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Description of Each Aspect

The purpose of this page is to help readers develop their intuitive grasp of the meaningfulness of Dooyeweerd's aspects, and also be able to discuss them. It offers a systematic easy-to-refer-to summary of each of Dooyeweerd's aspects, mainly drawn from Basden [2011].

For each aspect, is offered:

What follows is my own interpretation of what I think Dooyeweerd was getting at in each aspect, based on 25 years of using and reflecting on the aspects, so please beware of possible biases and misinterpretations.

Contents:

Click the heading-name of each aspect, to reach the main page discussing that aspect.


The Quantitative Aspect

Kernel: Discrete quantity / amount, 'numberness'

Experienced as: One, several and many, and comparisons of less and more

The quantitative aspect and some of its constellation

The quantitative aspect and some of its constellation

Mistakes:

Differences from Neighbours: -

Good and Evil:

Foundational Dependencies: None.

Analogies of this Aspect:

Notes, Discussion: NC,II, 79-93

Antecipations:

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The Spatial Aspect

Kernel: Continuous extension (extendedness)

Experienced as: Here, there, between, around, inside and outside

The spatial aspect and some of its constellation

The spatial aspect and some of its constellation

Mistakes:

Differences from Neighbours:

Good and Evil:

Foundational Dependencies:

Analogies of this Aspect:

The diversity of spatial analogies might explain why Kant etc. believed spatiality to be a category, not just via inter-spect dependency.

Notes, Discussion: NC,II, 63-5, 85-96, 98-106.

Antecipations:

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The Kinematic Aspect

Kernel: Movement,

Experienced as: Going and flowing; Forward and backward.

The kinematic aspect and some of its constellation

The kinematic aspect and some of its constellation

Mistakes:

Differences from Neighbours:

Good :

Foundational Dependencies:

Antecipations:

Analogies of this Aspect:

Notes, Discussion: NC,II, 93-106.

The kinematic was the last aspect that Dooyeweerd delineated; initially he conflated the kinematic with the physical [NC,II, 98-99], but then antinomies convinced him it was different.

One of these is constant movement, meaningless in physics, meaningful in kinematics. Dooyeweerd suggests that, therefore, acceleration is not kinematic but physical, in that it requires a force to cause it. From this, Strauss [2009] has taken the kernel meaningfulness of the kinematic aspect to be "constancy", and he moves change to the physical. However, this goes against intuition, which sees the kinematic as movement. From his extensive references to how this is echoed in other aspects it is clear that Dooyeweerd means change or variability. Moreover, constant rotation would seem intuitively kinematic.

I, therefore, see constant movement as one special case of the kinematic, and acceleration, as defined as change of movement, as also kinematic. Whereas the physical definition of acceleration is Force / Mass, and accounts for cause, the kinematic definition is dS/dt (differentiation of velocity with respect to time, and describes without referring to cause.

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The Physical Aspect

Kernel: Energy.

Experienced as: Matter, forces, energy, etc. (whether at the microscopic, human-level or macroscopic spans)

The physical aspect and some of its constellation

The physical aspect and some of its constellation

Mistakes:

Differences from Neighbours:

Good and Evil:

Foundational Dependencies:

Physical functioning requires movement and change (kinematic), and space and reliable quantity.

Analogies of this Aspect:

Notes, Discussion: NC,II, 95,99,100,101 -- patchy.

Antecipations:

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The Organic / Biotic Aspect

Kernel: "Vital unity" and "organizing" [NC,II, 110]; often seen as "life functions".

Experienced as: Living as organisms in an environment.

But what is "living"? It consists at least of the organism maintaining its equilibrium separately from the environment, with repair, and also the ability to reproduce after its kind.

The organic / biotic aspect and some of its constellation

The organic / biotic aspect and some of its constellation

Mistakes:

Differences from Neighbours:

Good and Evil:

Foundational Dependencies:

Materialist reductionism relies on these.

Analogies of this Aspect:

Many biotic concepts find analogy in aspects where distinct entities are important.

Notes, Discussion: NC,II, 107-11

Dooyeweerd's discussion is brief and not entirely clear. He argues why life cannot be reduced to physical and chemical processes even though it depends on them, and argues against both vitalism and mechanistic views.

Antecipations:

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The Psychic / Sensitive Aspect

Kernel: Feeling, emotion

Experienced as: Sensing, responding and feeling (such that animals have, like fear, hunger).

Psychic functioning is both of the whole organism and also of the organs and cells (nervous system and neurones). The functioning of neurones and nervous system includes signal transmission, pattern-detection, pattern-recognition and memory.

The Psychic-sensitive aspect and some of its constellation

The Psychic-sensitive aspect and some of its constellation

Mistakes:

Differences from Neighbours:

Good and Evil:

Foundational Dependencies:

Analogies of this Aspect:

Notes, Discussion: NC,II:111-118

Antecipations:

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The Analytical Aspect

Kernel: Distinction: "setting apart what is given together" [NC,I, 39]

Experienced as: Conceptualising, clarifying, categorising and cogitating.

Conceptualising is of something meaningful to us. We clarify that meaning, separating 'this' from 'that'. Categorising differentiates ways of being meaningful. Cogitating is thinking that involves these.

The analytic aspect and some of its constellation

The analytic aspect and some of its constellation

Mistakes:

Differences from Neighbours:

Good and Evil:

Foundational Dependencies:

Analogies of this Aspect:

Notes, Discussion: NC,II:118-125

Antecipations:

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The Formative Aspect

Kernel: Formative power

Experienced as: Deliberate creative shaping of things, usually with some end in mind.

All kinds of things can be shaped: clay into pots, concepts into concept-structures, reasons into arguments, words into sentences, people into performers, social relationships into institutions, and so on.

The formative aspect and some of its constellation

The formative aspect and some of its constellation

Mistakes:

Differences from Neighbours:

Good and Evil:

Foundational Dependencies:

Formative functioning depends on analytical functioning (conceptualising, etc.)

Analogies of this Aspect:

Notes, Discussion: NC,II,68-9,192-217,218-98

Note on terminology: Dooyeweerd called this the historical or cultural aspect because history is the story of human formative power or achievement [NC,II, 193] and in Dutch the root of the word culture refers to human formative power (as in agriculture). Since, in English, history and culture are often more social than formative, here we use "formative" rather than Dooyeweerd's terminology.

Antecipations:

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The Lingual Aspect

Kernel: Symbolic signification

Experienced as: Expressing, recording and reading / hearing. This can be by speech, writing, pictures, gestures, and even such things as boundary stones.

The lingual aspect and some of its constellation

The lingual aspect and some of its constellation

Mistakes:

Differences from Neighbours:

Good and Evil:

Foundational Dependencies:

Analogies of this Aspect:

Notes, Discussion: NC,II, 221-7,284-5

Antecipations:

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The Social Aspect

Kernel: "Social intercourse" [Dooyeweerd], "Company" [Stafleu 2005]

Experienced as: We, us and them; agreeing, appointing and associating.

Agreeing implies shared action, belief, assumptions, etc. Associating implies treating others as like myself and submerging (though not obliterating) the I in the we. Association is either relationships or institutions, and implies roles (reader-writer, leader-follower, etc.).

Communities are social wholes, formed of agreement and association, with more or less internal structure with appointed roles. Different types of community or organisation are led by different aspects, such as business by the economic aspect, the state by the juridical and publishers by the lingual.

The social aspect and some of its constellation

The social aspect and some of its constellation

Mistakes:

Differences from Neighbours:

Good and Evil:

Foundational Dependencies:

Analogies of this Aspect:

Notes, Discussion: NC,II, 141,227-8, 565-624.

Antecipations:

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The Economic Aspect

Kernel: Frugality

Experienced as: Managing limited resources frugally, treating them as having value.

This can be at levels of individuals, organisations, societies and humanity as a whole. Resources can be of any type (here, words). Limits imply value.

The economic aspect and some of its constellation

The economic aspect and some of its constellation

Mistakes:

Differences from Neighbours:

Good and Evil:

Foundational Dependencies:

Analogies of this Aspect:

Notes, Discussion: NC,II, 66-7,122-7,344-5,360-2.

Antecipations:

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The Aesthetic Aspect

Kernel: Harmony, delight.

Experienced as: harmony, enjoying, playing, beautifying.

The orchestra of daily life, a multitude of instruments, generates something harmonious, interesting and enjoyable - or not as the case may be. "Whole is more than sum of parts."

The aesthetic aspect and some of its constellation

The aesthetic aspect and some of its constellation

Mistakes:

Differences from Neighbours:

Good and Evil:

See Seerveld's [2001, 175] table of aesthetic normativity.

Dependencies:

Antecipations:

Analogies of this Aspect:

Notes, Discussion: NC,II, 66-7, 128, 139, 345-8

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The Juridical Aspect

Kernel: Due, "retribution" [NC,II,129]

Experienced as: Appropriateness, responsibility and justice.

We can experience this personally, as intuition of what is appropriate in a situation, as debt when we know we should return due to another, as the actions of rewarding or punishing, and as (un)fairness as the result thereof.

The juridical aspect and some of its constellation

The juridical aspect and some of its constellation

Mistakes:

Differences from Neighbours:

Good and Evil:

Foundational Dependencies:

Analogies of this Aspect:

Notes, Discussion: NC,I, 29,550,553; NC,II, 67-70,119-138,181-185 and much in 290-411; NC,III discussion of the state.

Antecipations:

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The Ethical Aspect

Kernel: Self-giving Love.

Experienced as: Self-giving attitude, vulnerability and sacrifice.

In almost all cultures, those we admire and call "truly good" exhibit such things.

The ethical aspect and some of its constellation

The ethical aspect and some of its constellation

Mistakes:

Differences from Neighbours:

Good and Evil:

Dependencies:

Analogies of this Aspect:

Notes, Discussion: NC,II, 141-60

Antecipations:

What motivates self-giving? Never pushing itself, self-giving cannot be its own motivation; motivation is pistic.

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The Pistic Aspect

Kernel: Faith

Experienced as: Belief, commitment, certainty and motivation.

Pistic ramges from that "immediate certainty which manifests itself ... in practical life" [NC,II, 299] by which we live moment by moment (such as trusting the chair we sit on), to firm ideological or religious belief for which people give their lives. Pistic has to do with meaningfulness of our lives, with hope and morale, and with that which is Ultimate and Absolute.

Pistic is found at personal, group and societal levels as, for example, personal beliefs and the courage of those who stand alone, group beliefs (including Weltanschauungen) and the mindset, and the presuppositions that determine the direction in which theoretical thinking develops.

The pistic aspect and some of its constellation

The pistic aspect and some of its constellation

Mistakes:

Differences from Neighbours:

Good and Evil:

Foundational Dependencies:

Analogies of this Aspect:

Notes, Discussion: NC,II, 298-334

Sadly, much of Dooyeweerd's discussion of this aspect is occupied with defending his ideas against of other Christian thinkers.

Antecipations: None.

Instead "this terminal aspect was destined to function as the opened window of time through which the light of God's eternity should shine into the whole temporal coherence of the world" [NC,II, 307]. It is therefore the aspect of human functioning that welcomes Divine Revelation, or rejects it and welcomes a substitute.

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References

NC: Dooyeweerd H. 1955., A New Critique of Theoretical Thought, Vol. I-IV, Paideia Press (1975 edition), Jordan Station, Ontario. See [NC].

Basden A. 2011. A presentation of Herman Dooyeweerd's aspects of temporal reality. Int. J. Multi-aspectual Practice, 1(1), Paper 1. Available at "papers/ijmap/issue1/basden-aspects.html"

Clouser R. 2005. The Myth of Religious Neutrality; An Essay on the Hidden Role of Religious Belief in Theories, 2nd ed. University of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame, Indiana, USA.

Seerveld, C. (unknown date). Rainbows for a Fallen World. IVP?.

Seerveld, C. (2001) Christian aesthetic bread for the world. Philosophia Reformata 66(2), 155-76.

Stafleu, M.D. (2003) On aesthetically qualified characters and their mutual interlacements. Philosophia Reformata 68(2), 137-47.

Strauss DFM. 2009. Philosophy, Discipline of the Disciplines. Paideia Press, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA.

Strauss D. 2013. Understanding the Linguistic Turn and the Quest for Meaning: Historical perspectives and systematic considerations. South African Journal of Philosophy, 32(1), 90-107.

Zuidervaart, L. (1995) Fantastic things: critical notes toward a social ontology of the arts. Phil. Ref. 60(1), 37-54.


This page, "http://www.dooy.info/aspects.smy.html", is part of The Dooyeweerd Pages, which explain, explore and discuss Dooyeweerd's interesting philosophy. Questions or comments are very welcome.

Compiled by Andrew Basden. You may use this material subject to conditions.

Written on the Amiga with Protext.

Created: 30 October 2018 Last updated: