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The Story of the Dooyeweerd Pages

Discovering Dooyeweerd

It was the early 1990s. "The best book I have found is Thine is the Kingdom by Paul Marshall," I offered at a talk on Christians in politics, "It's available from Marshalls Publishers." (The event was a seminar at the UK Christian jamboree Spring Harvest.) I had become actively involved in green politics as a Christian, because of that book; see my Spiritual Journey.

A guy piped up, "No they're not; Marshalls remaindered them, and I've got the stock." Afterwards he took me for a coffee, and asked if I knew the background of Paul Marshall's book. I didn't. He explained it was from a Dutch philosopher by the name of Herman Dooyeweerd, and explained Dooyeweerd's aspects. The guy was Richard Russell, who has probably done more than anyone else in the U.K. to stimulate people to take an interest in Dooyeweerd.

"What is a green society? What is sustainability?" are questions I had been struggling with since encountering many ideologies in the UK's Green Party - deep ecology, green economy, green community, green spirituality, and so on. Behold! Each ideology seemed to align with one of Dooyeweerd's aspects (respectively, the biotic, economic, social, pistic), and I saw the possibility of defining sustainability as when society or community works well in every Dooyeweerdian aspect.

At the same time, the usefulness or 'success' of information technology posed similar challenges: if an information system reduces costs but requires everyone to work longer overtime, so they get home with less time for their families, and families break down as a result - is such a system a success? Dooyeweerd's aspects enabled me to separate out the kinds of benefit or harm that a system might bring (in this case, economic benefit, social harm). Usefulness or success might be defined as when the system brings benefits in all aspects, rather than maximizing benefits in one aspect and ignoring others. Using Dooyeweerd's aspects enabled me, for example, to explain the 'IT Productivity Paradox'.

Beginning the Dooyeweerd Pages: Aspects

I began exploring Dooyeweerd's aspects in information system usefulness. In 1665 a colleague came back from the European Conference on Information Systems and told me an Anita Grahn of Luleň University, Sweden, had been using "those aspects you are talking about". I contacted her, and was invited by her professor, Donald de Raadt, to visit. He told me of another colleague in the Netherlands, Sytse Strijbos, with whom he was working to bring Dooyeweerd's philosophy to systems thinking, so I visited Sytse too.

Realising there was some discussion and even confusion about what each aspect meant, I began a website, the intention of which was to reflect on each of the aspects, collecting together the various discussions we had. The site consisted mainly of a main page, an aspects.html page that listed the aspects, and a page for each aspect. I called it The Dooyeweerd Pages, and the name has stuck. The aspects.html page has gone through three main versions:

Readers can view some of the original discussion of the analytical aspect in the Notes section of its page.

More of Dooyeweerd's Philosophy

At the start, the site had little of Dooyeweerd's philosophy other than aspects and a few pages that showed or discussed how aspects might be employed. It soon became clear to me, however, that Dooyeweerd was much more than aspects. As I discovered new portions, I would create a page that summarised it, linking them all together.

The first extensions were pages that discussed aspectuality and how aspects relate to information technology. That Dooyeweerd focused on meaning rather than being was an early fascination. The fact that Dooyeweerd shared my own Christian faith was an interesting bonus to me, ensuring his philosophy would have a place for spirituality etc., but I didn't want it to be rejected by humanists on that basis, so one of the early extension pages discussed this 'Christian' orientation of his philosophy.

After this, around the turn of the millennium, pages covering much else of his philosophy were written, such as his theory of ground-motives, his theory of entities, his theory of time, and so on. These emerged from my reading books like Dooyeweerd's New Critique of Theoretical Thought and his Roots of Western Culture. I was helped by Roy Clouser's book The Myth of Religious Neutrality, and created pages about everyday functioning and abstraction.

Dooyeweerd gave us a very useful philosophy, suited to everyday life. So I began collecting uses of Dooyeweerd, first in a single page using.dooy.html, then in a 'Using Dooyeweerd' subsite with many pages. This collection grows.

Dooyeweerd also gave us a philosophy that can critically affirm other thought. So I developed a subsite on how Dooyeweerd relates to what I call 'external' thinking. Pages in this site usually provide a comparison of a thinker or way of thinking with Dooyeweerd, both similarities and differences. They range over philosophers like Foucault, Heidegger and Habermas social theorists like Vigotsky and Giddens, thinkers like Latour and Bhaskar, to public figures like The Prince of Wales. It seemed to me that almost everyone's thought and every kind of thinking could be related to Dooyeweerd's thought.

The Present and Future

What started as a collective reflection on Dooyeweerd's aspects has grown over the years into an international resource for scholars. Recognising this, I have tried to make it more friendly, more easy to use and find a way around. The Dooyeweerd Pages has retained a form like Wikipedia, in which there are many links between pages so that readers to browse easily. Fairly early I created a 'Help! Where do I start?' page, and various summary pages, such as 'Dooyeweerd in Four Paragraphs. Quite early on a bibliography was added. Main pages such as the home / index page and aspects.html have given two-dimensional formats with tables for easy location. Most pages were given a simple 'navigation' line at its top.

The style remains as it was originally, built according to Tim Berners-Lee's idea of an interconnected system of information. It has a 'boring' user interface, without designer-layouts, bright colours and graphics except in the few places where diagrams help. This is deliberate. First, since it has no page-size constraints, it is eminently suited to display on mobile devices of all sizes - so you can read Dooyeweerd as you go! Second, it does not attract the casual reader; this is useful because some of the pages are not well-finished and the fussy, casual reader would be simply put off. Third, it is in line with the Wikipedia style, it uses many hyperlinks to allow readers to move to related information easily.

There is a continuous effort at bringing older pages up to date. Some old content is timeless and still valid. Sometimes it is out of date, in that my understanding of what Dooyeweerd said, meant or was aiming at has developed. Please bear this in mind as you read it: look at the end of the page, and you will see dates of updates; anything not updated recently since 2005 might have old understanding. Though I have written most of the text, I welcome, and incorporate, the thoughts and even text of others, and give credit where due.

Analysis of the accesses shows interesting usage.

This 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.

Number of visitors to these pages: Counter. Written on the Amiga with Protext.

Created: 30 June 2011. Last updated: