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The diversity that most immediately confronts us is a diversity of things. There is diversity of actual things - my blue, black and red pens - but especially diversity of types of thing: pens, pebbles, poems. Things include diversity of activities - the way people walk or talk or birds fly, for example. Plato tried to account for diversity by positing a realm of Ideal Types.

Yet diversity of being cannot usefully account for this, because (a) every individual differs from others in at least some way (two blue pens, apparently identical, occupy different positions and are made of actually different pieces of plastic), (b) even types infinitely divide themselves. The difference between a poem and a pebble, poem and business report (both writings), ode and limerick (both poems), two odes will differ in metre and rhyme, and so on.

This raises the question, "In what ways do things differ?" Poem differs from pebble in one way, and from business report in another way. It is the ways that give rise to diversity.

Dooyeweerd accounted for diversity via his notion of modal aspects. Each aspect is a distinct way in which things can exist or function. He identified fifteen aspects (though he believed that more would be discovered), and accounted for types of thing by what he called "individuality structures" and Clouser calls "type laws". These are profiles of aspects, which define the role each aspect plays in a given type of thing.

For example, in both poems and business reports, the lingual aspect is important, but in both another aspect is important, the aesthetic aspect for the poem, the economic for the business report. The formative aspect is important in the construction of each, and the analytical aspect in the clarity of ideas in each, but they take different forms in the two. In fact, every one of the fifteen aspects will have a role in the type, some perhaps a little abstruse.

In concrete, temporal actuality, other aspects come into play, which are the aspects of the functioning of people who write or read or otherwise use them. Reading involves the eyes (biotic and sensitive aspects), movement of the eyes (kinematic aspect), interest or enjoyment (aesthetic aspect again), and so on. This is multi-aspectual functioning. It is these aspects of concrete functioning that differentiate one concrete instance of a type from another. In the case of two blue pens, they differ in the physical aspect and the spatial.


This is a new page, discussion the issue of diversity from a Dooyeweerdian perspective. Dooyeweerd was particularly interested in unity in diversity, diversity in unity, and his ideas about sphere sovereignty and sphere universality provide a basis for these.

In the future I want to collect together all that is said about diversity in the various other pages, but I will start by just putting down some unconnected jottings.

Never 'The Answer'

Because of the diversity inherent in the Dooyeweerdian aspects, we can never come to a final 'answer'.

Especially when acting together, we often find ourselves seeing a problem, and finding that going in the opposite direction gives us a satisfactory answer; we believe, even if we don't admit it, that we have finally found 'the answer'. Thatcher's moneyterism was 'the answer' to socialism. Constructivists is 'the answer' to positivism. And so on. This is dialectical thinking.

But we can never say we have found 'the answer'. Not just because it is rather arrogant to think so, but for a much deeper reason. The reason is that in many such cases the move from one pole to its opposite involves the elevation of one aspect to the elevation of another, that had previously been ignored. But in moving to the second aspect, we are still ignoring yet others. And, worse, we are unaware of doing so. Not least because we are so intent on supporting the new aspect that we do not normally look around for others that we might be ignoring. Rather, we are actively engaged in a campaign to show that previously our favoured aspect was ignored, and in showing its importance, and also exploring it and developing theory and practice around it. These activities are, of course, valid and important; it's just that we don't give time and effort to exploring other aspects, and usually we do not have sufficient humility to recognise in practice and attitude that just as 'they' were narrow, so might we be.

So, because of the diversity of aspects, we are always ignoring one or the other, as the decades and centuries pass under us, and are extremely unlikely ever to reach a state in which we give all of them their proper due.

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.

This page, "", 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 in the style of classic HTML.

Created: 17 October 1999. Last updated: 7 February 2001 copyright, email. 21 November 2005 .nav, .end. 29 April 2019 new text; new .end, .nav.