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Dynamism in Dooyeweerd's Framework

In a recent visit (late 1990s) to Tampere University, Finland, I was challenged by the notion that Dooyeweerd's ideas were rather static. Each of the aspects seemed to be a rather static notion - the notions of quantity, space, physics, law, ethics, aesthetics, etc. did not inspire a very dynamic view of the cosmos.

By dynamism, in this discussion, we do not mean mere movement and change. Rather, we mean a kind of freedom that enables the actor to move, change, act in any way s/he/it chooses. Aulin's taxonomy of types of systems ends in the most dynamic kind, self-steering systems, which speak of this extreme type of dynamic freedom: the actor chooses its own goals as well as its own ends. Does Dooyeweerd's framework extend even to this type of freedom-dynamism?

A very good challenge.

I had to think about this. On that basis, I offer the following suggestions of why Dooyeweerd's framework of thought inherently allows for, and even encourages, dynamism rather than statis.

The Freedom-Dynamism Inherent in Dooyeweerd's Framework

The Formative Aspect

First, there is one aspect that wears its dynamism on its sleeve, as it were: formative aspect of shaping. It is the aspect of goal-seeking, achieving, deliberately making changes in the way things are, forming physical or conceptual or social material, and so on. It is this aspect that is tied to the notion of progress and the dynamic sweep of history.

So even if all other aspects are static, Dooyeweerd's suite contains at least one aspect that is flagrantly dynamic in its kernel meaning. But, when we examine other aspects, most of them seem dynamic in its own way. The kinematic aspect is also flagrantly dynamic in its kernel. Here is a table of the dynamism in each aspect:

Aspect Dynamism
Quantitative Reaching forward or back in infinite series.
Spatial Continuous extension.
Kinematic Flowing movement is the kernel meaning.
Physical Energy is the kernel meaning.
Biotic Continous exchange with environment.
Birth, growth, death.
Sensitive Signals.
Nerves attrify if unused.
Analytical The immediacy of making a distinction.
Formative Shaping is the kernel meaning.
Achieving, goals, will, history, progress.
Lingual The time dimension of utterance.
The meaning of symbols shifts continuously.
Info goes out of date.
Social Social interaction is the kernel.
Economic Management is a dynamic activity.
Aesthetic Statis destroys harmony and surprise.
Juridical What is due to an entity is always changing
because the entity is always changing (see below).
Ethical Self-giving is always active.
Pistic In human living we are continuously making little-commitments.
Maybe this makes it the most dynamic aspect?

Inherent Dynamism

Dooyeweerd said [NC III:109]

"For the reality of a thing is indeed dynamic; it is a continuous realization in the transcendental temporal direction. // The inner restlessness of meaning, as the mode of being of created reality, reveals itself in the whole temporal world. To seek a fixed point in the latter is to seek it in a 'fata morgana', a mirage, a supposed thing-reality, lacking meaning as the mode of being which ever points beyond and above itself. There is indeed nothing in temporal reality in which our heart can rest, because this reality does not rest in itself."

Even though the aspects might be given, the whole of thing-reality is in dynamic restlessness. The notion of restlessness is tied up with Dooyeweerd's ground motive that involves a Creator. Under this ground motive, nothing in reality is absolute, self-dependent, but everything refers beyond itself to its Divine Source and Destiny. All reality yearns towards that Source-Destiny.

Existence because of Functioning

In Dooyeweerd's theory of entities, existence comes from Meaning; things come into existence because of aspectual functioning. This gives a very dynamic flavour even to such a static thing as existence. It integrates generation, existence, maintenance, change of things in a single framework. These are all part of each other, and cannot be separated.

For example, consider a living thing: because of its biotic aspect it is continuously exchanging material with its environment; its very existence as a biotic thing depends on this dynamism. Consider an utterance (lingual aspect). It is inherently dynamic. But now consider it written down on some medium. Though the physical form of the symbols might seem static (except for e.g. fading, decay), their meaning is dynamic, in that different people can attribute different meaning to them, or the same person at different times. In similar way, all Being is dynamic.

Except for mathematics? Surely 2 * 2 always makes 4? Can we not rely on this?

No we cannot. Dooyeweerd made clear that even the supposed 'truth in itself' of "2 * 2 = 4" is an untruth if absolutized. (See Dooyeweerd's notion of truth.) There is no 'truth in itself'. But all truth refers beyond itself to the Divine absolute truth. So 'truths' are not static. Even truth is dynamic to Dooyeweerd.

(Note: I used the word "rely on" above. We tend to assume reliability correlates with stasis. This is a false view, according to Dooyeweerd. The only One on whom we can truly rely is God. And that reliance is a dynamic trusting, a functioning in what might be the most dynamic aspect of all, the pistic.)

Inherent Self-Steering

Aulin's perspective is based on the mathematical idea of the function. ====seeing from mathematical point of view

(That was a note that I placed here when I first made up the file. I have no idea what it was referring to. But I'll retain it in case it becomes clear. Maybe someone knows to what it refers? Contact me.)

Limits to the Freedom-Dynamism

To be written.
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: 1998 as a small page with notes. Last updated: 5 March 2003 filled out. 21 November 2005 unets.