which one participates.

Given any theoretical statement, an investigation by way of a transcendental critique is in order to discover whether its underlying motives are in conformity to the message of the scriptures.

After the publication of WdW in 1935-36, Dooyeweerd began sharpening his position. 

Dooyeweerd attempted to show that the critique is involved in very structure of the theoretical attitude of thought.  As soon as one thinks in a theoretical fashion he is already involved in doing certain things that may be brought to light by a step-by-step analysis.  This step-by-step analysis is a formalization of the less strict argument from before.  This step-by-step analysis is the transcendental critique.  It is in this form that it has received the most criticism.

The critique happens in 3 or 4 steps.  There is a certain progression and the number of steps is not the formal concern.  The argument proceeds in a certain way.  The steps are intended to show the following:

1.     Show that theoretical thinking is dependent upon a pre-theoretical structure of time.  Every act of theoretical thinking in a particular kind of abstraction from the temporal coherence of meaning will manifest its dependence upon a pre-theoretical structure.  What is abstracted from in the gegenstand relation and how is this abstraction possible?  Dooyeweerd maintained that one who tries to maintain neutrality will try to suppress this question.
2.     Ask about the focus of the synthesis of the abstracted aspects.  What do you do with them?  Dooyeweerd recognized that in every theoretical position, there is already a synthesis in some sort of logical unity.  From what standpoint is it possible to unite in the theoretic synthesis the aspects that are distinguished and set apart in the theoretical attitude of thought.
3.     Dooyeweerd attempts to account for the pattern that this focus takes.  If we are able to find the focus only in reflecting upon ourselves can we really find the focus of the theoretical synthesis.  What is the character of this self-knowledge and how is it possible?

The critique itself is not productive of the religious impulse underlying the true or false direction of thought.  It is only a way of bringing to awareness of what is actually the case in every theoretical train of thought.

1.     There is an abstraction of the coherence of the meaning of the aspects.
2.     There is a particular kind of synthesis having its focus on the self.
3.     This reflection on the self is always determined by a religious motive.

MY NOTE: Here Knudsen spends a lot of time talking about Dooyeweerd and Van Til’s disagreement in Van Til’s festschrift, Jerusalem and Athens.  ISBN: 0875524893.

Criticisms of the Transcendental Critique
Some in Toronto (MY NOTE: my guess is that he is referring to the Institute for Christian Studies) have rejected this transcendental critique.  A good number think they don’t need this and develop their response based upon gut reaction.

Dooyeweerd developed a bit of neutrality into his position to communicate it better and lapsing into a kind of scholasticsm (Van Til’s criticism).

Douglass Vickers spoke of a residual emmentism.

This idea of communication, that indeed you cannot communicate with the apostate thinker until you have subjected his position and your own to a transcendental critique.  Because only in terms of depth understanding, do the concepts appear.

Dooyeweerd is criticised of developing a second way due to his first being too dogmatic.

Dooyeweerd is criticised of abandoning the starting point of the Calvinistic world-view to one that is more accepted to non-Christian thinkers and having common ground.  Dooyeweerd was never that way.  Dooyeweerd always wanted to show to relation of theoretical thought and religious roots.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Robert D. Knudsen's Calvinistic Philosophy lectures (Disks 15)

This is a continuation of the class lectures on Calvinistic Philosophy given by Robert D. Knudsen at Westminster Theological Seminary.  As before, the information in the audio recordings have not been validated for accuracy (use at your own risk).

Vollenhoven, part 9 Dooyeweerd part 1 (disk 15)

If you do not observe the boundary in God’s creation you have what happens you have antinomies toward the law.  The only way to eliminate it is to give proper attention to the boundary.

MY NOTE: Knudsen talks about the law spheres here but does not list them all on the audio.  The following I pulled from L. Kalsbeek’s Contours of a Christian Philosophy (ISBN: 0-7734-6950-8) page 40-41
1.     Arithmetic
2.     Spatial
3.     Kinematic
4.     Physical
5.     Botic
6.     Sensitive
7.     Analytic
8.     Historical
9.     Lingual
10.  Social
11.  Economic
12.  Aesthetic
13.  Juridical
14.  Ethical
15.  Pistic

Arithmetic to Analytic are the non-normative above the Analytic are normative.

There is here an expression of sphere sovereignty in the aspects.  If we look at the various aspects they have fundamental irreducible nuclei (kernel) of meaning.  This nucleus is not logical in character, they resist logical analysis.  Each one from its own perspective, there is a universality in its own sphere, it reflects its own aspect of the entire cosmos.  So there are anticipating and retrocipating moments.  In the biotic you have a nucleus of mean and clustered around it are subsiderary moments of meaning in either direction.  We attempt to get certain concepts and what happens we find that we obtain general logical concepts.  The question comes how do we distinguish those from something else, Dooyeweerd says that as soon as we get one of these concepts we discover that it is analogical in character (multivocality in character).  The multivocality does not arise because the meaning has not been clarified in the logical analysis, but because it goes beyond its basic sense.  In each one of these aspects you have the nuclei of meaning, the analogies, and the law side and subject side (subject and object).

This occurs against the background that there is a fundamental character of the reality as meaning, all reality is meaning.  Not in the sense of symbolic meaning, it is the sense that to express the self in sufficiency of the temporal world or the lack of self-sufficiency of the temporal world with respect to its origin.

As we have God speaking to our hearts and our lives radiating out toward the world at the same time there is this reflection on ourselves and everything we do.  There is this lack of self-sufficency that we are dependent upon the cosmos that then however every part of that cosmos reflects every part of that creator.  We are constantly reflecting upon our own lives and our covenant responsibility before God.

The meaning character of all reality is set up against the idea of substance.  Substance is self-sufficent to itself.  Dooyeweerd would say God is only self-sufficent.  The cosmos is meaning in all of its part.  There is nothing in the cosmos that is isolated from man’s being.

Dooyeweerd’s move toward a formalization of the Transcendental Critique.

Dooyeweerd attempted to find the relevancy of his Calvinistic world and life view toward the science of statecraft.  You cannot simply lift theoretical concepts directly from the scriptures.  Dooyeweerd had the idea that theory has its own identity and structure over against naïve experience.  All theory has to be conformable toward God’s word at its root.  You have to spiral down into your field to find the religious foundation (the theoretical foundation of your field).  Getting down to the presuppositions.

One can see how the transcendental thrust is already there.  Given your theorizing, you cannot reduce it to something else, there is already this transcendental reflection on what is already at work in it.

Dooyeweerd held that all developments of theoretical concepts by an idea of law, therefore he gave his philosophy the name the philosophy of law-idea (Wijsbegeerte der Wetsidee or WdW).

The law idea was regarded by Dooyeweerd as an instrument to relate our (or link) our theoretical thinking and our worldview commitment.  This law idea is of a law order which given any experience is already there.  That already there idea is important because you do anything, it is already there and you have to reflect transcendentally.

This order of law is meaning.  It has no being of itself but out and to its origin.  There is this reflecting back (Romans 11:36: “For from him and through him and to him are all things.  To him be glory forever.  Amen.” (ESV)).  This law idea reflects back on God as the origin of meaning and manifests its dependency upon God and his revelation that centers in Jesus Christ.

The Law is not conceived of on the set of theoretical axioms from which you could deduce things or that would be norms or imposed a priori upon experience.  Nor are they on the order of generalities the result of theoretical abstractions.  Every theoretical axiom, each one must be understood as revealing this law order.  This order is not that of a theory based on logical or logos world order.

The original form the transcendental critique.

No conception of any theory is neutral.  It is impelled by an idea of cosmic coherence and the origin of meaning.  This idea is not one derived from theoretical thought it is of religious origin and will determine the direction of the thought.  Therefore given any theoretical conceptualization it is necessary to reflect upon the idea impelling it and on the religious content of the idea.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Robert D. Knudsen's Calvinistic Philosophy lectures (Disks 14)

This is a continuation of the class lectures on Calvinistic Philosophy given by Robert D. Knudsen at Westminster Theological Seminary.  As before, the information in the audio recordings have not been validated for accuracy (use at your own risk).
Vollenhoven part 8 (disk 14)

The subjectivist has to take position in regards to myth.  Universal subjectivist for example would be mythological or non-mythological.  The mythical thinker thought in terms of becoming of the gods and the world.  They were cosmogonic-cosmological and purely cosmological thinkers.  So there is a method of development.

By way of criticism of Vollenhoven’s method
1.     Knudsen holds that this is a good method.  It has been employed to some degree in the history of ideas.  Very important is how the distinctions are made with which the investigation is carried on.  When you try to compress a thinker, sometimes they don’t fit.
2.     Thinkers are typed according to what appeared to be rigid and minute classifications and we must state this, determining that a thinker stands in a particular line doesn’t explain him.  How does one account for influence of one thinker on another? 
3.     Vollenhoven didn’t want to fall into the trap of categorizing ancient philosophers in terms for modern times, but does he make distinctions of modern philosophers into ancient molds?

It remains that Vollenhoven tried to erect a history of philosophy on a consistently Christian basis.

Heman Dooyeweerd (1894-1977)

Born in Amsterdam, his father was a follower of Abraham Kuyper (Doleantie).  His mother was influenced by the German leader Kohlbrugge,  Dooyeweerd’s father read from De Heraut.  Dooyeweerd entered the Free University of Amsterdam in 1912 unsure of what to study.  A friend recommended the study of Law.  On July 2, 1917 he defended his doctoral dissertation (De Ministerraad in het Nederlandsche Staaatsrecht or Cabinet Ministers under Dutch Constitutional Law). 

He first worked in matters of Jurisprudence.  In 1922 he was invited to be the adjunct director of the Abraham Kuyper foundation in De Haag.  This foundation was developed to study principles of the Anti-Revolutionary party (today absorbed into the Christian Democratic Appeal or Christian-Democratisch Appel).

In 1926 he became professor in the department of Jurisprudence at the Free University of Amsterdam.

Dooyeweerd’s philosophy must be understood as a Christian Transcendental Philosophy and when we speak of its character we do not only have the transcendental critique.  The first real suggestion of this form occurs in 1939, the transcendental critique of theoretical thought.  The earliest appearance in English is in the evangelical quarterly volume 19 pages 32-41 called introduction to a transcendental criticism of philosophical thought.

We affirm that Dooyeweerd’s thinking had a transcendental thrust.  This transcendental thrust was virtually assured by the first steps in developing his philosophy and transcendental critique from the very beginning.

During 1922-1926 Dooyeweerd wrote a series of articles and he wanted to show the relevance of the Calvinistic world and life view to statecraft.  Dooyeweerd believed that this worldview was fundamentally rooted in the Scriptures but did not believe that a theory of statecraft could be read directly out of the Scriptures.
Like Vollenhoven, Dooyeweerd believed that the Scriptures speak to the entire man.  Furthermore as Kuyper presented Calvinism was a world and life view.  As such it requires the undivided allegiance of the entire man.  Now then one then cannot read out a Christian statecraft from the scriptures, one cannot derive from them the fundamental principles on the order of theoretical axioms to which statecraft must conform.  This is where Dooyeweerd stands apart from a major emphasis of the Kuyperian tradition.

While statecraft could not be read out of the scriptures but the principles must conform to it.  Dooyeweerd had to fix on something that would present a meaningful criterion for his scientific studies.  The idea of Law, the law in this sense is not deduceable from the scripture but if you live according to scripture it will manifest itself with respect to the law idea somehow.  So Dooyeweerd came to the conclusion that all of your theoretical concepts are going to involve one or another idea of Law and the idea of Law becomes the instrument that gives you this connection.

There is then a divinely given order of law (Lex Divina) to which every fact is subject in the keeping or in the breech.

Dooyeweerd developed a theory of law spheres.  These are modes, how things appear to the what.  These were related to one another by anticipations (protentional) and retrocipations (retentional).  Dooyeweerd called these together analogies.  In our naïve experiencing these are held together in a systatic unity.  In theory they are distinguished and set it apart one from another.